March 8, 2012

Eat and Run: Hot Suppa, Portland

Fans of the Portland eatery are legion – with good reason.

There's a lot of reasons people in Portland love going to Hot Suppa.

click image to enlarge

Michelle Pickrell delivers a patron's Cuban sandwich with soup during a recent lunchtime.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 703 Congress St., Portland; 871-5005

HOURS: Breakfast and lunch, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; dinner, 5 to 9:15 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

CHEAPEST GRUB: Two eggs any style with toast, $4.50; single buttermilk waffle, $2.99

WAIT: Five minutes

PARKING: On street only


RATING: **** 1/2

Based on a five-star scale

Here's one of them: My breakfast arrived on a big blue platter in what seemed like two minutes flat, and didn't taste like it had been sitting under a heat lamp for hours. It was fresh, hot and delicious.

I ordered the popular three-egg scramble for $6.95, which comes with a choice of cheese and one other ingredient, from a list that includes breakfast meats as well as vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and caramelized onions. I chose Maine cheddar and sauteed spinach.

The eggs were hot, fluffy and so plentiful, I couldn't finish them. (Why is it that restaurant portions are larger than what you would make at home? Three restaurant eggs often seem like a half-dozen home eggs.)

The scramble also comes with hash browns or grits and your choice of locally baked white toast, whole wheat, marble rye or cinnamon raisin. I chose the cinnamon raisin toast and grits.

The grits were a pleasant surprise -- hot and thick like you would find down South, not runny or gummy as you often find north of the Mason-Dixon Line. A larger bowl of these grits alone, along with maybe some toast, would have made a fine breakfast on its own.

Hot Suppa is a small place, with 10 to 12 tables (including lots of wooden booths) and bar seating for four, but the friendly staff doesn't rush you. There's local art on the walls and hot sauce on the tables. If you feel the need for a little hair of the dog, they do serve some eye-openers such as mimosas, a Cajun Bloody Mary and "The Dude" -- Allen's Coffee Brandy, vodka and milk.

As for the food, it seems as if there's something for all appetites. If you're not that hungry, the menu has plenty of smaller but still delicious options for you, from a single buttermilk waffle to specialty bagels and egg sandwiches.

If you're starved and really "hungry for breakfast," Hot Suppa's specialties are the most tempting. Along with eggs benedict and quiche, there is a breakfast burrito and the restaurant's famed corned beef hash.

The hash is made with shredded corned beef that's cooked nice and crispy on the outside, but remains soft and juicy on the inside. Bits of onion and carrots are mixed in, as are chunks of creamy potato, although there weren't many potatoes in the side order we tried.

Hot Suppa also has its own version of Southern biscuits and sausage gravy, served with two eggs and hash browns or grits.

If you're feeling virtuous, the section of the menu devoted to "farm grains and fruits" will satisfy you without blowing your diet. The Fiddler's Green Farm 7-Grain Organic Porridge -- a mix of wheat, oats, corn, rye, rice, millet and barley -- is served with raisins, brown sugar and milk. Yum.

There were also a number of specials on the board the day we visited that sounded alluring, and provided us with an excuse to go back. I, for one, would love to try the breakfast poutine with local cheddar curds, sausage gravy and fries ($8.95) served with two eggs.

Mon Dieu!

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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