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Industry Experts on Their Top Restaurant Standbys of 2017

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A communal table at Han Oak butts up against a set of built-in shelves next to a staircase, which leads into a small kitchen and chef’s counter.
Han Oak
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 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.

Gary Okazaki, professional glutton (aka Gary the Foodie)

To borrow a quote from The Highlander movies and TV series, “There can be only one.” And for people who know me, they know “The One” is Han Oak — my sanctuary.

Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury

You will always find me eating Asian noodles, particularly at Pho Oregon, Ha and Rose VL and Marukin. Duck House has also become a steady favorite at lunch. Pizza Jerk's cast iron pizza! Just ate another stellar meal from Gabe Rucker at Le Pigeon.

Michael Russell, The Oregonian’s food reporter and critic

As a creature of habit, this list probably won’t look that different than last year’s (and I’m too lazy to check): Probably because my wife grew up in a former German stronghold in Queens, New York, we are closet regulars at Stammtisch, the fantastic German beer bar and restaurant from Dan Hart and chef Graham Chaney. The staff are awesome, the beer list is nonpareil and the food is both exactly what you’d expect and surprisingly good.

Other addictions include Nong’s Khao Man Gai (very good boys get fried chicken skins), the smoked trout plate (and that olive focaccia!) at Milk Glass Mrkt, tacos de guisado at De Leon’s, soup at Rose VL, Chris Frazier’s pasta (mostly at Accanto; he’s at Renata now), those silky curries at Hat Yai, and pizza at Apizza Scholls.

Erin DeJesus, deputy editor of Eater.com

It's an old spot, but Tan Tan Cafe and Deli in Beaverton has become our destination for noodle soups and to-go banh mi — we discovered it this fall and are nowhere close to eating through its extensive menu. Closer in, Duck House has finally satiated a very specific Chinese-food need, and the order is nearly the same every time: Soup dumplings, wontons in chili oil, salt and pepper shrimp (shell on). And Murata continues to be the go-to "happiness" restaurant; aka where I make a beeline when it's been a long day/long week (and there were many of those days this year. Get the chirashi or the crab nabe).

Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland

Maurice because it's wonderful in every way. Tusk for veggies. Nostrana for being better than ever after 12 years and counting. Hat Yai because it's so crave-able during our seven months of wet and cold. Pollo Norte on Glisan for being great and well priced (it’s shocking that it isn't packed every night because the value is unbeatable).

In 2017 I rediscovered Bar Mingo, Kens Pizza, and Navarre — all incredible and uniquely Portland places we're lucky to have. Country Cat at the Airport is such a godsend for those of us who have to travel a lot, and I spent more Saturday mornings at Pho Hung on Powell than anywhere else. Also rediscovered Toro Bravo — John has been spending a lot of time in Spain, so there's some nice new surprises on that menu. Also love ChicPDX, Basilisk, and the Zipper in general.

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

In addition to the usual neighborhood favorites — St. Jack and Ataula — I have came to enjoy the multi-regional Chinese fare at Danwei Canting. The dishes here are like nowhere else in Portland, and the flavors and textures run the gamut from spicy and challenging (Li Zi Chicken aka hot pepper chicken bath) to comforting (won ton noodle soup) to outright addictive (peanuts in sweetened black vinegar).

Another standby is Kachka, but only when the weather is lousy. The cold and damp makes me yearn for Bonnie Morales’s version of Russian cuisine: the classics, contemporary twists on traditional, and her completely original inspirations based loosely on her heritage.

Finally, Ox. It remains consistently at the top of its game, rarely varying from the Pacific Northwest-inflected Argentinian parrilla fare it has been offering since the day its doors opened. The other great thing about Ox is that it has something for everyone, from meat-and-potatoes Republicans to restricted diet snowflakes to demanding food snobs.

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