Portland Food Writers’ Saddest Restaurant and Food Cart Closings of 2021

Each December, Eater Portland wraps up the year by reflecting on the past twelve months of dining in a series we call Year in eater. We reach out to Portland food writers and influencers for their insights on top trends, awesome newcomers, and standout meals, and share their responses in one package. Throwback to past years here.


“Obviously it was tragic to say goodbye to Vitaly Paley’s presence in the city. I find it hard to think of a person who shaped the city as profoundly as Vito, and Portland’s food scene will just do default without Imperial, the Crown, Upstream, and, of course, Paley’s Place. Ataula, too, was another tragedy. But the closure that has affected me the most will hopefully be temporary, and that’s Alley Mezza. It’s not just because I stupidly missed Chef Khal’s vegan cooking, but also because it was a deeply distressing situation. It opened my eyes in a big way to how Portland treats its non-white leaders, especially Arabs — when I knew our city had issues with racism, seeing it on such a display in the comments on social media and in other discussions was heartbreaking and infuriating. We must do better.
-Alex Frane, guest editor and contributor to Eater Portland

“I was really disappointed when L’Unico Alimentari closed so suddenly – they made some of the best pasta I’ve ever had.”
– Katherine Chew Hamilton, Portland Monthly food editor

“The Homegrown Smoker news is bittersweet as it marks the end of an era in the vegan scene. Alley Mezza and Dinger’s Deli were the saddest closures as they are both some of my neighborhood favorites. Shady Pines is also sad – it’s a great concept that never fully materialized, and the closure of this pod has left several carts in a tough spot. Many closures are not due to a lack of activity, but to deeper issues within the food industry. »
-Waz Wu, Eater Portland Contributor

“In another year of so many big name closures, that’s a very difficult question to answer. Probably the Holy Trinity BBQ. It was a heartbreaking loss. When chefs José Chesa and Cristina Báez are distant, many have (rightly) mourned Ataula, but the quieter evaporation of 180 Xuro was sadder for me since I frequented this place. I feel like Portland could always use more dessert options beyond ice cream and donuts, just like I love those two foods.
-Janey Wong Portland Mercury food and drink columnist

“It’s so tricky. I know people are going to mention places like Paley’s and Ataula – both were absolutely devastating, when you think about the history of the restaurant business in Portland – but it’s hard for me to ignore the way my heart broke when Holy Trinity announced it was closing. Considering its brief time in Portland, I have so many fond memories of eating Holy Trinity Prime Rib, those green chili grits, that *pudding banana*. I admit it, I’m still hoping he eventually comes back, in some form or another.”
-Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Editor of Eater Portland

“Nodoguro, which was one of the best Japanese restaurants in the country.”
-Gary Okazaki (“Gary the Foodie”), renowned globe-trotting eater

“Even though I’ve only eaten there a few times, Paley’s closure is significant as it appears to be the end of the farm-to-table first wave era that paved the way for today’s local scene. I miss Kachinka too. I always took people from outside there for all the fun small plates and infused vodkas. It was relaxed and festive at the same time. Although very different, Oma’s Hideaway somehow fills that void.
-Krista Garcia, Eater Portland Contributor

“Biba Chamoru kitchen. Ed Sablan’s kitchen reflects Guam’s distinct culinary traditions, always serving delicious barbecues, coconut flatbread, shrimp fritters, kelaguen chicken salad, and particularly excellent pickles and kimchi. I really hope they come back so I can buy more of their pickled papaya and fiesta plates.
-Jordan Michelman, Sprudge co-founder and beverage author

“I was quite shocked by the closure of Circa 33, especially after experiencing what seemed like a fairly successful pop-up this summer, Gin Alley. The staff were always super nice and ready to serve the neighborhood.
-Katrina Yentch, Eater Portland Contributor

“For me, it was the Holy Trinity BBQ that I had always wanted to try but never got around to. The fact that Chipotle would open a new location literally inches from its cart (and the whole original module!) is a notable example of tone-deaf corporate behavior. »
-Bill Oakley, fast food influencer

“At Paley’s. A true Portland icon restaurant with an exceptional happy hour and an incredible regular menu including a spectacular beef tartare. The cozy atmosphere was one of a kind with service, drinks and food to match. I can only hope his legacy continues to influence Portland’s culinary scene.
-Maya MacEvoy, Eater Portland Contributor

“I was sad that Gogi-Grill in Camas closed. The Park family, who had owned this place for many years, went through a fire, but the pandemic put an end to this beloved place’s run for Korean food. Losing Lapellah Restaurant left a huge void in the Vancouver culinary scene. No place has attempted to replace this beloved farm-to-table spot known for its fire-kissed vegetables, fish and meat.
Rachel Pinsky, Eater Portland Contributor, Washington Correspondent

Year in eater [EPDX]