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Mapping 19 of Portland's Most Missed Restaurants

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Image of Taqueria Nueve courtesy vj_pdx via Flickr

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On Friday, for a change of pace, we asked Eater readers to wax nostalgic about Portland's long-lost, much-missed restaurants, and both the comment section and the tipline were flooded with responses.

Among the shared memories: meals from restaurants once open for decades, bites from short-lived spots that made their mark, and some moments from former restaurant employees reminiscing about the good ol' days. One reader offers their list and sums it up: "Alba Osteria (their amazing agnolotti dal plin), Little Red Bike Cafe, Garden State, Curbside Grill, & Lucy's Original. What a freaking depressing post this was to write." Below is a map to 19 now-closed favorites, as well as the full list of nominees.


Also nominated: Sweetwater's Jam House, La Salsa, Casa U Betcha, Garden State, Lorenzo's, Carte Blanche, Couvron, Indigene, Ten 01, D.F., Criollo Bakery, Limo Peruvian, Kappaya, Lucy's Table, Lagniappe, a Thyme Garden, Wheel of Fortune, Macheezmo Mouse, Belly, Buckman Bistro, Taste of Bali, William's on 12th, Gotham Tavern, Oregon Ice Works, Bangkok Kitchen, Surabaya, Nutshell, Sel Gris, Caprial's, Cafe Des Amis, NY Sub Shop, Lu Yen's, Lazlows, Curbside Grill, Lucy's Original.

Continue sharing your favorite anecdotes in the comments below.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Taqueria Nueve

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(2000-2008). By a landslide, readers' most-missed restaurant is chef Billy Schumaker's Taqueria Nueve (and upscale Pearl spot D.F.), which called the current Tapalaya space home. Both diners and former employees chimed in praising its mole and margaritas: "As a long time employee of Steve and Billy, I truly miss that place. Best Oaxacan style Mexican food (that I could EASILY eat every night of the week and NEVER tire of), best margaritas, best owners, best staff, and an amazing clientele! Someone pass me a tissue, I am getting sentimental here!"

Alba Osteria

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(2003-2010). Chef Kurt Spak's neighborhood spot Alba Osteria shuttered after seven years in business, with his casual spot Caffe Autogrill following just two months later. Laments a reader, [it had] "the best pasta I've had in my life."

Sumida's

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(1980s-late '90s). "One of the earliest (and still one of the best) sushi establishments to ever exist in the city. Etsuo Sumida was one of the first sushi chefs to come to Portland. A traditionalist with a big heart, He used to tell me of creating banquet sushi boats in the 70s that diners would barely touch. He was a master of the cuisine until a tragic stroke caused him to have to retire over 2 decades ago. He and his family were some of the kindest restaurateurs (and human beings) I have ever known. I will always miss them."

Little Red Bike Cafe

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(2007-2010). North Portland neighborhood spot Little Red Bike Cafe was dearly beloved for its breakfasts; after being forced out by their landlord, owners Ali Jepson and Evan Dohrmann opened another beloved food truck, Lucy's Original, that also shuttered. Says a reader of LBR, "Our neighborhood so so dearly misses it."

Alberta Street Oyster Bar

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(2005-2007). Also known as the spot where chef Eric Bechard (now of Thistle) made his name, Alberta Street Oyster Bar lasted two years in the location now known as Branch Whiskey Bar. One reader writes, "That place was ahead of its time. The 'surf and turf' combinations are what I miss most. Sturgeon and oxtails or scallops and duck liver. I think that place was also using foraged ingredients before it was so popular. I remember eating nettles, ferns, minors lettuce and matsutakes all for the first time all at the oyster house."

Lovely Hula Hands

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(2003-2009). It's been reborn as the pizza-and-ice-cream spot Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, but readers still miss the more formal setting of N. Mississippi's Lovely Hula Hands. Says one: "They're still making magic at Fifty Fifty, but it's not as 'special fancy dinner.'"

(2002-2009). After six-and-a-half years in business, chef Marco Shaw closed his upscale American restaurant for a more to North Carolina. Says one reader, "I do miss Marco Shaw. He was one of the most under appreciated chefs portland has ever know[n]."

Carlyle

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(2003-2010). NW fine-dining spot Carlyle, known as the breeding ground for chefs Daniel Mondok and Jake Martin, has its share of crestfallen fans nearly three years after its closure. Writes one: "Great food, service, and ambiance."

Alder Pastry & Dessert

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(2011-2011). In just 10 short months, pastry chef Matthew Zack attracted a loyal (if not slightly rabid) following for his pastries and gelatos at Alder Pastry. (Writes one reader, "That gelato was a highlight of my life!") The location will soon welcome Levant, which is scheduled to open in February of this year.

Opus Too & Jazz De Opus

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(1972-2003). Longtime nightclub Opus Too & Jazz De Opus featured live jazz and old-school eats for nearly 30 years. Writes one former employee: "It was THE steak & seafood house before all of the Ruth's Chris, Mortons and their like came to town. The had a great mesquite grill, fresh pasta, at least ten kinds of fresh seafood, steaks & chops. I got to spend five years cooking there and still regard it as one of my favorite places to cook and eat."

(2010-2012). Chef Kevin Shikami's Pearl District restaurant closed at the end of 2012, but its absence is already missed by readers. Writes one: "I was there for the last two nights, very sad to see the restaurant close and Kevin leave Portland. His food was always incredibly good. And he is an amazingly kind and nice person as well."

Henry Ford's

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(1970s-early 2000s). SW Portland piano bar Henry Ford's is missed for its old-school steakhouse vibe. Writes on commenter, "Classic old school Portland. Miss the red carpet and bubbly fountain and seeing an old guy play bossa nova on an electric keyboard."

Vat & Tonsure

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(1978-1997). The original incarnation of this popular bistro was shuttered to make way for downtown's Fox Tower; an attempt to resurrect the spot in 2002 was unsuccessful. But former guests miss its boisterous bar scene/wine list and roasted game hen.

Quality Pie

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(1950s-1992). A holdout from the 1950s diner era, the 24-hour Quality Pie — famous for its exterior sign and late-night eats — remains a much-missed greasy spoon. Writes one reader: "Best people-watching in Portland."

Hiroshi

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(2007-2010). Chef Hiro Ikegaya's upscale sushi spot Hiroshi shuttered after its move to the Pearl District; but Hiro's knives are still at work at his more casual E. Burnside spot Mirakutei.

Lauro Kitchen

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(2003-2012). Chef/restaurateur David Machado launched his mini-empire with Lauro Kitchen, which pre-dated Division's status as PDX's "Restaurant Row." Says a reader of the Mediterranean-influenced menu: "Loved Lauro Kitchen. Always consistent and interesting."

Rose & Raindrop

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(1998-2006). Central Eastside beer bar Rose & Raindrop — co-owned by legendary beerman Don Younger — has best known for its historic digs, extensive beer list, and parlor games. Says on commenter: "Our Scrabble club met there weekly for years and we knew the menu by heart, loved the burgers and crispy fries, the waiters were the best (miss you Russel), decent drinks and at one time, video poker. Now it's a bank, how boring is that."

(1990-2000). NW's legendary restaurant Zefiro marked Portland's introduction to four now-well-known culinary minds: Bruce Carey, Monique Siu (Castagna), Kevin Gibson (Evoe), and Chris Israel (Gruner). Unsurprisingly, it was frequently mentioned as a "most missed" spot, with one reader summing up, "there will never be another Zefiro."

Cafe Azul

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(1998-2004). Chef Claire Archibald's Mexican spot Cafe Azul is now looked upon as "ahead of its time" for its upscale-authentic approach to Oaxacan cooking, and many readers are still nostalgic. Writes one, "Food, service, all top Q" — which we assume stands for "quality."

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Taqueria Nueve

(2000-2008). By a landslide, readers' most-missed restaurant is chef Billy Schumaker's Taqueria Nueve (and upscale Pearl spot D.F.), which called the current Tapalaya space home. Both diners and former employees chimed in praising its mole and margaritas: "As a long time employee of Steve and Billy, I truly miss that place. Best Oaxacan style Mexican food (that I could EASILY eat every night of the week and NEVER tire of), best margaritas, best owners, best staff, and an amazing clientele! Someone pass me a tissue, I am getting sentimental here!"

Alba Osteria

(2003-2010). Chef Kurt Spak's neighborhood spot Alba Osteria shuttered after seven years in business, with his casual spot Caffe Autogrill following just two months later. Laments a reader, [it had] "the best pasta I've had in my life."

Sumida's

(1980s-late '90s). "One of the earliest (and still one of the best) sushi establishments to ever exist in the city. Etsuo Sumida was one of the first sushi chefs to come to Portland. A traditionalist with a big heart, He used to tell me of creating banquet sushi boats in the 70s that diners would barely touch. He was a master of the cuisine until a tragic stroke caused him to have to retire over 2 decades ago. He and his family were some of the kindest restaurateurs (and human beings) I have ever known. I will always miss them."

Little Red Bike Cafe

(2007-2010). North Portland neighborhood spot Little Red Bike Cafe was dearly beloved for its breakfasts; after being forced out by their landlord, owners Ali Jepson and Evan Dohrmann opened another beloved food truck, Lucy's Original, that also shuttered. Says a reader of LBR, "Our neighborhood so so dearly misses it."

Alberta Street Oyster Bar

(2005-2007). Also known as the spot where chef Eric Bechard (now of Thistle) made his name, Alberta Street Oyster Bar lasted two years in the location now known as Branch Whiskey Bar. One reader writes, "That place was ahead of its time. The 'surf and turf' combinations are what I miss most. Sturgeon and oxtails or scallops and duck liver. I think that place was also using foraged ingredients before it was so popular. I remember eating nettles, ferns, minors lettuce and matsutakes all for the first time all at the oyster house."

Lovely Hula Hands

(2003-2009). It's been reborn as the pizza-and-ice-cream spot Lovely's Fifty-Fifty, but readers still miss the more formal setting of N. Mississippi's Lovely Hula Hands. Says one: "They're still making magic at Fifty Fifty, but it's not as 'special fancy dinner.'"

Fife

(2002-2009). After six-and-a-half years in business, chef Marco Shaw closed his upscale American restaurant for a more to North Carolina. Says one reader, "I do miss Marco Shaw. He was one of the most under appreciated chefs portland has ever know[n]."

Carlyle

(2003-2010). NW fine-dining spot Carlyle, known as the breeding ground for chefs Daniel Mondok and Jake Martin, has its share of crestfallen fans nearly three years after its closure. Writes one: "Great food, service, and ambiance."

Alder Pastry & Dessert

(2011-2011). In just 10 short months, pastry chef Matthew Zack attracted a loyal (if not slightly rabid) following for his pastries and gelatos at Alder Pastry. (Writes one reader, "That gelato was a highlight of my life!") The location will soon welcome Levant, which is scheduled to open in February of this year.

Opus Too & Jazz De Opus

(1972-2003). Longtime nightclub Opus Too & Jazz De Opus featured live jazz and old-school eats for nearly 30 years. Writes one former employee: "It was THE steak & seafood house before all of the Ruth's Chris, Mortons and their like came to town. The had a great mesquite grill, fresh pasta, at least ten kinds of fresh seafood, steaks & chops. I got to spend five years cooking there and still regard it as one of my favorite places to cook and eat."

Kin

(2010-2012). Chef Kevin Shikami's Pearl District restaurant closed at the end of 2012, but its absence is already missed by readers. Writes one: "I was there for the last two nights, very sad to see the restaurant close and Kevin leave Portland. His food was always incredibly good. And he is an amazingly kind and nice person as well."

Henry Ford's

(1970s-early 2000s). SW Portland piano bar Henry Ford's is missed for its old-school steakhouse vibe. Writes on commenter, "Classic old school Portland. Miss the red carpet and bubbly fountain and seeing an old guy play bossa nova on an electric keyboard."

Vat & Tonsure

(1978-1997). The original incarnation of this popular bistro was shuttered to make way for downtown's Fox Tower; an attempt to resurrect the spot in 2002 was unsuccessful. But former guests miss its boisterous bar scene/wine list and roasted game hen.

Quality Pie

(1950s-1992). A holdout from the 1950s diner era, the 24-hour Quality Pie — famous for its exterior sign and late-night eats — remains a much-missed greasy spoon. Writes one reader: "Best people-watching in Portland."

Hiroshi

(2007-2010). Chef Hiro Ikegaya's upscale sushi spot Hiroshi shuttered after its move to the Pearl District; but Hiro's knives are still at work at his more casual E. Burnside spot Mirakutei.

Related Maps

Lauro Kitchen

(2003-2012). Chef/restaurateur David Machado launched his mini-empire with Lauro Kitchen, which pre-dated Division's status as PDX's "Restaurant Row." Says a reader of the Mediterranean-influenced menu: "Loved Lauro Kitchen. Always consistent and interesting."

Rose & Raindrop

(1998-2006). Central Eastside beer bar Rose & Raindrop — co-owned by legendary beerman Don Younger — has best known for its historic digs, extensive beer list, and parlor games. Says on commenter: "Our Scrabble club met there weekly for years and we knew the menu by heart, loved the burgers and crispy fries, the waiters were the best (miss you Russel), decent drinks and at one time, video poker. Now it's a bank, how boring is that."

Zefiro

(1990-2000). NW's legendary restaurant Zefiro marked Portland's introduction to four now-well-known culinary minds: Bruce Carey, Monique Siu (Castagna), Kevin Gibson (Evoe), and Chris Israel (Gruner). Unsurprisingly, it was frequently mentioned as a "most missed" spot, with one reader summing up, "there will never be another Zefiro."

Cafe Azul

(1998-2004). Chef Claire Archibald's Mexican spot Cafe Azul is now looked upon as "ahead of its time" for its upscale-authentic approach to Oaxacan cooking, and many readers are still nostalgic. Writes one, "Food, service, all top Q" — which we assume stands for "quality."

Related Maps