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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

24 hours

Features Kid-friendly
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted

Southeast Portland
1002 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, OR
(503) 236-7402
Original Hotcake House
A mandatory midnight mass for hash

Original Hotcake House is to Portland’s rowdy post-bar late-night dining scene what CBGB was to 1970s New York City music. It predates that decade by several more, though, claiming a 60-plus-year run as Portland’s go-to spot for midnight breakfast and 3am steak. The high neon sign outside is totally retro-Vegas. It’s easy to see even from the backseat of a cab, with double vision and everything.

Whether you’re only in town to see a show or you’re a longtime local, chances are good you’ll end up here in the wee hours, rubbing elbows with the stumbling, the tattooed, the mohawked, the loud—not quite the dregs of society, like you might expect from watching movies. Come at 5:30pm, and you might find a Steve Buscemi look-alike cowering in a stained booth, enjoying a greasy burger and fries. There’s something distinctly Tom Waits-ish about this place, and we hope it never changes.

Breakfast is the main event here—breakfast anytime, of course. Eggs come with tons of meat: thick ham slices, greasy bacon, and a cup of crumbled chorizo. The hotcakes are good and the syrup is not; the hash browns are shredded and crispy on the outside, and squishy inside. Cheese isn’t just on the omelette—there’s a side of omelette with your cheese. It’s awesome.

The coffee is strong, burning and getting gross on a hotplate for hours (unless the place is busy, in which case it’s more likely to be fresh). You can watch short-order cooks move with the impressive automation of one of those top-hatted drinking birds; and there’s a jukebox of old-school jams. A thick coat of grease captures years of dust and probably even the houseplants in the place are weather-proof from it.

About those steaks: listen, this isn’t a Morton’s or anything. You get what you pay for, which isn’t much. If you want it medium-rare, order it rare. If your heart hurts, you can chew on a side salad of crisp, cool iceberg lettuce with a cherry tomato rolling around in it like some accidentally dropped thing. This is the comfort food of America, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all rolled into one.

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