Marco’s Cafe – a Multnomah Village staple.
Tucked away in Southwest Portland, Marco’s Cafe and Espresso Bar is a restaurant popular for its brunch service among locals. It sits a few blocks down from the main thoroughfare of Multnomah Village. This cozy, quarter-mile stretch of shops and restaurants has the Americana feel of the old main streets of small towns, but it is also vibrant, alive, and a bit quirky. It is an extension of this atmosphere of the old paired with the new, the upbeat juxtaposed with the offbeat. The cafe sits on the first floor of the historic Nelson Thomas Building. Built in 1913, the architectural style is labeled “streetcar era commercial.” Inside, the high arched ceiling is hidden from view by hanging upside-down umbrellas. According to its website, this unusual decor serves a dual purpose: to dampen the sound that would otherwise ricochet off the tall ceilings and to help those in need. For every umbrella donated, they will provide 10 meals for the houseless community through the St. Francis Dining Hall.
I have been coming to Marco’s Cafe for years, so I knew to expect a short wait for a mid-morning brunch. There were only a few people ahead of my boyfriend and me, so we were seated within 15 minutes. Our friendly, brightly dressed waitress lead us past a tantalizing dessert case to our high-seated table. I started out with a regular brewed coffee. They use Equal Exchange coffee as part of their mission to consciously source their ingredients. It was rich and full-bodied without coming off burnt like some dark roasts.
Their breakfast menu, which is served all day, contains a wide variety of typical American fare. Omelets, scrambles, benedicts, pancakes, waffles, and even huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos all make the list. They also have rotating brunch specials. All entrées are served with toast and your choice of breakfast potatoes, fruit, or side salad.
I ordered Amy’s Omelet with a side salad and gluten-free toast. It is a three-egg omelet with chicken sausage, tomato, spinach, cheddar, Swiss, and jack cheese. When it came out from the kitchen, I was immediately struck by how beautiful the plate was. Unlike most side salads that are drab and boring, this one was bursting with color. The purple pickled onions, yellow beets, tomatoes, and cucumbers not only added visual appeal but combined with the shallot citrus vinaigrette, it turned normal mesclun greens into something I will remember. The omelet itself was tasty, but the filling was a bit lighter than I prefer. With three kinds of cheeses listed on the menu, I was hoping they would all be oozing out. This wasn’t the case, but the flavors worked well together and I would get it again.
Marco’s Cafe mission of responsible sourcing and giving back to the community resonates with many diners, but they also have the flavor and service to back it up. They even accommodate for a wide variety of tastes and dietary preferences. If you are looking for a fun, reliable brunch place and want to skip the hour plus wait time that some places in town have, I recommend you check Marco’s Cafe out. Grab a bite before exploring Multnomah Village or heading off for a hike in the Columbia Gorge. Perhaps I’ll see you there.