If you’ve ever been in Portland, ME on a weekend you know that its residents and visitors alike don’t mess around when it comes to brunch. While some may take the weekend as an opportunity to sleep in, many are up and attem on a Saturday or Sunday by 8am, patiently queuing for a table at one of their local favorites as soon as doors open. And for good reason. From freshly baked pastries and wood fired bagels to luxurious eggs benedict and classic corned beef hash, Portland is flush with brunch headliners.
We might be biased (okay, we definitely are) but we’re also not alone in thinking that Hot Suppa is one that shouldn’t be missed, even if that means waking up early to grab a coveted seat. We’re not restaurant guides but we love working with them and imagining all the happy waffle-eating people that get a little taste of Maine maple at this southern-inspired spot, so we want to give them a proper introduction on our blog!
The Hot Suppa Fundamentals
Open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, Hot Suppa is the southern destination Mainers didn’t know they needed. Co-owned by brothers Alec and Moises, they serve American classics made from scratch in simple perfection. But how did this soul food eatery end up on the main drag of a coastal, northern city? Well, like many good stories it starts with an adventure!
In 2004, the Portland-native brothers set out on a culinary road trip. They focused their travels on the South where, “we loved the food and knew it was harder to find at that time in Maine,” Alec said. Without the help of the prolific online restaurant reviews of today, they had to do a lot of digging to find the best neighborhood restaurants/institutions to visit. “Most of the time it involved talking to locals about where their favorite spots were.”
In many ways, visiting these local establishments and understanding their role in the communities solidified the brothers’ desire to create a hub for their own friends and neighbors. “We make all our recipes from scratch and treat our guests as if we were serving our family.” That familial care, dare we say love, comes back to them too.
“Life unfolds inside these walls,” Alec explains. “Engagements—sometimes breakups—, family celebrations or catching up with a friend. Interacting with our team, vendors and guests is the most rewarding part of the restaurant.”
What's for Suppa?
If you don’t mind immediately getting hungry, check out the full Hot Suppa menu here including some amazing brunch cocktails ranging from classics like Irish coffee and mimosas to Maine signatures like a rotating selection of alcoholic kombucha. But if you’re anything like us and making decisions when faced with such a glorious selection is a challenge, here are some crowd favorites Alec suggests.
“Our buttermilk waffle topped with whipped butter and Maine maple syrup is delicately thin, sweet, salty, and buttery… Fried green tomato eggs benedict, mother clucker, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, corned beef hash, and oh, did I mention our waffle?”
… we’re drooling.
Alec also says if you’ve never indulged in a chicken and waffle drizzled with sweet maple syrup and dashed with your favorite hot sauce, it’s a must try. And if you’re feeling inspired to get in the kitchen, make sure to use chicken thighs for the juiciest most flavorful result.
Maine Full Circle
While their travels brought them into warmer weather states, the brothers returned to their home state of Maine to launch their scratch made operation. “Maine is the package deal. Beaches in the summer, ski mountains in the winter and some of the best all-around food and beverage scenes in the country,” Alec said. “I feel lucky to be born and raised here.”
And like lots of other Mainers, the folks at Hot Suppa continue to honor and uplift their fellow local establishments, like us at Sap Hound and others. “We use local ingredients as often as we can. It's fresh, usually tastes better and keeps more dollars within our state economy,” Alec said.
Try their maple latte, for example, which uses our syrup for a creamy, lightly sweet way to start your day. Or grab a berry granola bowl made with organic granola from Grandy Oats in Hiram, Maine.
The more years that Hot Suppa is around, the more connections they build with local producers. “We have forged relationships with a great network of local producers and other vendors, and whether we're reaching out to a new vendor or the vendors find us, it usually happens organically through these relationships,” Alec said. Just another piece of being a neighborhood spot.
But running a business in Maine isn’t always easy. “We've always faced challenges over the years, and we've learned that challenges can help to highlight what needs to be adjusted or changed,” Alec responded. “It's how we get better.” He explained that the best approach to any new obstacle, for the restaurant industry or otherwise, is to keep a finger on the pulse of your community. “Staying focused as a team to give our guests the best experience we can offer is our north star.”
With that as their guiding principle, it’s no wonder they’ve been around in Portland for almost two decades and are one of the highest rated brunch spots in town. The best way to support them, and therefore the local producers they work with, is by giving them a visit.
As Alec said, “now in our 18th year, some things have changed, but we're still a neighborhood place, we hope a friend tells a friend not to miss.” Well, this is us telling all our friends and customers too, don’t miss Hot Suppa! And after you leave full and happy, we hope you’ll spot some strangers deliberating over the menu outside and tell them to head in.