There is sad news coming out of the Portland culinary world, as one of the town's most popular spots is closing its doors for good.

The much-beloved Middle Eastern restaurant will officially be shutting down at the end of September. This ends what can only be described as a fantastic run of delicious food, amazing drinks, and wonderful memories.

This was a no-doubt regular rotation spot for my wife and I. Baharat opened my pallet up to more spices and flavors than I could ever imagine.

The restaurant got its start back in 2013 when it wasn't even a restaurant. It was actually the "CN Shawarma" Truck. The truck's popularity led owners Clayton Norris and Jenna Friedman to open Baharat in 2017, in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood.

Baharat via Facebook
Baharat via Facebook

The slick and trendy joint was an instant hit. The fast casual Middle Eastern street food was flying out of the kitchen as fast as the creative cocktails were being made.

Much like everyone else, Baharat has its trials and tribulations through the pandemic. A simple read through the restaurant's Facebook timeline illustrates the major burden it put on the establishment. This includes having to shut down recently due to an exposure.

However, everything still seemed on the up-and-up. I had even been there recently. The bar and small seating area were packed to the gills, as it always seemed to be.

There are no reasons given for the decision to close, and I will not speculate. I will just add that it's a considerable loss to the Portland culinary community.

Baharat is a success story. They absolutely put in the grind. They took a food truck and turned it into beautiful brick and mortar establishment. They introduced a lot of Mainers to a cuisine they may not have been very familiar with. And, they took a lot of risks, especially with the exotic drink menu.

As tough as it is to see it close, I do want to congratulate Clayton and Jenna on a fine run. And a big thank you for opening my eyes to foods and techniques that I have introduced to the home kitchen.

Bets of luck to the couple in their future endeavors.

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