Screen Door: Southern Brunch in Portland’s Pearl District

In 2021, Screen Door opened in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon
In 2021, Screen Door opened in the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon

Screen Door, with two locations in Portland, Oregon, is a southern and soul food restaurant popular for its decadent menu. In 2006, Louisiana transplants Nicole and David Mouton opened the first Screen Door location on Burnside Street in eastern Portland. In 2021, a second location opened on Couch Street in the Pearl District.

You will find all your favorite southern comfort foods on the brunch and dinner menus at Screen Door. This includes fried chicken, catfish, chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, buttermilk biscuits, and gumbo. But what makes Screen Door stand out from the rest is how they combine southern food with Pacific Northwest cuisine. You can think of dishes on their menu as a marriage of fried and fresh foods.

Apart from the food, Screen Door prides itself on being a neighborhood restaurant and a meeting place for all. They also play an important role in the local community. This includes donating money towards local businesses, organizations, and causes.

On my recent visit to Portland, I stopped by the Pearl District Screen Door location to try the food out for myself.

Interior of Screen Door

Beautiful interior of Screen Door, Portland, Oregon
Beautiful interior of Screen Door

It was a rainy, cold, and gloomy day in Portland when I visited Screen Door. But, everything changed when I walked through the doors and into the bright and open dining room. The interior of the restaurant was beautiful. While I haven’t visited too many restaurants in the south, this is how I would imagine it to be like.

There was a large open dining room packed with tables and busy with people. At the far end of the room were a few booths. On the left was a small counter with a few seats against the window. On the right was a wide marble-topped bar with more counter seating.

I found the restaurant to be bright and cheerful, even on a gloomy day. White ceilings, white walls, and hanging lights brightened up the space. And, large windows surrounding the room allowed plenty of natural light to shine in.

Though inviting and cozy, the d├ęcor was clean and modern. You had wooden floors, red brick columns, flowers, lamps, subway tiles, and floral wallpaper. The unique design was different from anything else I encountered in Portland.

The dining room was much louder than I was expecting. The atmosphere was boisterous with people talking, sounds from the kitchen, and music playing in the background. For me, it wasn’t an issue as I never found the sound to be too loud. But if you are looking for a quiet meal, you might want to look elsewhere.

Covered outdoor dining space, Screen Door, Portland, Oregon
Covered outdoor dining space

Out front of the restaurant was a covered outdoor dining area with every table occupied. This was impressive on a cool, rainy day. If the weather is nice, or you don’t mind sitting outside, be sure to notify the hostess that you would like to sit outside. I appreciated the propane heaters placed between tables, ensuring diners were warm and cozy.

Screen Door Menu

The menu at Screen Door Pearl District, Portland, Oregon
The menu at Screen Door Pearl District

I visited Screen door for brunch, so I will focus only on their brunch menu. If you would like to view the Screen Door dinner menu, you can find that at https://screendoorrestaurant.com/pearl-district-dinner-menu/.

There were many unique and interesting choices on the Screen Door brunch menu. From starters, to brunch specials, to sweet dishes, to southern classics, there was something for everyone. As mentioned before, the menu was a mix of southern soul food and Pacific Northwest cuisine. This included chicken & waffles, chicken fried steak, shrimp & grits, and a fried green tomato benedict.

As for drinks, there was a good selection of cocktails, craft beers, wine, Bloody Marys, and mimosas . And you had non-alcoholic drinks such as hot chocolate, lemonade, coffee, tea, juice, and soda.

Chicken & Waffles

A southern classic, the Chicken & Waffles, Screen Door, Portland, Oregon
A southern classic, the Chicken & Waffles

Chicken & Waffles ($15.00/1 piece; $19.00/2 pieces; $23/3 pieces) is a simple dish of crispy fried chicken and fluffy waffles. This dish, made with a buttermilk-battered fried chicken breast and sweet potato waffles, is one of the most popular items on the menu. With each order you have the choice of one, two, or three pieces of chicken. I opted for one piece. If you are looking to share, two pieces is perfect.

What caught my attention first was the buttermilk-battered fried chicken breast. Why? Because chicken breast is easy to over cook. Luckily, this was not the case at Screen Door. The chicken breast, pounded thin to ensure an even cook, was juicy and tender. On the outside, the golden brown breading was crispy and crunchy with a salty, rich flavor. The breading, which stuck to the chicken without falling apart, worked well with the juicy meat below. Don’t forget to ask for hot sauce on the side. A few drops of the spicy, vinegary hot sauce added a nice kick to the chicken.

Complimenting the crispy, juicy, salty, rich chicken were sweet potato waffles. The golden brown waffles, dusted with powdered sugar, looked beautiful. And, they tasted as great as they looked. While I wouldn’t say they tasted like sweet potatoes, the waffles were sweet. But not where it overpowered the dish. I found each waffle to be dense and firm and did not fall apart when covered with chicken and syrup. On the inside, the waffles were fluffy and soft.

Though simple, the combination of savory and sweet flavors mixed with crispy and soft textures was something special. After trying the dish for myself, I understand why the Chicken & Waffles is so popular.

Service

I visited the Screen Door on a busy Friday afternoon. On my arrival, there was a line of people waiting out front of the restaurant. When I peaked inside, I could see every seat taken. Luckily, the wait was only 30 minutes for a table.

When I sat down at my seat, placed in front of me by a server was the brunch menu. I was also offered a drink. I found my server to be professional and friendly but I could tell he was busy. After ordering, drinks arrived quickly but food took about 40 minutes. This was not surprising with how busy the dining room was. Since I was in no rush, this was not a big deal for me. But, this is something you should be aware of if you are in a rush or don’t like waiting a long time for food. Other than that, I thought the food and service was great.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a brunch spot in Portland, which stands out from the rest, then Screen Door is a great choice. No where else in Portland will you find a unique mix of southern food and fresh ingredients from the Pacific Northwest. And, the restaurant donates money to local business, organizations, and causes. While there is usually a wait for a table, and food can be slow to arrive, the wait is worth it. With an extensive menu and a beautiful interior, I would not hesitate in saying that Screen Door is one of the best brunch spots in Portland.

Pros

  • Delicious scratch made dishes
  • Exciting menu with interesting items
  • Beautiful interior
  • Friendly servers even when busy

Cons

  • Often a wait for a table
  • Service can be slow when they are busy
  • Loud dining room

Hours

Monday-Tuesday: 9:00AM-2:30PM
Wednesday-Sunday: 9:00AM-2:30PM; 5:00PM-9:00PM

Address

131 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209
GPS Coordinates: 45.52379,-122.68270

Map

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