It’s hard to believe heading into 2023 that we’re still feeling the pervasive impacts of COVID-19, specifically in building permit hold ups, supply chain delays and staffing issues. Our hard working, beloved restaurant owners have demonstrated their Mainer grit as they’ve worked to tactfully navigate these issues in order to create the next best restaurants in Portland, Maine.
Take a look below at the dining experiences we can look forward to in 2023:
PAPI: The Miranda Restaurant Group’s newest creation, Papi, is a Puerto Rican-inspired bar; think: old San Juan-meets Havana-meets the Old Port. Papi draws inspiration from childhood nostalgia of its founders, Executive Chef Ronnie Medlock and Beverage Director LyAnna Sanabria. Sanabria, a well-known, badass bartender regarded throughout the national bar community, brings her expertise in craft cocktails. Like most Puerto Ricans, she was heavily impacted and inspired by watching her family cook and dance. In the spirit of honoring the diaspora, Papi’s cocktail program will showcase flavors like guava, coconut and sofrito; which will mesh with the fresh and seasonal seaside flavors of Maine. The menu, created by Ronnie Medlock (Boss Hoggs Empanadas) will feature signature salty and herbaceous dishes like Mofongo, a plantain based dish, Sancocho, a meat and roots based stew rice and of course, Medlock’s signature empanadas amongst other small bites. Look for Papi at the former LuluLemon at 18 Exchange St.
LENORA: Jen and Rian Wyllie (chef at Maine Beer Company, Freeport) have teamed up with former partners, Max Toste of Lone Star Taco Bars and Aaron Sanders of Deep Ellum in Boston to bring Lenora, a bar focusing on Mexican-inspired street food to Portland. The name Lenora, popular in the late 1800’s American Frontier meaning “shining light”, holds significance as it has been passed down through one of the owner’s families and pays homage to the wonderful, badass women of the Wild West. Lenora was anticipated to open in 2022 at 2 Portland Square (previously Walter’s), but its opening has been pushed to 2023.
THE CONTINENTAL: Co-owners of CBG Michael Barbuto and Kevin Doyle are set to open a new pub, The Continental, at 170 Brighton Ave . The team aims to create an easy going space with a 90s English/Irish pub vibe, inspired by the British and Irish style pubs they loved while coming of age in the mid 90s in Boston. They’ll serve cocktails, beers, and slow pour nitro ales and stouts. The food menu will match the English/Irish pub vibe, featuring Europub comfort food like scotch eggs, meat pies, fish and chips, Irish breakfasts.
BREAD AND FRIENDS: This brick and mortar bakery and cafe is set to open in 2023 at 505 Fore Street. Launched by a pair of couples, Maggie Rubin (operations/business), Jeremy Broucek (culinary), Tanner Rubin (bread), and Jess Rattey (pastry). The team is from the Bay Area, and started selling at local farmers markets in 2021. Bread and Friends is the culmination of four friends’ passion for hospitality, food and a good time. Their products are inspired by the seasons and rooted in stories only food can inspire.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Brought to Portland by Arvid Brown (former bar manager at Crispy Gai) and Nick Coffin, Room For Improvement will be a modern dive bar located at 41 Wharf Street, set to open in March of 2023. They’ll serve beer, wine, cocktails and some snacks. The extensive cocktail menu will be broken up into six categories: Wildcards, Escapism, Large Format, Classics, The Freezer, and Shots. They’ll also serve an abbreviated food menu with an American-classic vibe, featuring a Crispy Bologna Sandwich, Pretzels with dipping sauces, Truffle Ruffles, and for dessert a Fernet Rootbeer Float, an Ice Cream Sandwich and Brandy Alexander.
NOVEL: The upcoming book bar and cafe is under construction at 643 Congress Street. Business partners Joshua Ames and Nate Donovan intend to capture the spirit of the growing trend of American book bars and the classic European cafe bar. They will be roasting their own coffee from Guatemala in house with an environmentally friendly, all electric fluid bed roaster. Additionally there will be craft beer, wines and cocktails to enjoy while you cozy up with a book, work, or chat with friends. Novel will eventually include an event space where they plan to host musical talent, book readings and other performances.
QUANTO BASTO: Betsy English, owner of Quanto Basto food truck, has found a permanent home for her authentic Neapolitan pizzeria in the original home of LB Kitchen at 249 Congress Street, set to open in June 2023. “Quanto Basto”, often abbreviated as “q.b.” is seen in Italian recipes next to ingredients like salt and pepper, and translates as “however much is enough” which perfectly embodies the unmeasured charm of Italian cooking. Sourcing from Maine farms and letting the seasons dictate their menu, English plans to serve a menu inspired by regional Italian cooking; think: rotating sourdough pizzas, small plates, natural Italian wines, spritzes and more.
THE LONGFELLOW HOTEL: Currently under construction at 754 Congress Street. Operated by Uncommon Hospitality (led by Tony and Nate DeLois), the hotel, included in Vogue Magazine’s 26 Most Anticipated New Hotels of 2023, is inspired by both Maine’s timeless, rugged charm and Portland’s historic West End architecture. Think hardwood floors, intricate mosaic tile flooring, pine accents, and easy-on-the-eyes oceanic hues. There will be a Nordic-inspired spa as well as a cafe, Twin Flower Bakery and bar, Five of Clubs both run by Siobhan and Mike Sindoni, co-owners of Wayside Tavern. The cafe will be a wellness focused cafe, offering clean, wholesome breakfast and lunch dishes as well as espresso beverages and fresh juices. Look for The Longfellow Hotel summer 2023.
LB Kitchen: 2 years in the making, LB Kitchen is relocating just next door from 249 Congress Street to 255 Congress Street with hopes to open the week of January 9th. Known as a bright counter-serve cafe for health-centric breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch dishes, LB Kitchen’s new space will continue to offer take out, with an elevated online ordering/pick up experience but the biggest change is that they will once again be welcoming you inside to their cafe and mini-mart to eat, hang, drink, and, shop.
Quanto Basta will be moving into LB Kitchen’s former location at 249 Congress Street.
Vena’s Fizz House: The 2.0 version of the beloved, women-owned cocktail bar is coming to 867 Congress Street in early 2023. The new Vena’s will hold the nostalgic charm and passion for flavors they’re known for, plus a few surprises. The venue, a church built in 1889, is rich in Portland’s history and charm. The space lends itself to events and will be offering a space for mixology classes.
MR. TUNA: Jordan Rubin and Marisa Lewiecki have leased space at 83 Middle street where they’ll be relocating Mr. Tuna from Monument Square. The new location will offer an updated Mr. Tuna menu, a full bar program of cocktails, sake, beer and wine. They’ll continue to keep the Monument Square location running for their catering operations and commissary kitchen for their food trucks.
DOBRA TEA: The owners of Dobra Tea have announced their plans to close their Exchange Street Tea Room while they look for a smaller space for their business. They’ll shift to selling their teas exclusively online, with one final sale in early January.
RUBY’S WEST END: Owners Matt and Corrinna Stum have announced their plans to move their West End brunch and pastry spot to 642 Congress Street, the former home to Ada’s Pasta. Their current location, 64 Pine Street, is now listed for lease. They will be renovating the former space in order to service brunch, lunch and dinner with plans to change up the menu for their next adventure. The last day of service at the 64 Pine Street location is Sunday, January 29th, 2023.
Have you heard of other anticipated openings in Portland for 2023? Email us at email@example.com to let us know!