North Mississippi Street has become quite the hub of breakfast, with FlavourSpot, Muddy’s, Por Que No, Gravy, Equinox, a brand new Cup and Saucer, MoxieRx, The Big Egg, Ruby Dragon, and probably another cart or two I’ve forgotten. Yesterday I was up there and walked past another place saying “Now Serving Breakfast,” Miss Delta. All this in a few blocks of each other — it’s almost dizzying. And Mississippi Station just closed not long ago.
Of course, Gravy has enough people waiting in line to almost fill one of these other places. And I have to say it: I think Gravy is about the fourth-best place on the street. I ate at Equinox yesterday: walked in at 10:30 and sat right down, a party of three. I thought the food was excellent, and the staff efficient, cute and as charming as can be on a pretty busy Sunday morning. We walked out around noon with the beautiful patio filling up, and still no line. And over at Gravy there were probably 20 people scattered around, waiting to get in.
Now, I think Gravy is just fine: big portions of decent food, nothing outstanding. But I think I need a new list to put it on. I’ve already got The Cadillac List of places that I ain’t going to on the weekends because the food isn’t worth the wait. (Gravy is on there, needless to say, and of course the whole thing is named for the Cadillac Cafe.) Now I think we need the Eagle Creek List.
Eagle Creek is a hike in the Columbia River Gorge which is a real classic: lots of waterfalls and cliffs beautiful scenery and, this time of year, spawning salmon. Great hike. Also totally packed with people, because it’s one of the few places around that everybody knows about. People who hike once a year for about four miles know about Eagle Creek. Tourists with two days in town are told about Eagle Creek. Pictures of, and information about, Eagle Creek appear in every publication about hiking around here. (If you’re wondering, other area hikes on that list would be Angels Rest, Dog Mountain, Silver Falls State Park, and Multnomah Falls.)
At some point, people go to Eagle Creek because, well, people go there. Among dedicated hikers I know, it reminds me of a funny old line, attributed to Yogi Berra about a restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore, because it’s too crowded.”
Walking past that line-up at Gravy yesterday, I wanted to tell everyone, “Equinox is better, and there’s no line!” (I didn’t.) It also occurred to me that these people need to buy my book. But it hit me: People go to Gravy because people go to Gravy. I wonder if they even know about Equinox, like they didn’t know about Mississippi Station, and even I didn’t know about Miss Delta across the street. And maybe they just don’t want to eat at a cart today. Fine.
But what other places would go on the Eagle Creek List of breakfast places that people go to mainly because people go there? I’m not saying these places aren’t good or don’t deserve their loyalty; I’m saying that people who go out to brunch a few times a year, or who stick with their favorites and only take out-of-town guests to those places, all know about them, only because they’re well-known. In many cases, equal or better food is nearby with no line.
Another way of saying this, perhaps, is Portland’s Breakfast Hall of Famousness. So, enough intro. Here’s my first draft of such a list.
- Bijou Cafe
- Cadillac Cafe
- Cricket Cafe
- Cup and Saucer
- Por Que No
- Screen Door
- Tin Shed
And we have these Members-In-Waiting, nominated for 2011 membership:
- Pine State Biscuits
- Tasty n Sons