Portland’s best moments of 2016

Look back on a year filled with great eats, drinks, sporting events and more.

rcrThe Rose City Rollers became international champions in 2016.
Regularman via Rose City Rollers

For better or for worse, it’s time to say goodbye to 2016. Let’s revisit some of the best moments of 2016 in Portland, from an influx of Japanese ramen joints to a hometown roller derby victory.


2016 was another big year for Portland’s booming food scene, which shows no signs of slowing down. A handful of big-name chefs and international newcomers opened highly anticipated restaurants in 2016.

The brainchild of former Ava Gene’s chef Joshua McFadden, Tusk quickly drew rave reviews with a menu highlighting local, seasonal vegetables and Middle Eastern inspirations. Another huge name in Portland’s food scene, James Beard Award-winning Chef Vitaly Paley, took over the restaurant at the Heathman Hotel. Now dubbed Headwaters, the eatery ups the ante with details like a raw seafood bar and Russian-style tea service. Pine Street Market changed the dining scene in downtown Portland with a food court-style collection of locally owned micro-restaurants. Standouts include Pollo Bravo (from Toro Bravo’s John Gorham) and Whiz Bang Bar, a spin-off of innovative ice cream shop Salt & Straw. Originally opened in late 2015, Pizza Jerk reopened following a kitchen fire and was named the best pizzeria in America by Bon Appétit.

Portland’s international cuisine also took a step forward in 2016. Seattle culinary stars Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi started serving up playful Korean snacks (think spicy fried chicken topped with peanut brittle) at new late-night spot Revelry. Peter Cho’s bright and airy Han Oak delighted foodies with a prix fixe menu of locally sourced banchan (Korean small plates) like dumpling soup and salt-baked pork belly. With Hat Yai, Chef Earl Ninsom offered a laid-back version of the game-changing Thai cuisine at reservation-only Langbaan. Japanese ramen chains Afuri and Marukin brought their savory bowls of broth and noodles — and their first U.S. locations — to Portland. Lastly, Poke Mon and QuickFish Poke Bar (by local favorite Bamboo Sushi) introduced fresh Hawaiian-style poke, previously underappreciated and hard to find in the Rose City.


2016 marked the arrival of three long-awaited watering holes that had kept Portlanders thirsty with anticipation. The chefs and owners behind Podnah’s Pit, Sizzle Pie and Double Mountain Brewery joined forces to create Wayfinder, a fancier Munich-style beer hall with a menu of smoked meats. (And a killer patio.) Century Bar offered sports lovers a new venue to watch everything from Blazers playoff games to Oregon State Beavers football. With mid-century-inspired stadium-seating, four TV screens, craft cocktails and vegan- and carnivore-friendly eats, it’s a sports bar like no other. Last but not least, the owners of Nob Hill stalwart Besaws (itself reopened in 2016) brought Southeast Asian cuisine and amaro cocktails to the neighborhood at The Solo Club.

Arts and Culture

In 2016, Andy Warhol arrived in Portland (in spirit, at least). The Portland Art Museum hosted the largest collection of prints by the legendary pop artist ever exhibited. ,Running through Jan. 1, 2017, the show includes Warhol’s iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Mao and the Campbell’s soup can.

Local clothier Wildfang has always done its part to demolish gender norms with forward-thinking, gender-neutral clothing. In 2016, the “tomboy” outfitters celebrated Women’s History Month, fought locker room talk with the help of local teenagers, and dressed celebrities like Janelle Monae in their iconic “Wild Feminist” tees.

Did you know that Portland has a mascot in Japan? Thanks to a 2016 Travel Portland campaign, the city is represented by a blue, bearded Sasquatch creature named Mr. Dude. (The long-standing Tokyo-Portland connection keeps getting deeper, as evidenced by the recent opening of a Portland-themed beer bar in the Shibuya ward.)


With Biketown, Portland joined the likes of New York, Paris and Amsterdam by offering a large-scale, citywide bike-share program. A thousand orange bicycles appeared across the city in July; by August, they had already been used nearly 60,000 times. For a modest fee, rent a bike for a quick ride or a daylong trip along Portland’s many bike-friendly streets and trails.

In 2016, Portland’s roller derby team, the Rose City Rollers, became international champions for the second consecutive year. The Rollers clinched the International Women’s Flat Track Derby Association title on home turf at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. After three days of grueling competition, they eventually defeated New York’s Gotham Roller Girls to claim the No. 1 spot. Talk about Portland pride!


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