Omelettes, Waffles and Bacon – Oh, My!

I’m a big breakfast fan. In fact, I would rank it as one of my three favorite meals of the day! Actually, when dining out, if I find myself in one of those restaurants that serves breakfast all day long, I’m much more likely to opt for an omelette over, say, a burger – ordering breakfast out feels like a warm and cozy indulgence, and it’s a meal that tastes most delicious when somebody else cooks it. Fortunately, Portlanders share my enthusiasm for a hearty first meal; the Rose City is chock-full of cafes, coffee shops, bistros, and (naturally) food carts that serve delicious and filling breakfasts morning, noon and night. In the mood for more than a McMuffin? Here are just a few of my favorite Portland-area breakfast spots…hardly a definitive list, but a good launching pad for further breakfast exploration.

Pine State Biscuits (two locations – Alberta and Belmont, plus the Portland Farmer’s Market) is a haven for folks who aren’t afraid of a little – gasp! – cholesterol in their diets, and judging by the long lines at this popular eatery, there are many people willing to throw caution to the wind for a bite of the scrumptious biscuits dished out here daily. Most popular is The Reggie, a glorious ode to gluttony consisting of the holy grail of culinary excess – fried chicken, bacon and cheese – sandwiched between a flaky, buttery biscuit topped with sausage gravy. Make it a Deluxe (let’s face it, why wouldn’t you?) and you’ll also get an egg. Much like the statue of the umbrella-wielding man in Pioneer Square, The Reggie is a Portland icon, and every bit as tasty as it sounds. There are other options, including a Steak Club and an Andoulle Corn Dog, but it’s that magic combination of chicken, biscuits and gravy that makes my mouth water most.

Venture further down Belmont and you’ll find Slappy Cakes, a do-it-yourself breakfast joint with hot griddles built into the middle of each table. The owners have taken the concept popularized by fondue restaurants and extended it to breakfast; here, patrons cook their own pancakes. There are plenty of batter options for everybody (buttermilk, vegan, whole grain, gluten-free), and a fun selection of mix-in ingredients. You can choose sweet fixins like chocolate chips, bananas and pecans, or savory ones such as bacon, chorizo or cheddar. Can’t decide? Go crazy, and mix them all in! Nobody is watching, anyway. Top your pancakes with a variety of tasty syrups diverse enough to please any palate. In the mood for something other than flapjacks, or just too darn lazy to do your own cooking? Fear not, the menu contains plenty of breakfast favorites the kitchen will prepare for you, including Huevos Rancheros and a pork belly Benedict. I’m sure they’re delicious, but I can’t go there and not order their pancakes. Plus, with a tantalizing list of breakfast cocktails – including Bloody Marys served by the pitcher – you simply can’t go wrong here!

Pine State isn’t the only place serving up hearty, fluffy biscuits. The appropriately named Biscuits Café (twelve locations in the Portland area and two in Vancouver) offers their namesake dish, plus a whole bunch of others, in generous portions that will leave you feeling satisfied for hours…and then planning your next visit soon after. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they’re a restaurant chain; Biscuits serves quality, made-from-scratch food at reasonable prices, and their wait staff is second to none. You’ll want to try the biscuits, of course; whether accompanied with one of their seasonal, homemade jams as a side dish or smothered beneath a rich, tangy layer of sausage gravy as the star attraction, they are wonderfully addictive. But don’t stop there; Biscuits offers up omelettes that are among the best in the metro area: fluffy, expertly cooked eggs stuffed with an array of tempting and unique ingredients. The Chorizo Omelette, packed with spicy sausage, avocado, green chilies and jack cheese and finished with a topping of salsa and sour cream is a personal favorite; also can’t-miss choices include a Greek Omelette, a Fajita Omelette, and a Shrimp Omelette. On the off chance that your salivary glands aren’t running on overdrive yet, how does a Breakfast Taco grab you? Or a Diced Ham Scramble? How about Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs, buried beneath their signature sausage gravy? If you’re not drooling yet, there’s something wrong with you!

One of the joys of wandering around a farmer’s market – aside from scoring fresh produce – is deciding where to stop for a bite to eat. Lugging around a bag filled with fruits and veggies will make you work up an appetite, after all. C’est Si Bon can be found at several Portland-area markets (PSU, Pioneer Square, OHSU, King Market) and perfectly bridges the gap between breakfast and lunch by offering a variety of either sweet or savory crepes. On one recent visit, a pork confit-caramelized onion-organic spring mix crepe competed with a strawberry-and-whipped-cream crepe for my attention. Savory won out over sweet – but just barely. With a rotating list of seasonal ingredients and perfectly airy crepes (available in both natural and buckwheat versions), C’est Si Bon delivers a bit of Parisian street flair to Portland, no matter the season.

Mark Petruska

Mark Petruska is in love and wants the world to know it. The object of his affection? The Pacific Northwest, where he has lived since 1994. Born in Hawaii, his father was in the Air Force, and the family moved often. Over the years, Mark has called many places home – Dayton, Ohio; Rapid City, South Dakota; San Jose, California – but his heart belongs to Portland.

Mark is also passionate about writing, and has cranked out a number of novels and short stories over the years. His dream is to become a published author. “I’d love to walk into Powell’s Books someday, and pull a novel with my name on it from the shelf,” he says. “It will happen…mark my words!”

A recent corporate layoff prompted Mark to pursue his passion and begin a freelance writing career. With a steady and growing client base, he hopes to make a living solely through his writing. Hobbies include cooking, blogging, photography, hiking, and “mind-numbing reality television.”