Riding the gravy train

Gravy. The very word is comforting. It’s something that everyone’s grandmother made and that everyone’s mother at least tried to recreate.

Gravy. The very word is comforting. It’s something that everyone’s grandmother made and that everyone’s mother at least tried to recreate.

Gravy is a dynamic food. Depending on where you go in the country, it’s always different. In California it’s light and savory. In Georgia it’s thick with bacon-y goodness.

Gravy is always evolving. You can get it made from chicken, roast beef, pork roast, turkey, sausage, milk or mushrooms, and the list goes on and on.

Gravy, the restaurant, is a breakfast haven that serves—not surprisingly—gravy. And though that gravy is delicious and smooth and not even a tad greasy, one look at the menu and you’ll realize it’s about so much more.

Anything you could ever have a craving for is right there in front of you. There are five different types of hash and more omelets than you can shake a stick at. The breakfast sandwiches are numerous and there are several combination plates. Whether you’re a sweet or savory breakfast person, there is something on the menu that will speak to you.

There are biscuits and gravy and pancakes and French toast. All of the usual sides are present. And everything is cooked just like you ordered it. (Praise a higher power for a place that can actually cook up softly scrambled eggs.)

Even the condiments are outstanding. Gravy has a collection of incredible hot sauces that are highly unique. The selection includes a standard red hot sauce from Aardvark, but there is also a delicious green sauce from the same company. Both are smoky and taste fresh, with just the right amount of heat.

To wet your whistle there are numerous juices and great coffee—their own special blend. There is also a selection of smoothies that come in familiar flavor combinations.

One of the things that makes Gravy desirable as a breakfast destination is the distinctly Pacific Northwest flair. One of the best items on the menu is the smoked salmon hash, for which the salmon is smoked in-house. It is, in a word, perfect. It’s salty and smoky. It’s crunchy and tender. It fascinates your mouth to no end.

That’s another thing about Gravy. They use standard PNW ingredients but they do it in a way that—even if you don’t feel like your back at Grandma’s house—creates familiar and comforting flavors. If you’re from here, it’s easy to take these distinct ingredients for granted, but even for the Portland born-and-raised, Gravy’s menu awakens a real appreciation for such comforting food.

The whole place is comforting, really. The dining room is airy and bright. The owners have used reclaimed materials in decoration, which lends a lived-in feel to the place. There are antique gravy boats lining the walls and the curtains are a “Grandma’s kitchen” plaid.

The staff is always pleasant and quick with the coffee. The chefs cook in an open-air space that fits the atmosphere of the restaurant. The portions are gargantuan. One serving of anything is enough to feed you for breakfast and dinner. Or you can share with a friend. The split plate charge is a measly 50 cents and should be taken advantage of.

All of this being said, there is one serious drawback to Gravy: the wait. For all of the reasons outlined above, Gravy is an immensely popular breakfast spot. It may also have something to do with the fact that it really is the perfect hangover food. Saturday mornings are a logjam. There is always a highly varied group of people huddled together in the window seats, sipping cups of coffee and waiting hungrily for a table. Obviously, if you don’t want to wait an extended period of time, it’s better to get there sooner rather than later.

Of course, if you’re a late riser, Gravy has you covered. They start serving a lunch menu in the later part of the morning and it continues until 3 p.m. The lunch menu seems a little less inspired than the breakfast menu, but the food is just as good.


Gravy is open every day of the week from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can expect to spend about $10 on a breakfast plate, but keep in mind you will have leftovers. If you want something a little more exotic, such as one of the hashes, expect to pay a few dollars more.

For my money, there isn’t a better breakfast place in town when it comes to food and atmosphere. Climb aboard the Gravy train as soon as possible.



3957 N Mississippi Ave.