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The Restaurant Closures That Broke the Hearts of Portland Food Writers and Personalities

The closures that hit us hardest, from a longstanding sports bar to a hidden tasting menu restaurant

Ribs sit on a plate with a side of piquant sauce, a small salad, and a toasted Hawaiian roll. The plate sits on a wooden table next to a woven chair.
Ribs at Malka.
Dina Avila/EPDX

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.

When a restaurant closes, it’s often devastating — for ownership, for staff, and for its regulars. For many Portland restaurant writers and content creators, restaurants become home bases, tied to specific memories or periods of time. So when some of those third places disappear, they feel it deeply, like any regular does. Below, we compiled some of the closures that hit us hardest; this story includes a more complete list of the year’s restaurant closures.

“In 2023, Castagna officially closed. It has a significant place in the city’s culinary history. So many iconic Portland chefs helmed the kitchen through the years: Kevin Gibson, Elias Cairo, Matt Lightner, and Justin Woodward. Close to 50 visits, 44 of those with Justin running the kitchen — so, so many unforgettable dishes.”

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

I was pretty bummed to see Green Zebra go. For how many awesome specialty grocers there are in Portland, I thought they truly struck a great balance between offering affordable and accessible food products to Portlanders while also being tightly curated, elevated, and thoughtfully selected.”

Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor

“I was really sad to see Malka go earlier this year. Jesse Aron really knows how to pile on ingredients — sauces, greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, braised meats, crispy rice, flowers, you name it — without making a dish overwhelming or chaotic evil. I was also disappointed to hear Mama Dut closed. There’s not too many places you can get an excellent vegan pork belly banh mi with an ube cake cookie.”

Meira Gebel, Axios reporter and freelancer

The biggest closure bummers for me from 2023 were Poppyseed, Tokyo Sando, and Tercet. A closure that bummed me out, but I quickly recovered was Lazy Susan since Earl Ninsom opened Yaowarat in the space.”

Nori de Vega (@nomnom_nori), Instagram personality

I’m sad about the brief lifespan of Mattino’s — it was such a sweet complement to Cloudforest’s dreamy chocolate-sipping space. A bittersweet reminder not to take any spot for granted.”

Lauren Yoshiko, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

In my mind, Lokanta. Lots of fond memories sharing food with friends and introducing them to raki! During the last couple weeks they were open, I remember seeing many people post that they regret not visiting sooner. I feel like Lokanta was underappreciated. As I’m writing this, I’m remembering that Lokanta was the first opening story I wrote for Eater Portland. The transformation into Libre is stunning though, and there’s a raki misted cocktail named Lokanta on the menu.”

Waz Wu, Eater Portland vegan correspondent

Matta’s cart used to be a short walk from my house. Their breakfast sandwich was my end of the week Birds of Prey reward. I miss it terribly.”

— Andrew Jankowski, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

“The recent closure of the Off The Leash! cart, which had the best Chicago-style hot dog in town — my very favorite dish — bummed me out.”

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

Malka, I think what they were doing there was pretty singular—I will miss the Bellflower salad forever. And Poppyseed, which was such an under-the-radar gem.”

Janey Wong, Eater Portland reporter

“Tercet’s closing sank our hearts. It was honestly better than some Michelin-starred meals we’ve had in the US, hopefully they’ll make a comeback. Malka’s closing earlier this year was also a real heartbreaker, that place was maximalism at its finest.”

Vicki and Vanessa Ng (@foodbellypdx), Instagram personalities

Claudia’s Sports Pub, which I lived on the same block as for two years, was a wonderfully quiet spot for inexpensive drinks, a classic burger or chicken strips, and good vibes while watching a game solo or with a group. Shine Distillery and Grill, the only gay bar in Portland that made its own liquor. Yui, where one walked through mother-daughter team Chalunthorn Schaeffer and “Mama” Ta Triamchainon’s kitchen to experience exceptional Massaman curry roti. Bolo, Brad Dodson’s Portuguese-American cart with the best fried chicken sandwich in town. The Hotlips Pizza location across the street from Providence Park, which must have fed me over a hundred times when I was at nearby Lincoln High School.”

Thom Hilton, Eater Portland contributor

Malka’s closure really broke my heart. Chefs Jessie and Colin offered so many fantastical dishes that you couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), Instagram personality

Every closure stings, I think, but there were so many tough ones this year — Matta, Mama Dut, Tercet, Malka. It’s hard to choose one, you know? I think, for nostalgia reasons, I have to choose La Moule. It was a place where I loved to take my mom; we’d nab a booth and dive into big bowls of mussels and glasses of wine. But really, there are too many to name.”

— Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor