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Let’s talk about one of the East Coast’s cutest cities, Portland, Maine. Despite growing up on the East Coast just outside of NYC, I hadn’t visited Maine in over 10 years until this summer. Despite its small size, there is tons of do, and even more incredible places to eat. The city, and neighboring towns, possess a coastal charm that few other places do. And with it comes some of the best seafood in the US. Read on to find out the best restaurants in Portland, Maine.
The Best Restaurants in Portland, Maine
Shockingly, the first restaurant on this list actually isn’t a seafood spot. However, it is definitely on the best restaurants in Portland, Maine nonetheless. I was a bit hesitant to try it out, as it had been quite hyped up by quite a few people. But let me tell you, this is a spot that you shouldn’t miss! Their Crispy Shallot and Broccolini Panini, with Raclette cheese and a tomato sofritto, is one of the best sandwiches that I’ve ever eaten. A crowd pleaser for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
A few other more popular items on their menu include the fries, the poutine, and anything with duck!
I recommend making a reservation ahead of time, as they are just about always busy. However, if you can’t swing a reservation, there is a sister location about a 15 minute walk away.
Price: Paninis range from $11-14 USD, with their salads priced similarly
Lobster Shack at Two Lights (one of the best restaurants in Portland, Maine)
This was the first place that I ate at when I arrived in Portland it was definitely one of my favorites of the trip. I even suggested that we head back over for a second meal. This lobster shack is located just outside of the Portland city center, in Cape Elizabeth.
Personally, I think lobster rolls are a bit overrated. Yes, I said it! But, this spot does serve up what is voted to be one of the best lobster rolls in Maine. It is served with just a dollop of mayo on top, so you can enjoy all of the lobster deliciousness.
However, my real recommendation is to order the full Lobster Dinner. Priced at $25 USD when I was there, you get a large lobster, coleslaw, fries, and a biscuit. Not to mention, you can enjoy it with the best view at a picnic table right on the water.
Price: Lobster Dinner for $25, Lobster Roll for $17.99 (subject to change based on Market Price)
We had attempted to grab a table at Eventide, which is often listed as one of the best restaurants in Portland, Maine, but after hearing the words “3 hour wait” we made our way down to the water for some oysters from J’s instead. Located in Downtown Portland, right on the water, it is hard to go bad with anything on the menu.
You would be missing out if you didn’t try some of their famous Maine raw oysters, but throw in an order of clam steamers as well. The steamers are served with melted butter and a dipping broth, as is traditional in Portland, Maine.
Price: $28 for a Baker’s Dozen of Maine oysters (cheaper for a mixed dozen), $17.50 for a Regular Bucket of Steamed Clams
Gilbert’s Chowder House
I wish that we had visited during the day so the photo that I took of my Super Seafood Chowder in a bread bowl could do it justice. While their other dishes were admittedly a bit underwhelming, their chowder is definitely the star the show.
The Super Seafood Chowder is a mix of haddock, shrimp, clams, and lobster, served in as a delicious creamy chowder.
Price: $16.95 for the Super Seafood Chowder in a bread bowl, cheaper options and sizes available
Tandem Coffee and Bakery
If you’re looking for a delicious, sugar-filled breakfast, this is your spot! The interior is absolutely adorable, but it is also a great option for grabbing some takeaway. Their cold brews are super strong, and their Chai Latte with homemade macadamia nut milk hit the spot after an evening with a few drinks. Their most popular options are their loaded biscuit and their lemon blueberry poppy scones, both delicious! I’ve also heard great things about their cinnamon buns!
The Works Cafe
The Works Cafe is a simple cafe in Downtown Portland that is great for picking up a quick breakfast or lunch, when you’re not in the mood for seafood. They have a great selection of bagels, bowls, and sandwiches. All of their dining options are quick and affordable. This is perfect to grab takeout before heading over to one of the lighthouses or to the beach. I enjoyed my breakfast at the Portland Head Light!
I recommend the everything bagel with one of their speciality shmeers. A bagel with cream cheese should only set you back a buck or two, while their sandwiches and bowls are mostly under $10.
Okay this is a little bonus entry because is it not actually in Portland, Maine, so I am cheating a bit. But during our trip to Portland we decided to take a little drive up to Camden (full blog post coming soon). Camden is located about 2 hours north of Portland, a small coastal town.
We were recommended by a friend to visit Marinner’s and it was truly one of the best meals that we had while in Maine. Therefore, it only felt fair that we included in in this guide on the best restaurants in Portland, Maine. Plus, the location is amazing, with a deck that faces a little man-made waterfall.
I had the clam roll which was perfect, but the true star of the show was the haddock chowder. Mark my words, I will be going back to Camden just to get another bowl of this chowder. If you’re spending the night, the pancakes are rumored to be out of this world!
Best Breweries in Portland, Maine
In addition to incredible food, Portland, Maine is also home to some of the best breweries in the country. A few of my favorites include Lone Pine and Oxbox. There are also a lot of places in the area that brew kombucha, which of course I was excited about. Do not miss out on picking up some cans of kombucha from Root Wild Kombucha!
Oxbow Blending and Bottling
I was a huge fan of Oxbow’s beers! Their location is also conveniently located right next door to DuckFat’s frite house, which obviously pairs perfectly with a good beer. I recommend trying one of their IPAs on draft for an all around great beer.
Lone Pine Brewery
Lone Pine is another great option if you want to try out a local beer. You’ll find their standard ale served at most restaurants in town, but it is always more fun to visit the breweries. They have an outdoor space with a few picnic tables set up if you want to enjoy your beer at the location. They also have a number of their beers available by the can for takeaway.
I definitely recommend trying one of their sours. Their raspberry sour, the Raspberry Sparkler, was one of the best beers that I’ve tried!
There are still SO many restaurants in Portland, Maine that we didn’t get to try, but I have heard that The Highroller Lobster Co and Green Elephant are two other can’t miss spots. Unfortunately, both were closed when we were in town, but you know that we’ll be back to try them! Be sure to leave your choices for the best restaurants in Portland, Maine below in the comments!
Traveling in the Northeast US? Here are some other articles that you should check out:
- The 8 Best Things to do in New Paltz, NY
- A Guide to the Siamese Ponds Wilderness
- A Local’s Guide to NYC
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