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“Simply delicious...”
Review of Besaw's

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Ranked #123 of 4,341 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, Lunch, Breakfast, Late Night, 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 After Prohibition was repealed, Besaws was granted the first liquor license in the state of Oregon.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.
Cave Creek, Arizona
Level 6 Contributor
152 reviews
91 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Simply delicious...”
Reviewed May 6, 2014

Visiting some friends in the neighborhood and grabbed some breakfast at Besaw's. Only had to wait 30 minutes or so and it was worth every minute (hot coffee station outside while you wait). Can't believe we never got here when we lived here many moons ago.

Service was great, food was delicious and bloody's were excellent. One page of breakfast dishes and they pretty much covered the spectrum where everyone should be able to find something to satisfy your appetite and palate. Close quarters so if your claustrophobic - just get over and get in there!

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank PirateEC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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309 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Marriottsville, Maryland
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“The real deal”
Reviewed May 3, 2014

We couldn't easily find a breakfast place while in NW Portland but Besaw's was great. Very good service, food was good. During week days very accessible but weekends long lines. They have been there over 100 years. Must be doing something right!

Visited April 2014
Thank William D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Only Awesome”
Reviewed April 27, 2014 via mobile

This place is fantastic. Awesome food and ambiance. Get there early or you will have a long wait. My sister doesn't like breakfast and she loved this place. The staff is amazing and helpful.


Visited May 2013
Thank Gary N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boise, Idaho
Level 6 Contributor
150 reviews
76 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“A Very Special Place”
Reviewed April 23, 2014

When you eat at Besaw's you not only get an excellent meal but you are experiencing one of, if not the oldest restaurant in Portland. Not much has changed since the turn of the century and that's the beauty of this spot. It's tiny, so don't expect a lot of privacy, but if you are aware of that you can enjoy Besaw's for what it is. Great bar too.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank IdahoGirl83716
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
288 reviews
206 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 311 helpful votes
“Simply Excellent!”
Reviewed March 25, 2014

We stopped in here on our way back to our hotel on NW Vaughn Street. We sat at the bar because originally we wanted to get a drink and get out of the cold rain too. Unfortunately the place was packed but we did get a spot to sit. There was a family with screaming, I mean shrieking, children which was disturbing everyone within ear shot. The staff tended to it quickly and apologized for the family who did nothing to resolve their issue. That made us want to stay to eat as well.

We had some delicious appetizers and drinks. The bartender was friendly and really helped us to choose what was interesting to us. We never felt rushed. The food was fabulous and the drinks even better. Thanks for a great time!

Visited March 2014
Thank pahhobbs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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