As the summer sun graced the charming streets of Portland, Maine, it brought with it a wave of culinary excitement. This past summer, this picturesque coastal city, known for its vibrant food scene and gastronomic diversity, has witnessed an array of delightful new openings, heartbreaking goodbyes, and exciting glimpses into the future.
Here’s a rundown of the new openings, recent closings, and coming soons to Portland, Maine for Summer 2023.
Need a refresher? Check out our Hellos & Goodbyes: Spring 2023.
Henry's Public House
Launched by the Miranda Group, the minds behind Blyth & Burrows, ViA VECCHiA, and Papi, Henry’s Public House opened at 375 Fore Street in the former home of Bull Feeney’s, a beloved Irish pub and tavern.
Defined as a “humble and timeless” American Tavern rooted in Maine history (named after Portland’s own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) Henry’s, open for lunch and dinner, features a menu made up of “hearty rations” – including American comfort foods such as fries, steak sliders, coconut shrimp, and fish and chips. Keeping in line with the Miranda Group’s reputation for an impressive bar program, Henry’s “sturdy spirits” include a glamorous yet approachable selection of thoughtfully crafted cocktails. Wine and beer is also available.
Honoring Bull Feeney’s tradition of live music upstairs, locals and visitors alike can catch live music upstairs Thursday – Sunday. Weekly sets include Jazz on Wednesdays and DJ sets on Saturdays.
The Clam Bar
After a soft launch of the beer garden and food trailer in 2021, The Clam Bar spent months renovating and revamping the kitchen and bar for a grand reveal to the public in July. Re-introducing the space at 199 W. Commercial Street (previously home to Benny’s Famous Fried Clams), renovations revealed an outdoor oasis complete with a spacious deck, picnic tables, fully licensed bar, draft beer shed (Maine draft beers), beer garden, and an open-air indoor dining option (courtesy of OP Box).
With two options to dine available on-site, The Clam Bar is open for lunch and dinner. The menu, a take on seafood shack favorites with an upgraded twist, includes lobster rolls, fish and chips steamers, and oysters. Back on the scene, Royale Lunch Bar is serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches from the on-site food trailer. Many may remember Royale Lunch Bar from its time in the Old Port at 7 Union Street (now Butcher Burger). Friday, September 29th will be Royale Lunch Bar’s last day for the season.
The Clam Bar operates as weather dependent as it is mostly outdoor dining.
In August, Brighton Avenue added a laid back neighborhood bar/restaurant into the dining mix with the opening of The Continental.
Reminiscent of Irish and English pubs, stepping inside The Continental is like atking a journey across the pond. The Continental is treating lunch and dinner diners to an array of European fare, from Scotch Eggs, French Onion Soup, succulent Lamb Lollipops, hearty Bangers and Mashed, classic Fish & Chips and Roasted Cod.
To complement the pub-like atmosphere, The Continental boasts a beer selection that includes both local and imported beers spanning stouts, pilsners, lagers, kolschs, reds, and, of course, Guinness on draft. For those with diverse tastes, a fine selection of wines and a full bar are also available.
When one ice cream shops closes its doors, another ice cream shop scoops up the opportunity to opens theirs! Satisfying the sweet tooth of many, Coastal Creamery was able to keep the torch aflame by moving in to Captain Sam’s former space at 136 Commercial Street.
A family-owned business, Coastal Creamery is all about celebrating the flavors of Maine while honoring their commitment to quality ice cream (small batch flavors are crafted in-house). Serving up smiles with every cone, ice cream enthusiasts can enjoy a lineup that includes both classics to unique creations.
If you find yourself not quite in the mood for frozen treats, Coastal Creamery also offers treat of a different kind. Their shop is home to some of the best freshly baked cookies. For the best of both worlds, ask for an ice cream sandwich.
Continuing down the line, Portland’s Public Market House was treated to something sweet in mid-July with the arrival of Twirl.
Turning Twist into Twirl, Twirl is the rebranding debut of the soft serve food truck formerly known as Twist. With the food truck on hiatus as Twirl settles into their new year-round home, you can instead stop by Monument Square for a selection of Twirl’s amazing soft serve served in unique flavors (MDI Mud Pie, Blueberry Lemonade, Coffee Toffee Brickle, to name a few).
Blended to order right before your very eyes and served with toppings from chocolate drizzle to Japanese rice cracker pearls to a secret salty-sweet crunchy blend called Thundersnow, Twirl’s soft serve is denser and richer than your typical dairy bar soft serve. Made with premium, Maine-made, hard-serve vanilla or chocolate ice cream, Twirl then mixes it in with in their special machines which results in a soft, swirly, and decadent treat.
Portland’s Public Market House welcomed more than one new business this past summer! Also debuting within the market was the brand-new counter-service restaurant, Khmer Kitchen.
Bringing the vibrant flavors of Cambodia to Portland, Khmer Kitchen operates from the space on the second floor once occupied by Dila’s Kitchen and Pho Huong. Owner Khanya Mimande offers a diverse array of fresh, delicious, and flavorful dishes, appetizers, and drinks that capture the essence of the Southeast Asian culinary traditions.
Room for Improvement
A modern day dive bar with a dimly lit (yet enticing) interior (outdoor sipping available on Wharf Street in the warmer months), Room for Improvement strikes the perfect balance between laid-back charm and expert mixology. Becoming known as a late night industry spot for post-work drinks and revelry, Room for Improvement doesn’t take itself too seriously, leaving lots of room for fun (not improvement).
The beverage menu is a treasure trove of impeccable cocktails suited for all preferences. From classic cocktails like the Gimlet, Spicy Margarita, Negroni, Mojito, and Martinis to inventive creations such the adventurous and savory drinks from the ‘Salad Bar’ and various shots that pack a punch. If you’re traveling with a group you can try the Scorpion Bowl for a communal drinking experience. The food menu is limited to playful snacks; cheese puffs served with chopsticks and red snapper hot dogs.
From food truck to brick-and-mortar, Quanto Basta opened at 249 Congress Street ready to offer naturally-leavened Pizza Napoletana to the people of Portland. For devoted fans of Quanto Basta, the new spot was a highly anticipated continuation of the authentic Italian menu and recipes people had come to know and love.
Each pizza a testament to the art of pizza-making and the fresh ingredients sourced from Maine farms, Quanto Basta offers a rotating selection. Just one example of the culinary wonders that await includes The La Stagione Pizza on special during our visit, adorned with Basil Pesto, Zucchini & Peas, and Buffalo Mozzarella. Other recent menu highlights include the Pizza Rossa, Salsiccia, and the Margherita dí Bufala.
A refreshing blend of bubble tea, decadent treats and an upbeat attitude, Portland’s Deering Center welcomed its newest gem, Lecha, at the start of summer.
A family-friendly haven, where people of all ages can gather and indulge, Lecha’s bubble tea and soft serve line-up includes a variety of unique flavors. Shown is the brown sugar bubble tea, strawberry chocolate overload, Thai tea soft serve, and what was a delectable array of mochi flavors such as matcha, vanilla chip, espresso, and strawberry. Alongside a diverse range of bubble teas, Owner Som Mantasut has Lecha serving both soft and hard serve ice creams, including selections from Gifford’s Ice Cream. The menu extends to include Vietnamese iced coffee and Italian soda.
“Lecha”, a clever play on words, seamlessly blending “Leche” (Spanish for milk) and “Cha” (Thai for tea), was born to capture the fusion of milk teas and bubble tea traditions from Asia, all while adding an American twist with decadent custard and ice cream creations.
Bite Into Maine
While not a new name on the scene, Bite Into Maine opened their first brick-and-mortar in Portland at 31 Diamond Street in East Bayside.
Award-winning and nationally recognized lobster rolls, Bite Into Maine probably doesn’t need further introduction. The menu at their new location includes a lot of the items that can be found at their other locations, which includes their Scarborough brick-and-mortar, the food truck in Fort Williams Park (the original location launched back in 2011) and their on-site food truck at Allagash Brewing Co. A handful of items exclusive to Bite Into Maine’s Allagash location can be order at their new location. This includes dishes such as brat rolls, potato salad, and pub pretzels with beer cheese. Their new BYOB location also offers sandwiches, a burger option, red hots, lobster bisque and clam chowder.
The team’s new space is a spacious counter-service operation, but includes both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as, a takeout window with online ordering available.
Nestled on Romasco Lane, Night Mares is a small, neighborhood-oriented bar that embraces and reflects the vibrant spirit of Portland.
Opening in August, Night Mares is owned by Portland locals, Louis Masi, Elizabeth Rzoska, Devan Marr, and Christian Roadman, all of whom have a wealth of experience in the industry (Masi and Marr both worked at Jing Yan on Munjoy Hill. Roadman with prior experience in the Chicago restaurant scene).
Committed to enriching the already dynamic and delightful food and beverage scene in the city, Night Mares offers up a drink menu that includes an enticing array of cocktails, such as the Thunderbolt (shown) with vodka, cold brew, Caffè, Borghetti, and orange curaçao; alongside a thoughtfully curated selection of local beer, wine, and cider. The snack menu during our visit consisted of spicy nuts, Gougères, and tartines. Sweets from Prairie Baking Co. included a chocolate chip cookie and an olive oil cake with yuzu lemon curd, vanilla whip cream and blueberries.
In the coming months, Night Mares will share its space with Prairie Baking Company’s cafe, a venture co-owned by Elizabeth Rzoska, adding an exciting layer into to the mix.
A culinary journey blending Maine and Thai flavors, Little Pig opened at 722B Congress (previously Figgy’s Takeout and Catering) earlier this summer.
Nestled in Portland’s vibrant West End, Little Pig cooks-up “Thai-ish” cuisine – a fusion of Maine and Thai flavors that embodies the heart and soul of its owners, Michael and Piyathida Macdonnell.
Drawing from their rich blend of South East Asian and East Coast backgrounds, the Macdonnells are bringing a taste of their family’s dinner table to yours. Having a deep affection for the vibrant, flavorful dishes that grace the streets of Southeast Asia, the menu at Little Pig is a delightful mix of familiar classics and fresh, exciting ideas that are approachable yet with plenty of flavor.
A takeout operation with online ordering available, Little Pig provides outdoor dining during the warmer months.
A haven for Matcha enthusiasts, Portland’s matcha lovers now have a new destination to satisfy their cravings at the freshly opened Matcha Mood, located at 654 Congress Street. This charming retail and cafe is the brainchild of sisters Sarochinee, Phuntira, and Veya Tiparos.
A Matcha wonderland, Matcha Mood offers a diverse menu of matcha-based drinks that cater to every mood and palate. Among the delightful offerings is the Matcha Karameru, a creamy caramel matcha latte adorned with salted caramel cold foam. Other menu highlights include matcha lattes, matcha sparkling beverages, matcha lemonade, and more. The icing on the matcha cake is the promise of in-house matcha baked goods that will soon grace the menu.
Whether you’re in a rush and need a to-go option or prefer to savor your matcha in-house, the cafe offers to-go options as well as three seats along the window bar a, available on a first-come, first-serve basis, for those who want to take a moment to enjoy the matcha creations.
While we savor the thrill of new beginnings, we also pay our respects to the beloved venues that have left their mark on Portland’s culinary landscape. Find below the restaurants and bars that have closed this summer.
A farewell to French excellence after a remarkable 12-year journey in Portland, Owners Michelle and Steve Corry, released a heartful statement announcing that they would be closing the doors to Petite Jacqueline, a beloved Old Port establishment.
While Petite Jacqueline had weathered the storms of COVID-19, the past year brought its own set of challenges, which included the rising costs and equipment issues that made it increasingly difficult to sustain the business. Michelle and Steve Corry made the difficult decision to focus on their family, recognizing that they could no longer devote the same level of attention to the restaurant.
Leaving behind a legacy of excellent French cuisine, Petite Jacqueline was not just a restaurant; it was a labor of love, a tribute to Michelle Corry’s grandmother, Jacqueline Derasse. Originally opening its doors in Longfellow Square in 2011 to rave reviews. In 2016, the restaurant moved to its current location.
The Corrys somewhat recently expanded their culinary journey by opening a new rendition of their Five Fifty-Five restaurant, which once operated on Congress Street in Portland and closed in 2020. The restaurant now resides inside The Federal Hotel in Brunswick under the new name 555 north.
Short-lived, yet with a memorable and a will-be-missed presence, The Danforth announced that it would be closing September 23rd, 2023, after just a little over a year of service.
Nestled at 211 Danforth Street, the West End welcomed the new neighborhood restaurant and bar back in the summer of 2022, when it took over the former home of Little Giant. Quickly gaining attention due to its ownership, The Danforth was owned and operated by Gin & Luck, the parent company of the renowned Death & Company with locations in NYC, LA, and Denver.
Bringing a fresh dining experience to the area, The Danforth categorized itself as an American restaurant, dedicated to crafting quality cocktails that paid homage to nostalgic classics. Each cocktail was a testament to the art of mixology, designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia while also setting the stage for new and memorable experiences.
The Danforth’s decision to close largely was due to the unfortunate reality that is was “unable to find a path that would sustain the business financially and ensure its future.”
The Maker's Galley
Opening at 5 Commercial Street back in November of 2021, Owner of The Maker’s Galley, Rachel Sagiroglu announced in September that she would be closing the doors to the cafe and retail shop end of the month.
Bringing together local makers and food enthusiasts, The Maker’s Galley was known as Portland’s most unique café, marketplace and event space. The Maker’s Galley was home to Portland’s one-and-only Pajama Brunch, serving both breakfast and lunch daily, as well as coffee, pastries, grab-n-go sandwiches, boards and salads, plus beer and wine. The latter half of the space was reserved for Maine-made gifts and local art. The Maker’s Galley also was the host of culinary workshops, team building experiences, and private events.
In a statement made via social media, the decision was made due to the increasing difficultly to manage two growing businesses and maintain work life balance, in addition, to the rising costs of maintaining a restaurant and the constant staffing challenges.
What lies on the horizon for Portland’s food aficionados? Find below a list of restaurants, bars, bakeries, and more, that have announced this summer that they are coming soon to Portland, Maine. More details to come as released.
Angoor Wine Bar
Portland’s wine enthusiasts are in for a futuristic treat with the upcoming opening of Angoor Wine Bar at 120 Fore Street. This innovative wine bar promises a unique concept – self-pour wines.
Patrons will have the delightful opportunity to browse and select from a rotating selection of 32 to 48 different wines. Guests can sample these wines at their own pace, with pour options of 2, 4, or 6 ounces, allowing for a personalized tasting experience.
While well-known wine-producing regions like California and South Africa will be represented at Angoor Wine Bar, the true charm lies in the diverse selection from all over the world. From India and Puerto Rico to South America, Angoor will showcase wines from regions less explored, making it a destination for both the wine novice and the connoisseur. The bar will also offer local craft beer and cocktails for a well-rounded beverage experience. To complement the diverse wine offerings, Angoor has partnered with local businesses to curate a multicultural menu of appetizers.
The name “Angoor” is derived from the Indian word for grape, paying homage to co-founder Sangeeta Nasiff’s rich heritage. Meanwhile, the red, white, and blue in the logo holds a deeper meaning, representing the colors of the Puerto Rican flag and drawing inspiration from co-founder Rafael Dones’ background. This fusion of cultures and influences is at the heart of Angoor’s identity.
For more information on Angoor Wine Bar, check out Portland Old Port’s original write-up published in June 2023.
Praire Baking Co.
As mentioned earlier, Prairie Baking Co., led by Owner Elizabeth Rzoska, is set to open a charming retail bakery/cafe on Romasco Lane alongside Night Mares, a late-night bar currently open.
The menu at the cafe and bakery will feature a delightful selection of breakfast and light lunch options, including freshly brewed coffee, pastries, quiche, granola and yogurt, as well as a variety of toasts.
Freedom Edge's Cider
Crafting cider magic in East Bayside, Freedom’s Edge Cider Co. is set to open a tasting room in East Bayside, located at 31 Diamond Street.
Co-owners Andrew Kaplan and Ned Ervin are creating a welcoming space for cider enthusiasts and any cider newcomers. The tasting room will boast both indoor seating with additional outdoor seating available during the summer months.
Committed to crafting premium barrel-aged ciders, a significant portion of the Diamond Street location will be dedicated to barrel aging and bottle conditioning for their limited release ciders. This expansion aims to elevate their already impressive lineup of offerings.
When Pigs Fly
Bringing artisanal breads to Hanover Street, When Pigs Fly, renowned for its artisanal bread, is set to open a brand-new bakery retail shop at 65 Hanover Street.
Founded by Ron Siegel in 1993, When Pigs Fly has become a beloved name in the world of bread-making. The new retail shop will feature the full range of the 25+ bread varieties produced at their central bakery in York, Maine.
While bread is the star of the show, the shop will also offer a tempting selection of baked goods, including cookies, muffins, and scones. For those seeking complementary pantry items, you’ll find oils, jams, butter, and other essentials to pair with their breads.
How sweet it is! Chocolats Passion, a French chocolaterie, is expanding to a larger West End space. The new shop will be situated at 175 Spring Street, housed within the former Mercy Hospital building, currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation.
Owner Catherine Wiersema and lead chocolatier Sarah Levine, along with their dedicated team, are hard at work to prepare the spacious 1100 sq ft area. This expansion is a significant leap forward, allowing Chocolats Passion to grow their team and ramp up the production of their award-winning chocolates.
Chocolats Passion opened its doors at 189 Brackett Street in 2018, and this exciting move promises even more sweet indulgence for Portland residents and visitors.
Vien Dobui and Jessica Sheahan, the creative minds behind Cong Tu Bot, have secured the former Pat’s Pizza location at 30 Market Street to open their second restaurant, Lido’s 2.
This new venture is set to redefine communal and family-style dining while celebrating the flavors of Asia. The dining room on the second floor will feature a mix of bar seating, booths, and tables for easy sharing of dishes among friends and family. The ground floor will feature a checkout counter that will streamline take-out orders, ensuring a seamless experience for those looking to enjoy Lido’s 2 from the comfort of their own homes.
... And in Other News
While not a new opening but still exciting nonetheless, three of Portland’s biggest names are getting a revamp to their space.
An expansion is on the horizon for Oxbow Brewing Co. and Hardshore Distilling, both have leased the former Maine Mead Works space (adjacent) on Washington Ave. The move offers an opportunity for both businesses to expand their production capacity and revamp their tasting rooms.
Hardshore will relocate their bar to the new space and enhance seating. Oxbow will be shifting their tasting room to the former meadery, which will leave the current Oxbow tasting room open to events and overflow.
Bissell Brothers leased the former Rosemont Market & Wine Bar (closed August 2021) to expand its kitchen capacity and provide more space for seating.