1. Crystal Platt Lion & Owl 60 E. 11th Ave. 541-606-0626 LionandOwl.com.

2. Taro Kobayashi Akira Omakase 359 Mill St. 458-205-8288. AkiraEugene.com

3. Billy Reid Dueling Spoons 39074 Jasper Lowell Rd. 541-398-8929. DuelingSpoons.net.

It’s been quite a year for Crystal Platt, chef and owner of Lion and Owl. Her 2023 kicked off with news that she was a Best Chef semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Awards. Months later, her alma mater, Lane Community College, awarded her with its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. And now EW readers have voted that Platt is the area’s Best Chef. 

But to be the best, Platt says she had to study with the best. Shortly after graduating from LCC with her associate’s degree, she worked at Marché, which she says was after the restaurant had won its James Beard Award. 

Platt and her restaurant have a seasonal menu, but her ingenuity may shine brightest with turning an ordinary potato into something magical. One recipe she’s proud of is the potato in the style of ham hock, a days-long process. It starts with the potato being steamed, peeled and brined for 24 hours. Then it’s dried and smoked. And when it’s ordered, the kitchen deep fries it. 

“The potato was the first dish that I felt like was mine,” she says. 

Lion and Owl continues that legacy of excellence, not just providing high quality food, but also offering something different for its customers. 

“Both my wife and I work hard to create a special place,” Platt says. “You can be in Eugene but feel like you’re escaping.