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Food Experts Share The Biggest Dining Surprises of 2017

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Big’s Chicken
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)

The new owners of Chin’s Kitchen, Wendy and Cindy Li, transformed the once moribund restaurant into one of the best Chinese restaurants in the city.

Andrea Damewood, restaurant critic, Portland Mercury

I was surprised by how much I disliked Jackrabbit — I honestly went in expecting it to be great.

Michael Russell, The Oregonian’s food reporter and critic

Someone else will say Chin’s Kitchen and be correct, because who saw that coming? But I was pleasantly surprised with the way our 2017 Rising Star, Güero, made the leap from food cart to full restaurant so seamlessly. Owners Alec Morrison and Megan Sanchez nailed the difficult transition, expanding the menu in smart ways, developing a bar program, designing a beautiful space and keeping prices within reach.

Erin DeJesus, deputy editor of

Chinese food had its moment.

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

Probably the emergence of Jacqueline as a local top table. Focusing on seafood is tough. And they had a few strikes against them: moving into the old St. Jack space following a failed initial successor; the diminutive size of the restaurant; and an initial few months that, frankly, weren’t all that impressive. Yet, when I was assigned Jacqueline for the WWeek restaurant guide, I had a great meal and have had two or three since that have been right up there. It’s become a go-to seafood favorite.