Sure, sandwiches are classic. But they're obviously boring. Whichever way you turn them, the top is always bread. Toast is the future. And not just any toast—fancy toast. With, like, avocado. And sea salt. Sure, you could follow British TV chef Nigella Lawson's scandalously self-explanatory recipe and make avocado toast at home for no more than 12 pounds sterling, but who's got the time? This is where to get fancy toast at a cafe!
No. 2 Avocado Toast
3377 SE Division St., 971-302-6605, romancandlebaking.com.
To whom do we attribute the local explosion of fancy toast? We don't have the paperwork to prove it, but it seems likely Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson gets credit for taking note of the trend, which is rumored to have started in San Francisco. While there are critics—one Jezebel author wrote that "the trend of Artisanal motherfucking Toast" reaches "an incomprehensible level of pretentiousness"—they probably haven't had the No 2 at this clean, bright Division Street cafe-slash-pizzeria. An inch-thick slice of hearty super-grain bread gets another inch of avocado. It's a pretty much perfect stack of fresh green fruit fat sparked by a spritz of lemon juice and a few Mama Lil's sweet-hot peppers. Ignore the haters: I'm not sure I could make this cheaper than $7 at home, and I know I couldn't make it better. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Cup & Bar
118 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 388-7701, cupandbar.com.
Yes, there's $7 toast on the hand-drawn chalkboard menu, and yes, the window seating would offer a panoramic view of downtown if it weren't for an impending pair of condo buildings that will inevitably house whatever today's transplant boogeyman may be who is likely to be interested in $7 toast. But you know what? That toast is piled high with avocado and lemon ricotta, and dusted ever so gently with lemon zest and olive oil. It's damn near perfect. PETE COTTELL.
Pumpkin Butter Mascarpone
New Seasons Grant Park
3210 NE Broadway, Portland, 282-2080, newseasonsmarket.com.
Two years ago, the following sentence was dystopian science fiction: "At $3.49, New Seasons' toast is the most affordable." But in a genre consisting mostly of expensive ingredients, New Seasons gets to raid the company store for in-house product without necessarily sacrificing quality. So, that seasonal inch-thick French batard toast with pumpkin marmalade and mascarpone? Pretty damn good. Not to mention their avocado toast is appropriately haute, with olive oil and spice. And if you have a bread preference, you get to choose from just about anything in the New Seasons bakery. Just take note if you're in a hurry: Their coffee shop took a literal 20 minutes to make toast with two ingredients on top of it, and if you sit at a New Seasons table for 20 minutes, mothers stuck standing with young children will eye you like you're the Antichrist. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
6839 SE Belmont St., 384-2483, coquinepdx.com.
Does bostock count as fancy toast? OK, it's iffy, but let's roll with it. Bostock is made with day-old brioche that gets soaked with simple syrup and filled with crushed almonds, then toasted so it has a crisp, crunchy shell that gives way to soft and buttery bread you can pick up with your hands. So, it's like toast, but sweeter and better. French toast, we'd call it, were that not confusing. At the moment, you can get an excellent inch-thick slice dipped in orange simple syrup and baked off with almond cream and peach jam for a mere $4. MARTIN CIZMAR.
4025 N Williams Ave., 954-1243, poacafe.com.
Poa is the sort of breeder-friendly, upmarket cafe that has a kiddie gate en route to the back patio, plus a children's play area with mostly salutary toys and a menu that includes a shotgun blast of health smoothies alongside a $9.50 plate of underspiced avocado and egg on two pieces of multigrain toast ($6.50 without the eggs). That said, it seems to be the entirety of the avocado smushed up on the slices, and you get a little dish of spicy secret sauce on the side. Pale orange sauce on smushed avocado is not the most appetizing sight. But the sight will maybe distract you from the deafening, echoing racket of both free-running children and the musical children of Ani DiFranco. If it's a nice day, take your toast out to the vast rear patio. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
1223 SE Powell Blvd., 473-8703, southeastgrind.com.
Yes, there is fancy toast even at this 24-hour shop catering to strippers and students. The $5.50 slices are an update on the Grind's pre-existing awesome toast, but with suave feta instead of agrarian cheddar and gluten-free bread instead of Dave's, for the trendily (or actually!) intolerant. It's a healthy-tasting, relatively dry slab. But add the cafe's cure-all, hummus, and it's your best fancy bet on Southeast Powell Boulevard at 3:30 am. ENID SPITZ.
Country Wheat with Avocado
Upper Left Roasters
1204 SE Clay St., 477-8469, upperleftroasters.com.
Upper Left Roasters, the new cafe from the owner of the Pearl's Daily Cafe, took over the old Ladd's Inn dive bar in August. It's a very large (38 seats inside, 20 more outside) and pretty space, but there are kinks to work out with the limited menu, with includes five fancy breakfast toasts, and for lunch, a line of five open-faced sandwiches—in essence, five more fancy toasts. On a Sunday-morning visit, three sleepy-eyed baristas outnumbered the customers but botched my drink order, possibly distracted by either their lively conversation or the first Beach House record playing at road-trip-through-Kansas volume. The espresso was unremarkable, but they need to work on the toast. Like its cousins, Upper Left's $7 slab of hearty wheat bread from Philippe's, the ChefStable house bakery best known for Lardo's rolls, is slathered with a thick layer of avocado. It has chives, radish and a poached egg, but you'll taste none of it given the eye-watering flash of black-pepper heat in every bite. Driving away, I noticed my lips were still tingling. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Honey Toast Cafe
12520 SW Farmington Road Beaverton, 747-2712, honeytoastcafe.net.
Who says "fancy" means "healthy"? This Taiwanese-style deluxe honey toast ($9.50)—in a cafe that also serves fast-food-style popcorn chicken and somewhat watery Illy coffee splendidly reminiscent of British teatime—is quite possibly the fanciest toast ever invented. It is thick, perforated into squares for easy tear-off, and covered in macaron, white chocolate, ice-cream scoops and a mountain of local berries, plus decorated with baroque, nouvelle-cuisine swirls of caramel and chocolate. It tastes like everything, because it is. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.