Joseph Urtuzuastegui applies the finishing touches to a Sonoran hot dog in the El Corazon food trucked parked in Portlan d in 2013. Urtuzuastegui has since opened a restaurant in Longfellow square and is planning on another location in South Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — The city has seen its share of local restaurants vanish for good throughout the ongoing pandemic. Real estate pressures, a changing labor market and rotating coronavirus health restrictions have all taken their toll.

But Portland’s restaurateurs are a hearty lot and hope seems to spring eternal in their kitchens.

Here are five new food spots expected to open in the city by summer.

The Danforth, 211 Danforth St., Portland

Located in the former Little Giant space in the city’s West End, this swanky new cocktail bar is slated to start operations in just a few months.

“We are hard at work getting ready to open, and anticipate opening in the Spring of 2022,” states their online job board posting for an executive chef, head bartender and front of house manager.

Gin & Luck, the company behind nationwide mixed-drink giant Death & Co., is responsible for the new venture. Death & Co. already operates high-end cocktail bars in Los Angeles, Denver and New York.

The Danforth’s General Manager Lucy Comaskey told the Portland Food Map that they are, “aiming to create a space where the room and service are welcoming and intentional, and the food and drink are there to match in quality and comfort.”

El Corazon Casita, 158 Pickett St., South Portland

Popular Portland Mexican eatery El Corazon is opening a second location in South Portland, near Southern Maine Community College.

The casita — Spanish slang for small house — will take up residence at the former Pickett Street Cafe location. That restaurant closed in 2021 after 20 years in business.

El Corazon, located in Longfellow Square, started out as a food truck in 2013. Known for its elaborate-yet- inexpensive Sonoran hot dog, it opened its stationary restaurant in 2017.

Renovations are ongoing and the casita is eventually expected to be open Tuesday through Saturday.

Moonday Coffee, 93 Washington Ave., Portland

David Kessel started Moonday in summer 2021 as a city food cart serving coffee and espresso with beans from Speckled Ax. Now, Kessel is set to open an unwheeled version of his business at the former home of Ishi Ishi Ramen.

“We’ve already started to move in and build out, so keep your big fuzzy ears open for updates,” he wrote in an Instagram post last week. “we’re hoping to fling the doors open in the next couple of weeks.”

In addition to caffeine-laced potables, Moonday will also offer minimalist, botanical-inspired jewelry made from sustainable, recycled fine metals by local designer Rebecca Perea-Kane.

Slide Street Co., various locations, Portland

Chef and entrepreneur Adam Heath is developing this new venture as a mobile food cart. Heath is basing Slide Street around a clever pun and slider-sized burgers and sandwiches, each coming with a unique twist.

Slide Street’s flagship burger is expected to be called the “Acadia.” It will feature local beef prepared with bacon rillette, IPA jalapeno pickles, Pineland Farms cheddar, and a blueberry mostarda.

Heath is also developing the “Lil’ Squeeler,” which will consist of confit Pork belly, rose harissa, miso pineapple relish, green jade and a matcha bun.

The cart is still under development but Slide Street is hosting a pop-up event on Feb. 25 at the Fork Food Lab.

The Photo Kitchen, 1190 Forest Ave., Portland

Though not actually a restaurant, this all-new venue will be a hybrid food photoshoot studio, kitchen and event space.

It’s the brainchild of food photographer Lauren Lear and cookie impresario Krystina Benedetti.

The space will boast plenty of natural lighting, plus photo props and backgrounds for creating enticing food pictures, according to the Photo Kitchen website. It will also offer a client lounge and even have off-street parking.

The space, including a kitchen, will be available to rent for classes and events, as well.

The Photo Kitchen is offering a limited number of memberships to access the photo facility. The website lists a monthly $600 membership allowing photographers two eight-hour studio days per month. Members can then add additional photo studio days, if space is available, for $100 per day.

An exact opening date has yet to be set but construction is underway.

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Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.