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Portland Food Writers and Personalities’ Go-To Restaurants and Food Carts in 2023

Weeknight pizza spots, post-workout takeout, and more from reporters, editors, and Instagram influencers

Craig Melillo pours olive oil a tomato pie at Gracie’s Apizza in St. Johns.
Pizza construction at Gracie’s Apizza.
Molly J. Smith/Eater Portland

Each December, Eater Portland ends the year by reflecting on the last twelve months of dining in a series we call Year in Eater. We reach out to Portland food writers and influencers for their perspectives on major trends, impressive newcomers, and standout meals, and share their responses in a single package.

To kick off 2023’s round of Year in Eater, we’re starting with a classic: the restaurants that food writers and personalities loved to return to, even if it wasn’t for work. Those who have followed these columns for years will see the return of some familiar faces; others may find a new favorite for a post-workout dinner or a quick mid-week lunch. Some answers have been edited or condensed, for clarity.

“My go-to places leaned heavily casual in 2023 (the order is based on frequency of visits): Ki’ikibáa, Sure Shot Burger, Fleur de Lis Bakery, Astral at Duality, Annam VL, Tulip Shop Tavern, Daawat a Ishq, Mucca Pizzeria, Pizza Jerk, and Sushi Chiyo.”

— Gary Okazaki (@garythefoodie), renowned globe-trotting eater

“My regular destination/special occasion spots this year were Gado Gado, Jacqueline, and Nostrana. Gado Gado’s range of flavors that seemingly come from opposite ends of the spectrum always merge effortlessly into a beautiful, delicious symphony. During a tough time financially this year for everyone, I really appreciated that Jacqueline has stuck to its dollar-oyster happy hour, giving everyone the chance to have something special to look forward to after work. Nostrana retains a sense of early-2000s Portland that gives me this wonderful sense of nostalgia while dining there, yet the menu and ingredients constantly match today’s standards of excellence in Portland dining. It’s always a stellar experience.”

— Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor

Chochu Local has been perfect for post-workout meals with their BBQ chicken plates. Bellwether Bar serves up one of my favorite pork chops in town. Both Bluefin Tuna & Sushi and Fish & Rice have been regularly satiating my sashimi addiction.”

— Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), Instagram personality

I eat out so much for work, I can’t really afford to become a ‘regular’ anywhere, really. That being said, when I wanted to randomly treat myself mid-week, I often schlepped up to St. Johns to Gracie’s Apizza. I’m so happy Gracie’s is back, and in such a beautiful space; it just feels like my platonic ideal of a neighborhood restaurant. I’d grab a glass of wine and a pizza, finish things off with a scoop of ice cream, call it a day. Beautiful. When it comes to like, ‘I’m exhausted’ delivery, I tend to order Thai food from Paadee; my emotional support soups always come from Rose VL Deli. I will also say, as the partner of a political theory professor, Workers Tap was in our regular rotation for date night.”

— Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

This year I basically lived at the Demarco’s Sandwiches food cart. There is truly nothing better than perfectly thin, breadcrumb-fried eggplant Parmesan smothered in ricotta and red sauce served on a Dos Hermanos roll. That’s what I treat myself to every Sunday after spin class. Other go-tos include Fermenter, Paadee, Afuri, Eem, Henry Higgins, and Cafe Olli. Oh, and Pip’s, always.”

Meira Gebel, Axios reporter and freelancer

I go to Gregory Gourdet’s Kann as much as I can, and I happen to be one of the luckiest (read: quickest) people in Portland to have been able to go several times. My go-to on the west side has been Comala and De Noche, which offer modern Mexican food with excellent cocktails. Another regular go-to for me in 2023 was Ruthie’s because the food is always fantastic, chefs Collin and Aaron are delightful, and the covered and heated outdoor seating makes it easy to eat there with my dogs.”

-Nori de Vega (@nomnom_nori), Instagram personality

My regulars included Mid City Smashed Burger for their well-seasoned chicken nuggets as much as the perfectly crispy-edged burgers, Upper Left for a speedy brunch (the combo of their ham-cheddar croissant breakfast sandwich and a marionberry pop tart from Farina Bakery is hard to beat), and happy hour skewers and zhug-swirled hummus at Bluto’s.”

— Lauren Yoshiko, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

“My regular destination — as it is many years — was the ‘Original’ cart pod, also known as the John’s Marketplace cart pod which is home to both Jojo and Matt & Memere’s, two of my very favorites. Unfortunately, it is no longer home to the excellent Bark City BBQ cart which left town last year. And I continue to be annoyed by the tone-deaf locating of a Chipotle there, literally feet from an excellent Mexican food cart. Almost as regular a destination was the Hinterland pod, home to another set of favorites: Burger Stevens and Matt’s BBQ Tacos.”

— Bill Oakley, former Simpsons showrunner and Instagram personality

Keeper Coffee (specifically its pastry case), Xin Ding for XLB and jianbao, Less and More, and Tokyo Sando!”

— Janey Wong, Eater Portland reporter

It probably feels like we’re shouting out the same spots year after year, but we suppose that’s a good thing since consistency is what makes us regulars! We love getting Vietnamese from Fish Sauce (their bún and salad/spring rolls are so good), Indian from Dil Se, VilleVelo Bake Shop for coffee and morning pastries (best quiches ever), pasta at Dame, juices and grain bowls from the Celery, and ramen from Kinboshi. We also found ourselves ordering pizza from Pizza Kat more this year; their crust is really good and reheats perfectly the next day in a pan.”

Vicki and Vanessa Ng (@foodbellypdx), Instagram personalities

If I take my lunch or dinner break while I’m writing, I’m usually either at Basilisk or Katie O’Brien’s. I’m going to the Hilt, Wild Child or La Sirenita if I’m at my day job’s Alberta location, or Thai Cottage, Taqueria Santa Cruz, or Urban German if I’m at the St. Johns location. The girls and I usually went to Dirty Pretty, Mis Tacones, or Advice Booth for happy hour.”

— Andrew Jankowski, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

My go-tos tend to be the same year after year, and I may have said this last year: comfort foods that feel like a hug. I love Obon Shokudo’s regular menu, and it’s fun to see them serve sushi for special occasions after years of saying they’ll never do sushi. Norah’s larb croquettes and pad Thai paired with a Norah sour is one of my go-to moves. Mirisata’s rice and curry is another one of my staples, but I’m also enjoying the soup and sandwich spinoff (and not just because there’s a cat in the logo lol). It makes me happy to see non-vegan friends enjoy Jade Rabbit’s dim sum. My order at Wajan rarely changes: nasi uduk with no egg, add curried jackfruit. Rangoon Bistro’s salads keep getting better and better.”

— Waz Wu, Eater Portland vegan correspondent