Dot’s Cafe

By Cat Wurdack

2521 SE Clinton St.

Mon – Fri 12 pm – 2:30 am

Sat/Sun 10 am – 2:30 am

Brunch until 2:30 pm


adots-outDot’s Cafe has been a Clinton neighborhood tradition since the nineties when it was frequented by the late Elliott Smith and other grunge artists. Willamette Week recently reported that Dot’s is the only place in town former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck regularly hangs out. It’s been praised as one of the last non-yuppified holdouts in Portland which makes it unique in a town that has been all but swallowed up by pants-on-fire foodies.

The low-lit, 70s kitsch cafe-bar across from the Clinton Street Theater offers a sprawling menu of traditional brunch items (waffles, benedicts etc.), burgers and sandwiches, quesadillas, salads and fries, and rice bowls. The drink menu offers house-made sangria; cocktails incorporating house-infused spirits; and a handful of $2 beers (GF+).

adots-inThe Dot’s burger — a half-pound Cascade beef patty with applewood smoked bacon, blue and jack cheese, tomato jam and aioli on a brioche bun — is the most expensive item on the menu.

The vegan burger is composed in-house of pureed broccoli, beets, carrots, garbanzo beans, rolled oats, garlic, and sundried tomatoes, and served on a ciabatta roll with a spicy sauce made with local Ota tofu.

The Asian chicken bowl includes chicken breast, sauteed vegetables, gluten-free soy-ginger sauce and brown rice. Other menu features are eggless caesar salad, bacon-cheese fries, a mezza plate of hummus, falafel, olives, feta and cucumber with pita and other delectibles. You’ll also find nachos, a pulled pork banh mi, the Original Garden Burger, falafel and many sides under $5 including black beans, fried chicken and gravy, home fries, and kale with red pepper sauce.

Indeed, there is something for everyone.

“We’re available for everybody, but we’re not a bridge and tunnel bar,” says owner Johnny Ricci. “As much as we are fairly establishment now, at night, it can get a little rowdy.”

When Ricci and his business partner Eli Johnson bought the place in 2012, they wisely left everything quirky about Dot’s intact: the vintage booths, velvet brocade wallpaper, big-eye Keane paintings and 70s movie posters.

There’s no tv (because Dot’s would rather promote good conversation than watching the tube) — but there is a photo booth.

aatlasNote: Ricci recently opened Atlas Pizza at 3570 SE Division as well. “It’s the affordable neighborhood spot that Division would have had 10 years ago,” Ricci says. “It’s the place that delivers pizza (and the beer you want to drink with it) and where, if you were a high school kid, you could play pinball, drink soda, and eat pie.

Dot’s Cafe

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