As the year comes to a close, Eater sites across the country are celebrating the highlights and bemoaning the lows of 2019. Here in Portland, Eater contributors and food personalities are sharing their thoughts on the year in a series we call the Year in Eater. In this edition, we explore our go-tos off the clock, for martinis or fried chicken or pho delivery. For more year-in-review stuff, take a look at our 2019 retrospective package.
Gary Okazaki, Instagram influencer and co-host of the podcast Walk-ins Welcome with Gary & Michael:
“My top standby will shock no one who knows me: Han Oak, my home away from home. Next in line would be Scotch Lodge, my favorite bar in PDX. Lastly, this will surprise some people: Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant. You will find me there drinking bubbles. I don’t know if people realize that Pix Patisserie/Bar Vivant has one of the finest Champagne lists in the country, if not the world.”
Joy Church, Eater Portland contributor and Portland Culinary Alliance Vice President:
“This year, Canard became my top go-to spot for a perfect French omelet, a juicy steam burger, and a brain-freeze-inducing martini. Verdigris is another Portland-meets-Paris style restaurant that stays on my list for out-of-town visitors, special occasion meals, and for eaters who crave succulent duck or beef bourguignon. I rediscovered Sapphire Hotel this year and it’s now back on my list for accessibly priced whisky and absinthe, warm brunch beignets, and a satisfying steak.”
Michael C. Zusman, Willamette Week restaurant critic:
Neighborhood faves, St. Jack and Ataula. No drop off at all. Adding OK Omens to the list. For whatever reason — maybe the Sichuan peppercorn chicken, Torito salad and the goddam addictive brie butter — draws me there with unnatural frequency. I’m also in Rick Gencarelli’s orbit an awful lot for simple sandwiches at Lardo or a quick bowl of perfect pasta at Grassa.
Krista Garcia, Eater Portland contributor:
“Not many newcomers. Mostly Ha VL. I find myself at The Lighthouse in Linnton often (the burger and fried chicken are sleeper hits) and occasionally Sayler’s happy hour. I definitely wouldn’t call it a destination, but Honey Jar Thai is one of the best go-tos in my neighborhood food desert.”
Vicki and Vanessa Ng, Instagram influencers behind @foodbellypdx:
“We get the Bún (vermicelli noodles) from Fish Sauce at least three times a month — it always hits the spot. Also, Din Tai Fung and the new Shanghai Restaurant for our xiao long bao dumpling fix, and Nong’s for good ol’ fashion chicken and rice. For a casual upscale meal out, Olympia Provisions always delivers.”
Alex Frane, Eater Portland guest editor and contributor:
“Coquine always delivers for each of its meals, with exceptional service, food, wine, and atmosphere. Katy and Ksandek have crafted something very Portland and very special, and it continues to remain a stalwart. Afuri, Nong’s, Kati, Paadee, Hat Yai, An Xuyen. Also Grassa and Lardo, because they’re just real good pasta and sandwiches.”
Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor:
“If I’m not eating out for work, delivery is my guilty pleasure; almost always, it’s from Mekha or Nong’s, though if I spot Afuri on there, I’ll often grab myself some ramen; Ranch is absolutely my go-to pizza delivery. For the first half of the year, I spent a lot of time at Eem and Hat Yai — hard to beat anything Earl Ninsom does. I really, really love Yonder’s iceberg salad, especially with a dipped thigh sliced on top; owner Maya Lovelace probably starts prepping it when I walk in the door. When it comes to after-work drinks and snacks, I regularly walk over to Sardine Head for a glass of wine and mussels.”
Update December 26, 2019, 9:11 a.m.
This story has been updated to include Michael C. Zusman’s answers.
• More Year in Eater roundups [Eater Portland]
• More 2019 retrospective content [Eater Portland]