PORTLAND PICKS — Meat Cheese Bread
While I grew up in small town in Oregon, I actually spent most of my time in the "big city" in Seattle or San Francisco (I had more connections in those cities and would spend stretches of time visiting them as teenager). So when I moved to Portland after college, I actually knew very little about the city. Luckily, I had a job that allowed me to become a "Portland expert" at a much faster pace than I normally would. I moved to Portland on a whim/gut feeling that it would be a good city for me and got an offer for an editorial internship at Portland Monthly Magazine the day I was moving boxes into my new place. It felt like fate! The next six months of my life were full of events; fact checking articles; memorizing and researching fun trivia facts about the city; interviewing people around town; and, one of my favorites, working on bar and restaurant reviews.
While the city is constantly changing and I've added quite a lot of new places to my repertoire, many of my favorite haunts from when I first moved here are still staples in my list of "places to go." Maybe it's just nostalgia over my feelings about exploring the city for the first time but I wanted to started a dedicated section of my blog to share my favorite Portland Places with everyone looking for suggestions on where to go.
Brunch is taken pretty seriously here in Portland. I have the pleasure (or misfortune depending on your view of crowds) of living by a particularly popular brunch spot. Lines form out the door and wrapping around the corner of this (and many other) local hot spot every weekend morning. Maybe it's because I love cooking brunch at home or perhaps it's a response to years of waiting an hour or two for brunch when I do go out, but I've developed a few rules for "brunching" in order to ensure a much more enjoyable experience: 1) Avoid peak hours. I love to get up early and hit some of my favorite breakfast places right as they are opening to avoid the crowds and get a jump start on my day. 2) Whenever possible, go on a weekday to avoid the weekend rush. 3) Spread the love. There are so many great places to go eat in Portland that I tend to rotate between my favorite places instead of spend every bunch standing in line at Jam on Hawthorne (which does have an amazing, classic brunch menu—btw).
Burt Reynolds (not my friend's real name) and I recently grabbed a late Friday breakfast at Meat Cheese Bread (an old favorite of mine, but a first for Mr. Burt Reynolds). This place is located on Stark, one of my favorite stretches of street in Southeast Portland. If you're looking for a "hole in the wall" with an amazing savory breakfast sandwiches, this is your place. As a mostly-vegetarian eater, I tend to get the breakfast burrito (it has everything I'm looking for in my breakfast burrito without being so massive as to make me feel like I just consumed a full Thanksgiving dinner). My favorite non-veggie option is definitely the Maple. Bread pudding and fennel happen to be two of my absolute go-to's when they're available (I make a good savory bread pudding sometimes that uses fennel that has been roasted in vermouth). It's a heaver meal than the breakfast burrito but definitely worth the experience for all my meat-eating friends.
For me Meat Cheese Bread is not only a great place for a solid breakfast with less of the crowds, but it's also a little slice of old Portland that is still going strong. It's a place full of memories and nostalgia for my younger years— seeing this city for the first time and discovering just how amazing the food scene can be in the "littlest big city" you'll experience out on the West Coast.