Portland Penny Diner: The Perfect Downtown Commuter Breakfast

by BreakfastGuy on January 25, 2013 · 1 comment

If you're a savvy Downtown Portland Commuter then you can't pass up Breakfast at the Portland Penny Diner.

Some days I feel like such the downtown Portland commuter. I get on the streetcar, mess around with my smart phone like all the other folks, and eventually hop off in the middle of downtown — in my case, at SW 10th and Alder. There, I am surrounded by food carts, and I live in anticipation of when both Tasty N Alder and the Brunch Box restaurants will open near that same corner. It’s good to be a Portlander and know some of what’s up in town.

This morning, though, it’s about a quick Portland commuter breakfast for me: a sandwich, a cappuccino, and off I go. So I head over to SW Stark and Broadway, where superchef Vitaly Paley has two new places in the Hotel Lucia: the full-service Imperial and the quick-hit Portland Penny Diner.

First, as evidence that I needed coffee, I actually asked directions from the guy at the front of the hotel. In other words, I managed to miss this sign, which I will add also spins constantly.

This morning, though, it’s about a quick Portland commuter breakfast for me: a sandwich, a cappuccino, and off I go.

Portland Penny Diner: downtown Portland Breakfast

Tough to miss this sign — but I did.

Portland Penny Diner: downtown Portland Breakfast

Front counter

Inside, it’s not really a diner in the old-school sense, and the word “Penny” makes it sound rundown, which it also isn’t. It’s bright, clean, and when I went in, empty. There are flowers around, the floors are tile, and the bakery counter is filled with yummies.

Portland Penny Diner: downtown Portland Breakfast

Flowers on display, Paley’s Place cookbook for sale.

Portland Penny Diner: downtown Portland Breakfast

Back in the back, away from the street.

Of particular interest were these Toaster Tarts, 

Portland Penny Diner: downtown Portland Breakfast

Mmmm, toaster tarts.

which is like the retro, real Pop Tart. I had one at Imperial once, and it rocked. It was buttery and flaky, with a strawberry filling and just the right amount of icing and sprinkles on top. Extraordinary.

No, today I wanted protein, so it was a breakfast sandwich for me. The menu offered several options, and I was tempted by the Hipster (tomato, hazelnut romesco [pesto], egg, pepperjack cheese) but went instead with the simple Reuben Croissant, with house cured pastrami, gruyere and an (optional) egg. It came out on a little baking tray, wrapped in foil, next to a fine Caffe D’Arte cappuccino.

Portland Penny Diner: Downtown Portland Breakfast

Croissant + pastrami + gruyere + egg = goodness.

The first bite of that croissant was all about buttery yumminess. The second was about perfectly-cooked eggy fillingness. Then came the salty pastrami scene. It was a party, and just the right size.

Portland Penny Diner: Downtown Portland Breakfast

Is it even possible to make it to 11 a.m. without one of these?

Meanwhile, I looked around and saw this little tray of droppers, and was stumped.

Portland Penny Diner: Downtown Portland Breakfast

Ummm … flavored eyedrops?

Turns out they make their own bitters in house, which I wouldn’t have recognized because I don’t drink anymore, and even when I did I wasn’t a cocktail guy. But it turns out that, in addition to their all day and late night menu, they also have a big selection of drinks, including cocktails, bracers, and warmers — as well as fountain drinks and sodas. I’ll have to come back for an afternoon break, too.

With the perfect breakfast of a croissant and cappuccino down my gullet, I was ready to wade back into downtown Portland. Out the door I went, said thanks to the hotel doorman, and headed over to my office to do some writing.

Portland Penny Diner is at 410 SW Broadway, in the lobby of the Hotel Lucia. Its open 7 to 7 Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, and closed Sunday. You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter. You can also follow The Breakfast Guy’s Twitter list of Portland Breakfast Places. And here’s The Breakfast Guy on Facebook.

Keep up with all Portland breakfast news by subscribing to my Breakfast Bulletin, liking my Facebook page, or following me on Twitter.

And keep up with all things Paul – hiking, traveling, food and spirituality – over at PaulGerald.com.

And keep up with all things Paul – hiking, traveling, food and spirituality – over at PaulGerald.com.

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About Paul Gerald, aka the

I am the author of several books, including "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland" and "Breakfast in Bridgetown." My latest title is "Peaceful Places: Portland." I also lead hiking trips for the Mazamas and work for a really cool company called Embark Adventures.

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