Welcome to Diner 2013ânot a guide to the Portland areaâs best restaurants, or even to the best Oregonian-operated diners, but a seven-part series where we ate at seven Portland diners we hadn't been to in a while. Over the next week, we hit standbys where you can get eggs and coffee at a counter early or late in the day. Diner 2013: It's the best name for a series about Portland diners published in 2013.
City State Diner and Bakery
128 NE 28th Ave., 517-0347, citystatediner.com.
Neighborhood: Broadly speaking, itâs Laurelhurst, though City State exists on a specific strip of NE 28thâbetween Red Flag, the bar with the frozen margarita machine and the policy against serving Dave Matthews fans, and Beulahland, the bar that introduced Portland hipsters to soccer, and across the street from a Coca-Cola corporate buildingâthat almost deserves its own name.
Vibe: A bit nondescript, frankly. Or, if weâre forced to give it a name, âNorthwest 23rd-y.â A small lobby leads into a medium-sized dining area with large windows and an L-shaped counter with antique lights dangling above it. The music is Pitchforkian, the wall art includes a painting of a gorilla in a chefâs hat mixing pudding. Itâs neat and clean and a bit devoid of personality, but on Sunday mornings enjoys a packed waiting list of scruffy, hungover twentysomethingsâwhich you can credit to its location, or the sign on the sidewalk reading âBacon Served All Day.â
The Grub: As with its dÃ©cor, City State keeps its menu fairly standard, with the requisite brunch items and slate of sandwiches and burgers, while tossing in a couple of requisite eyebrow-raisersâa Greek sausage scramble, hazelnut challah French toastâto justify its existence in Portlandâs glutted brunch scene. The country-fried steak ($10.50) was a bit dry, and mostly treated as a gravy receptacle. My companion ordered the Louisiana crab hash ($12.50), which, while satisfying, was essentially a plate of scrambled crab cakes. It all came out of the kitchen before I had time to make any headway on my Bloody Mary, though, and considering that I can usually polish one off before the silverware arrives at most breakfast places in town, the speed with which the food hit the table was perhaps the dinerâs most impressive trait.