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The Best Farm-to-Table Dining in Portland, Maine

The Best Farm-to-Table Dining in Portland, Maine

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This year, The Daily Meal was lucky enough to attend Portland, Maine’s Harvest on the Harbor festival. One of the most popular events at the festival is the Top of the Crop competition, in which local chefs compete for the title of Maine’s best farm-to-table restaurant chef. This topic is particularly relevant in Maine, given that the state is ranked number two out of all 50 states on Strolling of the Heifers’ 2013 Locavore Index (Vermont is number one). If you haven’t heard of them, Strolling of the Heifers is an 11-year-old organization committed to increasing the public’s appreciation of farming, support of farmers, and consumption of local foods.

As evident by this ranking, chefs in Maine take this topic very seriously. They all feel it’s part of their duty as chefs to support local foragers, farmers, and fisherman who make up a large part of the state’s job force. Not to mention, all of Maine’s local produce is incredibly fresh, easy to obtain, and delicious — so why not?

Chef David Levi does not only value this philosophy, but he’s taking it to a whole new level with Vinland Restaurant, opening later this year in Portland. At Vinland, every single ingredient used will be locally sourced. Levi's restaurant will be the only restaurant in the world to operate this way, and that’s no surprise; not only will he be restricted from using exotic herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables, but he also won’t be able to use even the simplest, most ubiquitous restaurant ingredients like olive oil, lemon, and black pepper. Chef Levi’s dish for the competition reflected this philosophy, with fried local beet chips, yogurt from Winter Hill Farm, local herbs, radish, and arugula. As one might expect, this dish was very light, fresh, and simple.

While chef Richard Hanson isn’t as strictly farm-to-table as chef Levi, he does source as many local ingredients as he can for his restaurant, Cleonice Mediterranean Bistro, in Ellsworth. For instance, at the end of every tomato season, he cans Maine tomatoes so he can use them throughout the winter. For his dish in the competition, roasted pork sausage ragù with polenta, he used local Morgan Mills polenta and local cheese from Harmony Mill Farm. The dish was very homey and comforting, made with a homemade Italian tomato sauce that starts with batutto (an Italian soffritto), including carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and dried oregano.

The third course also featured pork, this time in the form of tender pork belly. Chef Chad Conley from Gather restaurant in Yarmouth used pork belly from Farmers’ Gate Market, a Maine-based market that sources and butchers only local, pasture-raised meats. He braised the pork belly overnight in a mixture of salt, sugar, water, and fall spices, which helps to maintain the moisture and tenderness of the meat, and also adds an extra layer of flavor. He served the pork belly with stewed Jacob’s Cattle Beans cooked with bacon, celery, carrot, and onion. Traditionally, baked beans are cooked until some of the beans break down and thicken the liquid. Chef Conley explained that he actually removes some of the beans and purées them, then folds the purée back into the beans once they’re done cooking, as this allows him more control over the thickness of the finished product. The dish was accented with mustard seeds, house-pickled in water, white-wine vinegar, turmeric, sugar, and salt. The finishing touches included roasted celeriac, raw radish and celery slices, lemon vinaigrette, and East End micro greens.

From roadside lobster roll stands to five-star fine dining, these restaurants are where to eat in Maine.

The Clam Shack in Kennebunk

One of the most iconic lobster rolls in the world comes from The Clam Shack, a tiny little spot that sits beside the bridge to Kennebunkport. The lobster in the lobster roll is boiled in salt water, drizzled with local butter, and then put into a buttery roll smeared with mayo. It’s simple and perfect. The Clam Shack also has some of my personal favorite french fries and a big selection of fried seafood. It is open seasonally from May through October.

Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland

A James Beard Award-Winning restaurant that specializes in oysters and seafood. The atmosphere is casual and fun and they serve traditional New England Clam Bakes.

Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit

The wealthy summertime residents of Kennebunkport used to braggingly take their boats to Barnacle Billy’s for what they called a “hundred dollar hot dog” because they would spend that much money on gas getting to Ogunquit and back. The restaurant isn’t famous for hot dogs though, they are well known for their fried clams and seafood dishes and their large waterfront patio.

Cabbage Island Clambakes

Take a ferry ride out to Cabbage Island for a traditional Maine clambake. If you are unfamiliar with a clambake, it includes chowder, steamed clams, potatoes, corn. and lobsters. The lobsters, clams, corn, and potatoes are steamed in seaweed over a fire. Super traditional, and not something you can try just anywhere. I should let you know that Charles is not easily impressed, and we went here 4 years ago and he still talks about it all the time.

Red’s Eats in Wiscasset

An iconic family-run lobster stand that’s been in Wiscasset for 80 years. They claim to have the world’s best lobster roll, and there is almost always a long line running down the street. The stand is open seasonally from mid-April to October, and each year they go through 14.5 tons of lobster meat.

Otto Pizza in Portland

One of my family’s go-to pizza places, Otto has locations in Portland, South Portland, Yarmouth, and Saco. The pizzeria is known for their creative pizzas like mashed potato, scallion, and bacon and butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberry.

Flo’s Hot Dogs in Cape Neddick

A family-owned hot dog stand that opened in 1959, and that specializes in steamed hot dogs. My father would say that he is a hot dog connoisseur, and he is a big fan of Flo’s.

The Holy Donut in Portland

A doughnut shop with two locations in Portland and one in Scarborough, where 16 flavors are made daily. The doughnuts at Holy Donut are distinctive because they are made with Maine potatoes.

The Hurricane in Kennebunkport

Right in Dock Square, The Hurricane is a fine dining restaurant with a casual bar area. The menu is focused on fresh local food, including local seafood and you can always count on having a great meal. The haddock sandwich is pictured above.

Standard Baking Co. in Portland

A bakery in Portland that produces gorgeous pastries and bread.

The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk

Maine’s only five-star restaurant serves a four-course prix fixe menu that changes weekly and is priced at $125. The menu emphasizes local seafood.

DuckFat in Portland

A cafe and sandwich shop known for serving Belgian duck fat fries and milkshakes.

Tao Yuan in Brunswick

An Asian-fusion restaurant helmed by James Beard Award nominee Cara Stadler. The food is bold and elegant and experiments with flavors not often found in Maine. It’s fine dining cuisine with a welcoming atmosphere.

The Maine Diner in Wells

Maine has a long history of roadside diners, and The Maine Diner is one of the remaining old school diners. The diner is known for their seafood chowder and their lobster pie.

On the Marsh in Kennebunk

Just a short drive from Kennebunkport, On the Marsh is a formal yet fun restaurant with some of the best happy hour specials in town.

Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport

One of the Bush’s favorite restaurants, Mabel’s is between Dock Square and the summer homes on Ocean Avenue. The restaurant is known for serving lobster and blueberry pie.

Rapid Rays in Saco

This is the place for fast food take out. The place has been around since 1953 and is known for selling burgers, chili dogs, and lobster rolls. Once my sister and I went there late night and a limo pulled up, and out came a drunk bride who couldn’t find her husband. Rapid Rays is one of those places where you never know what to expect.

Rococo in Kennebunkport and Ogunquit

My go-to scoop shop near my parent’s house in Kennebunkport, Rococo is known for their inventive flavors like blueberry chipotle, chai cardamon, goat cheese blackberry chambord, and lemon pink peppercorn.

Henry VIII Carvery in York

One of my all-time favorite sandwich spots, this spot is known for their freshly roasted hand carved beef, turkey, and pork sandwiches. With incredible, from scratch, ingredients the sandwiches at Henry VIII are outstanding.

Fore Street in Portland

Fore Street has a reputation for being one of the best fine dining restaurants in Portland. Fore Street’s Chef Sam Hayward won the James Beard Award for Best Chef-Northeast in 2011. Many of the items on the menu are cooked in the wood fire oven.

Central Provisions in Portland

This restaurant serves elegant food in a relaxed atmosphere and specializes in small plates. They serve brunch, lunch, and dinner and the menu changes daily. Expect modern creative cuisine like a Maine Salad with celery root, avocado, kumquat, and puffed quinoa. Central Provisions is open every day, year-round, and they are walk-in only.

DiMillo’s in Portland

A former ferry turned into a restaurant in Portland Harbor, it’s probably one of the most well-known restaurants in Maine. It’s probably also the only restaurant that has a sister company that sells yachts. Sure, it is a bit touristy, but it’s a Maine institution. It’s family friendly with a seafood-focused menu. They have a gluten-free menu too.

Dutch’s in Portland

A super casual spot for breakfast and lunch. It’s a perfect place to stop for a quick bite. The breakfast menu has items like spicy chicken on a biscuit with avocado, breakfast burritos, and corned turkey hash. At lunch try a chicken parm sandwich or a tuna melt.

Helen’s Restaurant in Machias

My Dad likes this spot that is famous for their pies. The restaurant serves three meals a day, seven days a week, and has been open for over 60 years. They pride themselves on supporting local farmers and fishermen, and the menu includes items like a meatloaf grilled cheese sandwich, fried clam rolls, lobster rolls, and pot roast.

Dysarts Truck Stop Diner in Bangor

Maine doesn’t get much national attention, so when SNL did a skit based on this restaurant, it was a big deal. Yes, it’s a 24-hour full-service truck stop, and a restaurant known for big portions and chicken pot pie. The menu has diner classics like Yankee pot roast and meatloaf.

Nunan’s Lobster Hut in Cape Porpoise

One of the best places for a fresh authentic lobster dinner. The lobster is fresh off the boat and served on metal trays with butter, a roll, and potato chips. The restaurant serves other Maine staples like chowder, steamed clams, and lobster rolls too. Plus there are options for people who don’t eat seafood. Nunan’s is open from May through October.

Palace Diner in Biddeford

Maine’s oldest diner has a 15 seat counter and serves breakfast and lunch. The menu features flapjacks, a lumberjack breakfast, corned beef hash, and burgers.

Salt and Honey in Kennebunkport

My go-to breakfast spot when I am home, I love the breakfast burrito and the pancakes. For lunch or dinner try the fish tacos.

Ricetta’s in Falmouth

This pizza joint has won the Maine Sunday Telegram’s award for Best Pizza in Maine 20 times. When I think of pizza, I think of Ricetta’s. It’s all you could want in a family friendly pizza restaurant. I like to order the Margherita and add artichokes. My Mom will want me to tell you that they offer caramelized onions as a topping.

Honey Paw in Portland

An Asian-fusion restaurant that is a sister restaurant to Eventide Oyster Co. and Hugo’s. The menu includes housemade noodle dishes like pork and crab mee goreng, a fried half chicken, and lobster wontons.

Mornings in Paris in Kennebunk

Originally opened by a French woman who moved to Maine, but now under new ownership who haven’t changed a thing, this little cafe has incredible croissants and coffees. I love the cheese and raspberry jam filled croissants. It’s the best place for a quick breakfast.

Pier 77/The Ramp/Ramp Up in Cape Porpoise/Kennebunkport

This trio of restaurants in the same building are located beside Cape Porpoise Pier. The restaurants have stunning views of Cape Porpoise Harbor which is filled with lobster boats and rowboats. I love the casual atmosphere of Pier 77 which serves up lighter fare like salads, chowder, sandwiches, and lobster rolls. The Ramp is a more formal dining experience. Ramp Up is the newest edition, a pub in a former lighthouse.

Mae’s Cafe & Bakery in Bath

A neighborhood spot for breakfast and lunch. They bake their own cakes, pies, cookies, breads, and pastries too.

Hugo’s in Portland

A modern American restaurant with global influences and farm-to-table cuisine.

Merriland Farm Cafe in Wells

One of my all-time favorite places for brunch, you can eat outside at this farm beside a golf course. Their homemade muffins and biscuits are perfection.

Winnagance Restaurant in Bath

A casual place where locals get breakfast and lunch. The restaurant is known for their seafood chowder.

Bao Bao Dumpling House in Portland

A restaurant known for its creative dumplings which include Kung Pao Chicken and Peanut, Bulgogi Beef, and Habanero Shrimp and Shiitake. They also serve dim sum and entrees.

Five Island’s Lobster Co. in Georgetown

Located in the prettiest harbor in Maine, this rustic lobster pound serves up lobster, steamers, and chowder plus some non-seafood options. According to Downeast Magazine, they have the best fried clams in Maine. They don’t serve alcohol but you are welcome to bring your own.

Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro

A roadside diner that has been around for over ninety years, Moody’s Diner serves classic diner fare like hot turkey sandwiches with gravy, burgers, and steak plus Maine specialties like scallops, haddock, clams, and seafood platters. They are also known for their whoopie pies.

Tuscan Bistro in Freeport

This recommendation comes from my brother and his girlfriend. Tuscan Bistro has Maine-meets-Italy cuisine with menu items like chicken parmigiana and fresh haddock.

Richard’s in Brunswick

A German restaurant in Maine. I know, no one goes to Maine for German food, but my mother loves this place. She says that the gulasch is not to be missed, and the menu also has strudel, spätzle, currywurst, and wienerschnitzel.

Big Daddy’s in Wells

My families go-to ice cream place. On many warm summer nights, at the end of dinner my Dad would say, “I think it’s a Big Daddy’s night”. We would load up into the car and sometimes we would park by a field and watch deer as we ate our ice cream. Big Daddy’s has been making their own ice cream since 󈨐 and they have 41 flavors of ice cream – plus additional flavors of sherbet and frozen yogurt. My go-to flavor is coffee heath bar.

Beale Street Barbecue in Bath

Locals love this joint that serves up Memphis style barbecue. Authentic Southern barbecue isn’t easy to find in Maine, and this is the best place for it. The menu has all the standards like ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled chicken, chili, and macaroni and cheese.

Needham Candies

One of Maine’s main crops is potatoes, and these candies use mashed potatoes as an ingredient! The candies originated back in 1872 and have been a Maine delicacy ever since.

Mekong Thai in Kennebunk

Owned by a local family who moved from Thailand to Maine, this is my favorite place to eat in my hometown. I know you might not think of Thai food when you think of Maine, but they do have a bunch of shrimp, scallop, and calamari dishes on the menu.

Here at The Chadwick Bed & Breakfast, we believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day—and it is also the perfect time for us to get to know you better and to help you plan your day or evening in Portland, Maine!

Breakfast is served from 8-9:30am in the dining room with hot coffee brewed at 7am. The dining room is communal but each set of guests have their own table for comfort.

Breakfast is prepared daily in our kitchen using the best and freshest foods
found at our local grocers, farmers markets, and food stands.

Sample Menu

Look forward to guest favorites, such as:

  • Garden Fresh Omelets with Paprika Potatoes
  • Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes with Oven Bacon
  • Rosemary & Thyme Goat Cheese Quiche with Panzanella Breakfast Salad
  • Gosling Rum Croissant Bread Pudding with Country Sausage
  • Maine Lobster Eggs Benedict with Lemon-Herb Butter

For those who prefer something other than the hot entrée of the day, our Maine coast bed and breakfast is happy to offer our house-made granola, oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts, or eggs as you wish.

Special Diets & Dining Accommodations
With advance notice, we’re happy to accommodate vegetarian or gluten-free breakfast requests or work around any food allergies. If you need to depart before 8am, we are happy to make you our Brown Bag Breakfast to-go.

50+ Top Dining Spots

JOE RICCHIO, Maine food scene icon and our former food editor ANESTES FOTIADES, creator of Portland Food Map and Maine’’s favorite covert diner & AMY K. ANDERSON, Maine magazine food editor and longtime server at Hugo’’s, have the answer. The options are many and the experiences are all outstanding.

40 Paper 40 Washington St. | Camden 207.230.0111

Not only do they specialize in handmade pastas and flatbread pizzas, but the 40 Paper chefs have also painstakingly perfected the art of gluten-free cuisine, helping to end the miserable pasta-deprived existence of many. All of this can be enjoyed with an ever-rotating selection of both modern and Prohibition-era cocktails.

76 Pleasant Street 76 Pleasant St. | Norway 207.744.9040

Nestled in the heart of the Norwegian wood you will find the beautiful mansion where chef Jeremy Donovan cobbles together his refined interpretation of globally influenced comfort food. There isn’t a more tranquil setting in which to enjoy a large joint of braised meat alongside an ocean of red wine.

41 Berwick Rd. | Ogunquit 207.361.1100

While meandering around their breathtaking garden, it will become clear how Arrows has earned its reputation of offering an all-encompassing dining experience. In addition to the chef’s tasting, diners are now given the option of assembling various “collections” into a personalized menu of sorts. In the winter months, both the garden and the restaurant dip into hibernation.

Back Bay Grill 65 Portland St. | Portland 207.772.8833

Thanks to an out-of-the-way location, the Back Bay Grill is one of Portland’s best-kept secrets. The old-school feel of the restaurant, with its high tin ceilings and white tablecloths, hints at an earlier era of fine dining. Sit at the bar for a cocktail, a bowl of truffle popcorn, and a view of the open kitchen.

Bandaloop 2 Dock Sq. | Kennebunkport 207.967.4994

Visitors quickly become regulars at Bandaloop. Its cool ambiance and commitment to local and organic ingredients appeal to locals and tourists, vegetarians and carnivores alike. You can expect the unexpected, like the “Bandaloop eggroll” with Gorgonzola, walnuts, and spinach, or the Vermont sharp cheddar and cavatappi mac and cheese.

Bar Lola
100 Congress St. | Portland 207.775.5652
Owners Guy and Stella Hernandez combine well-crafted small plates with warm hospitality to deliver an excellent fine dining experience. At $44 per person, the seven-course Feed Me tasting menu is one of the best deals in town. Look out for wine dinner and cocktail special events each month.

The Black Birch 2 Government St. | Kittery 207.703.2294

While devouring a plate of delicate, wonderfully creamy chicken liver mousse and Concord grape gelée slathered on perfectly crispy-chewy toast, it is hard not to conjure up childhood memories of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Each dish on the menu plays off of this kind of comforting nostalgia, elevating preparations to an Elysian state.

671 Congress St. | Portland 207.347.7557
All it takes is one crispy quail egg seasoned with soy sauce and scallions to understand that Boda gets it: simplicity is king. Open until 1 a.m., the Thai-inspired menu and hip atmosphere are perfect for date night, dinner with friends, or late-night drinks.

111 Middle St. | Portland 207.772.1004

In a city full of great dining options, this pocket-sized restaurant is a star. James Beard-nominated chef Krista Kern Desjarlais prepares an outstanding selection of contemporary Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and exceptional desserts. The buttermilk panna cotta has a well-justified cult following. Starting in 2013, Bresca is also serving lunch four days a week.

Cafe Sorpreso
415 Main St. | Presque Isle | 207.764.1854

With a menu that changes weekly to reflect the changing weather and availability of ingredients, Cafe Sorpreso is the gold standard for fine dining in Presque Isle. Lunch features a variety of panini sandwiches, whereas dinner showcases quality cuts of meat and fish, accentuated with simple, delicious accoutrements.

58 Pine St. | Portland | 207.772.1110

Chef/owner Abby Harmon runs a cozy neighborhood bistro serving rustic Italian fare in the city’s West End. In addition to dinner and one of the best burgers in the city, Caiola’s serves one of the most acclaimed Sunday brunches in the state. Regulars—and there are many, so get there early to get a table—swear by the Lost Bread.

Cantina El Rayo
85 York St. | Portland | 207.780.8466

Located next to its sister restaurant, El Rayo Taqueria, Cantina is a great place to start or end your evening with daily specials and two happy hours a night. The Tlayuda—a Oaxacan dish resembling a pizza—stands up to excess margaritas. At Sunday brunch, Cantina’s huevos rancheros is not to be missed.

Carmen at the Danforth 163 Danforth St. | Portland | 207.358.7103

Within the two-century-old walls of the Danforth, chef Carmen Gonzalez finds inspiration for her refined American cuisine that is festively accentuated by pronounced Latin flavors. Plantain dumplings, silky corn flan, and smoky, impossibly tender grilled baby flower octopus are among offerings that established Carmen as an important destination in Portland’s restaurant scene right from the beginning…

Chase’s Daily 96 Main St. | Belfast | 207.338.0555

This well-loved midcoast hot spot—perennial favorite of the James Beard Foundation nomination committee—has a fresh and flavorful take on vegetarian cuisine. Chase’s downtown Belfast location also houses a farm stand and a popular bakery. Open daily for breakfast and lunch with dinners each Friday.

David’s 388 388 Cottage Rd. | South Portland 207.347.7388

This younger sibling of David’s in Monument Square balances familiar flavors with the small plate format of contemporary American cuisine in a welcoming and informal space a stone’s throw from the SoPo foodie haven of Willard Square.

David’s/Opus Ten 22 Monument Sq. | Portland 207.773.4340

David’s has been a mainstay of the Portland dining scene since the 1990s. In 2012, chef David Turin launched Opus Ten, a restaurant within a restaurant that treats diners to a seven-to-nine-course tasting menu in an upscale sophisticated setting. David’s location in Monument Square makes it one of the best summer spots for outdoor dining and people watching. The garlic knots are irresistible.

Earth at Hidden Pond 354 Goose Rocks Rd. Kennebunkport | 207.967.6550

You’ll be talking about your dining experience at Earth at Hidden Pond for weeks after a visit. Nestled in the woods overlooking the pond, the connection to nature is everywhere. For an extra-special night, dine in the private potting shed. Earth is open from May through October.

Emilitsa 547 Congress St. | Portland 207.221.0245

Brothers John and Deno Regas share their Greek heritage and their mother’s recipes at their cozy and beautifully decorated restaurant, Emilitsa. The moussaka is comforting, and a glass from the exclusively Greek wine list makes you feel like a family member. The restaurant is open for lunch Thursday and Friday, and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Eventide Oyster Co. 86 Middle St. | Portland 207.774.8538

Eventide opened last summer to rave reviews. In addition to the best oyster selection this side of New York City, Eventide serves a set of nuanced small plates and nightly specials—the oyster bun and lightly cured arctic char are standout dishes from the standard menu.

The Fiddlehead Restaurant 84 Hammond St. | Bangor 207.942.3336

The Queen City is currently experiencing a culinary renaissance of sorts, spearheaded by eateries such as Fiddlehead. Chef Melissa Chaiken’s menu combines classic American comfort food with myriad global influences, from duck cacciatore to Singapore-style chicken and rice. A small yet concise wine list provides options for novices and geeks alike.

Five Fifty-Five 555 Congress St. | Portland207.761.0555

Contemporary American cuisine, a strong wine list, big-city atmosphere and attentive service secure 555’s place on the list. The truffled lobster mac and cheese is a refined approach to an American comfort food classic. Open for dinner seven days a week and serves brunch on Sundays.

Fore Street 288 Fore St. | Portland 207.775.2717

Chef Sam Hayward, 2004 James Beard Best Chef, simply prepares the finest seasonal ingredients and lets the natural flavors speak for themselves. The wood-roasted mussels are not to be missed. Sit in the main dining room to watch the drama in the wood-fired open kitchen unfold. Reservations strongly recommended.

Francine Bistro 55 Chestnut St. | Camden207.230.0083

Tucked away on a quiet side street in Camden you’ll find the high-energy atmosphere and innovative cuisine of Francine Bistro. Chef/owner Brian Hill brings his surfer’s sense of balance and rocker’s sense of rhythm to each and every dish.

Fromviandoux 20 Washington St. | Camden 207.230.7444

The small plate format, wines by the half glass, and extensive cheese list at Fromviandoux will appeal to your experimental instincts and curiosity about Fromviandoux’s modern approach to French peasant food. A rarity in Maine, Fromviandoux offers a contemporary approach to afternoon tea with a selection of scones, tea sandwiches, and petit fours with a pot of tea.

Frontier 14 Maine St. | Fort Andross Brunswick | 207.725.5222

Overlooking the Androscoggin River, Frontier is open and airy with tall ceilings and exposed wood beams. The menu has something for everyone. With a performance area for live music and independent films, Frontier is a great place to do dinner and movie simultaneously.

Gather 189 Main St. | Yarmouth | 207.847.3250

While chef Chad Conley could have done practically anything with his experience in high-end, upscale restaurants, he chose to make seasonal, family-friendly comfort food in Yarmouth. Kids go for the fresh fish sticks while the adults share a bottle of wine and the crab and corn fritters.

Grace 15 Chestnut St. | Portland | 207.828.4422

Grace is set in the grand open space of a renovated nineteenth-century Gothic Revival church. Chef Pete Sueltenfuss serves a strong menu of richly flavored dishes. Be sure to save room for one of pastry chef Ilma Lopez’s innovative desserts.

Grill Room 84 Exchange St. | Portland | 207.774.2333

The exposed brick walls, dark wood, and smell of meat and smoke hanging in the air at the Grill Room make you long for a bourbon and a cigar. But it’s more than that. Sit at the bar to enjoy cocktails like the refreshing 𔄚 Twenty-2 Baker St” made with Twenty 2 vodka, fresh basil, lemon juice, St. Germain, and soda water—and the duck confit and brie pizza is out of this world.

Havana 318 Main St. | Bar Harbor | 207.288.2822

A Bar Harbor institution, Havana serves up festive “Nuevo Latino” cuisine. This is supplemented with an extensive, well-thought-out wine program that rivals any other in the state, featuring rare bottles that have benefited from time in the cellar and the patience of the sommelier. As with most of MDI, they are closed in the off-season.

Hugo’s 88 Middle St. | Portland | 207.774.8538

The new generation at the helm at Hugo’s is ably carrying on the high standards established by former star chef/owner Rob Evans. Fine cocktails and an inventive multicourse tasting menu make this one of Portland’s must-go restaurants for visiting gourmands.

Local 188 685 Congress St. | Portland | 207.761.7909

Local 188 is as funky and artistic as its servers. The Spanish-inspired menu includes tapas and full plates, and the cocktails live up to the hype. In addition to its sister restaurant, Sonny’s on Exchange Street, owner Jay Villani plans to open Salvage BBQ on Congress this spring.

Long Grain 31 Elm St. | Camden | 207.236.9001

Drawing its primary influence from the hawker stalls of Bangkok, Long Grain’s chefs offer traditional preparations utilizing the best ingredients around, such as Heiwa tofu from Camden as well as an assortment of fresh, locally foraged mushrooms. It’s a tight space, so one would be prudent to secure a reservation.

Mache Bistro 135 Cottage St. | Bar Harbor 207.288.0447

Though chef/owner Kyle Yarborough is classically trained in French cookery, he is quick to throw off the many shackles and restrictions that the style is famous for. He implements flavors from his childhood, as is evident in a sweet potato and smoked duck brandade, served alongside ancho-chili-rubbed duck confit. The result is fusion cooking at its best.

Miyake 468 Fore St. | Portland | 207.871.9170

When Masa Miyake opened for business he raised the bar for sushi throughout the state, utilizing previously unavailable species of Japanese fish as well as a superlative quality of sushi rice. Now, settled into his new location and sourcing both meat and produce from Miyake Farm, the omakase tasting menu has reached new heights.

Natalie’s 83 Bayview St. | Camden 207.236.7008

When asked recently to name my most memorable meal of 2012, chef Geoffroy Deconinck’s lavish, globally inspired tasting menu at Natalie’s was the clear choice. Enhanced by the cocktails and wine pairings of bar manager Tom Laslavic, no other dining experience offered perfection on each level in the manner that Natalie’s did.

Petite Jacqueline 190 State St. | Portland 207.553.7044

Brought to life by the creative team at Five Fifty-Five, Petite Jacqueline imports the joie de vivre of a classic French bistro to the vibrant restaurant scene of Portland’s Longfellow Square. The daily three-course prix fixes are a great way to explore the menu of French classics like coq au vin, moules frites, and steak au poivre. Save room for the banana and nutella crepe.

Pier 77/The Ramp 77 Pier Rd. | Kennebunkport 207.967.8500

Rather than make a big fuss about his use of top quality ingredients to prepare contemporary American fare, chef/owner Pete Morency simply refers to this practice as “the first thing you learn about cooking great food.” After dining at Pier 77, it would be a sin not to have at least one tumbler of Scotch at the Ramp for dessert.

Ports of Italy 47 Commercial St. | Boothbay Harbor 207.633.1011

Eating at Ports of Italy in downtown Boothbay Harbor is like going to a friend’s house for dinner. Owner Sante Calandri is charming, and his enthusiasm and passion for food is contagious. He makes the pastas and desserts himself, and the porchetta is not to be missed. This is food truly made from the heart. They are open seasonally from May through October.

Primo 2 South Main St. | Rockland 207.596.0770

Located in the coastal community of Rockland, Primo is the ultimate farm-to-table dining experience. From May to January, chef Melissa Kelly raises animals and grows vegetables on an acre of land behind her cozy farmhouse restaurant. For a special night out, enjoy the intimate dining rooms downstairs to laugh and share a pizza with friends, go upstairs to the more casual and funky bar.

Sea Glass Restaurant 40 Bowery Beach Rd. Cape Elizabeth | 207.799.3134

Panoramic ocean views and the Cape Elizabeth seaside provide a charming backdrop for this in-house restaurant at the Inn by the Sea—Food & Wine executive editor Dana Cowin’s go-to spot when she’s visiting southern Maine.

Seagrass 305 Route 1 | Yarmouth 207.846.3885

The Seagrass Bistro menu changes every three weeks, providing even regular guests with a sampling of the seasons. Gourmet is possible even for those with strict dietary restrictions, and the open kitchen lets you watch as the expert chef prepares your meal. While conveniently located along a busy Route 1, Seagrass is a respite from the busy day-to-day.

Shepherd’s Pie 18 Central St. | Rockport 207.236.8500

Chef/owner Brian Hill’s sophomore restaurant effort after Francine Bistro combines the look and feel of an old English pub with a range of refined comfort foods. After all, there is no better complement to a “Grilled Duck PB&J” than a 40oz Pabst Blue Ribbon, preferably enjoyed straight from the bottle.

Solo Bistro 128 Front St. | Bath | 207.443.3373

Drawing on their experiences traveling and exploring different cultures, husband-and-wife team Will and Pia Neilson run Solo Bistro. Located in the heart of Bath, the classy, contemporary restaurant features live jazz on Fridays and an impressive selection of wine from around the world. Go Wednesdays for a deal on the nightly three-course tasting menu.

Suzuki’s Sushi Bar 419 Main St. | Rockland207.596.7447

For a less expected seafood experience in Rockland, Suzuki’s Sushi Bar prepares simple but elegant Japanese food. Suzuki’s is dedicated to sourcing the freshest local seafood. And for an extra special treat, try their homemade ice cream, in unique flavors—black sesame, ginger, or green tea.

Tao Restaurant 22 Pleasant St. | Brunswick 207.725.9002

Though the menu is divided into the deceptively simple categories of “hot” and “cold,” chef/owner Cara Stadler’s range successfully runs the gamut of major Asian food cultures. Grandma Tang’s Roast Pork Buns and smoked Darjeeling quail are among offerings that are all portioned and priced to share.

Town Hill Bistro 1317 Route 102 | Bar Harbor 207.288.1011

On the opposite side of the island from downtown Bar Harbor you’ll find the fun and engaging Town Hill Bistro. Owners Maureen Cosgrove and JJ Zeph regularly serve their brand of locally sourced farm-to-table dining to a full house, so reservations are recommended.

Trattoria Athena 25 Mill St. | Brunswick | 207.721.0700

Combining the best elements from the cookery of Greece and Italy, with the wine list following suit, Trattoria Athena has established itself as one of the best reasons to visit Brunswick. Also of incredible value is their fixed-price, family-style dinner, served on Sunday afternoon only.

Tulsi Indian Restaurant 20 Walker St. | Kittery | 207.451.9511

There is something decidedly different, not to mention powerful, about the way chef Raj Mandekar prepares traditional Indian cuisine. Utilizing both modern technique and that taught to him by his grandmother during his youth in Mumbai, his food acquires vivid, intense flavors while maintaining an irrefutable finesse.

Vignola Cinque Terre 10 Dana St. | Portland | 207.772.1330

The modern aesthetic of Vignola and classic charm of Cinque Terre have merged into a single restaurant where chef Lee Skawinski serves a menu of contemporary Italian cuisine. Excellent cheese plate options are available as is an extensive wine list.

Walter’s 2 Portland Sq. | Portland | 207.871.9258

Walter’s has become one of Portland’s classic restaurants. Its dimly lit bar with overstuffed chairs and dark corners beckons you in. Chef and owner Jeff Buerhaus puts his personal twist on the menu, highlighting the flavors of Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. Walter’s is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday.

The White Barn Inn 37 Beach Ave. | Kennebunk Beach 207.967.2321

The luxurious White Barn Inn is the setting for chef Jonathan Cartwright’s classic American and European cuisine. The inn’s impeccable service and beautiful setting draw clientele from far and wide. Cooking classes with chef Cartwright are available and the kitchen also offers gourmet picnic basket meals for guests to take with them on their day trips from the Inn

Zapoteca 505 Fore St. | Portland | 207.772.8242

Zapoteca makes Mexican food classy. With its bold flavors and unexpected cocktails like the habanero watermelon margarita, the bright atmosphere feels young and fresh. Come for tequila flights or brunch on the weekends, and let the valet service take care of the car.


JOE, ANESTES & AMY identify some of their go-to eateries that didn’t make the list above but are outstanding in their own right. Kuddos to that special someplace satisfying our cravings for “perfect barbecue,” pork buns, the ultimate Italian comfort food, and pho.

Long Lake Sporting Club
48 Highway 162 | Sinclair 207.543.7584

This is one of the most satisfying dining experiences in the state, and is well worth the seven-hour journey from Portland. Beautiful steaks, perfect barbecue, and gargantuan lobsters are all prepared with utmost care and respect.

Saigon 795 Forest Ave. | Portland 207.874.6666

Few things inspire rejuvenation like a cauldron-sized bowl of intensely aromatic pho, especially when it is preceded by an order of perfectly crispy, garlicky chicken wings. A wide range of both southern Vietnamese and Chinese comfort foods is executed brilliantly every time.

Veranda Asian Market 695 Forest Ave. | Portland 207.874.8001

Fresh produce is complemented by a dizzying array of whole fish on ice, as well as rows of barbecued fowl and belly pork hanging from the butcher’s rack. This is a prime spot to procure hard-to-find items previously unavailable north of Boston.

Pop-up Scene various locations | Portland

Portland’s pop-up dining scene has come of age, delivering new eating experiences for diners and creative outlets for Maine’s culinary talent. Whether it’s al fresco Twilight Dinners at Turkey Hill Farm or the full immersion experience of a Pocket Brunch, pop-ups are adding new vitality to Maine’s culinary landscape.

Schulte & Herr 349 Cumberland Ave. | Portland 207.773.1997

With an unassuming space, warm hospitality, and homestyle German food, owners Steffi and Brian Davin quickly won over the hearts and stomachs of customers from all walks of life. BYOB.

The Well 21 Wells Rd. | Jordan’s Farm Cape Elizabeth | 207.831.9350

The rustic outdoor setting on the grounds of Jordan’s Farm, paired with the fresh and direct flavors from chef/owner Jason Williams’s kitchen, make for a very special farm-to-table experience. The Well is open June to September. BYOB. Cash only.

East Ender 47 Middle St. | Portland 207.879.7669

The downstairs dining room is warmed by a fireplace in the winter months, and upstairs, the old wooden bar is a great place to enjoy “wine down Wednesdays” where every bottle is half price. Try the baloney sandwich and deviled eggs for updated childhood favorites.

JP’s Bistro 496 Woodford St. | Portland 207.899.4224

It seems everyone who lives within walking distance is a regular at JP’s Bistro—so reservations are recommended. The no-fuss Italian comfort food—simple with generous portions—makes this neighborhood spot one of Portland’s hidden gems. The short rib ravioli with Gorgonzola cheese is unbelievably good.

Pai Men Miyake 188 State St. | Portland 207.541.9204

The no-broth ramen dish is reason enough to go. But the pork buns, sushi, and variety of local beer on tap make this house of “one hundred noodles” the ideal destination morning, noon, and night.

Feasting in Forest City: Where to Eat in Portland, Maine

Get your claws on amazing bites that go well beyond lobsters with this guide to the freshest flavors in Forest City.

Related To:

Photo By: Courtney Elizabeth Theberge

Forest City Flavors

Though a mention of Portland, Maine still brings to mind lobsters for many, the city offers so much more than seafood. Gone are the days when everyone flocked to the waterfront district of Old Port. Impressive pockets of eateries have sprouted up in places like Longfellow Square, the east side of Washington Avenue and the historic West End. This is your guide to making every single meal count, and in the process enjoying the most diverse array of foods that Forest City has to offer.

East Ender

Seasoned kitchen veterans Bill Leavy and Karl Deuben, the men behind the dearly missed Small Axe food truck, wasted no time making this place their own, despite retaining the name from the previous owners. The old truck favorites, like their cold-smoked burger with Jack cheese and shishito peppers, came along for the ride, but the new menu is far more than that, spanning from Vadouvan-spiced chicken wings to handmade cavatelli pasta with pea shoot-walnut pesto and locally foraged mushrooms. It is worth making the climb to the second floor for a seat at the bar, where one can indulge in a variety of draft beer paired with exquisite soft pretzels or a plate of braised pork belly with kimchi, grits and roasted peanuts.


The alluring crisp and chew of fresh warm baguette, inundated with crushed tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, eaten in tandem with a plate of salty, melt-in-your-mouth Jamon Iberico de Bellota and chased down with a sea of manzanilla sherry: These are the basic human needs that Chaval fulfills. It also provides the satisfaction of sliding your knife through panko-crusted Quail Cordon Bleu and revealing a molten stream of Gruyere and a copious amount of house-cured ham. It&rsquos easy to see why Chaval has quickly acquired a hungry following in Portland&rsquos quaint West End neighborhood.

Palace Diner

The newly remodeled and revamped Palace Diner has developed a cultlike following for its sandwiches, including a gargantuan tuna melt and the Palais Royale double cheeseburger. Weekends practically demand a special trip for buttermilk-brined fried chicken sandwiches. The holy grail of all breakfast sandwiches may be the Diner's Deluxe, composed of a griddled, buttery and slightly crispy English muffin that's topped with bacon and a perfect square of baked egg omelet, then covered with melted cheddar, mayo and spicy pickled jalapeno. It's perfect with a side of smashed, fried Palace potatoes and coffee from nearby Tandem Roasters.

Much like proper Italian cooking, the decor at Tipo is simple and clean, its wood and chrome accents meant to conjure up Roman Holiday-esque imagery and impart a light, airy feel to the atmosphere. Chef Chris Gould, who also owns Central Provisions, teams up with Chef Mike Smith to offer modern interpretations of classic Italian dishes, such as black pepper tagliatelle en brodo, meatballs and "gravy" spiked with harissa, and luscious rabbit saltimbocca. Their impressive brick oven cranks out an excellent Neapolitan-style pizza whose crust is crispy and charred crust yet fluffy and chewy. The New Haven-inspired white clam pizza with spicy soppressata is not to be missed.

Boda "Very Thai" Kitchen + Bar

The inviting warmth and aromas that permeate the dining room at Boda are the siren song that has been luring hungry patrons to Longfellow Square for years. It is heresy among the regulars not to begin with a cast-iron skillet of the insanely addictive fried quail eggs, and there is no better contrast to the spicy, crispy squid than the bracingly refreshing papaya salad. Regular specials like Mama&rsquos Fried Chicken, served with sticky rice, and the decidedly moreish Khao Soi pay homage to the street vendors of Bangkok. The late-night menu and extensive drink selection make Boda the preferred haunt for the city&rsquos restaurant workers in need of sustenance.


If you&rsquove ever heard that the quality of great sushi is predominantly based on the quality of the sushi rice, there is no better place to find proof of this theory than at Chef Masa Miyake&rsquos flagship downtown restaurant. Sea urchin served still in its shell, custardy chawanmushi flecked with edible gold leaf, and peculiar broiled Japanese river fish are among the many offerings of the multicourse omakase menu, which places the entire meal at Miyake&rsquos whim. The assortment of sake runs the gamut stylistically and includes a few hard-to-find gems. Finally, it would be unthinkable to conclude the meal with anything but the seared foie gras nigiri with warm plum wine sauce.

Central Provisions

One of the most-appealing things about Central Provisions is that it houses two styles of dining experiences. There is a pronounced difference in ambience between the softly lit upper floor, at the heart of which is the entirely open kitchen, and the more casual tavern feel of the lower level. Regardless of where you decide to perch and down a few Corpse Revivers, you can order the full menu, even the traditional full caviar service. In contrast, the restaurant&rsquos rendition of the chop salad, complete with iceberg lettuce, goes nicely with an order of bone marrow toast. It is certainly worth mentioning that Central Provisions offers weekend brunch, the only time you can get your paws around its Big Foie Burger.

Eventide Oyster Co.

As the name implies, a platter of raw oysters is a prerequisite for any visit to Eventide &mdash there are generally at least a dozen different types, both East Coast and West Coast, served with an array of condiments, such as Tabasco ice. What most of the tourists do not know, however, is that this place serves some of the most-impressive fried fish in the state, lightly pickling the hake to impart a touch of acidity to balance out the ethereal batter. Lastly, the most-critical thing to know is that you are going to want more than one of the Asian-style steamed bun lobster rolls, so order wisely.

The Honey Paw

Drawing on culinary influences from all over Asia, The Honey Paw is the breed of restaurant that is best to go to with a large group. There are two reasons for this: First, you can taste your way through the entire menu and second, if you bring enough of your friends you can fill the entire communal table and not risk having to dine with strangers. Dishes like the Vietnamese masa crepe, served with fried mussels and maple sambal, or the over-the-top smoked lamb khao soi noodles, will never disappoint. The beer list features a who&rsquos who of Maine&rsquos small breweries, and each of their selections will pair nicely with a plate of the fried chicken wings with chile, lime and coconut.


Emilitsa thrives on modernizing Greek cuisine while staying true to the same delicious ingredients found throughout Greece. Dishes like seared dayboat scallops in tomato and ouzo cream sauce with Dodoni feta, as well as whole roasted daurade brushed with high-quality olive oil and lemon juice, embody the true flavors of the Mediterranean with uncanny finesse. The all-Greek wine list is thoughtfully put together and serves as a great intro to a wine culture that most people associate primarily with retsina. The appetizer of chicken livers sauteed with Greek oregano and white balsamic beurre blanc is truly a landmark dish and not to be missed.

LB Kitchen

When Chef Lee Farrington closed her beloved East End restaurant, Figa, in 2014 she vowed she would be back. She kept that promise by opening LB Kitchen, an oasis of cuisine that both tastes good and is geared toward making you feel good. This is apparent from the menu&rsquos invitation to "Drink. All. Day. Long." from an assortment of freshly made juices, superfood smoothies and high-quality coffee. The food offerings include a variety of bowls, such as The Saturday, made with pesto farro, fried egg, housemade ricotta, bacon and coconut oil, while one of the most-popular dishes is The Avocado Addiction, which is essentially avocado toast on (natural, good-for-you) steroids.

Woodford F&B

After fighting traffic on your way up Forest Avenue toward one of Portland&rsquos busiest intersections, the words "Food & Beverage," brilliantly illuminated in neon, will act as the beacon to signal a much-needed pit stop at Woodford F&B. Settle into one of the cozy booths and enjoy French brasserie staples like mussels and fries, country paté, and frisée salad with poached egg, which blend seamlessly with the pure Americana of the thick, smoky brisket cheeseburger and classic deviled eggs. The sleek, urban feel of the bar makes it the rendezvous of choice for those in need of a post-work, icy-cold martini alongside a plate of equally chilled, briny oysters.


After beginning its life as a food truck called CN Shawarma, Baharat has recently gone brick-and-mortar in Portland&rsquos East End, where it has expanded its repertoire of Middle Eastern favorites like kofta, falafel and, obviously, shawarma. This expansion entails a full selection of pickles, like turmeric cauliflower and harissa carrot, as well as the more snack-driven meze, such as za&rsquoatar deviled eggs and crispy fried chickpeas. Those who can&rsquot decide can opt for the All-In, a shareable platter that encompasses the entire menu. Cocktails follow suit, such as the Manhattan Bazaar, made with fig-and-date bourbon, Cardamaro and fig bitters.

Tandem Bakery

While Tandem Coffee Roasters had already established its presence in Portland &mdash offering a wide range of highly complex, single-origin coffees &mdash the arrival of pastry chef Briana Holt took its recognition to an entirely new level. Situated in the West End, the bakery completely redefines the level of pleasure one can attain from biscuits with butter and jam, while producing equally superlative pies, cakes and scones, to name just a few selections. Most Portlanders have memorized the best times of day to procure their breakfast sandwich on a biscuit, which goes quite well with one of the lattes steamed with housemade almond milk.

The Highroller Lobster Co.

Of all the places that you can find a lobster roll in Portland, what makes The Highroller Lobster Co. stand apart? First, one of the owners worked on the docks for years prior to opening this spot, so he has a connection to the freshest lobster, shucked daily. Next, the team commissioned Southside Bakery in South Portland to make custom brioche hot dog rolls, which are, of course, griddled in butter. The sweet, succulent lobster meat is piled high, undressed, with fresh lettuce, and then drizzled with your choice of flavors of their fresh mayo, with choices such as roasted red pepper and jalapeno. Now that, my friend, is a lobster roll.

Izakaya Minato

In Japan, an izakaya is fundamentally a low-key pub, geared toward drinking, that just happens to have an assortment of tasty snacks to accompany said drinking. Minato serves all of the benchmarks, from okonomiyaki, a griddled cabbage pancake, to kara-age, the traditional style of fried chicken made popular in Japan. The small, unassuming bar is true to form, and while regulars can&rsquot get enough of the sashimi plates or kimchi fried rice, most will tell you that the first time you visit, the preferred way to fly is the Omakase. This chef&rsquos choice menu, the low price of which borders on the obscene, serves as the perfect Izakaya 101.

Isa Bistro

Tucked into Portland&rsquos East Bayside neighborhood, Isa is an urban oasis of sorts, co-owned by husband-and-wife team Isaul Perez and Suzie St. Pierre. St. Pierre brings with her not only extensive front-of-house experience but also an impressive background in wine, while Perez impeccably combines training in French and Italian cookery with dishes inspired by his Mexican heritage. This means dishes like tagliatelle Bolognese, lobster tostada and their shaved-fennel salad with grapefruit, pecorino and mint.

Hot Suppa

Though the name seems somewhat vague at first, after your first meal here "Hot Suppa" starts to make a lot more sense. The menu is essentially the definition of comfort food, inspired by places as varied as Maine, Montreal and Louisiana, and it is a rare occasion to arrive for brunch &mdash served seven days a week, at any hour &mdash and not experience a wait for a table. Eggs Benedict with velvety BBQ pulled pork, sweet Belgian waffles, and country sides like fried green tomatoes and proper stone-ground grits anchor the brunch offerings. Dinner features equally bold choices, such as fried catfish and the nuclear inferno that is the Nashville Hot Chicken.

Empire Chinese Kitchen

There are few things more enjoyable than the opulent, focused essences of a great Cantonese stir-fry, resulting largely from what cooks from this region of China refer to as wok hay, which translates roughly to "the breath of the wok." This is evident in Empire&rsquos kale and noodles, which essentially takes four ingredients and transforms them into magic, as it also is in their chicken and salt cod fried rice. The dim sum menu is best enjoyed with a Dragon Milk, made with jasmine-infused gin, cream of coconut, pandan syrup and club soda. If you order the hot-and-sour soup, be sure to ask for a side of the housemade chili sauce.

Drifters Wife

The space that now houses Drifters Wife was formerly co-owners Orenda and Peter Hale&rsquos wine shop, Maine & Loire, which was known for its slant toward natural wines. Now, after moving the shop just beyond the edge of the dining room, the Hales have teamed up with Chef Ben Jackson to offer a small, constantly changing menu that, as you may have guessed, is built to pair with wine. A sampling of dishes includes local lamb with cranberry beans and artichokes as well as fresh swordfish with marinated eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. It did not take this restaurant long to attain national recognition, and with good reason.

The Back Bay Grill

Chef-Owner Larry Matthews is revered among diners and colleagues alike, as there are few restaurants as iconic in Portland as The Back Bay Grill. Although the menu changes with the seasons, there are certain elements, like seared Hudson Valley foie gras, that always remain (albeit with different accompaniments), lest their disappearance start a riot among the loyal patrons. Technique-driven dishes like the sausage-stuffed chicken leg and the grilled rack of lamb conjure up a lost era of supper club dining that befits the supple leather banquettes, and the level of service and hospitality here is second to none throughout the city.

Cong Tu Bot

The minimalist space, highlighted by the muted pastels that are quite common in the many noodle shops of Saigon, provides a perfect backdrop for updated Vietnamese classics at Cong Tu Bot. Bun cha, chilled vermicelli noodles, are augmented with umami-rich sausage patties laced with bacon, burnt caramel and mushroom powder, plus a hint of chicken schmaltz to make it extra rich, while the pho ga (chicken pho) is built in a style more typical of ramen, using a very focused, intense chicken broth and &mdash you guessed it &mdash more schmaltz. A wide variety of vegan-friendly options do not fall short on decadence or intensity of flavor, like the ca ri chay, rice noodles in an aromatic yellow curry with roasted vegetables and miso-caramel mushrooms.

The Purple House

Though it may seem off the beaten path, nestled out in the woods of North Yarmouth, the consistent line spilling out of the door at Chef Krista Desjarlais&rsquo small wood-oven bakery should signal that it&rsquos worth the drive. Her Montreal-style wood-fired bagels go fast, but those who wait patiently for another batch to come out of the fire are rewarded. In the meantime, nibble on one of the day&rsquos superlative pastries, such as chocolate financier cakes and blackberry-peach galettes. As the lunch hour approaches, the kitchen turns out formidable slabs of Roman-style pizza al taglio with numerous toppings, as well as housemade ice cream.

Gorgeous Gelato

The key to great gelato is truly capturing the essence of the main ingredient and, in turn, making it so decadent as to cause your eyes to roll back in your head after every bite. With so few ingredients involved, it goes without saying that they have to be of very high quality. Gorgeous Gelato sources the best milk from local farms while procuring other ingredients from the places where they thrive. This means pistachios imported from Sicily and hazelnuts from Piedmont, for example. In the tradition of great Italian gelaterias, there is a full selection of aperitifs, and espresso to pull it together afterward.


Named after a small mining town in southwest Texas, which just so happens to be the home of America&rsquos foremost chili cook-off, Terlingua focuses on small-batch BBQ and Tex-Mex fare. The ribs, pork shoulder, brisket and chicken are rubbed down with the house spice mix and slow-smoked until insanely tender &mdash and have become so popular that the locals know to arrive in the early evening to make sure they get their fix before it&rsquos all gone. Others come for the house chili, served in both a green and a red variety, as well as tamales, tacos and flaky empanadas filled with mushrooms, greens and fresh local cheese.

The cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get go, making its mark with a great granite trough of pristine oysters, inventive cocktails, and a menu that ranges from crudo and charcuterie to baked beans and biscuits — as well as what may be the state's most innovative lobster roll. Eater critic Bill Addison recognized the restaurant's many strengths with an inclusion on his national 38 list.

Chef/owner Rob Evans won a James Beard Award and "Chopped," but left high-end Hugo's to concentrate on his palace of poutine and duck confit panini. The wait, almost guaranteed even in the off-season, will be well worth it.

Where (and What) to Eat Outdoors in Portland, Maine

As spring slowly approaches, and as eaters begin itching to get outside and dine al fresco, patio dining in Portland, Maine is re–emerging. The City of Portland has expanded its rules for outdoor spaces, which means diners will find more open-air options than in previous years. After a snowy (and freezing cold) winter, who doesn’t want to take advantage of as much time in the sun as possible?

Head to South Portland for great pub food and beer, East Portland for BBQ and Tex-Mex, West Portland for French and Spanish food, and more. (Portland isn’t only lobster rolls, after all. But by all means, head to Eventide, Highroller Lobster Co., or the Lobster Shack at Two Lights — when it reopens in May — sit outside, and devour a lobster roll. When in Maine. )

For folks who still don’t feel comfortable dining out, many of the restaurants on this map offer takeout and delivery. Grab something to-go, along with a bottle of something good to drink (the Juice Caboose, which delivers wine to people’s doorsteps, is a great new addition to the Portland food and beverage scene), and dine outside on a sunny patch of grass, or even a stoop.

Without further ado, here’s where (and what) to eat outdoors in Portland.

Please note that a number of restaurants in Maine have resumed dine-in service. However, this should not be taken as an endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in Maine, please visit the state’s coronavirus website.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. Visit the state’s website for up-to-date information about COVID-19 safety guidelines for restaurants.

The 30 Best Places To Eat And Drink In Portland, ME

After months of being closed, Portland restaurants have been allowed to reopen. Check out the list of Portland Restaurants Reopened For Outdoor Dining for up-to-date info. We’ve also noted below which restaurants on this guide are currently open for takeout or outdoor dining, or are currently closed due to the pandemic.

In 1857, the mayor of Portland, William Willis, decided he was tired of eating lobster three times a day and that the city needed more restaurants. He decreed, from that day forth Portland must have excellent options for things like a group dinner before a show at Port City Music Hall, impressing a date near Casco Bay, or ordering ice cream by the kilo. OK, none of that is true, but we really like the name William Willis and have no better explanation for why there are so many great places to eat in a city as small as Portland, Maine.

So whether you’re here to buy a mug that says Vacationland and eat enough seafood to get mistaken for an aquarium worker with an agenda, or you finally realized that it’s time to branch out from your go-to place in the Old Port, our guide has all the restaurants and bars you’ll need.

Blue Ox Saloon

61 Penobscot Ave., Millinocket, Maine

Blue Ox Saloon Blue Ox Saloon/Official Site

Drive north to Millinocket, the gateway to Katahdin, to find the beloved Blue Ox, a true mill-town bar packed with ephemera of past hunting and ski seasons. The menu is straightforward with burgers and hot dogs, as well as taps filled with local beer. It is a great spot to take a load off after exploring outdoors or running the early-December Millinocket Marathon. Saloons like the Blue Ox are some of the best places to see and interact with locals when you are exploring Maine — and doing it with great pub food and drink doesn’t hurt, either.

Award-winning Chefs

Maine foodies are proud of the state’s vibrant, creative food scene, which is continuously earning accolades for its world-class chefs and restaurants. Portland—which Bon Appetit magazine named the “Best Restaurant City of the Year” in 2018—is home to four of the state’s six winners of the coveted James Beard Award.

Sam Hayward, of Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, has won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast and Fore Street has also been a semi-finalist for “Outstanding Restaurant” from the James Beard Foundation every year since 2011.

Hayward has also paired up with renowned chef Dana Street of Street & Company to open Scales, and this Portland dream team created another winner.

Rob Evans won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast when he was the owner of Hugo’s in Portland. He went on to open Duckfat, a three-time Food Network Chopped Champion restaurant, and one of Portland’s favorite spots for locally sourced foods.

In 2017, Eventide Oyster Co. chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley won a James Beard Award in the Best Chef of the Northeast category. Taylor and Wiley also own two other Portland restaurants—the long-popular Hugo’s and The Honey Paw, their newest creation.

Melissa Kelly was already a James Beard Award winner when she came to Maine to open Primo in Rockland. She has won two awards for Best Chef in the Northeast and Primo has been the standard for farm-to-table dining in Maine ever since.

Not all winners are chefs though. In 2019, Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing Company in Portland won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer.

Maine’s roster of amazing chefs and restaurants are often semifinalists for James Beard Awards like Alison Pray of Standard Baking Co., the classic for fine dining—Back Bay Grill, and Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell’s Palace Diner. Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais has been nominated numerous times, most recently for The Purple House in North Yarmouth. Other semifinalists include Vien Dobui of Cong Tu Bot and Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Suzuki’s Sushi Bar.