Here I am revisiting one of my favorite pastimes in Portland – eating brunch! I previously wrote about our Portland brunch adventures here after visiting Tin Shed, Gravy, Screen Door, Pine State Biscuits, and my personal favorite – Jam on Hawthorne! Since that article, we discovered many more gems in Portland.
Vita Cafe is a vegetarian and vegan delight! Recommended by a few vegetarian and former vegetarian friends, and in my favorite Portland neighborhood no less (Alberta), is this quaint place serving up a delicious and hearty menu – the bulk of which is either vegan or vegetarian. They do have some meat items on the menu for you carnivores; however, there are plenty of goodies at this place that won’t make you miss the real stuff.
Bloody Marys: I’ve been on this Bloody Mary kick the past few years. I used to hate tomatoes (love ’em now) and I couldn’t even stand the thought of drinking something with tomato juice. However, this has since become a staple at our brunches when we eat out, especially after, say, a night of drinking the day before. This is the Vita Vegan Bloody Mary made with vodka, house-made wasabi-spiced Bloody Mary mix with pepperoncini, spicy pickled beans, and “other stuff” as noted on their menu. This bad boy will set you back about $8.50 and is definitely tasty! If you’re wondering what makes a Bloody Mary vegan, it’s sans “real” Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies.
Breakfast Burrito: Burritos, always! My favorite savory breakfast item to eat is the trusty breakfast burrito. I have a love affair with tortillas and salsa so it’s no wonder this dish is always on my mind. Most breakfast burritos come stuffed with eggs but this one can be made a bit different. Not being a huge fan of eggs, I love having substitutes (usually tofu) to choose from. Instead of eggs, you can sub tofu or organic tempeh (I chose the tofu). This burrito is also stuffed with veggies and chili, and topped with vegan cheese sauce, guacamole, salsa, and vegan sour cream – which just so happened to be the BEST vegan sour cream I have ever tasted! I got a side of potatoes with my burrito but you could also choose brown rice. Amazingly delicious and super filling! I could only eat half. Cost = $9.50.
Biscuits and Gravy: I’ve had my fill of biscuits and gravy in Portland, but most of them have been vegetarian vs. vegan. The Vita Cafe’s B&G are vegan! I do wish the gravy was a little thicker though. Overall, the flavor was pretty decent but my award for best veggie biscuits and gravy still stands with Pine State Biscuits. Cost = $4.50 for the half order.
Seitan Cheesesteak: This was Micah’s lunch for the day and it was SO good! For a guy who swears by meat, he really liked the seitan and one could almost swear it was real meat. I had a bite of it myself and it was certainly one of those things you’d start craving and return to Vita Cafe for. The seitan is house-made and served up with sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese on a baguette (you can also sub Daiya cheese if you wanted to make it vegan). I don’t remember how much it cost because there was no price on the menu, oddly, and I didn’t keep the receipt, but everything here was pretty affordable.
3023 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211
I wrote about LeChon semi-recently on the blog since it was part of one of our day trip adventures, and it was definitely one of our favorite spots in all of Portland for a variety of reasons. Check out that post if you want a little more detail on the food, and what you can do to piggyback a visit here onto a little weekend adventure in the city!
So why did we love LeChon? First off, there was no wait to get in which is an anomaly in Portland. We walked in, waiting only a few minutes for them to clear off a table for us, and were seated right by the window, having a nice view of the waterfront just across the street. It was the perfect spot! I’d definitely recommend snagging a seat close to the windows here because the lighting is just beautiful! It makes your food look amazing.
Secondly, the food is South American inspired, putting a unique twist on your brunch menu.
We started off our meal with some complimentary puff pastries, drizzled with a sugary syrup/sauce, topped with sprinkles and served with a little side of a creamy berry whip. They were so good, and we were so hungry, that the waitress kindly brought us two orders!
Our second appetizer was the fried cheese empanadas stuffed with with caramelized onions, fontina cheese, and monterey jack cheese, served with a side of ancho aioli. I think there was a little bit of hot sauce inside the empanadas as well and let me tell you, these were tasty and piping hot with gooey delicious cheese spilling out when you bite into them. Cost = $7.00.
For our main dishes, Micah had the brisket chilaquiles topped with a fried egg, mozzarella, pickled onions and sweet peppers. It’s the best chilaquiles he has ever had and remembers this dish very fondly! Let’s just say it’s in one of his top 5 brunches of all time. Cost = $12.00.
My main dish was the torta espanola, which is almost like an omelet or a thin fritatta made with egg, fried potatoes, onion, parsley and avocado. I added shrimp to mine to elevate it a little and it was so delicious. Cost = $9.00 + $3.00 for shrimp.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the decor of LeChon. It’s in an old waterfront building right in downtown and I just love the charm of the entire place!
113 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97204
This place would not typically be on our radar as we are not huge waffle fans but we had some friends in town who wanted to meet here for brunch since it’s once of their Portland favs. Perfect time to try something new, eh? At Off the Waffle, they serve Liege Belgian waffles. But what is a Liege waffle? Straight from their menu:
“Liège (pronounced LEE-AGE) waffles are richer, sweeter waffles than the typical Belgian waffle. They were invented by the chef of the princebishop of Liège, Belgium in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough. Chunks of Belgian Pearl Sugar are folded into our dough. They melt during the rising process and form a crispy, caramelized exterior when baked in our cast iron waffle press.”
So did these Liege waffles turn these non-waffle lovers into fans?
I had the Hey Bob ($6.50) topped with sliced apple, melted Havarti cheese, and cinnamon, drizzled with real Vermont maple syrup. It was an interesting combination of sweet and a little savory (from the cheese) and I actually really liked it! The waffles really are delish.
Micah had The BMB ($8.50), topped with two strips of nitrate/nitrite free-bacon, melted havarti cheese, fresh basil chiffonade and drizzled with real Vermont maple syrup. He also chose to add a sunny side up egg (for an extra $2.50). He thoroughly enjoyed his savory waffle!
The ultimate answer is yes! We are definitely waffle fans and would return to Off the Waffle to try out a few other combos on the menu when we are back in the Portland area.
Off the Waffle
2601 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202
Located in the Portland neighborhood of Montavilla, you’ll find The Observatory serving up an eclectic brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays, and we were happy to find that we didn’t have to wait for a table! I really don’t know how to describe the theme of the cuisine here but that kind of makes me happy. I get so tired of seeing a lack of variety and creativity on brunch menus sometimes. At The Observatory, you’ll find items such as shrimp and grits, egg and black bean enchiladas, waffles, burgers, platters (smoked fish, charcuterie, cheese, etc.), and staples like biscuits and gravy and egg scrambles.
We started our meal off with the smoked fish platter, which comes with cold smoked salmon lox, smoked whitefish spread, kippered white king salmon, pickled vegetables, dijon-horseradish sauce, a hard boiled egg, bread & crackers. My favorite part was the pickled veggies! I know that’s a bit odd to choose as a fav off the plate, but I just really love pickled veggies! But really, everything on the plate was pretty tasty and a nice share plate to start off the meal. Cost = $14.00
No surprise here, I also had to try one of their Bloody Marys. I chose the Chipotle Maria with a habanero salt rim, cumin tequila, chipotle and chili powders, and fresh cilantro. Whoa. Talk about a flavor punch! I think it actually might have been a bit much for me on the unique flavors but it was still cool to try an interesting twist on the traditional Bloody Mary. Their Bloody Mary options will either cost you $7.00 or $8.00 a piece, depending on your choice.
For my main, I ordered a half order of biscuits and gravy, topped with the quinoa mushroom veggie sausage. I got the vegetarian mushroom and thyme gravy and it was delicious! However, it was a bit rich so I would definitely recommend the half order versus the full order just because I think any more than that would be a bit hard to eat! At the time we visited, the half order was $5.00 but has since increased to $6.00 according to their website. Adding the veggie sausage will cost an additional $4.00 but it is definitely worth it for the extra texture and flavor.
Micah had the chipotle elk burger topped with crispy fried onions. Whenever there is a more unique burger alternative to choose from, he’s all over that! Elk burger = $13.00.
The bottom line is the food is good, the spot it cozy, and you likely won’t have to endure the long waits that plague many of the Portland restaurants at brunch!
8115 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215
Last on the list, but certainly not least, is Tasty n Sons – the last brunch we had in Portland before relocating back to California. I must say, it was a great farewell meal! I just recently wrote all about our brunch experience on the blog here, combined with a day trip to the Portland Japanese Garden, which you can check out for more detail on the food.
*Note: Tasty n Sons does change their menu periodically so you may not find some of these specialties on the menu at all times.
My brunch companions (my husband and his brother) started their meal off with an order of their seasonal venison biscuits and gravy ($7.00) and they both thought it was one of the best gravy’s they’ve every had! Too bad it wasn’t vegetarian because I really would have loved to try that. They also shared the steak and cheddar eggs atop a cornmeal pancake with jalapeno butter (I did try the pancake and it was fabulous!). Cost = $16.00.
There are not a plethora of vegetarian options on the menu here so I opted to try the smoked salmon hash ($16.00) that they had on the menu at the time. The smoked salmon is fried up with potatoes, veggies, and horseradish cream topped with an over easy. This was actually my first experience eating an over easy egg (or any type of egg with a runny yolk) so I was a little nervous but was pleasantly surprised! Without it, I think the dish would have been a little dry so I think it’s definitely one of those elements you need to have to make the dish complete. It was really tasty and I would totally get this again!
The star of the guys’ meal was definitely the shakshuka with baked eggs in a tomato stew, with the merguez sausage ($12 + $2 for the sausage). Based off reviews, this is one of their more popular dishes and something I think you can find on the menu anytime of year! The crunchy toast rounds off this very flavorful dish – and without the sausage, vegetarians can enjoy! I know I am certainly going for this bad boy next time we are here.
Lastly, the small bite of the chocolate potato donut in creme anglaise and the free rhubarb panna cotta we got at the end of the meal (for having to wait so long for our check) were the perfect slightly sweet bites we needed to accompany this delicious meal.
The verdict? Hands down, this is Micah’s #1 brunch spot recommendation in PDX. You might have to wait a while to get a table here, but just put your name in and walk down the street and enjoy a breakfast beer at Lompoc Brewing while you wait!
Tasty n Sons
3808 N Williams Avenue, C, Portland, OR 97227
Which will you choose first?! With all the different spots in Portland, it’s such a hard decision. Have you been to any of these fantastic places before?
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