Oldies But Goodies: These Portland breakfasts still reign supreme
Craving a slice of old Portland? Two Diners have been serving the same charm for breakfast for about 70 years. The original creperie, a third-generation family business not to be confused with the Original Hotcake House. It opened in 1953 in Southwest Barbur (8601 SW 24th Ave) and has since grown into a franchise chain with over 100 restaurants in the United States, as well as Japan and South Korea. Stepping into the welcoming restaurant feels like stepping into a small town in America. Memorial plaques line the walls, and waiters wear candy-pink aprons. On the menu: pancakes of all kinds, from plate-sized flapjacks, to baby egg Dutchman with a pool of butter, to Swedish lingonberry lace pancakes, as well as the usual breakfast suspects, including including omelettes and waffles.
From this dizzying pile, we recommend the signature apple crepe, a tall, dwarf plate number generously topped with tart apple slices and Sinkiang cinnamon-flavored glaze – think apple pie for breakfast – and the oozing continental pancakes triple sec-laced sour cream, accompanied by a small pitcher of tangy orange-lemon sauce. The bacon is thick and crispy, and the hash browns are an unexpected treat: hand-shredded potatoes in ribbons much wider than your usual frozen entrees, cooked to a buttery crunch with lots of onion.
Meanwhile, Fuller’s Coffeeopened in 1947 by Jack Fuller, has sat in his current Pearl District digs (136 NW Ninth Ave) since 1960. His son John then took over, working most days until he was 79, when he sold the business to Urban Restaurant Group, which also owns Taverne Brix. Long before that was “the Pearl”, remembers John, the neighborhood was mainly warehouses. And when Fuller’s weekend breakfast first launched — no one called it brunch — business was excruciatingly slow.
Now almost all red-orange leather and chrome Formica counter stool is busy. Millennials are typing Slack messages on their phones while enjoying old-fashioned cookies and gravy. older gentlemen in woolen caps and silk ties start their day with omelettes and toast. Tourists try a $4.75 special that includes a pancake, two strips of bacon and an egg – a steal from the Pearl, though an old menu on the wall reminds you that three buns and a coffee once cost 40 cents. When John launched this special in the 90s, it was $1.99. At this price, don’t expect the best pancakes of your life, but what they lack in taste, their surroundings make up for in time travel.