Chicken and waffles. Chicken and waffles. Chicken and waffles. Yes, Screen Door became what's probably the most interminably packed restaurant in Portland—one whose shape-shifting jumble of almost-diners has become an omnipresent metaphor for our city's decadence—on the back of that gut-bustingly beautiful mountain of crispy, juicy goodness, fluffy starch and syrup ($14.95).

Once you summit Mount Chicken and descend to the rest of the menu, you'll find a wealth of thoughtful pan-Southern cooking that isn't necessarily the grease fest you've been imagining.

The Screen Door Plate ($14.75) lets you mix and match sides like fried catfish and baked beans with seasonal salads from a rotating "local/organics" menu, like a take on a caprese with heirlooms and sherry vinegar that was a nice complement to a sizable scoop of mashed potatoes served in a ramekin of gravy.

But make no mistake, Screen Door is soul food through and through. You'll struggle to find a way to order less than 2 pounds of food, and even those who triple down on salads will find themselves in a rock slide of Gorgonzola or Quadrello di Bufala. Screen Door may have blown up because of the chicken, but the depth to its menu keeps everyone coming back.

(Matt Wong)
(Matt Wong)

Eat: Screen Door's portions are gigantic, making starters unnecessary unless you're angling for leftovers. The Screen Door Plate is the customizable go-to for dinner, but the airy fried catfish comes highly recommended as one of your options. And you just can't go wrong with the fried chicken ($16.75).

Drink: The $28 bottle of Cava is an excellent, gently dry foil to a very luxuriant meal. Plus, there's something great about sparkling wine and fried chicken.

Most popular dish: Chicken and waffles.

Noise level: 90/100

Expected wait: Has anyone ever waited less than 30 minutes for a table? Expect 45 minutes to an hour at peak times. Wait it out over a boozy slushy at the Standard around the corner. Come on weekdays for breakfast and lunch, especially Tuesday and Wednesdays.

Who you'll eat with: Screen Door is Portland's everyman restaurant, so expect everyone from hip kids to dads to pot-bellied Midwesterners.

Year opened: 2006

2337 E Burnside St., 503-542-0880, screendoorrestaurant.com. 8 am-2 pm and 5:30-10 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-2:30 pm and 5:30-10 pm Saturday, 9 am-2:30 pm and 5:30-9 pm Sunday. $-$$.