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Industry Experts on Their Top Restaurant Standbys of 2015

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St. Jack
St. Jack
Dina Avila/EPDX

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from best dining neighborhood of the year to top restaurant newcomers, and we'll be rolling out their expert opinions all week long. Responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Readers, please share your survey answers in the comments.

Q: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2015?

Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury

Le Pigeon; Kachka; Pho Oregon; Rose and Ha VL; and Marine Land Sushiopolis (my guilty-pleasure kaiten sushi spot near my office).

Diane Morgan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author

Biwa, Ox, Imperial, Paley's Place (sitting at the bar), Apizza Scholls, and Nostrana

Michael Zusman, cookbook author, restaurant critic (and judge)

Ataula and St. Jack. Having two of the city's finest in your own backyard—literally five minutes away from home—is fortunate, and I take full advantage, especially during the dreary dark days. For pizza and a caesar salad, Apizza Scholls is still my go-to. Likewise Podnah's for barbecue.

Ben Tepler, Associate Food Editor, Portland Monthly

The three spots I returned to again and again: Olympia Provisions, Bar Avignon, and Xico. All neighborhood spots; all punching way above their weight.

Chris Angelus, founder of Portland Food Adventures and Right at the Fork podcasts

Ataula, Imperial, Lardo, American Local, and any Gorham restaurant. Otto and Anita's Schnitzelhaus, Verde Cocina, and Broder. Marzano's Pizza in Manzanita. Camp 18 for breakfast.

Gary Okazaki, professional glutton (aka Gary the Foodie)

One could find me eating the starters at Le Pigeon; stuffing my face with foie gras hum baos at Aviary; eating brunch at Old Salt; drinking vodka and satiating my "sweet tooth" at Kachka; and carbo-loading with pastas at Renata. But my newest standby is Pizza Jerk. The most surprising aspect of Pizza Jerk is the non-pizza options. I thoroughly enjoy the dan dan noodles, fried rice, and spaghetti and meatballs.

Andy Kryza, senior editor, Thrillist Portland

When my wife was pregnant, she lived on a steady diet of Life of Pie, which I had previously refused to visit because I hate bad puns in restaurant names. But damned is that a tasty pie. Maybe it's the pitch-perfect sauce, or the homemade cheese. Or maybe it's because the staff is extremely friendly and gave me a brief escape from pregnancy hormones. Regardless, after six straight months of eating it three times a week, I'm still a regular.

Honorable mention goes to Milk Glass, which manages the charm of Sweedeedee without the lines (yet).

Martin Cizmar, Arts & Culture Editor, Willamette Week

I'd have to look through my stack of personal expense receipts to know for sure—a grim and dispiriting task—but I'd bet they're Enat Kitchen and PREAM. Enat has been up and down this year, as they're so busy, but they're always pretty good and sometimes truly outstanding. I can't get enough of the vibe, pizza, and drinks at PREAM.

Kathleen Bauer, food writer and blogger, Good Stuff NW

My husband and I don't go out much—frankly, dining out is way too expensive for us to do on any kind of regular basis—so I'm hopelessly out of date on the "hot list." As a matter of fact, several of them will close before we ever get a chance to go to them. (Cases in point: June, Levant, Noisette.) So our standbys are places that make the kind of food we love and source ingredients from local farms and farmers: Bar Avignon, Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, Old Salt Marketplace, Nostrana, Lucca, and Davenport. Tastebud has to be included even though it's just opened (we've been twice) because Mark Doxtader and Sarah (of Lovely's) are the god and goddess of wood-fired pizza made with local ingredients. Burrasca has become a favorite on our hit parade, as well.