There are several restaurants and bars along the trendy and bustling NE 28th Ave in the Kerns neighborhood of Portland, and you’ll never lack for a great place to cool off with some gelato, grab a slice of pizza, or sit down for a craft cocktail at a swanky bar. But one the most coveted tables on this happening street is the City State Diner.
I remember when City State first opened back in 2010. I was so excited to have a diner-style breakfast joint in this part of town that wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or do anything too fancy. Now, 13 years later they’ve endured the boom and bust cycle that’s the downfall of so many Portland restaurants and sustained their popularity by serving solid breakfast and lunch plates in a city saturated by new restaurants trying to become the next big thing and forgetting what people really want—good and dependable food!
Both breakfast and lunch are served all day, and there’s not a single weak link on the menu. However, they’ve made a name for themselves with one dish in particular—eggs benedict. The eggs bennie at City State is kinda a big deal and you’ll see countless reviews heaping praises upon it. Like everything on their menu, they don’t do anything crazy with this classic breakfast dish; instead, they keep the basic components just as they should be and make sure they’re executed perfectly. The dill hollandaise sauce is perfect. The eggs are poached perfectly. Plus, you get to choose your toppings with traditional options like ham or florentine (tomato and spinach), but they also have less obvious choices like pork belly with apricot jam and arugula, house smoked tofu, or bacon avocado. You can even sub a homemade biscuit for the English muffin!
Some other favorites include scrambles like The George, made with house loukaniko Greek sausage, peppers, caramelized onions and garlic, and topped with oregano and feta cheese, or their Breakfast Meatloaf Deluxe made with a three meat breakfast meatloaf, topped with gravy and served with two eggs, house potatoes or seared grits, and toast. You may be questioning if you really want meatloaf for breakfast, but I’m here to allay any doubts and tell you you do.
Also outstanding is the Louisiana Crab Hash topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise and served with house potatoes or seared grits and toast. City State also makes sure every part of your meal is the best it can be. The breakfast potatoes are the perfect balance of crispy and tender, the seared grits are also crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle (until I had these I thought all grits were the same mushy consistency), they serve the best coffee (from local Portland roaster, Cellar Door), and they always have freshly made sweets like scones, coffee cake, and cookies.
Their lunch rocks too, but to be honest most people go for the breakfast since it's served all day. However, if you’re craving a sandwich, try The Brady made with turkey or corned beef, swiss cheese, greens, tomato and onion, or their Cuban made with ham, capicola, swiss cheese, house pickles, strawberry jam, and garlic dijon mayo made on a grilled French roll. You can also order juicy, ½ pound burgers or hearty, fresh salads.
Y’all, I really can’t say enough good things about this place and as a bonus they always feature cool artwork from local artists on the wall and they have a bloody mary that’ll knock the hangover right out of you (and almost serves as a standalone breakfast). City State has no-nonsense east coast feel, but still maintains a warm and friendly vibe. There will probably be a long wait on the weekends. Deal with it.
- Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 2:00pm
- Saturday and Sunday, 8:00am - 3:00pm
Address: 128 NE 28th Avenue, Portland