Even discounting Bon Appétit magazine's "Restaurant City of the Year" honors and the aftermath, 2018 was yet another stellar time for the Portland dining scene. It was also a good year for openings, with Lio, Drifters Wife (in its new space) and Crown Jewel leading the pack in terms of new and worthwhile experiences. And while the list of establishments set to open in 2019 is sparser than recent years, there are still a handful of interesting developments to keep an eye on in the coming months. 

From a new West Bayside cafe billing itself as the city's only queer community hub to a highly anticipated subterranean dessert bar, these are the five new openings we're most looking forward to checking out in 2019.     

Candy's

West Bayside

More of a community and events space than a bar or restaurant per se, Candy's is currently undergoing development in the West Bayside neighborhood. Described as an intersectional, queer-forward gathering space with roots in challenging the status quo, Candy's promises to fill what has in recent years been a noticeable void in the queer community, providing access to a dedicated library, billiards, membership options and tailored programming akin to the booking at Westbrook's Quill Books & Beverage. Little is known at this point in terms of menu options, but rest assured there will be plenty of coffee, booze, mocktails and snacks on hand to keep the conversation going.    

Maiz Colombian Street Food

Woodfords Corner

Maiz is without question the shining star of the Portland Public Market's second floor, churning out beautifully supple and toothsome arepas the likes of which simply haven't been seen in Portland since, well ... ever. Owners Martha Leonard and Niky Walter are about to write the next chapter in the Maiz story with a new location in Woodfords Corner. Set to open in 2019 and located just inches from Woodford F&B, Little Woodfords and a number of other new and upcoming eateries, Maiz may solidify this little corner as the neighborhood to watch in the coming year — that is, if the near-constant road work truly does become a thing of the past.   

Monte's Fine Foods

Outer Washington Ave.

After over 50 years in business, Pizza by Angelone's location at 788 Washington Ave. is destined for significant change in 2019. Purchased by Steven Quattrucci and Neil Rouda, the property will see a 2,500 square foot expansion in the coming months, reopening as specialty foods store Monte's Fine Foods. Expect an updated, modern design, plenty of top-tier takeaway sundries and in-store dining with a focus on light, Roman-style multigrain pizza featuring local and imported ingredients.     

Gross Confection Bar

The Old Port

Pastry maestro Brant Dadaleares fronts the most anticipated opening of 2019, Gross Confection Bar. Every dessert Dadaleares dreams up is just gross, which is to say absurdly over the top without ever losing sight of balance, ingenuity and focus. Imagine the same thoughtful approach that defines some of the best main courses on the peninsula, flipped on its head, applied to sweet (rather than inherently savory) fare and pushed as a concept. We're excited, and you should be too.       

Luke's Lobster

Portland Pier

Luke Holden and I may have gone to high school together, but one of us built a multi-million-dollar empire on Maine's finest export that now extends all the way to Japan and back (I'll let you guess who). It should come as little surprise that Holden's near-future plans for world domination include a giant, 200-seat restaurant right on the Portland Pier—his second in Maine, and the largest in his global quiver of crustacean-centric eateries. Set to open in summer 2019, it's also destined to be the one of the most visible businesses on the waterfront. As for parking to get your lobster roll fix? Best of luck with that. 

Erik Neilson is a writer, musician and passionate foodhead based in Portland, ME.

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