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Meredith Goad

Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.

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Posted: January 16, 2018

Maelily Ryleigh’s might not be the hippest spot, but you won’t leave hungry

Written by: Meredith Goad

Photo by Meredith Goad

In a town with so much delicious breakfast and brunch food, Maelily Ryleigh’s proves there’s still room for simple, affordable, diner-style bacon and eggs. No frills, no fuss, no bloody marys with your corned beef hash. This place is for the coffee and juice crowd.

The proof is in the parking lot, which always seems to be packed from 9 or 10 a.m. until the restaurant closes, depending on the day, at 1 or 2 p.m. I stopped going here a few years ago after I went in for breakfast one morning and was told the wait to be seated would be a half hour. I don’t mind waiting that long for a table at the latest hot restaurant opening, but I can always scramble some eggs at home.

This time, I arrived at 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday and practically had the place to myself. Maelily Ryleigh’s has customers of all ages, but clearly the earlier hours, if my experience was any indication, are when young people bring in their parents or grandparents for breakfast. By the time I left, the demographics coming through the door were more diverse, and the parking lot was filling up fast.

Another advantage to arriving early is that the “Please Seat Yourself” sign is still up, and you have your pick of a standard table, a booth or a seat at the counter. The interior of the restaurant is cheerful; bright yellow walls are accented with red and bright green colors. The carpet is a little worse for wear (OK, maybe more than a little), but otherwise the place is clean and welcoming, with efficient service.

Whether you’re coming for breakfast or lunch, you can easily get out the door for $10 or less. Two eggs and toast with bacon or sausage cost $6.39. Omelets run in the $6 to $8 range. The menu is huge and offers muffins, cinnamon swirl French toast, apple cinnamon pancakes, home fries, corned beef hash and more. And specials are always on the board.

I was feeling tired and hangry, and ordered one of the combo platters, which came with two eggs, bacon, sausage and a choice of pancakes (it comes with two) for $8.69. It was variety, not quantity, I was shooting for, but when my food arrived, my eyes almost popped out of my head. Yes, there were only two banana walnut pancakes, but they were, as a colleague of mine is fond of saying, as big as your head. By the time I’d eaten the eggs and breakfast meats, I only had room for a taste of my pancakes. My waitress brought me a to-go box, and I ate them for breakfast on Sunday, with real maple syrup instead of the corn syrup-based syrup that had been on the restaurant table.

If you’re more in the mood for lunch, Maelily Ryleigh’s serves hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, soups and chowders.

Maelily Ryleigh’s

WHERE: 949 Forest Ave., Portland; 878-6575,
HOURS: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Mondays
WAIT: No wait before 8 a.m.; 15 minutes or longer during peak brunch hours
PARKING: Yes, a large lot

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