Two Portland restaurants have been nominated by Bon Appetit for a spot on its coveted annual list of America’s Best New Restaurants.

Drifters Wife, an eclectic and recently expanded modern American restaurant on Washington Avenue that has garnered rave views, and Rose Foods, an updated version of a Jewish deli on Forest Avenue, won two of 50 spots on the food magazine’s list of nominees. The list will be whittled down to the “Hot 10” restaurants in America, and the results will be announced Aug. 14.

The restaurants were chosen by Bon Appetit editor at large Andrew Knowlton, who travels the country every year searching for the best places to eat. He did not indicate why the 50 nominated restaurants made the list, except to note that he ran across “not one but multiple Jewish-style delis reinventing the genre.”

Halibut with lentils, razor clams, ramp mayo and agretti at Drifters Wife. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

Drifters Wife is owned by Peter and Orenda Hale, who moved to Maine from New York to start their restaurant and a family. The restaurant shares space with the couple’s retail wine shop Maine & Loire, which focuses on one of their passions – natural wines. The Hales lured their friend and former co-worker, Ben Jackson, to Portland to be the chef at Drifters Wife, and the accolades have poured in ever since. Bon Appetit put Drifters Wife on its 2016 list as well, and last year the restaurant was a semi-finalist for the James Beard award for Best New Restaurant.

The Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic gave the restaurant four-and-a-half out of five stars in a review in May, writing: “If you haven’t heard of Drifters Wife, you haven’t been paying attention to Portland’s food scene.”

The Fisherman’s Feast at Rose Foods in Portland. At $32 for two, it could easily feed three. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Rose Foods is owned by Chad Conley, co-owner of the Palace Diner in Biddeford, which has also gotten a lot of national attention for its elevated diner food. Conley talked with owners of delis in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and New York to get advice on how to shape Rose Foods. At Rose, smoked fish and the Dr. Brown’s sodas – a staple in New York delis – are brought in from elsewhere, but the bagels are made in house, and the whitefish salad is made from scratch. Menu selections include a chopped liver-and-gribenes sandwich inspired by a Toronto deli. A classic Health salad is upgraded with shaved fennel bulb, celery root, scallions and dill.

Conley’s vision earned the restaurant four out of five stars from the Maine Sunday Telegram restaurant critic in February.

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