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The Restaurant Trends We Loved — And Hated — in 2023

Does Portland really need more pizzerias? Do we need to hear how family-style dining works before every meal? Why is 20-plus percent gratuity the minimum auto gratuity now?

A square slice of Prince Street pepperoni pizza sits on white paper
No more pizza, please.
Nick Solares/Eater NY

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.

Auto-gratuity creep. “Is this your first time dining with us?” Infinite pizzerias; dwindling LGBTQ+ bars. There are plenty of trends within the Portland restaurant scene that grate on the city’s professional diners; however, a few exciting patterns have emerged as well, ranging from chef residencies to hot dog pop-ups. Below, find an assortment of trends beloved and loathed by the city’s restaurant writers and influencers.

“The most exciting trend was the tidal wave of popups and residencies. I thought 2014/2015 would be the apex of the PDX pop-up scene. I was wrong. My favorite residencies and popups were Astral at Duality, Machetes, Plumb at Deadshot, Javelina, Chem Gio at Mosaic, and Lamina Pastry.”

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

“Stop trying to make chicory Caesar salads happen. Also why is nothing open on Mondays or Tuesdays? One other thing: Confusing service fee structures make other restaurants that are doing it right look bad, too. I’m excited that more restaurants expanded their mocktail and N/A beverage menus. I’m not always in the mood for juice or ginger beer — sober people need fancy options, too!”

— Meira Gebel, Axios reporter and freelancer

I am happy to see food carts and pop-up concepts find stability in bar & music venues, like Papi Sal’s at the Lollipop Shoppe and Chem Gio at both White Owl Social Club and Mosaic Taphouse.

Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), Instagram personality

“(Filed under infuriating:) New queer bars opening but not remaining financially secure enough to stay open, with well-established bars vanishing along with decades of history. Keep queer bars open!”

Andrew Jankowski, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

The most exciting trend in 2023, to me, are the chef residencies. A residency provides consistency not only for the concepts but also for the diner. It’s really difficult to maintain a standard of quality when one has to work from an impermanent space, and as a diner, it’s not the easiest to coordinate around relatively last minute pop-up announcements and long lines.”

— Nori de Vega (@nomnom_nori), Instagram personality

I don’t know if I’d say it’s ‘infuriating,’ but I really do think we’ve hit peak pizza. I don’t care if you’re bringing Dutch oblong thick-crust pies to Portland or you’re redefining Montreal-style dive bar pies or whatever — we have enough. In terms of exciting developments (though I’m not sure I’d like to call it a “trend,” necessarily), so many new Vietnamese restaurants and pop-ups opened this year, particularly those specializing in dishes harder to find in the city’s existing Vietnamese restaurants. I would love to see even more open next year.”

Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

Exciting? More collaborations and creative expressions through food. Norah and Jade Rabbit’s Thai meets dim sum mashup pop-up (hello, tom kha xiao long bao!) and Rusa’s Eastern European and Latin American fusion are two that are particularly memorable. Infuriating? People love to make fun of vegans for eating rabbit food, but cold, uninspired salads (aka rabbit food) are sometimes the only thing they offer us. Even at places that describe themselves as ‘vegetable focused’ or literally have vegetables in their branding.”

Waz Wu, Eater Portland vegan correspondent

“(Filed under exciting:) Hot dog pop-ups! Although one can usually get a great freshly-grilled hot dog at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen, two hot dog pop-up stole my heart this year: Third Coast Hot Dogs with their fantastic 512 dog, and the Rome & Sam’s Hot Dog Pop-Off event with their Chili Slaw (a.k.a. North Carolina) Dog which I can’t even look at a photo of without getting wildly hungry. I also love all of the many events (such as Snack Fest) that they keep having in that cool old warehouse at 100 SE Alder.”

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

The most exciting (okay, infuriating) trend was 20 percent and higher auto gratuity. Definitely burned a hole in my wallet this year. Also businesses posting their daily changing hours on Instagram. It was really hard to follow the inconsistency and feels somewhat of a barrier to folks who don’t rely on social media for dining.”

Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland contributor

“Not necessarily infuriating, but something unneeded when dining out in 2023 is the whole spiel about how family-style dining works. When we’re new to a restaurant, we want to know things like what the vision was for the menu and maybe a little backstory on the chef, not ‘we do things a little differently here because the menu is designed to be shared.’ When dining among Asians, sharing is a given!”

Vicki and Vanessa Ng (@foodbellypdx), Instagram personalities