I’ve scanned through the records for the past year and here’s a summary of events and trends for 2017:
- New Restaurants – 2017 was truly a banner year for new establishments with the launch of Sichuan Kitchen, Tipo, Izakaya Minato, LB Kitchen, Mami, Cheevitdee, Baharat, Lazarri, Cong Tu Bot, Noble Barbecue, Chaval, Little Giant, Belleville, Blyth & Burrows, Rose Foods, Roma Cafe, Bolster Snow, Tuscan Table, Highroller Lobster and Yobo, Elda and many more. Read it through again, that’s an amazing list. We’re not likely to see such a strong crop of new businesses in 2018, giving everyone the time to catch up and try them all. You can better ensure the ones you love the best stick around by eating at your favorites often.
- Year of the Bagel – I think The Blueberry Files put it best when she declared we’ve “officially reached peak bagel”. Between the the pre-existing businesses (Mister Bagel, Union Bagel, Scratch Baking, 158) and the ones that launched in the last 12 or so months (Purple House, Rose Foods, Toast Bar, Rover) and Forage which is still to come there’s been an explosion of new bagel options. This isn’t, as far as I can tell, a national trend cresting over Portland but purely a local phenomenon.
- Brick & Mortar – 2017 saw a continuation of the ‘diesel to dining room’ trend of food trucks/carts opening brick and mortar restaurants. CN Shawarma converted to Baharat, Mami opened on Fore Street, El Corazon in Longfellow Square, High Roller on Exchange Street, Bite Into Maine in Scarborough, and Noble Barbecue in Riverton.
- Upcoming in 2018 – The pace of new restaurant and bar projects seems to be tapering off. Of the 30+ new ventures being tracked on the PFM Under Construction list, the ones I’m most looking forward to in 2018 are:
- Black Cow – the “soda fountain reimagined” with a “focus on great burgers, classic sodas and an inventive cocktail program” taking over the Sonny’s space
- Crown Jewel – Alex Wight from Flanagan’s Table is opening a new place on Great Diamond Island
- Drifters Wife – the new and expanded Drifters Wife/Maine & Loire under construction at 59 Washington Ave
- Falafel Underground – the new iteration of the popular Cumberland Ave takeout restaurant
- Gross Confection Bar – Brant Dadaleares new dessert/cocktail bar
- Forage Market – the Lewiston bagel bakery/cafe’s new location on Washington Ave
- Lio – Cara Stadler’s new wine restaurant that is under construction on Spring Street
- Quill Books & Beverage – a bookstore/bar under construction in Westbrook
- Sagamore Hill – a new cocktail bar on Congress in the Arts District
Top 10 Articles
The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.
- Noble Barbecue – opening of the new barbecue shop in Riverton
- Winter Storm Watch – list of restaurants open during the March 14th Nor’easter
- Duckfat x Oxbow – announcement of the Washington Ave collaboration between Oxbow and Duckfat
- Rose Foods – first word on Chad Conley’s plans to open a new eatery in Portland
- Legends Rest – first word on Legends Rest Taproom in Westbrook
- Elda – first word on Bowman Brown’s plans to open Elda in Biddeford
- Fall Openings – an overview of openings planned for September and October
- Sun Bakery & Restaurant – first word on the new Asian bakery/restaurant taking over the Thurston’s space in Woodford’s Square.
- Bite Into Maine – first word on Bite Into Maine’s plan to open a restaurant in Scarborough
- Elsmere II – Report on Elsmere BBQ’a plans to open a second location on Stevens Ave
Notable Events of 2017
- January – Sichuan Kitchen, Tipo, Izakaya Minato, Coffee Me Up and the West End Other Side Deli opened, Joseph Hardy and Adam Moore bought Howie’s Pub, the Press Herald took note of the growing number of food trucks going from ‘diesel to dining rooms‘, both Speckled Ax and Bard won Good Food Awards, K. Hortons announced plans to close after 18 years in business, and Roustabout, Catbird Creamery, Home Catering and Granny’s closed.
- February – LB Kitchen, Trattoria Fanny, Vieux Port Creole, Jager and A&C Grocery opened, 12 Maine chefs/restaurants were semifinalists for the 2017 James Beard Awards, and the Maine Restaurant Association named Josh Berry their Chef of the Year.
- March – BRGR Bar, Cafe Crepe and Bahart opened, chefs Taylor and Wiley from Eventide and Rob Tod from Allagash were named final nominees for the James Beard Awards, D.L. Gearing Brewing was sold to Alan Lapoint, USM launched a Food Studies Program, Mainebiz named Bob and Carmen Garver from Bard Coffee as the 2017 Small Business Leaders of the Year, chefs Matt Ginn and Josh Berry prepared dinners at the James Beard House, the 16th Annual PSO Wine Dinner took place, and the Portland Meatball Company closed.
- April – Battery Steele Brewing, Mami, Cheevitdee and the Mashed food truck opened and Holy Donut opened a new location in Scarborough, Joe’s opened at their new location on Congress Street, the International Pectinid Workshop took place in Portland, Hugo’s and Miyake were named to the Opinionated About Dining Top 100 list, Milo DeGoosh participated in the US Barista Guild competition, Cara Stadler reverted her restaurants to the standard tipping model, and Aurora Provisions was purchased by Melissa Carr.
- May – The 5 Spot, the Thainy Boda food truck and Eaux food cart, El Corazon and Lazzari opened, Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley from Eventide won the 2017 Best Chef: Northeast James Beard Award, New England Distilling released their Tidewalker bourbon, and Salty Sally’s closed.
- June – Hifi Donuts, Yobo, Maiz, Yes Brewing, the Hakka Me and Falafel Mafia food trucks, Blyth & Burrows, Opium and North 43 Bistro opened, 1820 Wines launched, Allagash pledged to buy one million pounds of Maine-grown grain per year by 2021, the 1st Annual Inner Washington Block Party took place, the first issue of Edible Maine was released, Knack Factory produced a video about Rabelais, Fork Food Lab merged with Foodworks in Brooklyn, and Zapoteca closed.
- July – Cong Tu Bot, Noble Barbecue, Chaval, Little Giant, Rose Foods, Skordo, the Strictly Cold Brew and Paletas food carts, Portland Pulp, Fishermen’s Grill, Miller Seafood, Linda Kate opened, CN Traveler published an article about how Portland ‘keeps getting cooler’, and Vieux Port Creole closed.
- August – Roma Cafe, Island Creek, Nonesuch River Brewing, and the Kind Stack and Mainely Hotdogs food carts opened, Bon Appetit named The Purple House and Nina June to their list of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America, it was the 10th anniversary of Portland Food Map, and Joshua McFadden, chef of Ava Gene’s and Tusk in Portland Oregon served a dinner at the Palace Diner, and Trattoria Fanny closed.
- September – Bolster Snow, the Nom Bai food truck and Blue Lobster Wine Company opened, Sean Ryan Turley kicked off his apple column for the Press Herald, AdWeek highlighted Might & Main’s influence in turning Portland into ‘the hippest foodie town in New England’, and Dirigo Coffee went out of business.
- October – Eventide opened their new location in Boston, the Scratch Baking Toast Bar, Belleville, Mainely Wraps, Little Woodfords, Leavitt & Sons and Higher Grounds opened, the 4th Annual Heirloom Apple Tasting took place, Rep. Chellie Pingree received a leadership award from the Beard Foundation, Drifters Wife announced plans to expand, and Falafel Underground closed.
- November – Bite Into Maine, Sun Bakery & Restaurant, Goodfire Brewing, Rover and One Six Green opened, Eater’s Bill Addison included Eventide on his list of the nation’s 38 ‘essential’ restaurants, Sonny’s announced plans to close and make way for Black Cow, Saint Joseph’s held the 2017 Food System Innovation Challenge, 3 Maine companies were finalists for the 2018 Good Food Awards, and the Winter Farmers’ Market relocated to the Maine Girls Academy.
- December – Tuscan Table, Highroller Lobster and Elda opened, as did newest Rosemont Market, Moran’s Market reopened, Portland punched in at #27 on Zagat’s list of America’s Most Exciting Food Cities, and Rhum closed.
Top 25 Restaurants
- Tipo (-)
- Chaval (-)
- Baharat (-)
- Little Giant (-)
- Izakaya Minato (-)
- Isa (4)
- Sichuan Kitchen (-)
- Cong Tu Bot (-)
- Scales (3)
- Woodford F&B (2)
- The Treehouse (16)
- Trattoria Fanny (-)
- Roma Cafe (-)
- Petite Jacqueline (10)
- Piccolo (11)
- BRGR Bar (-)
- East Ender (9)
- Noble Barbecue (-)
- Empire (14)
- Evo (14)
- Yobo (-)
- The Honey Paw (18)
- Union (7)
- Bao Bao Dumpling House (17)
- El Corazon (-)
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.
- Gloria Alfiero, 86 – wife of Harbor Fish Market founder Ben Alfiero.
- Joseph C. Anania, 94 – along with his sister Vivian, founded the first Anania’s Market on Newbury Street.
- Frank Anicetti, 77 – Mr. Moxie, longtime organizer of the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls.
- Alan Kellis, 68 – co-owner of The Holy Donut with his daughter Leigh Kellis.
- Richard McNeill, 76 – founder of Carburs.
- Anna Horne Wingren, 100 – hosted a cooking program on WCSH (1959-1969), produced a weekly newsletter and worked with Julia Childs to promote Maine scallops.
For some other perspectives on the past year see the Portland Press Herald, Portland Phoenix, Portland Magazine, Map & Menu, The Beer Babe, Peter Peter Portland Eater, Maine Sunday Telegram and The 207 Foodie.