Sometimes you want bad food that’s really good (or good food that’s really bad, depending on how you look at it). For a city full of scrawny hipsters, Portland has got this category of food covered quite well. One restaurant that fills the need quite nicely is Pine State Biscuits.
This place is not about dietary consciousness. This place is about warm food that’s perfect for those long, terrible, gray, freakin’ terrible western Oregon winters.1 I’m talking about biscuits, eggs, meat, gravy, pancakes, grits, hash browns… Food that will kill you, or at least puff you out to 300 pounds easy if you eat it often enough. Bad, bad, bad food. Good, good, good food.
I tried out Pine State Biscuits for the first time with my wife2 just over a week ago, as of this writing. I’ve had it bookmarked in Yelp for a long time, but haven’t really had the motivation to chose it over something else whenever we do get the free time to run into Portland to eat. There are a lot of good choices. The impetus to finally get it done was provided courtesy of a gray, dreary Saturday that eventually turned to rain, and it turned out to be a wise decision indeed. We headed over to their NE Alberta location, thinking it might be less crowded than the one at SE Division. I have no idea if that was true, but we didn’t have to wait in line to eat, so good enough.
It’s probably cliché or worse to just walk in and order the Reggie or the Reggie Deluxe, but I don’t care. If this is cliché, I don’t ever want to be… whatever the opposite of that is. Opt for the Reggie, and you get a wonderful, fat biscuit filled with fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and sausage gravy. Spending the extra dollar for an egg in the Deluxe version is just good sense, and indeed that’s what I did.
This place also has some pretty great hash browns (at least I think so, my wife was less impressed and characterized them as just ok). Get a plate of those too, and share them between yourselves. It’s pretty doubtful you can eat a full biscuit like the one described above plus your own whole plate of hash browns.
The drinks are interesting as well. I wanted to get a Stumptown nitro, which is apparently an extreme version of their Stumptown cold brew coffee, but they were out of all cold coffee options. I settled for a regular warm Stumptown brew out of their coffee dispensers. My wife wisely decided to be different and have a sweet tea, which I had to admit was really delicious. It’s a far better choice than plain old Stumptown coffee, which I generally find overrated compared to Happy Cup, Trailhead, and a few others. Hot coffee does make for a better cold day beverage though.
The restaurant interior has kind of a rustic, wood paneled look. We sat at the bar, which is a great choice for one or two people. It worked out for us, because the tables were pretty much full when we first got there. The only negative at the end of the bar we were at was the overhead fan that kept blowing my napkins away. It seemed a little humorous to have wind blowing strongly in an indoor seating area.
All in all, I’d give Pine State Biscuits two thumbs up. You’re probably not going to take anyone here for a business lunch, and you definitely shouldn’t eat lunch here on a daily basis, but none of that matters when all you need is some great comfort food and you’ve got a few extra calories to spare. Just make sure to get your bike ride in before you go though. You won’t want to exert yourself much afterward for quite awhile.