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Friends of Eater Name the Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2014

They can't all be winners...though it turns out most of them were.

Bao Bao Dumpling House, Portland.
Bao Bao Dumpling House, Portland.
Kyle J. Norris

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 were the top restaurant newcomers of 2014?

Mister Meatball, writer:
Huong's, the Vietnamese joint on St. John St.

Rachel Forrest, Seacoast Online:
Thistle Pig in South Berwick. Chef Ben Hasty and partner Jennifer Fecteau created a little haven inside a town that's already its own haven. The food is rich, innovative, satisfying, and heavily sourced from the nearby Hasty family farm, Breezy Hill. It's one of those places where everyone knows each other and if not, all the strangers share food anyway. Great restaurant design, too.

Anju. Southern Maine finally got a ramen noodle bar like the big boys in Portland have. The ramen, snacks, and rice bowls are great. Little dishes like a steamed pork bun or Okonomi-Pajeon, a Japanese-style pancake with pork belly and shrimp, napa kimchi, Okonomi Sauce and Kewpie mayo are a good way to ruin your appetite for ramen but get all of it anyway. Gary Kim makes his own kimchi so dishes of cabbage and pickles are a great snack with a frosty Bissell Bros. Substance Ale. Donburi & Shrimp. Napa Kimchi. Okonomi Sauce. Kewpie Mayo. Bonito.

John Golden, The Golden Dish:
Ebb and Flow, Lolita, Sur Lie, Bao Bao, Tandem Bakery, Central Provisions.

Rob Schatz, Eating Portland Alive:
Ebb and Flow (sitdown), CN Shawarma (mobile), Ten Ten Pié (bakery).

Emily Burnham, Bangor Daily News:
For Portland, It has to be Lolita, but that may be because Bar Lola was one of my favorite Portland restaurants, and their food remains wonderful. Though I also love Slab. I mean, hello pizza. Oh, and I haven't been to Bao Bao yet. In Bangor, Blaze is a very welcome addition to downtown—you can eat high end or low end there, and I've yet to visit on a weekend where it wasn't packed. I also like Umami, however, the new noodle bar in downtown. It's nice to have late night dining options. Finally, The Lost Kitchen in Freedom is a truly spectacular experience in every sense of the word.

Joe Ricchio, Maine Magazine:
Palace Diner and Huong's.

Kate McCarty, The Blueberry Files:
Central Provisions, Ebb and Flow, Bramhall.

Kathleen Pierce, Bangor Daily News:
Bao Bao Dumpling House, Sur Lie, Ebb and Flow, Dutch's.

Susan Axelrod, Maine Today:
Central Provisions without a doubt. Talk about a meteoric rise to the top! Slab. Every single thing is just delicious. I'm also impressed by Ebb and Flow right out of the gate. The food is great and William and Melissa have finally exorcised whatever ghosts were keeping that space from being somewhere you wanted to go. BaoBao would in all likelihood be on this list except I sadly haven't gotten there yet.

Michael Cain and Meredith Perdue, Map and Menu:
Lolita, Central Provisions, Tandem Bakery, and Palace Diner.