Saturday, June 22, 2013

Portland, Maine- Dining and Drinking Recommendations From A Professional From Boston (Updated 9/30/15)

Welcome to Portland!  We all know this is one of the best day or weekend trip destinations in  New England, with great dining and drinking spots.  My goal with this post is to highlight the best spots in the restaurant and bar scene in Portland, from a Boston restaurant industry professional's point of view.  Hopefully this list will help you enjoy your next visit, and I'll try to revise it as time goes by!  


Scratch bakery in South Portland, incredible bagels and bialys.
Porthole (local joint on the water, huge portions of solid breakfast food, full bar) 
Bayside American Cafe (Formerly Bintliff's- more gourmet, think mango-stuffed french toast).


Duckfat for rich sandwiches and duckfat fries.
Portland Lobster Company for fried stuff or lobster, on a deck over the water,sometimes with a band.  Warm weather only.
Miyake's PaiMen Ramen spot for awesome pork buns, good sushi, decent ramen. 
Eventide Oyster Co. (lunch and dinner) excellent for raw bar (get the kimchi ice with the oysters), brunch and lunch. also recommend crudos, brunch cauliflower dish, hot buttered lobster roll, breakfast bun, and whole maine shrimp when in season.
Fishermen's Grill Lobster rolls here are made with lobster picked to order, so it takes 20-30 mins, but it's soooo worth it.
East Ender (lunch and dinner) great food, beer, wine, and cocktails, next door to Duckfat.


Street and Co. Older Portland standard, same owners as Fore Street.  Great for oysters and champagne at the bar before dinner somewhere else
Central Provisions (lunch and dinner) Inspired food from Chris Gould, formerly of Uni in Boston
Fore Street (same owners as Street and Co) (VERY IMPORTANT- sit at bar, stick to all of the small plates and charcuterie.  Order all of them.   Will the dark haired bartender with glasses is incredibly knowledgeable and hospitable)
Miyake (crazy good sushi/omakase tasting menu).  
555 (very good, new american)
Emilitsa Excellent Greek food, nice atmosphere, Greek wines.
Boda Excellent Thai food, cute place, half-price menu available after 9:30.
Bill's Pizza This is your 1:30am late-night pizza spot


The Top Of the East, on the top floor of the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel (formerly known as the Eastland Park Hotel). Come here to the 15th floor of the hotel for a nighttime whiskey and a view of the whole city from the top floor of the hotel, which is on the highest point of the city, good stuff.
Central Provisions Also a restaurant, but the bartenders make a mean cocktail.
Portland Hunt and Alpine Club is a new cocktail bar on Market Street.  Easily the most serious cocktails in town.
Novare Res Belgian beer bar, hundreds, they have a beer garden.  Top 5 beer bars in New England.
Portland Lobster Co. Their outdoor bar on the deck is sunny and on the water, often with live music.
Porthole Their outdoor deck and bar often have live music, also on the water.
Sebago brewpub, Gritty McDuff's brewpub, Shipyard brewery tour.
Great Lost Bear is supposed to be a great beer bar, haven't been there though.
Bull Feeney's Irish bar, with incredible whiskey selection, all sorts.  Irish food, live music in the summer.
Bonfire Country bar.  Heavily-themed, lots of drunk young people. 
Empire Dine and Dance (often live music)
Sonny's is a solid cocktail/beer bar. 
Rivalries Sports Bar
Brian Boru Public House
If you want to get down and dirty with the locals at the bar, check out Rosie's, Mama's Crowbar (Cash only, beer only), Shay's Pub, J's Oyster (only order steamers if anything, no oysters!!!), DiMillo's Floating Restaurant (bar), Fore Play Sports Pub, or for that matter any other place that looks grimy.

Other honorable mentions

Grace has good food and drinks, AMAZING atmosphere (was a church before), worth visiting. 
Vignola for a glass of wine before dinner, all glass windows in front, good list.  
Shopping at Leroux kitchen, Black Tie Market, and Aurora Provisions
Yosaku has good sushi as well.  
Ri Ra Irish Pub is a chain but decent irish bar. 
LFK Think Fernet, PBR, burgers, looks pretty chill. I hear the burger is solid.  

On my list, yet to try:

The Snug cozy bar on East End
The Dogfish Bar and Grille
Slainte Pub
Matthew's Pub
Ruski's local dive bar, open early, food
The Bearded Lady's Jewelry Box Nathaniel Meiklejohn's new cocktail bar
Vinland Strictly local dinner menu (no olive oil, black pepper, or lemon!)
Tao Yuan Dumpling house, opening soon in old West End Deli space next to old Miyake space.
Schulte and Herr BYOB German restaurant
Hot Suppa Breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails
Blue Rooster Sandwiches, hot dogs, tater tots, all gourmet
Piccolo Italian fine dining, tiny spot, from owners of Blue Rooster.
Public Market House for deli sandwiches
Small Axe food truck. Breakfast and Lunch.
In'finiti brewery/distillery/restaurant.
Becky's Diner Breakfast every day.
Holy Donut
Dutch's for breakfast and lunch
Susan's Fish n Chips
Taco Trio
Honey Paw World noodles and stuff
Tempo Dulu Indonesian/french
The Lobster Shack
Market Street Eats breakfast and lunch
Snow Squall
Elsmere BBQ and Wood Grill

Hope this is helpful, and feel free to email me with any questions or suggestions!

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