The 19 best dishes restaurant critic Michael Russell ate in 2021

Yeasted waffles and other delights from Fair Weather, the superlative (and short-lived) brunch spot turned cafe and doughnut bar at Southeast Portland's Jacqueline.

Yeasted waffles and other delights from Fair Weather, the superlative (and short-lived) brunch spot turned cafe and doughnut bar at Southeast Portland’s Jacqueline.Michael Russell | The Oregonian

In years past, naming the best bites of the year was as easy as scrolling through our guide to Portland’s best new restaurants and picking the best dish at each. As with so many things this year, 2021 was a bit more complex. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t delicious things to be eaten — far from it. It’s just that some of those delicious things came from a food cart, a strip club, or an Instagram-only delivery service run by a moonlighting chef. As such, a handful of these dishes are no longer available, either because they came from a short-lived pandemic pop-up, or because the restaurant that served them has since closed. Given the turmoil of the past two years, it only seemed right to honor them here (the majority are still available). From a chicken and dumpling soup served in a cozy yurt to beautifully browned lasagna bolognese warmed in our oven at home, here are the 19 best things we ate in 2021.

Chicken adobo served in a to go container

Chicken adobo is served at Filipino food cart, Baon Kainan, on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021.

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