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“Popular breakfast spot”
Review of Besaw's

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Ranked #120 of 4,343 Restaurants in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $1 - $30
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Families with children
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Breakfast, Lunch, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Neighborhood: Northwest District
Description: It started as a dream of opening their own beer parlor and gambling hall. And in 1903, George Besaw and Medric Liberty did just that. At the time, a booming industry full of loggers, longshoremen and their families were populating much of this vibrant corner of the Pacific Northwest. Loggers themselves, Besaw and Liberty received the generous help of Henry Weinhard, one of the nation's most successful brewers, to finance their dream. An immediate success with locals and visitors alike, Besaw's was conveniently located en route to the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition, a grand outdoors bazaar akin to the World's Fair, attracting many of the Northwest's - not to mention the world's - elite. With the onset of prohibition, the duo was faced with a difficult decision: either cease the service of alcohol or close the doors on their dream. Ultimately, Medric Liberty sold his half to Mr. Besaw who, as newly minted sole proprietor, introduced simple home cooking to the establishment. After Prohibition was repealed, Besaws was granted the first liquor license in the state of Oregon. The Besaw family honed the time-honored tradition of offering hearty food and memorable experiences at a good value. Stories of the infamous Clyde Besaw and his decades of service to the neighborhood are the stuff of local legend. The cafe quickly became the most popular meeting place amongst locals, with a reputation for a stiff drink, a scrumptious meal and lively conversation. Besaws' ethos remains a simple one: providing delicious, seasonal and local food and drink, with genuine warmth of heart. Since its origins in 1903, Besaw's has seen many iterations: soda fountain, 24-hour diner, leading light of Portland's ongoing Brunch Boom. Under its current ownership - Cana Flug has been at the helm since 2005 - Besaw's has seen its iconic status grow, from neighborhood favorite to national attention. Industry and neighborhood development continued their inevitable progression through Northwest Portland, and in 2015 Besaws was driven from its 112-year home. New digs were secured two blocks away, however, and in February 2016, Besaw's 2.0 flung its doors open wide to a comfort-starved public. Rather than try in vain to replicate its "scrappy little neighborhood cafe" charm, Besaws has instead embraced its role as a comforting touchstone of the Portland dining scene. Spacious, Art Deco-inspired ceilings, innovative lighting design and handcrafted wallpaper have replaced the original cramped dining room. The original neon sign still remains, though, as does our deft, genuine standard of service, delicious food, and spirit of community.
Portland, Oregon
Level 6 Contributor
105 reviews
78 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Popular breakfast spot”
Reviewed April 22, 2013

Besaw's on NW 23rd has been around since 1903. They have a small parking lot on 23rd, which is a real bonus in NW Portland, and a large bicycle rack in front. It is especially popular for breakfast, which is served Monday-Friday 7 am - 3 pm and 8 am - 3 pm on weekends. The weekends are a zoo, so we went on a weekday morning. It is still too cold in Portland to eat outside, but the restaurant fills up quickly so there is seating outside under an awning at the north side of the building. If they are serving outside, it can be cool inside as the side door remains open for service personnel. We ordered coffee, which is quite strong (flavorful) and how I like it. I had the Farmers Hash, with scrambled eggs, onions, kale, potatoes, bacon and cheese for $11.50. (It was so large, I could only eat half; so I will have breakfast for tomorrow.) The hash was tasty, although the bacon was very crisp and a little hard to chew. The multigrain bread is great. My husband's waffle wasn't as crisp as he likes, but the flavor was fine. The service is terrific, and I noticed they have a Build Your Own Scramble on the menu, which I will try next time.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Ewalina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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309 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“the perfect place for brunch, lunch or dinner!”
Reviewed April 14, 2013

Besaw's has a great atmosphere, great food and friendly service. the eggs benedict was amazing as was everything else that we tried! if you are going for breakfast on the weekend be prepared to wait a bit because there is always a line. it is well worth the wait and they even have a self-serve coffee stand. check it out, i'm sure you won't be disappointed!

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank weinerdoggy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Pricey but good”
Reviewed April 9, 2013

Service was decent- and in portland that is saying a LOT. The food was good. Not spectacular enough we where dying to go again, but it was good.

Visited July 2012
Thank Misha H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“Comfort food worth celebrating at Besaw's”
Reviewed April 7, 2013

Had my first dinner at Besaw's the other night. Eight of us gathered to celebrate Rebecca's 17th birthday. It's a cozy place, with additional "outside" seating under a tent with toasty warm propane heaters. The service was attentive and respectfully friendly (this is Portland, after all :-)). The food ... Yummy comfort food with some class. Well, if you call waffles with fried chicken classy! I had the steak with a subtle dollop of horseradish on top. Melted in my mouth. The Oregon-brewed hard cider was a lovely light drink and complimented my meal. Reminded me of being in Ireland.

No one rushed us. They even helped us serve the special birthday dessert Rebecca's parents brought along. The evening blew on by, rain pattering on the tent roof. When we finally left, all agreed:Besaw's serves up a mighty fine comfort meal! And Rebecca felt like she'd had a mighty fine birthday celebration.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Robin97229
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Great breakfast place”
Reviewed April 4, 2013

Eggs Benedict very yummy. Kids liked the Belgian waffles. This has become a favorite breakfast place while in NW portland, Get there early and no waiting!

Visited March 2013
Thank HappycamperOregon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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