It’s nice the Kupie cone sign is still there. The ramshackle drive-in at the corner of Southeast 39th and Holgate avenues has been any number of things over the years, but the cone shaped sign has always been a nostalgic landmark for me.
The Kupie’s latest incarnation is Sunday, a breakfast and lunch diner that deserves a cone of its own. Opened recently by Dot’s veterans Benjamin and Shannon Caulfield, Sunday is a fresh and endearing take on the Portland breakfast joint. Late weekend breakfasts are a tradition in Portland, and almost anywhere with eggs, coffee and sausage is promised a line of attractive hangovers come early afternoon. The problem is that only a handful of breakfast places in Portland are worth all the attention. Sunday is.
It’s not that Sunday is trying to do something incredibly different, all the classic breakfast fare is there, but what Sunday accomplishes is something better. The food tastes fresher, the specials are more exciting and the atmosphere is wonderful. Filled with second-hand Formica tables, impeccable music and unmatched coffee cups, Sunday just feels nice. It’s not just a hipster joint, but also a neighborhood one.
During our last visit we shared the cozy restaurant with a couple of neighborhood retirees jawing over omelets, a table of punks in bullet belts with veggie scrambles and vegan corndogs, and a group of men in golf shirts and matching BMW’s having salmon cakes and frittatas. Even the mailman stopped in early to make sure someone saved him some soup for the end of his route.
And there’s the rub. It’s the details that equal success. The dishes may be traditional, but the Sunday’s take on them is anything but. The variety suits everyone. Vegans aren’t reduced to nutritional yeast, tofu and dry toast because the Caulfields know Portlanders love junk food, no matter their subgenre or diet. The potato pancakes are spiced to perfection (with dill? oregano?) and come sided with some of the most incredible applesauce I’ve ever had.
The tofu red flannel is possibly the first time my wife has finished off a plateful of beet infused food out of delight rather than obligation. I have friends who will not stop talking about the crawfish crepes (unfortunately just a special) and not only will Sunday not mock your love of the peanut butter and maple syrup combination, they will give you more peanut butter than you could ever possibly use. For all this quality the menu is surprisingly cheap. Dishes all hover around the $5 – $6 range, with things like omelets and frittatas underbidding most of the neighborhood competition.
If I could muster a single complaint about the place it would be its size. Even during the week you may have a wait and on the weekend you can be guaranteed at least one cup of coffee before you get seated. And at the rate this place is gaining popularity I have to assume it’s only going to get busier. But isn’t anticipation the sweetest spice? Closed Mondays – even God had to rest, right?