Every June, The Oregonian publishes a guide to upscale Portland-area restaurants called Diner. Last June, Willamette Week published a guide to Portland diners, also called Diner. The Oregonian's lawyer asked us not to do that again. So, as Diner 2014 content begins populating the various streams, verticals and digital reader engagement platforms of OregonLive.com, we present Dinerz™ 2014, a guide to Portland diners. (Dinerz™ is not affiliated, and not intended to be confused, with Diner.) Because there are so many diners in Portland, we needed a theme. This year, all five diners in Dinerz™ are named for a person.
3871 SE Division Street, 233-3739, 7 am-9:30 pm daily.
Who's Tom? Tom, who’s owned the place since it opened in 1975, though his kids run it now. The waitress is not eager to share more information about Tom.
Tom’s neighbors: Tom’s closest neighbor is Tom’s, a divey sports bar known for the thick cloud of smoke wafting off from the picnic tables out front. Behind Tom’s is Authentic Thai—get the mussamun curry. Rite Aid is rite across the street, behind the bus stop.
Tom’s style: An old school dentist’s office waiting room, but with a sassy waitress who doesn’t come to a complete stop as she asks “You want cream?” If you do want cream, she pull seven little creamer cups out of an apron pocket and plops them down on the counter without breaking stride. When she gets back behind the bar, she rejoins the longest conversation about fleas you’ll hear all year. Check out the impressive wall mural.
Tom’s rules: Tom’s is anarchy. Some of the tables have Tabasco, others have Cholula, and one has Secret Aardvark. There's no obvious pattern as to what goes where. ANARCHY! The only attempt at maintaining any semblance of order is a numerical ordering system for the seven Club Breakfast platters.
Tom’s food: Tom's now has ciabatta bread. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s an interesting pivot for this Dazed and Confused-era diner, which seems increasingly out of place on this rapidly changing stretch of Division Street. Omelettes here are small and, with the fillings blended into the eggs, more like omelette-shaped scrambles than actual omelettes. Pancakes come with a big ball of fluffed butter—it covers about a quarter of the ‘cakes. The restaurant pours coffee from Boyd's, which is well-made and always on standby.