The Best Food and Drink in Maine for 2018 Gallery from The Best Food and Drink in Maine for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Maine for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Maine for 2018 Gallery
Maine is undeniably the perfect spot to enjoy fresh seafood, juicy lobster, and bursting blueberries. However, the easternmost state in the U.S. is also home to many restaurants and bars specializing in far more than just stereotypical Maine fare. Prepare to be amazed by all that Maine has to offer with our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Maine is home to one of the best beers in the entire world, some of the freshest and most authentic Italian pasta and pizza dishes, and of course really great seafood. If you live there, you likely already know this; if you don’t it’s pretty hard not to scroll through this slideshow and decide to make “spend a summer eating in Maine” one of your New Year’s resolutions.
Wondering how we collected all this info on the Pine Tree State? After comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs, we’ve been able to make definitive slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state.
Best Bar: Ebenezer’s Pub, Lovell
While Portland is one of the cities with the most bars and restaurants in the country, we ended up selecting a Maine spot that’s basically in the middle of nowhere. However, many say it’s worth the trip. Ebenezer’s Pub has 35 Belgian beers on tap in addition to 700 bottles of different vintages. Its signature beverage is the Black Albert, an award-winning, filthy-rich royal imperial stout that was brewed specifically for the bar by craft brewers De Struise. The pub also serves lambic and gueuze, Belgian beer styles seldom seen outside their native country. There is a wide variety of cuisines on offer, too, from local favorite lobster rolls to modern gastropub fare.
Best Chinese Restaurant : Empire Chinese Kitchen, Portland
Portland is a food lover’s paradise, and locals know that Empire is the place to go for the best Chinese food in town. Packed every night of the week, the restaurant occupies the space that was previously home to Portland’s first high-end Chinese restaurant (The Empire, which was in business from 1916 to 1953), and it serves its memory well.
Along with a wide variety of expertly prepared dim sum, it also offers traditional Chinese soul food made with locally sourced ingredients, including Peking duck buns, boneless barbecue pork, wonton soup with duck broth, bacon fried rice, and whole wok-fried lobster with house-made broad rice noodles. To start, don’t miss the lobster Rangoon. Find more details on Empire Chinese Kitchen here.
Allagash Brewing Company
Best Craft Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company, Portland
Allagash Brewing Company is known best for the Belgian influence in their beer, something founder Rob Tod thought was missing in American brewing culture. Before each beer is bottled, a fresh dose of yeast and candi sugar (a Belgian invert sugar) is added, so that when it is put in a temperature-regulated cellar it re-ferments to add a unique taste. This attention to detail and focus on quality is exactly why Allagash continues to be a fan favorite.
Let Them Eat Cake
Best Cupcakes: Let Them Eat Cake, Kennebunk
Specializing in event cupcakes, Let Them Eat Cake artfully combines personalized creations with signature flavors for truly beautiful cupcakes. They come in a variety of flavors, beginning with almond white cake and ranging all the way to ginger peach as well as pumpkin and peanut butter.
Best Dive Bar: Bubba’s Sulky Lounge, Portland
Bubba's Sulky Lounge in Portland has antiques seemingly everywhere — hanging from the ceilings, sitting on the bar, and bolted to the walls. If that isn’t character enough for you, you’ll find plenty of cheap drinks and locals during the day. At night, the dance floor lights up and ‘80s music pumps through the speakers for a dance party that is not to be missed.
Best Doughnuts: Congdon’s Doughnuts, Wells
This roadside diner and doughnut shop opened in 1945 and has persevered through tragedy and fire to continue to turn out classic breakfasts, lunches, and more than 30 doughnut varieties. The doughnuts are made fresh throughout the day, and we can’t speak highly enough of the blueberry jelly flavor. It’s filled with fresh blueberry jam, topped with powdered sugar, and will have you looking for excuses to go to Wells again and again. For more information on Congdon’s Doughnuts, click here.
Courtesy of Cape Ann Farmer’s Market
Best Farmers Market: Cape Ann Farmers’ Market, Gloucester
In addition to local food and crafts, such as Trupiano’s sausage, which some claim is the best in the area, and dog collars specially designed for the beach, there’s plenty to see at the Cape Ann Farmers’ Market. You can enjoy live music, educational booths, weekly activities for kids, cooking demonstrations, and seafood throw-down cooking contests.
Best Food Truck: Bite Into Maine, Multiple Locations
Enjoy six styles of lobster rolls at Bite Into Maine, using the freshest locally sourced Maine lobsters, bread, and butter for each. Styles include Connecticut, Maine, curry, wasabi, chipotle, and their “signature picnic style” — which comes with coleslaw as the lobster’s base, celery salt, and hot butter. From the truck’s location you’ll have an oceanside view of the Portland Headlight. Although Bite Into Maine’s two food trucks close for the winter, they reopen every spring for lobster lovers to flock to, and a brick-and-mortar location in Scarborough operates all year round. When you visit, be sure to get one of their seasonal desserts and a Moxie soda to wash it all down.
Best French Fries: Duckfat, Portland
When a restaurant is called Duckfat, you can get a hunch right off the bat that its fries are going to be pretty good. And at this 11-year-old Portland sandwich shop, the fries are hand-cut throughout the day from local Maine potatoes and fried in — yes — duck fat. Tossed in seasoning salt and served in a cone with your choice of eight homemade dipping sauces, these fries are what dreams are made of. If you’re wondering what sort of sorcery created these fries, it’s worth knowing that Duckfat is actually an offshoot of Portland’s legendary Hugo’s, and chef-owner Rob Evans has won the Food & Wine Award for Best New Chef and the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast.
Best Fish and Chips: Susan’s Fish-n-Chips, Portland
The team behind the venerable Susan’s, a local favorite in Portland since 1989, has the art of frying seafood down to a science. Whole belly clams, lobster tails on a stick, and even ice cream is fried at this no-frills clam shack, and the free coffee, $2.50 fish sandwich special, and hugely portioned $11 lobster rolls have some wondering whether owner Susan Ecklund is insane or just very generous (she’s just generous). But as the name implies, the fish and chips are the must-try: huge fillets of fresh cod are coated in their signature batter and deep-fried until golden brown, then served with a heaping pile of fries. If you’re looking for even more evidence about how wacky this place is, you can even BYOF (bring your own fish) and Ecklund will fry it for you for $5.
Best Hot Dogs: Simone’s Hot Dog Stand, Lewiston
This is a vivid, dark red pork dog, on the small side, steamed and served on a warmed bun (grilled dogs are available on request). Cheese, sauerkraut, and chili are available here, but the traditional condiments are relish, onion, and ketchup. One unusual touch: A shaker of celery salt is offered along with the salt and pepper. Simone's has been selling dogs and other simple fare since 1908, and judging from the photos on the wall, every politician in or from New England has been here at one point or another. Find more details on Simone’s here.
Best Italian Restaurant: Paciarino, Portland
At this pasta-centric Portland favorite, pastas and sauces are made fresh daily, meat is all-natural and locally sourced when possible, and ingredients are of the highest quality available. All of this translates to some spectacular dishes, including a perfect and simple spaghetti pomodoro, ravioli bolognese, lasagna, and spaghetti aglio e olio. It’s very difficult to make these classic pasta dishes in a way that stands out, and Paciarino hits the nail on the head.
Five Islands Lobster Co.
Best Lobster Roll: Five Islands, Georgetown
One of the most picturesque spots in all of Maine also happens to be home to a little shack that’s serving the state’s best lobster roll. Lobsters are pulled right out of the water throughout the day and go directly into boiling water; the lobster you’re eating was most likely in the sea an hour beforehand. From there it’s de-shelled, coated with a tiny bit of mayo, and tucked into a toasted bun with a little lettuce. It’s the lobster that really shines here, and it’s good enough to eat without the bun, dunked into some butter. But as a complete lobster roll, the nearly 10-ounce Big Boy, eaten outdoors with a stunningly picturesque view, isn’t just the perfect lobster roll; it’s the perfect lobster roll-eating experience.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Taco Escobarr, Portland
Portland has no shortage of great restaurants (it’s got the highest number of restaurants per capita in the country, supposedly), but Taco Escobarr is the spot with the best Mexican! The always-busy restaurant is best known for their tacos, margaritas, and fun décor. So grab a drink and prepare to wait in line — it’s worth it.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Hugo’s, Portland
Located in Portland’s hopping India Street neighborhood, the upscale Hugo’s has been going strong since 1988. Main courses tend to stay in the below-$30 range (unless you opt for the $90 90-day dry-aged rib-eye), but guests in the know opt for the $90 “Blind Tasting,” which requires the participation of the entire table. Accompanying wine pairings cost $75.
Best Pasta Dish: Lobster Diavolo at Street & Co., Portland
Portland has no shortage of stellar dining options, but there’s one lobster dish that the locals will tell you is a must-try: the Lobster Diavolo for Two at Street & Co., quite possibly the best seafood pasta on the Eastern Seaboard. Garlicky, buttery linguine is topped with mussels, clams, calamari, and a whole grilled lobster. Scoop out the tomalley and mix it into the pasta sauce, and spend the next 20 minutes in seafood pasta bliss. Find more details on Street & Co. here.
Best Pizza: Micucci Grocery Store, Portland
Micucci Grocery was opened in 1951 by Leo and Iris Micucci, and has been family-operated ever since. The best reason to visit this Portland icon is in back, up the stairs to the left, where “slabs” of American-interpreted Sicilian-style pizza are baked and set on shelves.
The word “slabs” doesn’t do these slices justice — a curious hybrid for sure, they’re nowhere as heavy as the gut-bombs most descriptions convey. Half-again bigger than the conventional Sicilian, and just as thick (if wetter and more doughy), Micucci’s slabs may not be authentic Italian, but they feel like an idealized iteration of the focaccia style you’ve always sought but never experienced.
Imagine a fluffy, light focaccia that’s doughy and a bit wetter than most with layers of bubbles. There’s a scattering of Italian herbs with cheese rivulets and sauce undercurrents around raised puffy sections of dough. There’s no undercrust to speak of, but crispy cheese in places, especially the edges.
It’s not pizza in any other traditional regional American sense, nor can you say it’s precisely Italian. But there’s something intensely right and satisfying about it.
Best Sandwich: Lobster Roll at Red’s Eats, Wiscasset
The line is long and, as a New York Times article documented, the wait begins in your car on the one-lane lead-up to Red’s Eats and the bridge. It hasn’t endeared tourists to locals. But that wait will definitely be worth it. The roll itself is heaping with fresh, wet lobster — so much that it falls all over. It tastes just-cooked and picked, and it’s a great deal. No dressing. Get butter (warmed in a kettle on the stove) and mayo on the side. Put simply, it’s lobster roll perfection.
Best Seafood Shack: Red’s Eats, Wiscasset
In Maine, the place with the best lobster roll is likely to be the best seafood shack. If lines are anything to go by, then Red’s Eats certainly seems like landmark you shouldn’t miss. Though it has been in operation since 1938, Red’s moved to a spot along the Wiscasset waterfront in 1954, making it one of the longest-running seafood spots on The Daily Meal’s list of the best seafood shacks in America. The lobster rolls, which are served in toasted, split-top buns with drizzle-ready drawn butter or mayo, are the champions here, but the fried clams are another top choice.
Best Soup: Lobster Stew at J’s Oyster, Portland
Ask a handful of Portland locals where the best place in the city is for a lobster roll and some fried belly clams, and they’ll point you toward this low-key institution on Portland Pier that’s been going strong since 1977. Everyone gets the lobster roll, fried clams, or steamers, but regulars know to also order the lobster stew, which is made with a heaping pile of fresh lobster, and is creamy (but not overly so) and brightened with a hit of sherry.
Facebook/Timber Steakhouse & Rotisserie
Best Steakhouse: Timber Steakhouse & Rotisserie, Portland
Portland is a food-lover’s paradise, with more restaurants per capita than any other city, and if you’re in the mood for steak there, Timber is the place to go. Steaks are sourced from local Maine ranches and are grass-fed, all-natural, and Black Angus. Filet mignon, marinated steak tips, New York strip, and a 40-ounce bone-in rib-eye will definitely satisfy your meat tooth, and their burger, made with dry-aged sirloin, is one of the city’s best. The restaurant’s slow-roasted rotisserie chicken is also a definite standout.
Best Sushi Bar: Miyake, Portland
Portland may be about as far away from Japan is you can get, but in this city of restaurants (with more per capita than anywhere else in America), we’re not surprised to find a sushi spot that can compete with any of America’s best. Open since 2011, Miyake is the playplace of chef-owner Masa Miyake, who sources the highest-quality ingredients from around the world and even runs his own farm in town. Omakase starts at just $38 (10-piece nigiri) and tops out at $70, a steal for what you receive: Don’t be surprised if you’re handed a whole sea urchin with the uni still attached, lightly grilled Freymont oyster with mirin, grilled cod, and generously portioned nigiri with high-quality fish.
Best Taco: Bisteck Crispy Taco at Taco Escobarr, Portland
It makes sense that the best Mexican restaurant in the state would sell the best tacos in Maine. Taco Escobarr’s tacos are available in three varieties: soft corn tortillas, crispy griddle-fried tortillas, or deep-fried San Antonio-style puffy tacos. The crispy taco is the winner of the bunch; fill yours with smoky slow-braised poblano-kicked shredded beef, melted Chihuahua cheese, cilantro, and pico de gallo. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to