Readers mourn these Portland area restaurants, their homes away from home

Earlier this month, as we began to sort through the wreckage wrought by COVID-19, we asked our readers to name the restaurant closures that had impacted them the most in 2020. We received nearly 150 responses, including stories of sushi counters, bagel shops, queer-friendly vegan bakeries, bars designed for lingering over board games and hotel restaurants that understood the meaning of hospitality. Here are our favorite selections from those memories, lightly edited for length and clarity.

a street sign in front of a brick building: The old Woodsman Tavern space became home to Tasty N Daughters, a restaurant from chef John Gorham on Southeast Division Street.

© Michael Russell | The Oregonian/OregonLive/Michael Russell/Staff/
The old Woodsman Tavern space became home to Tasty N Daughters, a restaurant from chef John Gorham on Southeast Division Street.

Also, don’t miss the 10 Portland restaurant closures that hurt the most.

— Michael Russell, [email protected], @tdmrusell

a bowl of food with broccoli: Cold ramen special of the day at Noraneko.

© Bruce Ely/Bruce Ely/Staff/
Cold ramen special of the day at Noraneko.

Game Knight Lounge

3037 N Williams Ave

Game Knight Lounge was a place that brought together friends, families, and strangers of all ages to gather for the treasured pastime of matching wits (Codenames), proving business acumen (Monopoly), or surviving zombies (Dead of Winter) over laughs and drafts… and cardboard. This was a charming location with great drinks, amazing food, and a wonderful staff—Christian, Andrew, Law, Neal, Hunter, and Seth. I’ve met a great group of friends through the Saturday Meetup… though we will continue our journeys in birdwatching (Wingspan), winemaking (Viticulture), and thievery (Root), our post-pandemic weekends will never be the same without this Portland gem. We miss you guys and the Chippos! 1/4 ud83c 1/4 udfb2 1/4 u265f 1/4 u2764 1/4 ufe0f

a group of people walking in front of a house: Pok Pok shown in 2007 at 3226 S.E. Division St.

© Bruce Ely/Bruce Ely/Staff/
Pok Pok shown in 2007 at 3226 S.E. Division St.

— Ommie Gonzales, North Williams

Nel Centro

1408 S.W. Sixth Ave.

My mother, at age 78, moved from NYC into a condo downtown, and discovered the happy hour at Nel Centro. It was a new beginning for her in so many ways, widowed, retired, making a new life for herself in a new city. It was also the first time in decades she and I had lived in the same place. We were giddy with the opportunity to hang out together—we got together on most Sunday nights and almost always went to Nel Centro for a cozy supper in the bar. We would each have a Manhattan, and often we would share small plates because whenever we looked at a menu, we always wanted to order the same thing. We cherished these dinners—time to talk and be together. After living apart for so long and having such harried lives— working, and caretaking—it seemed like a luxury. When she died suddenly in 2019, I had a newfound appreciation for the memories we made in her final Portland years. When it closed, I got texts from so many people who knew how devastated I would be. And I was. The news brought such a pang of sadness and loss. It is rare to find a place like that, that endures and never gets old, but rather gets better with time and familiarity. Nel Centro was quiet enough for intimate conversation, always provided excellent and understated service, and always felt warm and homey. No pretense required. Going there always felt like a celebration of togetherness and good conversation. I am eternally grateful for the evenings my mom and I spent at Nel Centro. When this pandemic is over, and we can reconvene for conversations over dinner, I expect I will long for it even more than I do now.

a group of people in a kitchen: Irving Street Kitchen was located at 701 N.W. 13th Ave.

© Stephanie Yao Long/Stephanie Yao Long/Staff/
Irving Street Kitchen was located at 701 N.W. 13th Ave.

— Kate Rubick, Southwest Portland

a person standing in front of a window: Derek Ingwood presents a foil rose. Portland staple Le Bistro Montage has reinvented itself as a food cart, now known as Montage ala Cart at the Hawthorne Asylum food carts in inner Southeast Portland.

© Sean Meagher/The Oregonian/Sean Meagher/Staff/
Derek Ingwood presents a foil rose. Portland staple Le Bistro Montage has reinvented itself as a food cart, now known as Montage ala Cart at the Hawthorne Asylum food carts in inner Southeast Portland.


5714 S.E. Powell Blvd.

I was a regular. Always had a spot at the bar. Aki had the freshest fish and was a master chef plus a wonderful friend. I would see old friends like the Yasui family over many years. Felt like home. Reminded me of my time in Japan. Miss the scene and the food dearly.

— Thomas McKenna, Parkrose

Heng Samrin, Cesar Virata posing for the camera: Wayne S. Leong, Fred Louis Jr. and Fred Louis Sr. celebrated the Canton Grill's 40th anniversary in 1984.

© Marv Bondarowicz/The Oregonian/1984/
Wayne S. Leong, Fred Louis Jr. and Fred Louis Sr. celebrated the Canton Grill’s 40th anniversary in 1984.

Back to Eden

2215 N.E. Alberta St.

The food wasn’t perfect (although the macaroni & cheese and the toffee bars were close), and the service was hit-or-miss, it was terrific to have a low-key, easy-to-access, relatively affordable place that served the vegan, gluten-free, and queer community in this part of town. It was great for a quick sweet treat, or a sit down meal. Since it closed, there isn’t another restaurant, cafe, or bakery that comes close to filling this niche in NE Portland.

— Kevin A. McLemore, Concordia – Northeast Portland

a group of people performing on a counter: Nel Centro in downtown Portland closed in May.

© Beth Nakamura/Beth Nakamura/Staff/
Nel Centro in downtown Portland closed in May.

Canton Grill

Southeast 82nd and Division

Canton Grill was the last of a great dying legacy of family run Chinese-American restaurants that peppered the area around 82nd Ave and was a bastion of Old Portland. Yes, the food was good, but just as alluring were the red leather booths and those familiar smiles that greeted the neighborhood crowd for three-quarters of a century. Each year in their anniversary month of August, buttons were handed out commemorating the number of years they’d remained open and discounts offered to those who collected buttons from prior years, and it wasn’t uncommon to see patrons come in with bags full of buttons dating back several decades. Customers and staff took great pride in the 76-year-old restaurant’s longevity, which makes the closure even more painful.

— Alex Hatch, Salem

a store inside of a building: Grixsen Brewing Company announced it would close in August.

© Dave Killen/Dave Killen/Staff/
Grixsen Brewing Company announced it would close in August.


2035 S.E. Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Trinket was the place that my partner and I went when we wanted to have a relaxing beautiful brunch with delicious coffee and salted honey pie. The restaurant decor made me want to own a cabin and inspired my own interior design.

— Alisha Crockett, Southeast Portland

Le Bistro Montage

Under the Morrison Bridge in Southeast Portland

Le Bistro Montage was my husband’s and my after concert, late night date place for over 21 years. It was the place we would take our out-of- town guests to experience Portland. It’s the last place we celebrated New Year’s Eve. I’m almost too choked up to write about it. I can’t even imagine what an after pandemic Portland will be like without The Montage. It certainly won’t be the same.

— Tracie Gilson, Beaverton

Grixsen Brewing

Southeast 10th and Division

I hosted bar trivia at random locations before Grixsen reeled me in. I felt very myself hosting trivia there: I had friends on multiple teams, the staff was great, food and drinks were quality, and trivia was exciting. I gave away dumb prizes (mac and cheese flavored candy canes, etc), received tremendous drawings (some of me), and complimented as many people as I could. My fondness for stouts started there. Grixsen has left operations, but they won’t leave my heart.

— Alexander Parrish, Northeast Portland

Arleta Library Cafe

5513 S.E. 72nd Ave.

This is the spot I always brought my out-of-town friends and family when they visited. Some of the best conversations happened in this restaurant. It was so warm and inviting, and the food was amazing.

— Josie Johnson, Happy Valley

Tanner Creek Tavern

875 N.W. Everett St.

David (Machados)’s businesses were all beautifully connected to the Portland local arts scene; locales and hours designed around that. So I think the closure of his places is a symbol of the huge hit to all that makes going out in PDX special; see a concert or a play, have a great pre or post show meal. Emblematic of what we are missing, and we’re in danger of losing permanently, a vibrant city cultural core.

— Cynthia Fuhrman, North Portland

No Bones Beach Club

3928 N. Mississippi Ave.

Super fun atmosphere, beach party vibes, amazing vegan brunch, friendly staff and SHARK SHOTS! And they donated profits to local animal rescue nonprofits. You just feel really good going there to enjoy a meal and drinks! I dream about the vegan pina coladas. So many delicious memories.

— Alana Jevert, Northeast Portland

Irving Street Kitchen

NW 13th and Irving Street

I weep every time I walk by the empty building and think about the brunches I’ve had with friends and family. Their Sunday brunch menu can never be equaled. Chilaquiles with donuts for dessert, anyone?

— Kristine Lofgren, The Pearl


5052 S.E. Foster Road

Diane’s was a typical Portland breakfast dive. Standard American diner fare, reasonably clean, nothing “fancy.” The thing is though — Diane’s was OUR typical Portland breakfast dive! The perpetual, motherly waitresses (including Diane herself on busy days) watched my kids (now early/mid-20s) grow up one plate of pancakes at a time. Diane’s was a place with an “old guys” table, no need for a “reserved” sign, everybody just knew not to sit there — and it’s those “old guys” I think about most with this closure. They were there every day arguing about football and politics and, periodically, consoling each other over the loss of a partner or an unwelcome medical diagnosis. I hope post-COVID Portland has a few good breakfast dives left, but none of them will ever measure up to Diane’s for me.

— Angela Wood, Creston-Kenilworth

Muu Muu’s

612 N.W. 21st

Prior to its closure I never would have spoken about Muu Muu’s in fear of it being hyped and overrun. But this was in my opinion the best bar in Portland. Super tasty and quality food with varied menu, simple affordable drinks, an unpretentious warm and eclectic lived in atmosphere, a bar that folks treated like home. Yet most importantly what stood out about this bar was the staff and friends. Muu Muu’s crowd was super diverse, regulars in every age range, new folks spilling over from a movie on NW 21st, old friends and new, all never strangers. In many ways the folks that made up Muu Muus mirrored the crowd from cheers in that we all had different lives and backgrounds, opinions and experiences, but the same love for this one place we all called home. xo

— Melissa Lang, Northwest Portland

The Singer Hill Cafe

623 Seventh St., Oregon City

The Singer Hill Café had a unique and homey atmosphere. You could catch up with family, sit with a friend, or warm up with a bowl of their vegan chili, settle in an easy chair, and dive into a good book. There were so many interesting things about the cafe, from their fresh food to their vertical garden to their art gallery. This restaurant was the jewel of Oregon City. It will be missed.

— Elizabeth Ebensteiner, Southeast Portland


210 S.E. MLK Jr. Blvd.

Revelry was one of the first restaurants my dad took me to when we first moved to Oregon from Brazil. He read about it in a magazine, that it had amazing Korean style fried chicken, unique fusion dishes and cocktails, was in a cool location, and played 80/90s hip-hop all day long. We went there and it quickly became one of our favorite Portland spots. He passed away in 2018, and I’ve since taken friends and boyfriends there to introduce to them the magic of Revelry. When I heard Revelry closed, I was really disappointed. I don’t think there will ever be a spot quite like it again.

— Bella Meyn, Lake Oswego

Townshend’s Teahouses

Townshend’s in Eugene was my ride or die all the way through college at UO, and the Montavilla and Division locations were my favorite haunts once I graduated and came back home. I’m down to the last dregs of the loose leaf I bought during their closing sale and I don’t want to finish it. The memories that come with each cup will stick with me, but there is a hole in my heart where they used to be.

— Hannah Rice, North Tabor

Pok Pok

3226 S.E. Division St.

The first “cool” restaurant my boyfriend (now husband) visited after moving to Portland in the early 2000 1/4 u2032s. We took everyone who visited us. Pok Pok’s beautiful food became a way for us to show off our beautiful new city. “See, this is why we moved here.” Pok Pok never lost that feeling for me, as if eating there was an invitation to try something new and wonderful and cool no matter how many times we’d dined there. I was surprised how much this closing hurt, it’s like a cherished memory is gone.

— Justina Klammer, Southeast Portland

CC Slaughters

219 N.W. Davis St.

It was a safe space for LGBTQ+ community to dance, enjoy a show and just relax and be themselves for 39 years. It was like family to me and so many others and we are still heartbroken at the loss of so it and so many queer-owned spaces.

— Bee Lackner, Northwest Portland


3200 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.

Sanborn’s had the best German pancakes in Portland, hands down. Their cocoa and mocha press coffee were also magical! They had such friendly owners and staff. In spite of their tiny dining room, they were always so accommodating of my husband who is a wheelchair user. It was our favorite breakfast spot for the last 8 years. We will miss it so much!

— Greta Wesslen, Milwaukie


1430 S.E. Water Ave.

I’m celiac, so finding good spots that I never have to worry about getting sick from, especially awesome ramen, isn’t easy. The staff exemplified what I look for in a restaurant: taking my request seriously, not asking me “what does that mean.” I could walk there for lunch, or take my family there for dinner, or bring it home. Tucked away under the Hawthorne bridge on-ramp, it felt like a special hideaway. Especially now that winter has come, I miss that bowl of warmth and pile of delicious, salty kara-age.

— Ben Byers, Woodstock


410 S.W. Broadway

Imperial was our go-to place when we wanted to treat ourselves, get a little dressed up, or take friends from out of town. Like everyone else, we experienced a lot of upheaval for the first few months of all of this. Once our lives finally settled down, we ordered takeout from Imperial to support the business, and it was the best meal we’ve had since all of this started. We found out the restaurant closed a week later. Imperial will be sorely missed.

— Angie Wieland, Irvington

Cultured Caveman

8233 N. Denver Ave.

The Cultured Caveman was a one-of-a-kind spot. They were a paleo restaurant and their food was just incredible. I still think about their bacon almond dates and chicken broccoli ranch wraps. The Cultured Caveman was the perfect place to take friends and family with food allergies, but you didn’t have to have dietary restrictions to appreciate how much love and care went into everything they served. You just had to like fresh local food and friendly people. I miss it.

— Liz Goss, Kenton

Tasty N Daughters

4537 S.E. Division St., former home to The Woodsman Tavern

We moved to town from Atlanta in 2015 and food was a major reason why. The Woodsman was one of the early restaurants we tried during summer visits in the years preceding and one of the reasons we loved living in Southeast once we were here. It became our go-to happy hour spot or stop for an impromptu dinner out. As locals we were always able to sneak into a spot at the bar or visit in between rush times. The conversations with friends in the space is what will leave us with the most nostalgia.

— Barrett Brooks, Woodstock

Eisenhower Bagel House

4350 N. Interstate Ave.

My first apartment was across the street from Eisenhower. Their bagels were to die for and the staff were so kind. At every paycheck from my underwhelming retail job on Mississippi, I put aside some money to be able to pop into Eisenhower in the morning before my shift. Every bagel I have had since doesn’t compare and I miss that part of my life greatly. I miss my coworkers and the happy hour shoppers, and the time I gave to myself at the bagel house, which was home 1 street away from home.

— Arina Borodkina, South Portland

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