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Remembering the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2014

Spicy Mexican food, Kittery Foreside, and more.

Ebb and Flow, Portland.
Ebb and Flow, Portland.
Nancy Angela Ciocca

EOY SmallAs is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. Their answers will appear throughout the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.

Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2014?

Mister Meatball, writer:
That anybody would try AGAIN to make that giant, awfully laid out space that's now Ebb & Flow work.

John Golden, The Golden Dish:
No real dining surprises, just more of the same. All new restaurants, however, were winners.

Rob Schatz, Eating Portland Alive:
Star Wars-themed dinner at Piccolo.

Emily Burnham, Bangor Daily News:
Las Palapas in Bangor. Wow, Mexican food that's actually really good and fresh and not afraid to be spicy! Amazing.

Joe Ricchio, Maine Magazine:
Joshua's, Wells.

Kate McCarty, The Blueberry Files:
Kittery Foreside's incredible dining scene.

Kathleen Pierce, Bangor Daily News:
Restaurateurs can move outside of Portland and thrive—El Rayo in Scarborough seems to be doing better than its Portland mothership and funky newcomers such as Elsmere are kicking butt in SoPo. The lobster chef of the year hailed from Boothbay Harbor this year. Message: You don't need Portland attached to your name to achieve culinary supremacy.

Susan Axelrod, Maine Today:
That The Salt Exchange closed. Chef Adam White was an under-appreciated talent.

Michael Cain and Meredith Perdue, Map and Menu:
Cap'n Crunch and marshmallows are an excellent glazed donut topping at Urban Sugar. It makes so much sense, but who knew?