Portage Bay Cafe is an affordable, fun, and delicious brunch spot. They have 3 locations: South Lake Union, Ballard, and the University District. The University District Portage Bay is smaller and cozier than the Ballard location which has more of a warehouse-meets-cafeteria vibe. It is much brighter, though, and I actually prefer it to the University District location which always seems too out of control and hectic for my taste. If you are without a reservation on a weekend, be prepared to wait for a table at either location!
Atmosphere aside, all of my Portage Bay experiences have been positive. I have, however, learned that it is important to be very clear and diligent with the servers. On one occasion, my eggs arrived with a piece of (not gluten free) toast perched atop. And it is also worth noting that Portage Bay Cafe has a self-service “fruit bar” which comes with many of the brunch items. I have never tried it because of the likelihood of cross contamination (see ‘self-service’), but I hear it is a lot of fun!
The menu makes life very easy for people on a gluten free diet. They mark gluten free items very clearly and accurately. They even make their own gluten free bread for toast or french toast! I like the swedish pancakes so much, though, that I have a hard time ordering anything else. The swedish pancakes are rice & tapioca flour and come with lingonberries and lingonberry-butter, both of which are amazing.
Portage Bay Cafe’s Swedish Pancakes