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How to Beat Portland Brunch Waits

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Portland's most popular brunch restaurants share inside tips on skipping the lines.

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Screen Door Restaurant
Screen Door Restaurant

With the conclusion of Breakfast Week, it's time to think toward the weekend, and that means brunch—and long lines. But here's the ace up your sleeve: tips for beating brunch waits, straight from the mouths of the owners and employees of some of Portland's most popular brunch restaurants. So prepare to be the gal or guy with the solutions. Here are tips for beating the lines at Jam on Hawthorne, Broder, Besaw's, Trinket, Toast, Screen Door Restaurant, Sweedeedee, and Tin Shed Garden Cafe.

Jam on Hawthorne

"We serve brunch seven days a week, and during the week, Fridays and Mondays between 10 a.m. and noon are the only times you'll find a short wait. Even on our busiest days, the lines rarely develop by 8 or even 8:30 a.m., or after 2 p.m When you do have to wait, we have coffee outside and there's a full bar, and we try to create more of a coffee shop environment. People can order something and sit at tables outside. Grand Central Bakery is across the street, too, if you want something to tide yourself over." —Owner Katie Prevost, Jam on Hawthorne

Image credit: Yelp

Broder, Broder Nord, and Broder Söder

"Our main tip for not waiting for brunch is to come during the week. Saturdays and Sundays are going to be busy no matter where you go, but weekdays are almost always more mellow. Same food—often better; less rushed service, and no lines. This brings us to our next tip, which is to prepare for the wait! Pack an apple or a string cheese or some other little snack to avoid getting hangry. Also, simply accepting the fact that waiting on the weekends is inevitable tends to make waiting a bit less demoralizing."—Rebecca, Broder Nord

Image credit: Broder

Besaw's New Digs Revealed in Photos

"Come early or late: You're much more likely to avoid the wait all together if you show up right when we open. It's a gamble, but things tend to ease up at around 1:30 p.m. Plan to stop in, put your name on the list, and grab a coffee at New Seasons [at least until sister-project The Solo Club opens next door with Water Avenue coffee]. Come by yourself, or in a big group: Parties of one can almost always sneak in at the bar, and we take reservations for parties of 6 to 12 via phone or email. We serve brunch every day of the week, so if all else fails, come on Tuesdays!" —Kate Blairstone, Besaw's

Image credit: Dina Avila/EPDX


"The best times to arrive are 8 to 10 a.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m. Our staff also takes names over the phone for parties while they are on the way to Trinket. This is true for parties of all sizes, and we can approximate a wait time over the phone. We offer coffee and cocktails while folks are waiting. Also, after a guest checks in in-person, we will take a phone number and call them when their table is almost ready. Tom's bar is just a five minute walk from Trinket. They offer food too, but anyone would be silly to eat there instead of Trinket. Also, since we're small, we have space for one to two large parties a day." Owner Gina Helvie, Trinket

Image credit: Trinket


"Portlanders love brunch. Hands down one the best brunch cities in the country. At Toast, early is always better. The best time to arrive is right when we open at 8 a.m., as somewhere between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. the line starts. Here's a well-kept secret: The Bird + Bear has been doing Sunday brunch for three or four weeks now. It opens at 10:00 a.m., and Saturday brunch is coming soon—mid-March or the beginning of April." Owner Donald Kotler, Toast and The Bird + Bear

Image credit: Yelp

Screen Door Restaurant

"This past June, in our tenth year, we finally opened for breakfast and lunch during the week. Our most accessible days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but any weekday is far easier to get in than on the weekend. We serve almost all of the same great items we serve on our weekend brunch menu for our breakfast offerings, in addition to an entire lunch menu. If your only option is to come on the weekend, the shortest wait is getting here at 8:30 a.m., a half hour before we open, to be in line with your whole party (we can't seat incomplete parties when we are on a wait or expect to be on a wait). Also, we do take two reservations per meal period for six or more, up to 12 people. We do limit those to only at opening on Saturday and Sunday, but we can usually be more flexible on weekdays." Co-owner Nicole Mouton, Screen Door Restaurant

Image credit: Yelp


"The cafe is so small (22 seats in all) the wait can end up being long. To avoid a long wait, I always say, come for lunch! Our sandwich and salad menu is where its at. There is a small, postage stamp-sized park across the street that I suggest people to have a slice of pie whilst they wait for a table, especially when it's sunny. Visiting Mississippi Records is the best way to pass the time waiting for a table, and you get to add to your record collection! If you are an early bird and arrive at 8 a.m., you could be the first one to get the NY Times crossword puzzle." Owner Eloise Augustyn, Sweedeedee

Image credit: Yelp

Tin Shed Garden Cafe

"We're always busy. The best bet is to come early, and we're usually full by 9 a.m. If you can, send one person in your group early to put in their name. Just remember that everyone has to be present to be seated. That's within reason, though. If someone has put in their name and gone exploring, we give them about 10 or so minutes to get back to the restaurant." Waiter Jim, Tin Shed Garden Cafe

Image credit: Facebook/Tin Shed