The restaurant boom in Maine shows no signs of abating, but to survive, you better be good. These five newcomers appear to have staying power.
414 Fore St., Portland | 805-1085 | central-provisions.com | $$$
In the heart of the Old Port, Central Provisions offers a menu of international small plates for exceptionally fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Upstairs, the open kitchen allows diners to watch chef/owner Chris Gould and his top-notch team at work. Downstairs, the bar is equally as exciting, serving up specialty cocktails — including some without alcohol, a thoughtful selection of wines and mostly local beers.
25 Preble St., Portland | 766-4400 | slabportland.com | $$
The Slab — that pillowy Sicilian pizza once available only at Miccuci Market — is back. And it now has its own restaurant, the creation of chef Jason Loring (of Nosh Kitchen Bar) and Stephen Lanzalotta, who made the iconic pie famous in the first place. Packed from the day it opened, Slab offers huge portions of well-made dishes, including sandwiches and salads as well as the pizzas, served on wooden boards or in paper boats. The enormous outdoor patio is the place to be on a summer night.
80 Congress St., Portland | 775-5652 | lolita-portland.com | $$$
A small plates-focused menu offered all day, wood-fired grill and substantial wine list are the hallmarks of this new and instantly popular Munjoy Hill restaurant from Guy and Stella Hernandez, who formerly owned Bar Lola. “Medium” and “Large” plates are also available for those looking for more of a traditional meal.
106 Exchange St., Portland | 805-1469 | timberportland.com | $$$$
Noah and Dan Talmatch (who also own Portland’s The North Point) are hoping for another home run with Timber, which they describe as a “classy steakhouse with a modern Maine twist.” Befitting a city steakhouse, it’s sleek and swanky, with plenty of rustic wood elements to reflect its name. Behind the restaurant, the brick patio is decked out with thatched umbrellas and strings of lights.
18 Franklin St., Biddeford | 284-0015 | palacedinerme.com | $$$
Chefs Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell have turned Maine’s oldest dining car into a destination for the modern Blue Plate Special. They take the original homey staples, replacing the run-of-the-mill ingredients and slap-dash plating with quality ingredients — and make it taste and look beautiful. Cash only at breakfast and lunch. No reservations.
The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up