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Smoked buffalo mozzarella, roasted delicata squash and speck croccante. (Photo: Montesacro Pinseria-Enoteca/Facebook.)

The West Coast has long been one of our favorite regions for food, and now it’s more so than ever. Take Portland, Oregon, which has lately become an especially good place to be when you have the munchies. As the new year approaches, we’ve asked some of our writers to share their most memorable eating experiences along the Pacific Coast in 2015. Here are their picks:

Altura
Altura chef Nathan Lockwood shows off an enormous truffle. (Photo: Altura/Facebook.)

Altura (Seattle, Washington)
Chef-owner Nathan Lockwood never loses focus on the essence of Italian cuisine even while he’s stretching the boundaries of it. His dishes — always changing, always striving — are as dedicated to local ingredients as any found in Piedmont. Fish and shellfish from Pacific Northwest waters, meats from Washington State farms, creativity from a chef who honed his craft in the cutthroat West Coast dining scene. Lockwood’s tasting menus embrace both rusticity (like a bone-in rib eye, its slices red, glistening and unadorned so that nothing obstructs the meat’s primal attraction) and eccentricity (like a sweet-corn panna cotta with truffle popcorn and freshly shaved truffles). Altura has become the place where tourists and off-duty chefs alike find solace from the homogeneity of modern dining. 617 Broadway E., Seattle, WA 98102; 206-402-6749; alturarestaurant.com
Tim Carman

Jon & Vinny’s (Los Angeles, California)
“There will be a meatball.” It was a simple claim made by Vinny Dotolo when I spoke with him a month before he opened his new Fairfax Avenue restaurant down the street from his better-known Fairfax Avenue restaurant Animal in Los Angeles. When I returned over the summer, there were meatballs, no doubt. But also some excellent Italian-American pastries (a daily bombolone) and an egg fried in olive oil with ‘nduja and preserved Meyer lemon for breakfast. At lunch and dinner (it’s an all-day affair), the pizzas take over, be it the simple LA Woman (that’s SoCal burrata, basil, olive oil) or the ridiculous (the name, the pie) Ham & Yeezy loaded with h*a*m, smoked mozzarella and pickled chilies. The thin pizza crust is magical. So is the chicken parm, wonderfully straightforward cacao e pepe (rich, cheesy), fried onion loaf and those meatballs. I wish I hadn’t quit carbs this autumn. I wish I lived less than 3,000 miles away. 412 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036; jonandvinnys.com
Matt Rodbard

Montesacro (San Francisco, California)
There were many notable openings in the Bay Area this year, and though this selection is a more casual, humble one, it’s one of my favorites. As the first known pinseria in the country, Montesacro opened this spring serving an ancient Roman flatbread, like pizza in oval form, with a unique makeup of three kinds of flour — soy, rice and wheat, all GMO-free, all imported from Rome. Montesacro boasts two on-staff pinsaiolis (akin to a pizzaiolo) direct from Rome, both masters of the ancient peasant bread. But besides the delicious pinsa, it’s the gracious welcome and tone set by Roman owner Gianluca Legrottaglie in a restored, century-old space off a gritty San Francisco alley (complete with a 100-year-old oven lining the back wall) that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped out of the U.S. and directly into the streets of Roma. 510 Stevenson St., San Francisco, CA 94103; 415-795-3040; montesacrosf.com
Virginia Miller

LittleTAmericanBaker
Pumpkin seed and currant with Edison wheat, kamut and corn. (Photo: Little T American Baker/Facebook.)

Little T American Baker (Portland, Oregon)
If you can, for a second, divert your eyes from the gorgeous croissants, the seasonal danishes, the pistachio bear paws, the chewy cookies, the chocolate chip scones, and the countless other treats that sit teasingly behind a glass case at Little T, you can read the bakery’s motto painted above the wall menu: “flour, science, hands & heart.” Baker and owner Tim Healea suggests that those four words define his airy neighborhood bakery, located on Southeast Division Street, once a down-on-its-luck corridor that has been reborn as a gastronomic strip. You know the beauty of Healea’s approach? In an era of large-scale baking, you don’t need to read several manuals to learn how to operate the machinery necessary to bake a simple loaf of bread. Little T is all about good ingredients, controlled fermentation, the learned skills of hand forming and shaping, and a passion for the craft. It’s a philosophy simple to recite, difficult to master. The mastery is found all throughout Little T. 2600 SE Division St., Portland, OR 97202; 503-238-3458; littletbaker.com
Tim Carman

Hana (Rohnert Park, California)
Chef Ken Tominaga was among the first to make responsibly sourced, wild-caught seafood the standard for Bay Area sushi restaurants — it’s his considered use of parts typically discarded by chefs that got me thinking about why others aren’t practicing a nose-to-tail philosophy with seafood. One plate during my dinner was comprised of tuna tendon and bloodline, things I had never eaten before (let alone considered). But under Tominaga’s skill and care, the cuts were flavorful and the textures surprising. Could Tominaga be sparking another trend in the world of Japanese and seafood restaurants, something good for our bellies and our environment? I hope so. 101 Golf Course Dr., Rohnert Park, CA 94928; 707-586-0270
Katie Chang

Saison (San Francisco, California)
Yes, it is California’s most expensive restaurant, and it has held on to its coveted three Michelin stars for two consecutive years. But more than chef Joshua Skenes’s thoughtful and highly principled cooking, it might have to do with the fact that everyone who works there is a bona fide class act and will do everything to make you feel special and most importantly, comfortable. Early in the evening, I embarrassingly whispered to my partner how I ate Subway for lunch. But before he could shame me, head sommelier Max Coane breezed by and muttered in an equally discreet voice, “Sometimes you gotta eat fresh.” That’s when I was reminded what real class is about. It has little to do with money; it’s about putting others above yourself, reserving your opinions (as well informed as they might be) as necessary and making everyone around you feel, well, wonderful. (And get this: Staff members hauled bags of McDonald’s fries over to the restaurant for their Fourth of July staff meal, as if I couldn’t adore them even more.) 178 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA 94107; saisonsf.com
Katie Chang