I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s a summary of events and trends for 2016:
- Best New Restaurant – 2016 saw the opening of a number of strong new restaurants. However, it’s an easy decision to call out Drifters Wife as the best new restaurant of 2016. On all accounts, food, service and atmosphere they’ve been outstanding and brought something new to Portland. Bon Appétit named Drifters one of the best new restaurants in the nation, the Press Herald selected them as the best restaurant of 2016 and Ed Behr, editor of Art of Eating, wrote a review in the Financial Times concludes with “For a meal, snack or just to drink wine in a low-key atmosphere, on a totally human scale, Drifters Wife is an outstanding place to pass an hour — or a whole long evening”.
- Breweries/Distilleries – fermentation-based businesses continued to expand and grow in number in 2016. Notable were the moves of Bissell Brothers to Thompson’s Point and Bunker to Libbytown, the opening of Stroudwater Distilling, Hardshore Distilling and the Cellar Door tasting room, and the expansions of Foundation Brewing, Maine Beer Co, Rising Tide and the upcoming expansion of Maine Craft Distilling.
- Juice Bars – 2016 was the year of the juice bar. Farm Truck Juice opened in the West End, Blake Orchard in the Old Port, Flying Fox on Washington Ave, and Maine Juice Company in Biddeford joined Maine Squeeze and Samantha Lives in this segment of the industry.
- Upcoming in 2017 – The pace of new restaurant and bar projects looks likely to pick-up in 2017. 40+ new ventures are already being tracked on the PFM Under Construction list and I’m aware of several other ventures in earlier stages of development. The ones I’m most looking forward to in 2017 are:
- Baharat – CN Shawarma’s new restaurant in East Bayside
- Black Cow – ‘re-imagining of the classic soda fountain’ by Nick Nappi and Gary Bowcott
- Cong Tu Bot – a pho noodle bar being launched by Vien Dobui and Jessica Sheahan
- Gross Confection Bar – a dessert/cocktail bar by Brant Dadaleares
- Izakaya Minato – a new Japanese restaurant on Washington Ave
- LB Kitchen – chef Lee Farrington’s new breakfast and lunch restaurant on Congress Street
- Lio – a wine-driven restaurant by Cara Stadler in conjunction with Chris Peterman
- Little Giant – Hunt & Alpine’s restaurant in the West End
- Sichuan Kitchen – a Chinese restaurant scheduled to open on January 2nd
- Tipo – Central Provision’s new restaurant in Back Cove
Top 10 Articles
The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.
- Tipo – first word on Central Provision’s new restaurant in Back Cove (July 23)
- Petite Jacqueline – Corry’s decision to relocate Petite Jacqueline to Market Street (January 27)
- Lio – first word on Cara Stadler’s new wine restaurant (October 7)
- Woodford F & B – announcement of opening day (January 15)
- Ebb & Flow – news that Ebb & Flow was closing (March 7)
- Baharat – first word on CN Shawarma’s new brick and mortar restaurant (October 5)
- Fork Food Lab – first word on the commercial kitchen/business incubator (March 16)
- BA Article – Bon Appétit article on Portland (May 18)
- Scales – opening day announcement (March 5)
- Little Giant – first word that Hunt & Alpine was planning a restaurant and market for the West End (October 31)
Notable Events of 2016
- January – Bissell Brothers announced plans to move to Thompson’s Point, 6 Maine food producers were honored at the Good Food Awards, Woodford F&B opened, and Fore River Brewing launched.
- February – 8 chefs and restaurants were listed as James Beard Award semifinalists, the Brew Bus made plans to expand to Boston, Harvest on the Harbor was sold, and Thai Essan, Drifters Wife, Portland Mash Tun, Farm Truck Juice and Rhum opened.
- March – 3 Maine chefs were named James Beard award final nominees, The Press Herald published an article about Jason Loring, Scales, Falafel Underground, Hero and Mast Landing opened, and Little Lad’s closed.
- April – The Milk and Honey Cafe and the Lone Pine Brewing tasting room opened, the Salt Box Cafe launched, and Paul’s Food Center closed.
- May – Bon Appétit published an eating guide to Portland, the New York Times published an article about The Honey Paw, PFM won Best Food Blog and Best Blog in the Portland Phoenix readership poll, Solo Italiano and the Cellar Door tasting room opened, the Sugarbird Coffee Truck and the Gorgeous Gelato truck launched.
- June – Hugo’s and Miyake were listed on OAD’s list of the Top 100 restaurants in the US, Bissell Brothers opened their new brewery on Thompson’s Point, Petite Jacqueline, Blake Orchard, Tiqa Cafe, and Salty Sally’s opened, the LemonCycle food cart and Taco del Seoul food truck launched, and Sala Thai closed.
- July – Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez purchased Caiola’s, Central Provisions announced plans to open a new restaurant in Back Cove, Down East published an oral history of the lobster roll, Food & Wine published an article about Portland, Novare Res was included in Draft magazine’s list of the 100 best beer bars in the country, and Stroudwater Distilling, Flying Fox Juice Bar, and the Munjoy Hill Tavern opened.
- August – Bon Appétit named Drifters Wife to their list of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America, Food & Wine named Andrew Volk one of 2016’s Best New Mixologists, Big J’s Chicken Shack and Rossobianco opened, and Hero closed.
- September – USM announced plans for a new food studies program, Condé Nast Traveller has included Eventide in their list of the best restaurants in the world, Food Republic published a guide to eating in Portland, Mark’s Sports Bar, Fork Food Lab and El Rayo opened, and Thurston’s closed.
- October – acclaimed food writer Rowan Jacobsen visited Portland to launch his new book, Cara Stadler announced plans for her new wine restaurant Lio, Hunt & Alpine announced plans to open a restaurant and market in the West End, Sugarbird sold their food truck to Tandem, Hardshore Distilling opened, and Rossobianco closed.
- November – Some of Maine’s best chefs collaborated on the 2nd Annual Fabulous Femmes dinner to raise money for the Barabara Bush Children’s Hospital, Bunker Brewing completed the move to their new brewery in Libbytown, and both Tin Pan Bakery and the New England Distilling tasting room opened.
- December – Eventide announced plans to open a 2nd location in Boston, Pho Co, Bambo Bistro, Big Fin Poke, The Purple House, Little Giant Market, Mini Mogadishu and Baristas + Bites opened, and Bibo’s Madd Apple Cafe closed.
Top 25 Restaurants
- Roustabout (-)
- Woodford F&B (-)
- Scales (-)
- Isa (1)
- Abilene (11)
- Solo Italiano (-)
- Union (8)
- Terlingua (3)
- East Ender (7)
- Petite Jacqueline (20)
- Piccolo (17)
- Caiola’s (25)
- Lolita (18)
- Evo (9)
- Big J’s Chicken Shack (-)
- The Treehouse (13)
- Bao Bao Dumpling House (6)
- The Honey Paw (2)
- Back Bay Grill (21)
- Rossobianco (-)
- Five Fifty-Five (17)
- Pizzaiolo (-)
- Rhum (-)
- Outliers Eatery (19)
- Hot Suppa (43)
The numbers in parentheses indicate their rank last year. The order of the list is determined by the number of times these restaurants were looked up on PFM during the year.
For some other perspectives on the past year see Portland Press Herald, The Golden Dish, Bangor Daily News, Portland Phoenix, Peter Peter Portland Eater, Portland Magazine and The Beer Babe.
Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010.