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The Restaurants and People Who Stood Up for the Community in 2023

The people who used their restaurants and food businesses for community-building, activism, and more

A lounge space with seating cast in orange lighting.
Kolectivo’s space.

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.

Aside from serving food day in and day out, some Portland restaurants and entrepreneurs go the extra mile to support the local community by offering resources, providing a safe space, opening their kitchens and dining rooms to up-and-coming food businesses, and more. Here are the places that stepped up to the plate this year.

“No restaurant in particular, but the whole community really rallied together to support teachers during the near-month long strike. It was awesome to see so many shops offering discounts and free meals for not only teachers, but students and parents, too.”

— Meira Gebel, Axios reporter and freelancer

Khaled Alshehab from Alley Mezza. Kal went through a lot with the closure of his cart, and I know it’s hard for him to see folks, including those who previously showed solidarity, support the people that hurt him and his business. Despite all that, Kal keeps showing up for our community. Beyond sharing his food with us (desert truffles were new to me this year) and educating us about SWANA culture, Kal held fundraisers when Umut’s hometown was destroyed by an earthquake. More recently, Kal helped form a mutual aid project, along with Sugar Goblin Bakes and Source Foods and Goods, providing free meals to Palestinians living here in Portland.”

Waz Wu, Eater Portland vegan correspondent and Veganizer organizer

Mayfly in North Portland has been exemplary in community building. They offer space for a variety of events, including makers’ markets, fundraisers, drag bingo (with Peachy Springs), and simply just watching sports. They also host food pop-ups such as Champs Burger (a favorite this year) and food trucks like Doyaji (now of The Korean Mama fame!).”

Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), Instagram personality

I didn’t expect Katie O’Brien’s to rally and fundraise for Lahaina the way they did. They also fundraised with Street Roots and have quietly become more openly queer friendly, incorporating rainbows into their Irish motif by hanging a Pride flag on their front door.”

— Andrew Jankowski, Eater Portland contributor and freelancer

Magna Kusina and Sun Rice have really stepped up for our local community by creating spaces that feel safe, welcoming, and celebratory for people who look like me. So much so, I’ve had the honor of helping power Kolectivo, a collective concept that focuses on community with them, Eavening, and my fellow Tikim partners, Jane and Tricia.”

— Nori de Vega (@nomnom_nori), Instagram personality

Not one in particular, but seeing the amount of restaurants offer services to Portland public school teachers during their strike and folks in the food community share resources about Palestine was and is really heartening.”

Janey Wong, Eater Portland reporter

Mirisata opened up its kitchen to a group of cooks making meals for Palestinian Portlanders. I think that group of folks have been showing really meaningful solidarity with Palestinians both here and in Gaza, who have been experiencing such an onslaught of grief and terror.”

Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor