The greatness: Star chefs Greg Denton and Gabi Quiñónez Denton’s new downtown dining room aims to spotlight wild microplates. Instead, it excels at bright, balanced cocktails and anything grilled—the things that already make the duo’s Ox a sexy dinner date. You will gnaw that smoky lamb chop, slathered with dill- and green olive–laced feta yogurt, to the bone.
The problem: If you build your concept around teeny morsels at stiff prices-per-mouthful, you’d best deliver the flavor boom. Too many dishes are still sketches—from mushy ceviche to gimmicky, truffled “SpaghettiOs”—and too unbalanced or boring to earn their namesake adjective. 527 SW 12th Ave, 503-222-0979, superbitepdx.com
The greatness: Nine local food titans join forces to launch a highbrow downtown food court (pictured above)! Eaters can cobble together an epic lunch sampler of PDX’s culinary standard bearers: from slices of Ken Forkish’s acclaimed pizza at Trifecta Annex and springy Marukin ramen to Pollo Bravo’s paprika-rumbling Spanish chicken! Instagram, engage!
The problem: Inconsistency. The Super Food Friends need to ditch their sprawling menus to concentrate on core dishes. One place has wobbled right out of business already, and Wiz Bang, Salt & Straw’s soft serve experiment, is hobbled by dull flavors and cruddy toppings. 126 SW Second Ave, pinestreetpdx.com
The greatness: Farmers market vendor-hero and seasonal pizza pioneer Mark Doxtader plants firm roots in the heart of Multnomah Village. The tiny dining room is cozy and surprisingly spiffy given Doxtader’s outdoorsy aesthetic, with a rustic open kitchen, soft lighting, and an appealing menu that goes beyond pizza with bruschetta, an addictive kale Caesar, homey roast chicken, homemade spätzle, oven-fresh fruit crisps, well-picked wines, and fun cocktails.
The problem: Alas, Doxtader is rarely in the kitchen. That leaves the pride of the house, wood-oven pizzas, in solid hands but without the magic we know and love—unusual constructions, artfully balanced. 7783 SW Capitol Hwy, 503-234-0330, tastebudpdx.com