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Just Back: Top Food Spots in Southeast Maine

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I just returned from a long, 10-day retreat from the hustle and bustle of NYC, for a low-key, beachside getaway up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine with my good friend Peter. Aside from the absolute most perfect weather—which I used to try to trick my sensitive, Canadian skin into thinking that it actually does have the ability to tan—coupled with the calming sound of the crashing waves, we spent a good chunk of our time finding great places to eat. Because that’s what we do when we travel. These are my favorite eateries, all within a short drive of "OOB":

Old Orchard Beach

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platter-jimmy-the-greeksjpgJimmy the Greeks Look no further for the hands down best pizza in OOB. (Some people will try to tell you it's one of those boardwalk places. No no. It's here.) The crust is unbeatable and the toppings fresh and perfectly cooked. Peter and I split the Yia-Yia's Delight (spinach, kalamata olives, sausage, feta, and mozzarella), but not before sharing the Hercules Sampler: fried calamari, saganaki (fried cheese), Greek bruschetta, and spanakopita. (215 Saco Ave.; 207/934-7499)

Portland

duckfat-poutinejpgDuckfat The name says it all. Their main claim to fame are their Belgian-style fries, cooked to perfection in (what else?) duck fat. But if you want a really memorable experience, opt for the poutine. Those same fries will be doused with duck gravy and cheese curd. Trust me: it is perfection. I also ordered the duck confit panini, topped with carrot and cabbage slaw, and a sweet chili sauce. It’s the most expensive sandwich on the menu, but worth every penny. I have to admit, I regret not trying an order of the beignets fried in, of course, duck fat. (43 Middle St.; 207/774-8080)

Standard Baking Co. This small bakery with very limited outdoor seating is a must. From loaves of fresh-baked bread, to an arsenal of pastries, cookies, and other baked goods, nothing here will disappoint. On this visit, I tried the strawberry-rhubarb tart. To die for. (75 Commercial St.; 207/773-2112)

fish-farmers-tablejpgThe Farmer’s Table What more could you ask for than fresh seafood and outdoor seating? To be honest, I could answer that with: a nice lobster roll, which was unfortunately unavailable the day I stopped by for lunch. However, the fried haddock I ordered did not disappoint. Besides, how can you do a week on the New England coast and not opt for at least one fried fish meal? Note: expect a more upscale menu during dinner service. (205 Commercial St.; 207/347-7479)

Cape Elizabeth

The Good Table Talk about a homey feeling, this restaurant is in a modest-sized house with a screened-in back porch with further accommodations. If weather and space permits, opt for the porch. The food is all Greek homestyle, with a slight upscale twist (but an affordable price tag). I ordered a pork, rice and bok choy dish (a special of the night that normally isn’t on the menu), which was amazing. Don’t even think about skipping dessert, because the real show stealer was the homemade cheesecake topped with fresh Maine blueberries. (527 Ocean House Rd.; 207/799-4663)

Scarborough

Bayley’s Lobster Pound Without a doubt, this is the place to go for the freshest, tastiest seafood, whether you want live lobsters to cook at home or cooked lobsters all hot and ready to dig into. They also offer an assortment of rolls (lobster, shrimp, and crab), chowders, dips, party platters…you name it. I ended up buying a pound of lobster meat ($40) so I could take a crack at making homemade lobster rolls…several times. (9 Avenue 6; 207/883-4571)

moose-len-libbyjpgLen Libby Candies There is a life-size solid milk chocolate moose in the middle of the store. Do I really need to say much more? You’ll find chocolate-covered pretzels and Oreos (maybe I bought both of these), fudge, fresh Maine blueberry syrup and pancake mix, and a huge assortment of fruity candies too. Be sure to stop by the back corner of the shop, where you’ll find an ice cream stand. (419 US Route 1; 207/883-4897)

Now if you'll excuse me, the memory of all this amazing food has left me drooling. I need to go clean up.

2010-hs-josh-pramisjpgJoshua Pramis is an online associate editor at Travel + Leisure and huge fan of delicious things. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis

Images courtesy of Joshua Pramis

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