Portage Bay Café serves a wide variety of creative breakfast dishes that are not only delicious, but health- and environmentally conscious.
With friendly service and outdoor patio seating, the café provides an excellent place for enjoying a relaxed weekend brunch with friends.
Portage Bay offers full breakfast and lunch menus that include numerous organic, vegan and gluten-free options to help give its customers a healthy start to their days.
The restaurant is one of the most popular breakfast spots in the U-District, with lines often out the door, but owner John Gunnar said it wasn’t always this way.
“It was pretty quiet for the first few years, until we began to add more organic options. This really allowed us to tie in with the community and gave us a niche,” Gunnar said.
A vegan himself, the owner can understand the specific demands of many customers more concerned with the ingredients in their food. It is for this reason that Portage Bay’s menu includes such items as vegan chai and soy-milk oatmeal and gluten-free buckwheat pancakes.
Even for other customers who might not seek out organic food, it can be an added benefit of dining at Portage Bay. Incoming UW-Tacoma freshman Nick Casanova, who was having brunch with his brother, cited the healthy ingredients as a bonus to eating at the café.
“I came because the food was great last time I had it, but the fact that it’s organic makes me feel better about what I’m eating,” Casanova said.
Health benefits aside, Portage Bay’s breakfast and brunch items are just plain delicious. Although the menu includes the classic American breakfast items of eggs benedict, oatmeal, pancakes and French toast, it is their inventive take on these traditional items that sets them apart.
It is unlikely that your average diner would serve anything like Portage Bay’s savory Dungeness crabcake benedict, consisting of fresh crab cakes served atop an English muffin with organic poached eggs and topped with hollandaise sauce. Although their eggs benedict and omelets are more than enough reason to visit, it is Portage Bay’s pancake and French toast dishes that really draw rave reviews from their customers.
“I had whole-wheat pancakes last time I was here, and those were great,” Casanova said.
The organic apple and whole-wheat pancakes are a decadent helping of two giant pancakes topped with sautéed local apples, raisins, pecans, cinnamon and honey butter.
In addition to their pancakes, Portage Bay offers a number of French toast items made from Great Harvest Bread Company bread, including the inventive bananas Foster French toast, which is topped with a house-made, rum-caramel sauce and organic, fair-trade bananas.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of ordering one of Portage Bay’s pancake or French toast dishes is that they include a trip to their toppings bar, which consists of an assortment of fresh berries, pecans, maple syrup and fresh-made whip cream.
The restaurant is located at 4130 Roosevelt Way N.E. and has been at this location for 10 years.
But this month, a second Portage Bay was opened in South Lake Union, although Gunnar said he does not plan to expand the restaurant any further.
“This is it — just two locations,” he said. “I don’t want to get any bigger, because you tend to lose control of quality.”
Portage Bay Café serves breakfast all day and is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. However, seating is often limited, so if you have the foresight, it’s worth calling ahead for reservations.
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