The Maine food scene continues to rise in prominence, spending inordinate amounts of time in the national spotlight. But what truly held reader attention this year? Mostly Alton Brown, underrated restaurants, and pizza. So much pizza. Here are Eater Maine's top 10 posts from 2014:
10) Readers' Choice: 20 Places for Maine's Best Pizza
From basic and familiar to complex and cutting-edge, "good pizza" is endlessly subjective and permutable. During the hugely popular Pizza Week in March, though, readers helped narrow the list to 20 of the best pizza purveyors throughout the state.
9) Behind-The-Scenes Photos of Slab
Perhaps thinking to himself, "Live every week like it's Pizza Week," Jason Loring of Nosh kept up a steady stream of personal photo updates on his long-anticipated restaurant Slab, co-owned with chef Stephen Lanzalotta and three others. He agreed to share these updates on Eater, and Mainers ate it up.
8) Blaze Brings 'Craft Beer & Wood Fired Flavors' to Bangor
Both the news cycle and the tourist influx slow down in winter, which can make it a scary time to open a new restaurant, but Blaze's second location took Bangor by storm in January. Readers, perhaps warmed merely by the sight of the phrase "wood fired," were captivated.
7) Yes, Slab Opened Yesterday; See Menu Here
Loring and his partners built excitement levels to a fever pitch with well-timed updates, then opened the restaurant so quietly you practically had to stick your head in the ovens to make sure they were really, finally on. And this just drove fans wilder. An incredible feat in the age of social media and instant gratification.
6) Here's An Early Sample Menu for Timber, an Upcoming Portland Steakhouse
Jury's still out on whether Timber, from the owners of The North Point, truly lives up to its goal of providing a big city steakhouse experience in Portland, but the public was eager to find out. Even weeks after the restaurant finally opened, the owners were getting orders from patrons for items listed on this sample menu, many of which don't exist on the final menu.
5) The 2014 Eater Awards for Maine
The Eater Awards honor some of the best newcomers in the state, or those who've gone in new directions in the past year. From repeat winners like bartender Guy Streitburger (formerly of defunct Ginkgo Blue, now of revived Bramhall) to out-of-the-way surprises like Sanford's beautiful Mill 67, it's fun to gauge how readers feel about the dynamic food scene.
4) 10 of Maine's Most Iconic Pizza Spots
Told you Pizza Week was huge. This handy map has helped thousands track down the state's most famous pizza places.
3) Here are 20 of Maine's Best Brunch Spots
With so many excellent eateries in the state, it's natural Mainers would elevate a fourth mealtime, brunch, to rockstar status. That extra opportunity to eat out is key to fitting as many fine establishments into a busy schedule as possible. This map got an update in the fall, too.
2) Alton Brown Tried Valiantly to Eat All of Portland Yesterday
It's unclear how Food Network superstar Alton Brown could even stand on stage after sampling so many of Portland's finest foods, but the man's a true professional, and evidently he put on a great show in between bites. The fact that he shared this post with his followers rocketed it to second most popular post of the year, though it's only about a month old. Come back to Portland for round two any time, Alton.
1) Here are 18 of Maine's Most Underrated Restaurants, Nominated by the Readers
This January post, the most popular on Eater Maine in 2014, underscores the old adage that everyone loves an underdog. Most of these un- or under-sung heroes are still successfully doing what they do, a testament to how much support they receive despite going about their business so quietly. Here's to the hidden gems.