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Pok Pok, Chesa, and the Word ‘Instagrammable’: The Year in Dining Grievances

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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.

Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury

This is actually maybe aimed more at my fellow food writers, but it bleeds over into dining: Stop calling any aesthetically-pleasing dish or space "Instagram-worthy" or "Instagrammable." I was guilty of it too for a while, but jesus is that some cliched, lazy writing.

Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland

Chesa. We loved it. Every time we went it was busy. I wish I would have supported it more because I wanted to cry when it closed.

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

The precipitous drop in quality at Pok Pok. I mean, I have LOVED Pok Pok dearly for a decade, since Andy Ricker ran it himself out of the shack out front and served nothing more than crazy good roast chicken and green papaya salad. Then, there was the groundbreaking — at least in the U.S. — slate of street food dishes Andy developed once he was able to move into the house and newly-created basement dining room next door.

In the last year or so, however, I’ve crossed both Pok Pok Noi and Whiskey Soda Lounge off my list indefinitely after miserable meals. Last visits to Pok Pok NW haven’t been so wonderful either. Even the original on Division wasn’t on top of its game last time I was in — seemed as though everyone and everything there was on autopilot — and it’s such a tourist magnet that it’s impossible to contend with during summer or on weekends. I have my theories about Pok Pok’s fall from the pinnacle, but without insider knowledge all I can relate is my experience.