Fuller’s Coffee Is One of Portland’s Last Remaining “Diner-Diners”

At a time when “Old Portland” often just means “before Salt & Straw opened,” Fuller’s feels exactly as it has for 50 years.

Jimmy Mak's. Pearl Bakery. Byways Cafe. Henry's Tavern.

Even pre-pandemic, the condo-happy Pearl District had a tendency to chew up and spit out businesses both old and less old. And every time another went away, I would think, "Please don't let them come for Fuller's."

First opened in Northeast Portland in 1947, Fuller's Coffee Shop has occupied the corner of Northwest 9th Avenue and Davis Street since 1960. It's one of the last restaurants my wife went to in early 2020, and a place we always took our friends and relatives from out of town. It's not a brunch restaurant, third-wave coffee shop or dive bar serving all-day breakfast. It's a diner. An actual diner diner. At a time when "Old Portland" often just means "before Salt & Straw opened," Fuller's feels exactly as it has for 50 years: an echo of a city where the "Brewery Blocks" were actually a brewery, and you came to the building at 10th and Burnside to buy cars instead of books.

Of course, its usual mix of working-class regulars, business-lunchers, savvy tourists and the young and hungover can't currently congregate on vinyl stools around the restaurant's U-shaped counter. But at least they can still get a $4.95 hamburger or "Fuller's SOS"—that's "shit on a shingle," American military slang for mystery meat sauce on toast—for takeout or delivery.

The longtime family business—founded by Jack Fuller, then run by his son, John Fuller, and now part of the Urban Restaurant Group, which owns Brix Tavern and Urban Fondue—also opened what seems an obviously scalable spinoff: Fuller's Burger Shack at Cascade Station. Normally, this might be a good reason to wonder if the original Fuller's can remain the same. But right now, it's enough just to remain.

See all 24 Reasons to Still Love Portland here!

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.