Foodie's Guide To Portland Maine - Where To Dine and Wine
Portland, the 2018 Restaurant City of the year according to Bon Appetit Magazine, surely lives up to its title. On my recent trip to Maine - in partnership with Visit Maine - I went on daily forages for the best and tastiest food in Portland - and wow, was I impressed. The common theme among the restaurants was fresh local ingredients in the hands of great artisans - a combo that ensures delicious food. Portland is undoubtedly a city no foodie should skip.
For such a small town, Portland has more restaurants that you could try in just a weekend trip - trust me, I tried. But don’t stress! I have narrowed down the best restaurants in Portland as well as locals' highly recommended spots that you must try when visiting the foodie town.
The Best Fancy Places To Wine and Dine in Portland Maine
288 Fore Street, Portland
Let's start with a local institution. Fore Street offers fresh and locally sourced ingredients cooked in an apple-wood-fired oven - If that doesn’t get your taste buds tingling, I don’t know what will. The daily deliveries to the kitchen extend far beyond lobster and blueberries; so you can be assured a great mix of fresh seafood, vegetables, and meat for their daily dishes. Their dessert menu is crafted as attentive as their main courses. With their ice cream and chocolate prepared in-house, Fore Street offers excellent dining experience from beginning to end.
Note: Reservation is highly recommended. But if they are fully booked, don’t worry. They have a section reserved for walk-in only. Show up early to grab a spot.
414 Fore Street, Portland
The darling of Portland's restaurant scene, Central Provisions is a must when in town. Serving a variety of small plates - which only means you get to try different dishes - the rustic chic restaurant offers a modern twist to the melting pot of what American cuisine is. Among its stands-out are the suckling pig, bone marrow toast, peekytoe crab salad, and crispy fried pork. Even their bread and butter is mind-blowing according to some patrons.
593 Congress Street, Portland
Serving only organic and locally sourced ingredients, Vinland draws from indigenous food tradition and what it is to go back to basics – some people call it the Noma of Maine. Do I need to say more?
33 Wharf Street, Portland
Another crowd pleaser, Street and Co. is famous for a reason. Step in and smell the intoxicating food aroma – it will put you on a foodie high. Fresh seafood plus in-house made delicious dessert? Sign me up! People keep coming back for their Lobster Fra Diavolo – a pasta feast you can share or have it all to yourself.
Note: Make sure to make reservations way in advance. If you don't, you can still make it. 1/3 of the restaurant is reserved for walk-in.
11 Free St., Portland
Sur Lie is a great place to enjoy different dishes of contemporary American cuisine – tapa style. They also offer a great selection of beers and cocktails. Talking about drinks, they have a cocktail named Prisoner of Azkaban!
Best Places To Have Lunch In Portland Maine
72 Commercial St #5, Portland
Looking for something more casual? Enters Flatbread Company - famous for its wood-fired pizzas with organic ingredients & free-range meats, made in traditional clay ovens. If you are vegan, great news, they have a vegan pizza! This place was highly recommended to us by different locals.
106 High Street, Portland
Little Tap House is another highly recommended restaurant by a local. This is a no-fuss no-frill kind of place. Just come for a delicious meal, a few drinks, and hang out with the locals.
15 Exchange St, Portland
If you are in a hurry and need something quick but without the calories, check out B.Good, a health-conscious version of fast-food. We found this place by accident when we wanted to grab a quick bite. They offer a variety of fresh and seasonal salads but, if you are looking for something meatier, they also offer all-natural (no hormones or antibiotics) burgers. With locally sourced ingredients, the food is guaranteed fresh and feels far from any regular fast food chain.
Where To Get The Best Lobster in Portland Maine
Wondering where to find the best lobster in Portland? Basically, you can't go wrong ordering lobster anywhere in Portland, Maine. After all, lobster is the official crustacean of Maine. But if you are looking for the best of the best, here are some of the local places famed for their lobster dishes.
180 Commercial St., Portland
Voted as the Best Lobster Roll in Portland by locals, Portland Lobster Co. offers no-frills and simply delicious lobster dishes. The restaurant offers daily fresh catch and the very best casual dockside dining experience and harbor view in all of Portland. Come for the lobster and stay for the view!
25 Long Wharf, Portland
Former car-ferry turned restaurant, DiMilo’s On The Water was highly recommended by locals. Although I was hesitant at first for its gimmicky housing, the DiMillo's Style Lobster Mac & Cheese won me over – the ratio of mac & cheese and lobster was the most generous I have ever seen.
86 Middle Street, Portland
Come in and get the quintessential oyster bar experience. The ultra-popular bar offers a wide range of fresh oysters, shellfish, and other bites – but the shining star will always be the lobster. Though very New England, the kitchen plays with multicultural flavors that add an extra touch to their dishes.
Note: Make sure to make reservation 72 hours in advance.
123 Washington Ave, Portland
Want fresh oysters? Go to the source! The Shop by Island Creek Oysters is a wholesale buying station for restaurants across the US. Grab a few and take it to go or slurp them on-site accompanied by a cold glass of wine or beer. They have a great selection of different type of oysters so not only will you be guaranteed freshness, but you also get to try a different kind of oysters.
Where To Get Coffee and Breakfast in Portland Maine
742 Congress St., Portland
Ask a local where to find the best coffee in Portland and without a doubt, they will point you to Tandem Coffee - a cozy coffee place where you can have delicious baked goods and sip coffee amid locals.
123 Washington Ave, Portland
In search of great bagels? Forage Market is the place. Their famous and delicious bagels are created the old fashion way - with fresh and simple ingredients, no additives, or unnecessary chemicals. It all starts with a dough of flour, water, malt, and salt. The bagels are hand-rolled and aged for two days. Then, it's naturally leavened with their own wild yeast starter, followed by the boiling process, and then baked next to the hardwood fire. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
2 Free St, Portland
The old building, brick wall, mosaic floor, and high benches make Arabica coffee the place to enjoy a coffee or two. You can either have it to go, but I highly recommend sitting by the floor-to-ceiling window and enjoy the art of people-watching. It has a great atmosphere, and the coffee will appease any coffee snob.
7 Exchange St., Portland
Holy Donut is one of those places that need no introduction. Before traveling to Portland, I knew I wanted to stop here for their famous donuts. Don't let the long lines deter you, it moves fast, and it's certainly worth the wait. My favorite flavors are the sugar & cinnamon and the dark chocolate & sea salt.
Farm to table
You may have noticed by now that many of the restaurants in Portland source their ingredients locally - which I think more restaurants, should do. But there’s also a growing movement of farm to table in Maine that you should definitely try.
21 Wells Rd. Cape Elizabeth
Most of the ingredients at The Well come from Jordan's Farm and surrounding farms in Cape Elizabeth. It's a very unique experience that you have to try if you are visiting Maine. It's outside of Portland but, you can add it to your itinerary when visiting Portland Head Lighthouse - it's only 11 minutes away.
Tip: Reservations are highly recommended