Best Restaurants 2018: Eat This Now

Portland's 5 Must-Eat Dishes of 2018

Pan pizza to tinned fish to the dreamiest chocolate chip cookies, here's what we just can't quit this year.

By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke October 10, 2018 Published in the November 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Number 4 at Ranch Pizza

The crust’s the thing at this humble house of pan pizza in Woodlawn: sturdy yet shatter-crisp, embedded with cheese frizzles, and irresistible. The menu mashes up Detroit deep dish and garlicky Sicilian “grandma pies”—and there’s not a bad topping combo among them. But order the Number 4, lavished with sausage crumbles, spicy chiles, and mounds of ricotta to cut the heat, and you will know pure pizza pleasure. 1760 NE Dekum St (also available at Poison's Rainbow), —KC

Beef Tenderloin Tartare at Bistro Agnes

Once the order for natty celebs at 19th-century Paris bistros, steak tartare’s primal adventure still elicits flushed cheeks and pounding hearts. At their new downtown spot, chefs Greg and Gabi Denton master the classic, with rich, rosy tenderloin, a golden egg yolk, a swoop of Dijon sauce, and fresh-made potato chips for scooping. 527 SW 12th Ave, —KB

Tinned Fish at Sardine Head

First came the name, once an insult hurled at Brittany’s female cannery workers, who turned the tables and called themselves “sardine heads” with pride. Then, a Portland bar concept: an anything-but-stuffy “natural wine dive” housed in Sweedeedee three nights a week. And finally, a signature dish: a cool collection of tinned fish, heady French village boquerones to spicy Sicilian anchovies, sided by bread, fancy French butter, and pickled things. A perfect wine pairing. 5202 N Albina Ave, Fri–Sun, —KB

The Big Family Meal at Big’s Chicken

Scuttled by a fire at its original Northeast Portland digs in 2017, Big’s rose again in late summer, like a phoenix slathered in Alabama White Gold barbecue sauce. The Big Family Meal brings everyone to the table at its roomier, raw-beamed new digs in downtown Beaverton. Share a char-skinned bird, singing with spice and smeared with that addictive mayo-vinegar-oregano-tanged sauce. Plus, a platter heaped with White Gold–dressed salad and a pair of generous sides—fluffy jojos to fried broccoli with pimento cheese, and maple-buttery corn cakes. 4570 SW Watson Ave, Beaverton, —KC

Cloudforest Chocolate Chip Cookie

Things to know about chocolate artist Sebastian Cisneros: 1) He makes beautiful bars from cacao beans grown in his native Ecuador. 2) He crafts his goods, bean roasting to bar wrapping, in back of his adorable new factory/coffee bar. 3) He also puts that chocolate into the year’s dreamiest cookie—hand-folding chunks of deep, dark, 70 percent chocolate into the dough, so it melts and dances through every bite of these uniquely toasty rounds. The secret? Cisneros swears it’s the synergy of Oregon-grown wheat flour and his intense house vanilla extract. Best eat another one to figure it out.... 1411 SE Stark St, —KB

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