Editor's Note: The New Nice

Not so long ago a "nice meal" in Portland meant a big steak and a bottle of Italian wine. More recently, it's meant an aggressively casual atmosphere, where that steak is ground into a burger then served with pommes frites and hazelnut aioli. Pair it with an IPA made by the chef's friend, and outfit your dining room with reclaimed barnwood and a sound system made for an Old Town club, then watch the line form.

Our idea of a "nice meal" is changing again. You'll still find us swinging by someplace like Sunshine Tavern for a beer and burger, or waiting in line for rajas con crema tacos at Mi Mero Mole, but if we're celebrating a birthday or a raise, or entertaining out-of-town guests, we're headed a different direction.

Where? Willamette Week's Restaurant Guide is our answer. In these pages you'll find our selective collection of 100 or so Portland restaurants offering exceptional meals. We spend months working on this guide, emptying our bank accounts between reimbursement checks and debating the merits of various sushi joints for hours on end. 

For most readers, many of the eateries included require some sacrifice. Sometimes, that's a 20-minute drive to Gresham for unmatched pollos à la brasa or to Beaverton for bulgogi. Other times, it's a 40-minute wait at Pok Pok or Screen Door. Occasionally, it's spending a week's worth of grocery money on a single meal at Castagna, Le Pigeon or DOC.

In exchange, you should have an exceptional experience. We allot several months and thousands upon thousands of dollars to test the waters so we can offer you trustworthy counsel.

We hope this guide will live with you for the next year, popping off the shelf as needed on happy Fridays and stressful Tuesdays, and when cousins visit from Chicago. We think it's the best guide to Portland restaurants available anywhere—for free, no less. Hopefully, you'll agree. And if one of our recommendations lets you down, please drop me a line.

Increasingly, we've found that the most exceptional meals don't come from stale old-money haunts, proto-locavore joints, bars with good burgers, or meat-and-potatoes steakhouses.

Instead, we're most excited about the unmatched joy of the tasting menu at our Restaurant of the Year, Roe, and the warm comforts of runner-up, Ava Gene's.

Like the rest of Portland, we remain allergic to pretension. We still want the cozy service and $3 tall boys of the comfort-food era, but we also want inventive, refined dishes we'll still be talking about the next afternoon—and, hey, maybe a bottle of Italian wine. MARTIN CIZMAR, Restaurant Guide 2013 Co-editor

Willamette Week's Best Restaurants of 2013


























Editors Martin Cizmar, Matthew Korfhage

Art Director Amy Martin

Copy chief Rob Fernas

Copy Editors  Matt Buckingham, Nina Lary, Jessica Pedrosa

Editorial contributors Penelope Bass, Ruth Brown, Martin Cizmar, Liz Crain, Andrea Damewood, Rob Fernas, Jordan Green, Richard Grunert, Angie Jabine, Rebecca Jacobson, Matthew Korfhage, John Locanthi, Mitch Lillie, Haley Martin, Kat Merck, Aaron Mesh, Brian Panganiban, Matthew Singer, Sara Sneath, Adrienne So, Grace Stainback, Michael C. Zusman

Photographers Natalie Behring, Jarek Hollander, Evan Johnson, Leah Nash

Illustrator Amy Martin

Production Manager Ben Kubany

Ad Designers Andrew Farris, Xel Moore, Dylan Serkin

Director of Advertising Scott Wagner

Advertising Assistant Ashley Grether

Account Executives Maria Boyer, Michael Donhowe, Ryan Kingrey,  Janet Norman, Kyle Owens, Sharri Miller Regan, Andrew Shenker

Marketing & Promotions Coordinator Carrie Henderson

Accounting Manager Chris Petryszak

Credit/Collections Shawn Wolf

Manager of Information Systems Brian Panganiban

Circulation Director Mark Kirchmeier

Associate Publisher Jane Smith

Publishers Richard H. Meeker, Mark L. Zusman

Published by City of Roses Newspaper Company

Send comments to mcizmar@wweek.com.