Pattie’s Homeplate Café
Years ago, when I started out to write my Portland breakfast book, just about the first place I visited was Pattie’s Homeplate Café in St. Johns. I went back recently and, for some reason, thought it might have changed.
Why, I had to ask myself once I sat down, would it change? For one thing, it hasn’t changed in the multiple decades it’s been there, so why start now? And for another thing, we need places like Pattie’s! Every neighborhood needs a place like this, where the staff and regulars are old friends, the food is nice and simple and cheap, and even if you’ve never been there you’ll be made to feel welcome.
No, it isn’t the best breakfast in Portland, or even in downtown St. Johns. But if you want to feel like you’re eating in a little town on the road somewhere and get some old-school chow, head on over to Pattie’s sometime.
I described it in my book as
“1947, downtown, somewhere in America.”
Every time I go in, old dudes at the counter look up and check me out, then go back to giving grief to each other and the cook. The waitress is carrying on a running conversation with several tables at once, and I described the crowd then as whole families were coming in, three generations at a time. Men with canes. Women in slippers. People speaking Spanish. A referee in uniform, people asking which game he was working that day. Camouflage hats, flannel shirts, and Cat Diesel baseball caps.
There wasn’t a referee when I visited this time, but there’s still a wacky gift shop in the back, still old 45 rpm records swinging from the ceiling, and still a bunch of old friends in there eating.
And what they’re eating is exactly what you’d expect from reading this far; just contemplate the words Home Plate Café. Do you need to know more? Do you expect asiago cheese and asparagus omelets? I sure hope not. 90 percent of the menu is some combination of eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, bread, potatoes, peppers, cheese, and pancakes.
The menu itself is very much a small-town affair, with ads for a pizza restaurant, a car parts place, and even pro wrestling! And a note for visitors: “When in St. Johns, you will want to see the St. Johns Bridge.”
Where and When: Patties is located at 8501 N Lombard in the middle of downtown St. Johns ad on Facebook. Hours: Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. $6–$8 (all major cards). Contact: 503-285-5507. Wifi: Yes. Cost: Meals run about $6-9 before drink and tip. Payments: All major cards.
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