French toast at Portage Bay Café. Would you wait 45 minutes for it?


Portage Bay Cafe

(original U District location)

When: Saturday, 11am

The Wait: Sixty-five minutes, on the sidewalk, in the rain. (Told it would be 40. Should’ve reserved—but even reserved parties sometimes wait 15 minutes.)

Worth It? Weirdly, yes—it’s impossible to overstate the appeal of the toppings bar: overflowing bowls of perfect fresh berries you can heap with abandon on your French toast or Swedish pancakes.

Plan B: Call another Portage Bay (South Lake Union, Ballard). If another line is shorter, get on the list…then drive like hell.


Toulouse Petit Kitchen And Lounge

When:  Saturday, 11am

The Wait:  Thirty-five minutes, mostly spent browsing the Lower Queen Anne shops, then queued up outside.

Worth It?  Yes. Believe the hype. Once seated (in the bar) service was swift and the Creole benedict marvelous. The creamy fried oyster and thick-cut bacon really jived.

Plan B: Peso’s. Next door, owned by the same folks (only with huevos in place of eggs), and similarly boozy. With a consistently shorter line.


When: Sunday, 10am

The Wait: A solid 45 minutes. Which many would-be diners spend sitting cross-legged in the building’s adjacent atrium.

Worth It?  The menu inspiring that long wait is standard, hip New American brunch fare: omelets, French toast, a bacon-egg-arugula breakfast sandwich. Still, the French toast is standout—craggy and thick, with a topping of the day. Less exciting: being seated in what felt like an overflow storage area.

Plan B: The Southern menu at Witness, just a block down on Broadway. Less fanfare, more cocktails. 

Geraldine's Counter

When: Sunday, 10:30am

The Wait:  Twenty minutes that breezed by: Tables turn quickly and Columbia City offers surprisingly good people watching.

Worth It?  Definitely—if you’re into brunch classics and hearty portions. Despite the constant crowds, a spinach, feta, and basil omelet arrives as pristine as it did for the first diner of the morning. 

Plan B: If you aren’t into waiting but are into coffee and pastries, cross the street to Columbia City Bakery. The croissant is the solution to all of life’s problems.


Meanwhile, check out our roundup of Seattle's Best Brunches.  


This article appeared in the February 2015 issue of Seattle Met magazine.

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