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Ask Eater: Where Can I Find a Quick Breakfast Before 7 a.m.?

A reader is in search of a pre-work breakfast in a sea of closed cafes

Bindaetteok and eggs fry on the flattop at Cameo Cafe in Portland, Oregon.
The griddle at Cameo Cafe.
Molly J. Smith/Eater Portland
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.
Welcome to Ask Eater, an Eater Portland column where the site’s editor and reporter answer questions from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form with the subject line ‘Ask Eater.’

Where can I actually get a quick breakfast before 7 a.m.? I feel like all the places that used to do early morning breakfasts no longer do them, and I can never find something to eat before work. Any ideas?

— Nick

Hey Nick — This is totally a thing, and you are not alone. Maybe it has something to do with Portland losing its diners, or people working from home more often, or the constant looming specter of the labor shortage: Finding a quick bacon-egg-and-cheese or a bagel before 7 a.m. has become significantly more difficult. I do have a few ideas, depending on what you’re looking for.

My first, immediate thought is Delicious Donuts. Doughnut shops, in general, are going to be a safe bet: Heavenly Donuts, Donut Palace, Donut King, Sesame Donuts, Angels, and some Coco Donuts locations open before 7 a.m., some as early as 4 or 5 a.m. To me, Delicious is the standout option, however, and the menu has some strong options outside the world of fried dough — breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, that sort of thing. Artist Mike Bennett swears by the Papa breakfast sandwich there, which comes with a hash brown patty.

Historically, many Portland diners have opened closer to 5 or 6 a.m.; these days, however, most start serving breakfast at 7 a.m. (even the Original Hot Cake House, famously a 24-hour diner, opens at 7). Luckily, one of the few that qualifies is likely the city’s finest diner: Cameo Cafe’s Portland location opens at 6:30 a.m. every day, serving its coconut waffles and bindaetteok bright and early. In terms of a quick bite before work, I’d go for the Korean breakfast special — bacon, eggs, rice, and kimchi. Another classic diner option would be the Gateway Breakfast House, where President Obama ate that one time.

Beyond that... options are limited. I checked out my go-to bagel shops, and unfortunately, all of them open at 7 a.m. or later. Same was true for the breakfast sandwich spots, and our overarching breakfast spots. I checked classic greasy spoons like Slim’s and Nite Hawk — both 7 a.m. opens. I have one final thought that is kind of a fun option: Cascade Grill, the restaurant within the giant Jubitz truck stop up by Delta Park. It opens at 6 a.m. with a pretty substantial breakfast menu: steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict, Denver omelets. Truck drivers need to get their breakfast burritos early, right?