Editor in chief Kelly Clarke recovers from the demands of editing this month's Best New Restaurants package atop a mountain of (what else?) French toast.

Image: Amy Martin

Portland was a messy, exciting stew of ambition and creativity when Portland Monthly magazine debuted in 2003—15 years ago this month. It was the year we wrapped our heads around the idea of a vegan 7-Eleven (Food Fight!) and could not shut up about bacon-maple bars at edgy new Voodoo Doughnut. Fred had just met Carrie at a Saturday Night Live after-party—a chance encounter that eventually cemented Portland’s rep as a hipster mecca—and PICA’s TBA Fest debuted, luring avant-garde creatives to a smallish city with outsize arts chutzpah.

Fifteen years on, Portland is bigger, thankfully more diverse, and more complicated than ever. But at our core, we’re still a patchwork of scrappy entrepreneurs, community organizers, artists, and neighbors working to construct a city in our image, piece by idiosyncratic piece.

This month’s issue encompasses that messy beauty with a focus on two of our longest-running obsessions: Our annual Best New Restaurants package careens from local food-world titans launching unexpectedly fun third acts to Portlanders importing hometown flavors from Laos to Ivory Coast. Plus, some wild boîtes that took a stick of dynamite to the musty concept of the “wine bar.” A few pages later, we celebrate the work of our annual Light a Fire award winners, a passel of devoted, inspiring nonprofits and individuals working to make Portland a better place to live for everyone. (Cue all the tears.)

Image: Michael Novak

Know what else was here 15 years ago? Me. I was writing a foul-mouthed food column for a local alt-weekly (and moonlighting as a dance critic and nightlife reporter). Like many of the longtime local characters we profile in this month’s issue, I grew up a bit, had a kid, and renegotiated the way I live and interact with Portland (fewer 2 a.m. indie rock shows, more 9 p.m. Dungeons & Dragons tavern pop-ups).

Today I’m proud and honored to be Portland Monthly’s new editor in chief, where I get to work with a passionate, engaged crew of reporters and designers who are still just as head-over-heels for this damn place as I am. (Bonus, they bring me cookies from Courier Coffee when I’m stressed and make me laugh so hard I spit pinot on my keyboard.)

Loving anything—a person, a scene, or an entire city—means taking a clear-eyed look at it, celebrating its wins, and being honest about its faults. Our promise: We’ll continue to care, stubbornly and deeply, about this place. We’ll ask big questions and shine a spotlight on one-of-a-kind operators. We’ll mess up, learn, and try again. This city and our readers deserve no less.

I can’t wait to see where we end up in another 15 years. Just keep those cookies coming.

Kelly Clarke
Editor in Chief

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10/17/2018 Edited by Fiona McCann Illustrations by Loris Lora