For quite a lengthy period, restaurants in Maine have been recognized for serving beyond lobster rolls. Portland, the state’s largest city, has become a dining magnet, punching much above its weight in unique culinary experiences. There’s plenty of lobster, but a broad array of skillfully prepared cuisine is offered across Pine Tree State. A farm-to-table philosophy is a standard in many areas.
1. Anju Noodle Bar
This noodle bar in Kittery’s refurbished government building provides “free-style” Asian cuisine. Avoid missing the okonomiyaki, pork buns, or ramen, boosted by a 14-hour broth cooked with beef from the butcher next door. It is essential to point out that for a drink before or after dinner, go through the back of Anju and into its sibling cocktail bar, the Wallingford Dram.
2. Oxbow Beer Garden
Oxbow Brewing’s third site in the ancestral home of a cross-country ski center became a favorite of many persons immediately after it launched. Yeast enthusiasts travel to the Western Maine branch for the tasting room’s 15 taps, wood-fired pizzas, and accompanying bottle shop. The beer garden is used for parties of all kinds throughout the year.
3. Palace Diner
This vintage diner stands out in all ramifications. Kudos to the founders. They are pretty likely Biddeford’s most influential ambassadors. From the pancakes and egg sandwiches to the tuna melt and fried chicken, the amounts are large enough that you won’t be able to finish them all but too remarkable to save.
4. Magnus on Water
Previously of Drifter’s Wife, Chef Ben Jackson relocated to Magnus on Water following a pandemic revamp. He worked alongside former Elda bartender Brian Catapang, general manager Brittany Saliwanchik and partners Julia Russell and Carmen Harris to create unique cocktails and small appetizers such as sherry-steamed clams and sugar snap peas with goat cheese, mint, and country ham. Take a seat on the adjacent outside patio, which views the Saco River.
5. Bite into Maine
A trip to Maine would be incomplete without a lobster roll. The seasonal facility at Fort Williams serves some of the best lobster rolls in the state. There are five different lobster rolls, chowder, grilled cheeses, and whoopie pies.
6. Woodford F&B
This neighborhood café with a classic diner vibe gives Woodfords Corner a much-needed dining choice. Chef Courtney Loreg, a Fore Street graduate, serves brasserie favorites like mussels and fries, a gigantic cheeseburger, and Maine crab cakes. This off-peninsula destination features classic cocktails from the bar.
Chef-owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez’s West End cafe has become a local favorite because of its cozy vibe and leaf-covered back porch. Spanish favorites like Jamon Iberico and blistered Padron peppers are on the menu, as are French specialties like coq au vin. A Central Provisions alum, Patrick McDonald oversees the bar program, serving modernized classics and originals.
8. Local 188
Local 188 spearheaded the farm-to-table movement in Portland, and it has endured the test of time, bringing customers to its Congress Street restaurant and art gallery for almost 20 years. The ever-changing menu of Spanish-influenced tapas and main courses created by executive chef Jay Villani and his team continues to astound. House-infused liquors round out the bar menu, recognized for its innovative cocktails and extensive wine list.
9. Central Provisions
Central, which opened some years back, remains the delight of many, with an ever-changing menu, a fantastic cocktails program, and fantastic service. Chris and Paige Gould’s Old Port restaurant serves small plates of globally influenced cuisine such as smoked halibut dip, a lobster and chorizo wrap, and cauliflower-feta agnolotti.
This “boutique BBQ” restaurant’s outdoor seating is a notable destination in Portland’s East End. Terlingua has something for everyone on its menu, including house-smoked meats and Caribbean-inspired meals (including vegetarians). A good assortment of craft beers and tequila binds everything together.