Portland’s Kann named America’s best new restaurant

Kann, chef Gregory Gourdet’s wood-fired Haitian hotspot, was named the best new restaurant in America by Esquire magazine on Thursday, continuing a run of early accolades for the Southeast Portland restaurant.

“Landing on Esquire’s Best New Restaurants list is one of the biggest honors that a restaurant can receive and is a clear testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Kann team,” Gourdet said in a statement. “So many people play a role in making every ingredient, dish, and service possible and I’m honored to work alongside such passionate individuals.”

In honoring Kann, Esquire praised the restaurant’s “revelatory” approach to Haitian food, arguing that Gourdet had “(brought) to bear on that country’s cuisine the entirety of his life experience,” giving “Haitian cuisine soulful finesse in a joyful room.”

It’s not the first accolade for the new restaurant, and likely won’t be the last. Six weeks after opening, the New York Times named Kann one of the “50 places in America we’re most excited about right now.”

Kann wasn’t alone on the Esquire list. Lilia, a 30-day-old South Waterfront restaurant serving “Pacific Northwest cuisine through the lens of a Mexican-American chef” (aka former Republica chef de cuisine Juan Gomez), came in at No. 16. And McMinnville’s Okta, a seasonally driven fine-dining restaurant from former Castagna chef Matthew Lightner, appears at No. 26.

Not so long ago, Esquire went nearly a decade without honoring a Portland restaurant on its annual guide, ignoring a run of great local restaurants including Simpatica, Ripe, Toro Bravo, Le Pigeon, Beast, Pok Pok, Laurelhurst Market, Olympic (now Olympia) Provisions, Grüner, Little Bird, Ox, Langbaan and Nodoguro. Times have changed. Over the past five years, the magazine has recognized Coquine, Han Oak, Bullard, Dimo’s Apizza, Oma’s Hideaway and now Kann and Lilia on its annual list.

— Michael Russell; mrussell@oregonian.com@tdmrussell

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