clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Best Restaurant Meals Eaten by Portland Food Writers and Personalities in 2023

Breakfast sandwiches, tasting menus, and everything in between

A plate of masa madeleines sits on a white plate at Xiao Ye.
Masa madeleines at Xiao Ye.
Carter Hiyama/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.

Restaurant writers and content creators go out to eat a lot — like, a lot. Brooke Jackson-Glidden, the editor of Eater Portland, typically dines out between five and nine times each week, and other Year in Eater contributors barely ever turn on their ovens or stoves. So for a dinner to reach the level of best meal eaten by any of these folks, it has to rise above hundreds of other restaurants to get there. These were the meals that really stood out to us in 2023:

“So, I was lucky enough to travel quite a bit this year and several of my best restaurant meals were not in Portland: Pietramala in Philadelphia, Soda Club in New York, Whole Earth (vegan Peranakan-Thai) in Singapore, and Suerte in Austin. If we are talking Portland specifically, then Workshop and Sousòl immediately come to mind, not just for the food, but for unmatched vibes. As Feral settles into their restaurant (fried kimchi, masa dumplings, squash ragu), I like that they’re giving Pietramala vibes. Also, I am biased, but the Veganizer Pan Asian dinner featuring ten Asian businesses was another great meal. Everyone pulled out all the stops to create something special and support each other in the kitchen.”

Waz Wu, Eater Portland vegan correspondent and Veganizer organizer

Bolivar in Miami on Halloween. The Pollo Andino was so good I had to have it both nights I was there. Grilled juicy chicken breast, perfectly seasoned and almost as long as my arm, with mushroom gravy and quinoa, cloud fluffy mashed potatoes and a ripe side salad. I’m drooling as I remember this one.”

— Andrew Jankowski, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

Sharing a meal with a dear friend can truly elevate the dining experience. My favorite PDX meal was at Nodoguro in August with Thomas Tseng who flew from LA just to eat with me. It was his first visit to Nodoguro, which is my favorite restaurant in PDX. Such a special night for me. Another local meal that was memorable was the Jeju and Pig and the Lady dinner in September. Every course was a collaboration between Peter Cho and Andrew Le — a mashup of Korean and Vietnamese cuisines.

“My favorite meal for 2023 was at Cyrus in Geyservville, California. There are only a handful of world-class restaurants in the USA; Cyrus is one of them.”

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

“Crispy dumplings and chive cakes, delicate Chinese sashimi, unctuous wide rice noodles, pillowy grilled buns, and salty limeade slushies at Yaowarat.”

Thom Hilton, Eater Portland contributor

“The best delight-our-senses-with-every-dish kinda meal we’ve had this year was at República. Words can’t really do that place justice, it’s so special and sets the bar high. Everyone should try it at least once. Another delightful meal was at Kaede in Sellwood — their sushi is some of the best we’ve ever had, and their hot items are so nourishing and well-executed.

“This isn’t in Portland, but another standout meal was in McMinnville, there’s a new(ish) restaurant called Hayward open inside the Mac Market. Go for the ‘house party’ (aka chef’s tasting menu), and your tastebuds will thank you later.”

Vicki and Vanessa Ng (@foodbellypdx), Instagram personalities

“Eating the entire opening menu at Xiao Ye; their concept of ‘first-generation American food’ resonates with me as I similarly grew up eating a hodgepodge of cuisines. Outside of Portland, I had the best fried chicken — in my entire life, I dare say — at the Chicken Supply in Seattle.”

Janey Wong, Eater Portland reporter

“Well, I am a couple years late with this but it was Eem. I don’t imagine that will surprise anyone who reads Eater PDX. A few members of the Steamed Hams Society joined me on my very first trip to this place and it lived up to its incredible reputation. The white curry with brisket burnt ends is one of the best dishes I’ve ever had, anywhere.”

— Bill Oakley (@thatbilloakley), former Simpsons showrunner and Instagram personality

“It wasn’t really a ‘restaurant meal,’ but if I’m honest, ordering one of Balong’s sausage breakfast sandwiches hot off the griddle out during his pop-ups at Kalesa Coffee, while sipping one of their lattes with pandan whip, was a really memorable meal that reignited my excitement for new happenings in Portland food. The bouncy pan de sal buns; that savory sausage and sun-dried tomato and garlic aioli — every bite was so damn flavorful.”

Lauren Yoshiko, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

“My meal at Ōkta in Wine Country during the summer when their menu featured the best of the season’s produce was the best meal of 2023 in Oregon for me. The best meal in Portland for 2023 was at Langbaan, from the classic first bites to dessert by Chef Maya Okada Erickson.”

— Nori de Vega (@nomnom_nori), Instagram personality

“I still think about the chả cá lã vọng — turmeric catfish — Matta served during its residency at Lil Dame. Complemented by fresh dill, basil, scallion and mint on a bed of soft, warm vermicelli, this dish was the essence of comfort without sacrificing flavor.”

— Meira Gebel, Axios reporter and freelancer

“My best restaurant meal in Portland was probably a dinner I had at República earlier this year. The new space feels so sleek, and chef Jose “Lalo” Camarena is just so talented. Each dish was pretty mind-blowing, but I particularly remember this duck dish with a duo of moles that was just spectacular — Camarena used this combination of apricots, squash, and pistachio in the moles, which created this lovely creaminess and mellow sweetness. Don Miguel Marquez picks the wine for República, and I could just listen to him talk about wine all day. Outside of Portland, it’s a three-way tie: Sushi Suzuki in Seattle, Kasama in Chicago, and Thai Diner in New York.”

Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

“My best meal for 2023 has to be Xiao Ye with my food family. The outstanding dinner and cocktail program is paired with outstanding hospitality, all wrapped in a beautiful, inviting space.”

Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), Instagram personality

“My best restaurant meal this year I had was at De Noche. The environment is so casual yet elegant at the same time, which makes their tasting menu feel way more approachable and easy to reserve in Portland. Chef Dani Morales also brings a youthful, talented energy to the menu. I was so surprised by the level of execution and thoughtfulness with each dish that came out.”

Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor