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 the top restaurant newcomers of 2015?
Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury
Coquine, revamped Little Bird, Taylor Railworks
Diane Morgan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author
The pop ups Doi Dua and Nodoguro and newbie restaurants Taylor Railworks and Coquine
Michael Zusman, cookbook author, restaurant critic (and judge)
It's been a good year for newbies. Doi Dua burned hot for me, but alas, it will soon depart for D.C. Tommy Habetz's pizza newcomer, Pizza Jerk, is fun and delicious. Nomad.PDX, in their new downtown digs, is a thrill ride. I'm also a fan of Erik Van Kley's march-to-his-own-drummer stylings at Taylor Railworks. Coquine has been doing a great job, too.
Ben Tepler, Associate Food Editor, Portland Monthly
Coquine and Holdfast. Jury is still out on Pizza Jerk.
Too many to list, but Taylor Railworks and Coquine can't be overlooked. La Moule is excellent—best mussels I've ever had. I loved Milk Glass Market and Red Sauce Pizza and wish I lived closer.
Gary Okazaki, professional glutton (aka Gary the Foodie)
There were three new PDX restaurants that I found very enjoyable: Coquine (in my opinion, the best new PDX restaurant), Taylor Railworks, and Renata. Katy's food at Coquine is executed at such a high level: rustic with compelling flavors. Erik creates vibrant dishes (noodles alla Johnny is one of my top five PDX dishes of 2015). Renata and Ava Gene's make my favorite pastas in the city, and Renata's dessert program has gotten a complete and much needed revamp from Kir Jensen, formerly of The Sugar Cube.
In the USA, my favorite new restaurant was Mourad Lahlou's eponymous restaurant. I had an absolutely stunning meal at Mourad in March. My favorite dish was a duck liver terrine with pistachio cake and blueberry gelee. It was very deserving of its Michelin star in its first year of operation. It was a "golden year" for new restaurant openings in San Francisco.
My overall favorite new restaurant was Jean Francois Piege's Le Grand Restaurant in Paris. My meal was a memorable gastronomic experience, from the Gulla Jonsdottir-distinctive restaurant design, to Chef Piege's sophisticated savory creations (e.g., lobster from Brittany with foie gras, blackberry, and fresh almond) and the elegant desserts of the equally elegant Nina Metayer (e.g. chocolate with fresh raspberries and raspberry snow).
Andy Kryza, senior editor, Thrillist Portland
The same as everybody's, I'm sure: Coquine.
Martin Cizmar, Arts & Culture Editor, Willamette Week
It wasn't a great year for openings in general—did someone already say that? Another thing everyone will say: Coquine. And I don't disagree. The new Tastebud in Multnomah Village was a pleasant late-year surprise. I think Farm Spirit has a chance to become something really special. I was also very stoked on Chicken & Guns. Kurt Huffman should get those folks a building already.
Kathleen Bauer, food writer and blogger, Good Stuff NW
Tastebud. Burrasca. Love their [Burrasca's] take on Florentine classics like ribollita—peasant food that uses the simplest ingredients like old bread, leftover beans, and greens to make a bowl of comfort; pappa al pomodoro; and the deeply intriguing combination of squid and kale that is inzimino. I'm hoping they'll find a source for the fourth stomach of a cow, the abomasum, so I can have the famous street food favorite of Florence called lampredotto.