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 seven 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 Portland restaurant standbys of 2016?
Michael Russell, The Oregonian’s food reporter and critic
I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m a creature of habit. This year, I spent an embarrassing amount of time hunched over fried egg sandwiches and smoked trout salads at Milk Glass Mrkt, trying to save a little Castelvetrano olive focaccia for home; too many pizzas from Handsome Pizza (the Rico Suave is my jam), Lovely’s Fifty Fifty (whatever’s seasonal), and Pizza Jerk (Molinari pepperoni, either thin-crust or cast-iron); and a ridiculous number of pretzels dipped in lovely schmaltz and crisp wienerschnitzel with sides of perfect spätzle and several glasses of unusual German beer at Stammtisch. When they find a cure for gout, I will eat all my meals at Le Pigeon.
Kelly Clarke, senior editor, Portland Monthly
I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in salt and pepper chicken wings at Chinese Delicacy, a friendly little Asian spot on SE 82nd Avenue. Sweet-spicy and hot as lava, they are my poultry kryptonite. Downtown's American South-by-Southeast Asian cart Jook Joint has ruined me for regular hush puppies, with its corn-studded coconut corn fritters — moist, crunchy, jalapeno-spiked balls of wonderful. Also, breakfast at Coquine: deft tweaks on major comfort breakfasts, from rye pancakes to eggy breakfast sandwiches (and, obviously, a chocolate chip cookie to-go). And I drive across town for the fresh, spicy, avocado salsa the little Kaah Market hawks inside Portland Mercado.
Gary Okazaki, professional glutton (aka Gary the Foodie)
One of my new restaurant standbys was Accanto because of new chef, Chris Frazier, and his ability to create straightforward and affordable pasta dishes. I always look forward to seeing him at the stove making my pasta.
Michael Zusman, cookbook author, restaurant critic (and judge)
Little has changed — since closest to home is easiest, and I haven't moved: Old standbys are still St. Jack and Ataula. Further from home: long-term love for Aviary, Ox, Biwa, and Taylor Railworks. New adds: Grassa Due (NW 23rd) and Nong's bricks-and-mortar.
Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury
Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland
I eat at Nostrana more than any other restaurant. Pizza Jerk became my comfort food go-to. Maurice is still my spot for a long and leisurely lunch. Right now Poke Mon eats up the biggest chunk of my lunch budget. Arrosto roasted chicken is a game-changer. They could open one in every neighborhood — so good.
Andrea Slonecker, food stylist, cookbook writer, and recipe editor for Kinfolk Magazine
In preparation for a trip to Vietnam at the end of the year, I made frequent visits to the Jade District in the name of noodle research. Daily soups at Ha & VL and Rose VL, the namesake dish at Bun Bo Hue Restaurant, and hu tieu nam vang at MeKha (on Sandy) are favorites. Also: Apizza Scholls — always and forever.