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Portland’s Biggest Dining Surprises of 2019

The closure of Trifecta, the pasta boom, and more

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The bar at Trifecta Tavern, which faces a line of red booths under a wood ceiling
Trifecta Tavern & Bakery
Dina Avila/EPDX

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, Eater Portland’s editors and the city’s food personalities talk through the biggest surprises of 2019 in Portland dining. 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:
Given that Tommy Klus was the person behind Scotch Lodge, the assumption was the spirits program would be among the finest in the Pacific Northwest. That turned out to be wholeheartedly correct. But the pleasant surprise was the food program. It is the most elevated bar food I have ever seen in Portland. Kudos to Chef Tim Artale! If it were a restaurant, it would be ranked in my top 15 in PDX.

The other PDX surprise is the Italian food at Campana, which is a pop-up located at Grand Army Tavern. George Kaden is the chef of both Grand Army and Campana and was previously the chef de cuisine of NYC’s Italian-focused Hearth. I truly love pasta, and Campana’s is my current favorite in PDX. And the prices of the pastas are under $20.

Joy Church, Eater Portland contributor and Portland Culinary Alliance Vice President:
The resurgence of pasta could be found in unexpected places this year. I congratulate/blame chef-in-residence Patrick McKee (at Dame) for this happy trend. Italian mainstays like Renata, Burrasca, Il Solito, and Nostrana are consistently great for pasta, of course. However, seeing pasta on chef Pomeroy’s rotating “Tuesday Nights at Beast” menus, at chef Johnny Nunn’s French-inspired Verdigris restaurant during his newish, weekly “Italian Night,” and spying pastas like rigatoni with Sunday gravy and agnolotti at Tasty n Daughters, it appears that Italian-style pasta has found homes at unlikely spots.

Vicki and Vanessa Ng, Instagram influencers behind @foodbellypdx:
We are obviously late to the party on this, but we finally tried the Departure duck this year and it did not disappoint. You could taste the labor of love.

Krista Garcia, Eater Portland contributor:
That so many Taiwanese chains — Din Tai Fung, Yi Fang Fruit Tea, 85 Degrees — have shown up in the suburbs.

Seiji Nanbu, Eater Portland contributor:
The amount of hype around chicken sandwiches.

Alex Frane, Eater Portland guest editor and contributor:
Little Bird and Trifecta Tavern closing within months of each other. And then Olympia Oyster Bar.

Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor:
Off of what Krista said, I really didn’t expect Washington Square mall to become as happenin’ as it has. Malls have struggled nationally, and Washington Square didn’t exactly seem like it was thriving when it scored dumpling standby Din Tai Fung and Taiwanese bakery chain 85 Degrees. It feels a little bizarre to drive into a mall parking lot when I’m feeling hungry for dumplings or Taiwanese egg tarts, but I must hand it to them — not a bad way to stay relevant. With Ezell’s opening there in 2020, it’s only getting better.

More Year in Eater roundups [Eater Portland]
More 2019 retrospective content [Eater Portland]

Little Bird Bistro

215 Southwest 6th Avenue, , OR 97204 (503) 688-5952 Visit Website


901 Northeast Oneonta Street, , OR 97211 (503) 841-6195 Visit Website


626 Southeast Main Street, , OR 97214 (503) 954-2708 Visit Website


1401 Southeast Morrison Street, , OR 97214 (503) 234-2427 Visit Website

Trifecta Tavern

726 Southeast 6th Avenue, , OR 97214 (503) 841-6675 Visit Website

La Moule

2500 Southeast Clinton Street, , OR 97202 (971) 339-2822 Visit Website


1465 Northeast Prescott Street, , OR 97211 (503) 894-8125 Visit Website

Washington Square Mall

9585 SW Washington Square Road, Portland, Or Visit Website


5425 Northeast 30th Avenue, , OR 97211 (503) 841-6968 Visit Website


2032 Southeast Clinton Street, , OR 97202 (503) 236-7791 Visit Website


2930 Northeast Killingsworth Street, , OR 97211 (503) 227-2669 Visit Website

Tasty n Daughters

4537 Southeast Division Street, , OR 97206 (503) 621-1400 Visit Website

Scotch Lodge

215 Southeast 9th Avenue, , OR 97214 (503) 208-2039 Visit Website

Il Solito

627 Southwest Washington Street, , OR 97205 (503) 228-1515 Visit Website