The 10 Biggest Restaurant Openings and Closings of 2018
This was a major year for Portland’s restaurant scene: many of our heavy-hitter chefs opened second locations, some with mixed results. Unlike last year, big-deal closures were few and far between (remember the restaurant-maiming icepocalypse of 2017?). Here are the ones worth knowing.
With his third restaurant, a breakfast joint fused to a wine bar, famed Le Pigeon chef Gabriel Rucker proved he was still an original. Canard was our Restaurant of the Year.
Instagram-ready smoothie bowls to fancy gluten-free toasts, Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson’s new spot bridges the gap between vegan punks and tweezer chefs. Holiday earned a badge as our Rising Star Restaurant of the Year.
Castagna chef Justin Woodward and sommelier Brent Braun built a comfort-packed wine bar brimming with potential. So far, fried chicken Caesars and mapo tofu poutine are signs of good things to come.
Love him or hate him, Blue Star’s Micah Camden delivered our answer to In-N-Out: a drive-through that brings together all walks for burgers, fries, and fizzy waters.
With a stupidly comforting menu that cherry-picks Nostrana’s fanciest imports and crams them into sharable bites, the Italian institution’s little sib is way more than a wine bar.
The buzzy Woodlark hotel restaurant from Top Chef bronze medalist Doug Adams just opened in December, so we don’t actually know if the place is any good yet. But the stoke is irrefutably high for this Texas-in-Oregon meat parade.
Old Salt Marketplace
A Northeast Portland neighborhood fixture for five years, Old Salt (from the owners of Grain & Gristle) boasted a truly impressive house butchery program that percolated into nearly everything the restaurant and deli turned out. It was also home to the “Let Us Cook for You” dinner special—an omakase-style smorgasbord of meat and produce.
The Woodsman typified an age of locally sourced timber, whiskey curation, and wood-fired trout. The kitchen changed hands over the years, with its identity waffling between a lavish Southern destination restaurant and seasonal local cookery, eventually becoming more of a neighborhood bar with solid, blue-collar meatloaf, fried pickles, and regular Blazers game viewings. Meanwhile, owner Duane Sorenson’s personal philosophies shifted towards clean living, with his vegan and gluten-free Holiday (see above). The Woodsman had its last night of service on December 1. Its space will soon be filled by North Williams brunch icon Tasty N Sons, which will abandon its original location and adopt a new name, Tasty N Daughters. It's expected to open as soon as February 1, 2019.
When Alma Chocolate opened in 2006, before bean-to-bar shops were the norm in every quadrant, it was a true cacao pioneer, bursting with creativity and original ideas. Sarah Hart, Alma’s spiritual soul, who was later joined by talented baker Ruth Fox, grew Alma into a wild and wonderful catalogue of bon bons, molded chocolate art, and pastries. In September, both Alma locations were sold to Portland-born operation Moonstruck Chocolate.
Israeli-riffing Ray rose in 2017, a mere week after celebrity chef Jenn Louis’s farm-to-table Lincoln shuttered after nine years in the same space. It never had much of a chance: our review summed it up with this: “In today’s crowded food scene, value, experience, and fun factor count, big time. Ray, tight and mannered, has none of these in spades... Ray feels like Lincoln’s cousin after a year on the kibbutz.” It closed in September.