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 was the best dining neighborhood in 2015?
Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury
Inner Southeast. Sorry starving artists, you can get fed super well down there now. Noraneko, Renata, and Taylor Railworks all joined an already pretty good eating area this year.
Diane Morgan, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author
Central Eastside with Renata, Bit Saloon, Taylor Railworks, Plaza del Toro, Olympia Provisions, and Noraneko.
Michael Zusman, cookbook author, restaurant critic (and judge)
Division is still on my "no fly" list due to persistent traffic engineering stupidity (though I cheat from time to time because of all the great places there). But in terms of an up-and-comer, it has to be Central Eastside Industrial area because of popular newcomers Noraneko, Taylor Railworks, Alma, Ancient Heritage Dairy, and Renata. Those are in addition to Boke Bowl, Clarklewis, Bunk Bar, and Olympic Provisions [sic]. Great area, though parking can be pretty crappy.
Ben Tepler, Associate Food Editor, Portland Monthly
Central Eastside, for sure. You had Holdfast, Renata, Bit House Saloon, and Taylor Railworks all move in—not to mention all the great tasting rooms popping up there, like House Spirits and Smith Tea.
Concordia came into its own. I don't know if I would call it the best—more the impressive rookie. Old Salt is the anchor, with Mae behind it once a week. Pollo Norte, and now, Pizza Jerk and Red Sauce Pizza. Division and the West End still have more places to eat and will continue to do so.
Gary Okazaki, professional glutton (aka Gary the Foodie)
Central Eastside. I was pleased to see some attractive new additions to the neighborhood such as Renata, Taylor Railworks, Bit House Saloon, Noraneko, Loyal Legion, and Holdfast Dining.
Andy Kryza, senior editor, Thrillist Portland
Nevermind 2015. Can I just predict the best dining neighborhood of 2017? Because at the rate things are going, it might end up being Cully. Who'd've thunk it?
Martin Cizmar, Arts & Culture Editor, Willamette Week
Rather than a neighborhood, I think the geographic story this year is the rise of the west side. For the first time in like two decades of Willamette Week's Restaurant of the Year, it was a west side spot (Imperial). So was the runner-up: St. Jack. And the number three: Mediterranean Exploration Company. We didn't plan that and were kind of amazed it happened. But there's a lot of energy on the west side now, for the first time in a generation.
Kathleen Bauer, food writer and blogger, Good Stuff NW
No place like Northeast: We live within walking distance of Alberta, Killingsworth, Cully, Williams, and Mississippi. Cully has to be the up-and-comer.