There are some dishes that stick in your head like a favorite song, begging you to come back for them over and over. These are the ones we wanted to have on repeat all year long in 2022, and in a perfect world, we'd put them together into a hodgepodge of a dream meal, starting with cheese-filled pastry puffs from a reinvented French restaurant and finishing with a playful wine bar's futuristic banana split.
HORS D’OEUVRE OF THE YEAR
St. Jack’s gougères are cloud-like, cheesy delights.
It’s the gravity-defying filling for us. Chef John Denison’s butternut squash and French mimolette-filled cheese puffs are blanketed in a crunchy craquelin and filled with an aerated mousse that wields a heavy burst of flavor (conjuring both Ritz and Velveeta) without the weight you’d expect from the oft-clunky party snack. 1610 NW 23rd Ave, stjackpdx.com —Matthew Trueherz
COCKTAIL OF THE YEAR
At Takibi, a local mixology legend distills the spirit of the Rose City into a stylish Nick & Nora glass.
Naming a drink the Rose City practically begs for a splash of rosé wine or rose-infused spirits. But bartender Jim Meehan has other ideas: a pink-hued cherry and matsutake mushroom brandy from Stone Barn Brandyworks, combined with on-trend dry vermouth and tangy red currant. You’re first hit by the light sweetness of fruit, which lingers before melting into an earthy, subtle umami finish. 2275 NW Flanders St, takibipdx.com —Katherine Chew Hamilton
TAKEOUT DINNER OF THE YEAR
Winner, winner, chicken dinner— it couldn’t be any more true at Mama Bird.
Move over, Costco. Mama Bird has raised the bar for takeout chicken, and there’s no going back. Top Chef Portland contestant Gabriel Pascuzzi is slinging buzzword-filled chicken (air-chilled, non-GMO, pasture-raised) marinated in pineapple until tender, then charred over an open wood fire until the skin crisps. Pair with lots of sauces, aji verde to vadouvan curry, and the best grilled sweet potatoes you will ever sink your teeth into. 2145 NW Raleigh St, mamabirdpdx.com —KCH
DESSERT OF THE YEAR
Kinda Banana Split at OK Omens is a high-tech, dairy- and gluten-free throwback to childhood.
With gizmos we can’t comprehend, chef Justin Woodward captures the DNA of a banana in a block of frozen coconut cream perched precariously over luxe oat ice cream and warm chocolate sauce. No dairy, nor gluten, just wow. Below: the cereal we need right now, puffed rice with cold melted chocolate. Mom? 1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd, okomens.com —Karen Brooks