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The Biggest Portland Food Stories of 2019

The most-read stories of the year, from H Mart’s final arrival to a topless taco festival

An overhead picture of several small and large plates at G-Love
Dishes at G-Love
Carly Diaz/Official

2019 was a huge food news year in a decade full of serious food news. Big-deal chefs from other parts of the country opened Portland restaurants, from Momofuku Las Vegas vet Shaun King to AL’s Place alum Garrett Benedict in San Francisco. There was harder news, from a Portland hotelier making national news to a sex discrimination lawsuit against a major Portland distiller. And who could forget Pig, the Nicolas Cage movie about a truffle-hunting pig? In the massive scroll of Portland food headlines, it can be hard to remember all the highlights, but the blurbs below encompass the stories that resonated with Eater readers most — the most-read news stories of 2019.

  1. G-Love opens in Slabtown: Surprisingly, the arrival of the restaurant chef Garrett Benedict is calling a “reverse steakhouse” was the most-read news story of 2019 — perhaps because of Benedict’s time at a big-deal San Francisco restaurant, or perhaps because readers were intrigued (or annoyed) enough by the premise of a “reverse steakhouse.” The restaurant opened in August, with dishes like tomato “crudo” and “tartare,” avocado rolled in coco-blackspice seed mix, and house bucatini.
  2. Topless taco festival: Less surprisingly, the clothes-optional taco and burrito festival in August attracted several readers and attendees — Within days of the festival going public, more than a thousand people RSVP’d on Facebook. A portion of the proceeds went to cancer research, so visitors stripped and/or chowed down for a good cause.
  3. Super Deluxe expands: The announcement of the second Super Deluxe location was big news for the burgeoning chain’s gaggle of devotees. The opening of Micah Camden’s Foster-Powell fast food drive-thru was a giant headline in 2018, but its fans were excited to see a location open in the more central Pearl District. The restaurant opened in July.
  4. Shanghai downtown: Portland isn’t exactly teeming with Shanghainese restaurants, so the reveal of Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, also called Shanghai Restaurant, was a score for those craving lion’s head meatballs and sweet-and-sour spare ribs. Plus, once the restaurant opened in September, downtown had a new spot for the ever-popular xiao long bao — also known as soup dumplings.
  5. Hawthorne Asylum opens: Hawthorne Asylum, one of Portland’s largest food cart pods, slowly started bringing in carts in February — a big deal considering the eventual closure of the Alder Street food cart pod. Now, the Steampunk-themed pod is home to a number of killer carts, including Eater PDX’s 2018 Food Cart of the Year Bark City BBQ and Egyptian cart Peri Koshari.
  6. Yonder arrives in Portland: The arrival of Yonder, Eater Young Gun Maya Lovelace’s fried chicken shop, was highly anticipated since her initial announcement in 2017. When she finally released her initial menus — which have changed since then — loyal fans of her pop-up went searching for favorites at her more casual locale. They found a few: her iceberg salad in pickled ramp dressing, pimento macaroni and cheese, angel biscuits, and, of course, her crackly, thick-crusted fried chicken.
  7. Closing of the Country Cat: When it opened in 2007, the Country Cat had been a Montavilla institution, known for its whole-animal butchery and killer skillet-fried chicken. So the news of its impending closure was brutal for neighborhood regulars and old-school Portland diners alike. The Sappingtons still have a version of the restaurant in Portland International Airport, but it’s not quite the same. Country Cat closed in early August.
  8. Bridgeport Brewing closes: There were plenty of significant closures in Portland, but the shuttering of Bridgeport may have been the year’s largest — literally. The property itself ate up a colossal hunk of the Pearl District, with a popular brewpub and brewery onsite. It was also one of the older craft breweries in the city, opening in the ‘80s. The brewery stopped brewing beer in February, finally closing the brewpub in March.
  9. Kex comes to Portland: Newly open on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the local outpost of the Icelandic hotel Kex had several locals excited, mainly for the restaurant inside. A partnership with Chefstable, Kex brought in Ólafur Ágústsson, who helped Iceland earn its first Michelin star at Reykjavík’s Dill, to oversee the hotel’s restaurant. Dóttir, now open, combines ingredients and techniques from both Iceland and the Pacific Northwest.
  10. H Mart hits Belmont: Portland’s a city of home cooks, so when a popular Korean grocery chain opened its first Portland-proper location, the masses went wild. Sure, H-Mart had locations in the suburbs, for those living in the city, the arrival of legit kimchis, hard-to-find Korean produce, and a killer deli was enough to rile up some serious crowds.

BridgePort Brewpub

1313 Northwest Marshall Street, , OR 97209 (503) 241-3612 Visit Website

Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

515 Southwest 4th Avenue, , OR 97204 (503) 477-5711 Visit Website

KEX Portland

100 Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, , OR 97232 (971) 346-2992 Visit Website

Hawthorne Asylum

1080 Southeast Madison Street, , OR 97214

Super Deluxe Pearl

850 NW 13th Avenue, #1, Portland, OR Visit Website

G-Love

1615 Northwest 21st Avenue, , OR 97209 (971) 229-1043 Visit Website

Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar

7937 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97215 (503) 408-1414 Visit Website

Yonder

4636 Northeast 42nd Avenue, , OR 97218 (503) 444-7947 Visit Website

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