Crank the amps to eleven — it’s time to announce the winners of the 2016 Eater Awards in Portland. These winners comprise the chefs, restaurants, and bars that truly made an impact in Portland in 2016. They've defined this year in dining, and we applaud them.
But first, a quick recap: This year, we’ve changed things up. Editors selected winners from the nominees, and readers voted to award one nominee in each category with a readers’ choice award. The awards are geared toward places that have opened in about the past year, or people who have become involved in new ventures or otherwise changed the game in that time, which is why many renowned veterans don't appear.
The national winners can be viewed here, but now, without further ado, here's who came out on top in Portland:
Restaurant of the Year
Editor’s choice award: Han Oak
It’s hard to imagine a more dynamic restaurant than Peter Cho‘s Han Oak. Located at 511 NE 24th Ave., it’s open for dinner on Friday and Saturday and brunch on Sundays, and on other nights, it’s filled with boundary-breaking chef collaboration dinners, private events, and more. Slipping inside the unmarked restaurant, the courtyard, typically filled with vintage furniture, is the first surprise. The second shock is just how crave-worthy the Korean plates are, from dumpling soups to that sincere blood sausage, playing a leading roll in the current Korean food trend in Portland.
Reader’s Choice Award: SuperBite, the new restaurant from Ox chef-owners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton.
Chef of the Year
Editor’s choice award: Maya Lovelace (Mae)
Over the past year, Maya Lovelace showed just how far her Mae pop-up supper club could go, with her signature Pacific Northwest-ized Southern hospitality and love of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and grains. With the right variety of corn, Lovelace’s fermented corn kernels draw analogies to caviar — not to mention her fried chicken with that funnel cake aura. To keep things interesting in her perch in the private events space behind Old Salt Marketplace, Lovelace recently launched brunch, too.
Reader’s choice award: Maya Lovelace (Mae)
Design of the Year
Editor’s choice award: Century Bar
After almost a year of delays, Century Bar opened with the design it’d promised all along: a bar that looks like a high school basketball court. All the more impressive is that the owners themselves, including members of the Lightning Bar Collective, did so much of the construction themselves, and the mahogany bleachers have been filled since. Sports fans come in for the big games, which are shown on large television screens that descend from the ceiling, while others hold everything from weddings to private parties. It’s a one-of-a-kind space that’s actually one-of-a-kind.
Reader’s choice award: The Bible Club, the impeccably detailed speakeasy-style bar in Moreland decorated almost entirely with pre-1930s artifacts.
Bar of the Year
Editor’s choice award: Bit House Saloon
When Bit House Saloon first threw open the doors to its historic digs, it delivered an ambitious bar program involving everything from rare whole barrels of spirits to boozy Otter Pops. It has only grown more ambitious since. This award goes to Bit House Saloon for continuing to be one step ahead of the cocktail, wine, and beer trends.
Reader’s choice award: The Bible Club, whose bartenders bring classic cocktails into the 21st Century, while using pre-1930s bar tools.
Restaurant Spin-off of the Year
Editor’s choice award: SuperBite
Ox chef-owners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton gave Portland a restaurant truly dedicated to the flavor punch: amuse-bouche style “superbites” to dazzle the palate, with small plates and large platters of roasted meats to seal the deal. SuperBite takes this award for its creativity: Those Spaghettios are no gimmick, with fresh truffle and house-made pasta. SuperBite also gets top marks for its cocktails, service, and atmosphere.
Reader’s choice award: Pizza Jerk, the new restaurant by Bunk’s Tommy Habetz that made national press for its innovative pizzas, like one inspired by dan dan noodles.