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Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles. The most common answer we received from readers was “a Jewish deli.”
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

We Asked You What Kind of Restaurant Should Open in Portland. This Is What You Told Us.

Many readers mentioned Jewish delis, French brasseries, Greek tavernas, and more

Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

At the beginning of the year, Eater Portland posed a question to our readers: What kind of restaurant does Portland need in 2024? What gaps in our restaurant scene deserve to be filled? Some restaurant industry players had suggestions — izakayas, bistros — but readers had their own ideas, sending us emails throughout the month with their perspectives. By far, the most common answer from readers was a Jewish deli, in the style of an East Coast deli; other frequently referenced options included Greek, Indian, and Italian restaurants; French bistros and brasseries; hot dog stands; salad bars; and late night diners.

However, some pushed back against the idea we need any more restaurants at all. “Support the ones you love that already exist before they all close,” pop-up chef and baker Jaclyn Nakashima wrote on Instagram. “PDX only shows up for the new shiny restaurants and this town is saturated.”

Below, we shared a few of our favorite responses from readers; restaurateurs and investors, take note. In honor of Nakashima, we also link to a few options that currently exist in Portland, just in case they’re not on folks’ radar. Some answers have been edited or condensed for clarity.


“[We need] more diners a la the Overlook (RIP). Counter seating, wildly varied crowd, not very good coffee, a crotchety career wait staff, and most importantly, hash browns (yes, I know Fuller’s exists. We need diners all over the city).” —David Dekrey

“Portland has lost its ‘Jewish-ish’ delis. There is nowhere to go to get pickles from a barrel, or Jewish-style corned beef sandwiches, etc. We need a real Jewish deli — like an East Coast deli — with traditional Jewish deli foods. There are so many East Coast Jewish transplants in Portland, as well as non-Jewish folks who appreciate the Jewish deli experience.” —Susan Dobkin

I’m always frustrated that 90 percent of Japanese restaurants in Portland are sushi restaurants; there is so much more to Japanese food. Kushiyaki, which I affectionately describe as ‘grilled stuff on a stick,’ is among my favorite Japanese restaurant styles; yakitori is an example but there are many other meats, veggies, etc. that are also grilled. The key to the ambiance: The food is often grilled in front of you, opposite the bar counter. The atmosphere is magical to me and the food is delicious. I would love to see a place like this open up, as well as a kickass izakaya. I think if done right, it would be a smashing success.” —Mark Mahoney

“I disagree that there is too much pizza. So much of it is specialty, but there are nowhere near enough good slice spots.” —Sam Smith

We need Tercet back or at least a new place from (chef) John (Conlin), (chef) Wyatt (VandenBerghe), and (wine director) Michael (Branton).” —Greg Tibbles

Portland needs more dedicated gluten-free dining options, dedicated being the operative word. Sure, Portland can say that most places have at least one gluten-free option on the menu. When I inquired at one pasta restaurant, the indicated that did have gluten free pasta but that it was cooked in the gluten pasta water. Like, really? That does not make someone with those dietary needs jump for joy.” —Janine Esdanel

Georgian, my God, my kingdom for a plate of khinkali.” —@overexplainer (Instagram)

A very, very good burger spot. A place that uses high quality ingredients, has an innovative menu, and cooks to order correctly (medium means medium). Bring with it a comfortable environment, competent staff, and reasonable prices. You’d have a winning formula that’s expandable across the Pacific Northwest.” —Mukunda Penugonde

Hungarian. Since Novak’s closed there isn’t one in Oregon or closer than Lynwood, Washington.” —Todd Ellner

I honestly dream less of restaurants these days and more of a world with neighborhood cafeterias where everyone can access delicious free or low-cost nourishing meals, ideally utilizing locally grown or sourced produce and goods. Of course, since it’s Portland, we’ll have to have a drink cart with kombucha and craft bevies on tap.” —@soft.baked

Whatever it serves, make it cozy, with soft surfaces, warm lighting on a dimmer switch, and sound dampening. Even better if it’s open on weekdays as well as weekends, after 8 p.m. and before 5 p.m., with a menu the rest of us can afford. Our restaurants, bars, and cafes are crucial third spaces in our community. When they’re dark most of the week, it darkens the whole ‘hood. The business model for approachable, casual dining may not add up anymore, but we owe it to our city to find a way to keep the lights on (just not all the way on).” —Jordan Bowen

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