The New York Times has released a 2021 list of favorite restaurants, subtitled “The 50 places in America we’re most excited about right now,” and Cong Tu Bot in Portland has made the grade.

It is the only restaurant in Maine on the list, which, according to the Times, represents the “50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants in 2021.”

“Happiness is a bowl of Cong Tu Bot’s chao chay on a chilly Maine morning,” says Times writer Priya Krishna in a one-paragraph writeup that is sure to make you hungry. She closes it with this: “A meal here is an extremely compelling argument for the superiority of Vietnamese breakfast food.”

The restaurant’s owners, husband and wife Vien Dobui and Jessica Sheahan, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Cong Tu Bot, which first opened its doors at 57 Washington Ave. in 2017, changed its focus this fall. It had closed in May, then reopened in September for breakfast, lunch, coffee and snacks; it is no longer open for dinner. Hours, for now, are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays.

The restaurant has had plenty of national recognition before. Among the accolades, in 2020, Dobui was a finalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast, but the organization later decided to cancel its awards program for that year.


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