A couple of Saturdays ago I was on foot doing a few errands in Portland when hunger pangs hit and an overwhelming need for eggs and toast overtook me. I stood near the Portland Museum of Art to weigh my options and a bolt of breakfast lightning pulled me down Free Street to the corner of Oak and right into Marcy’s Diner. Although there were a few parties waiting outside, this solo gal was able to slip right past them and grab a stool at the counter.
I had already had my morning coffee but a tall glass of water hit the spot while I happily perused the old-school menu of classic diner offerings (note: Marcy’s is cash only). Feeling no need to color outside the lines of comfortable stand-bys, I opted for “Breakfast B,” (two eggs, bacon or sausage, toast and hashbrowns for $6). Hashbrowns, as far as I’m concerned, have always been far superior to homefries and Marcy’s is in such agreement with this sentiment that they don’t even offer homefries. Good for them! I ordered my eggs scrambled, went with sausage and chose Texas toast. Did I want the toast grilled, my server asked? I’m sure my sparkling smile conveyed my answer before my lips did.
The joint was jumping so it took a little while to get my food, but this actually enhanced my Marcy’s experience as I got to gaze at the huge shelf of hot sauces and take in the local color of the place. Speaking of hot sauce, I was offered it a couple of times but it’s really not my thing. But then a guy (maybe one of the owners?) suggested one with the word tiger in it with the words “trust me.” So I did. It was delicious and with just a little kick it upped my sausage happiness quotient immensely. My scrambled eggs, although not particularly fluffy, were tasty. The two slices of Texas toast were intoxicating slices of grilled perfection. But let’s not forget about the hashbrowns. They added the fourth part of the harmony that was this breakfast.
So satisfied was I upon leaving that I made the decision right away to return with a friend. Reliable lunch date Jen met me there about a week after my first visit, this time on a Thursday. Despite it being lunchtime, I couldn’t tear myself away from the breakfast menu so I ordered almost the same thing, but instead got the corned beef hash instead of sausage and opted for over easy eggs ($7.25). Jen choose a tuna melt ($8, served with lettuce and tomato and chips) and when she heard me order Texas toast she asked if they’d put her melt on that. Before too long silence descended upon our booth as we dove into our meals. Nothing beats eggs yolks swirled into hash and then scooped onto toast. I was in heaven and although I was surprised to hear the hash came out of a can, I would order it again in a second. As for Jen, she was over the moon and emailed me later to say it was “more delicious tuna than I have ever seen stuffed into a sandwich.” The warm, crunchy buttered Texas toast oozing with melted cheese also dazzled Jen. “Dare I say, one of the best tuna melts ever” was how she ended her note.
Let’s be honest, my figure won’t be helped by repeated visits to Marcy’s (though they do offer several terrific sounding salads) but when I need something reliable, without any pretense and certainly affordable, Marcy’s is my go-to place. I hadn’t been in about four years and now have been twice as of late. I’m sure they’ll see me there soon and though I’ll have to stay away from the Twix Muffin (I am not making this up) on their specials board, I am likely to visit the “Pancake Corner” part of the menu. They also have something called “The Neuge” ($7). It is Taylor’s ham with 2 eggs and American cheese served on a bulky roll with hashbrowns. Wow!
47 Oak St., Portland | 207-774-9713 | nicemuffin.com
HOURS: 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday; closed on Tuesdays
WAIT: about 10-15 minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: No (about a 10-inch step up to enter)
NOTE: Marcy’s is cash only