$3.99 breakfast special at the Mock Crest Tavern
"Give me a fucking screwdriver!" booms a convivial man in a Hawaiian shirt. It's 9:30 a.m. on a weekday and the elderly, housecoat-and-slippers-clad regulars at the video lottery machines don't even look up. Everyone inside Mock Crest Tavern (3435 N Lombard St., 283-5014, mockcrest.com) has ordered the special: a hefty egg, ham and cheese English muffin sandwich, easily $8 at the average brunch spot but half the price here. (Leaving just enough in the budget for that screwdriver.) KAT MERCK.
$2.50 for hash browns and toast at the Cheerful Tortoise
The Cheerful Tortoise (1939 SW 6th Ave., 224-3377, cheerfultortoise.com) can't decide whether it is a Coors Light bar or a Bud Light bar, as demonstrated by the dozens of competing knickknacks lining the walls. But Portland State's wood-paneled dive bar lets the neon pretend to be daylight, which works well when you've spent all night on the floor of your late-bloomer friend's dorm room. What you need now is breakfast, as quick and cheap as possible. At $2.50, perfectly browned and crispy hash browns and toast are only a quarter more than a bottomless cup of black coffee, and endlessly more energizing, allowing you to step squinty-eyed into the sunlight anew, like the head of a turtle peeking out if its shell when the birds are finally gone. PARKER HALL.
Deuces breakfast at Marathon Taverna
You have to wander through a crowd of 11 am regulars and their slurred demands for crisp $1 bills as change for a morning tallboy of Rolling Rock, but the cheapest breakfast in town is at Marathon Taverna (1735 W Burnside St., 224-1341, marathontaverna.com). For just $2, crisp bills or not, you will get two eggs, bacon and toast, cooked in the classic diner style, to enjoy with a hung-over grin while you watch whatever European soccer or golf programming is on offer. This morning marathon is the finish line for the previous night's. It's a throbby-headed New Year's Day miracle. PARKER HALL.
$3 Safeway breakfast burritos
While the service is wildly inconsistent from one Safeway deli counter to the next, most customer service-related affronts to your busy schedule are easily forgiven when one considers the size and price of Safeway's breakfast burrito. It's basic—just eggs, cheese, jojos and a choice of deli meat topped with a zesty ranch sauce—but it's easily twice the size and half the price of just about any other competing burrito. Earlier is better, as there's rarely more than one employee working, and Subway sandwich artists they are not. But the likelihood they'll forget to ring you up for add-ons like bell peppers or tomatoes amid the logjam of savvy morning commuters is quite high. Pro tip: The cold case at the downtown location (1010 SW Jefferson St., 205-1849, safeway.com) is always stocked with the pre-made versions of these protein grenades in case you'd rather skip the line and use your Oregon Trail card to foot the bill. PETE COTTELL.