Restaurants in Maine
You’ll be hard pressed to find many restaurants in Maine that don’t include lobster on the menu in some way—but Maine restaurants also offer plenty of grilled shrimp and crab salads, and all manner of great local produce. You can sample great seafood and farm-to-table fare at some of the best restaurants in Maine.
Fore Street is a Portland institution helmed by chef Sam Hayward, who was doing farm-to-table long before it was cool. Everything here is cooked in an open, glassed-in kitchen, and much of the menu changes daily. The big crowd-pleasers include anything roasted or grilled, such as the wood oven–roasted mussels appetizer. Leave room for dessert—house-churned ice cream made with seasonal berries from a local farm.
The Lobsterman’s Wharf is a Freeport, Maine, restaurant in East Boothbay overlooks the Damariscotta River, which feeds into the Atlantic and is decked out with antique lobster buoys, hurricane lamps, and nautical paraphernalia. It’s long been a local favorite for its hit parade of seafood greats, such as excellent clam “chowdah,” the grilled haddock sandwich, and the freshly picked crab roll. For dessert, try the homemade three-berry pie à la mode.
This self-proclaimed “fine casual dining” establishment in the cozy western Maine hamlet of Bethel is open for dinner and Sunday brunch. During the warmer months, S.S. Milton features a patio with a white fence, flowers, and green umbrellas.
There’s truth in advertising. Brunswick’s sixty-year-old, cash-only, drive-in institution still packs them in for notably mayonnaise-y lobster rolls and fried clams, scallops, and chicken in greasy wax paper. The house specialty, though, is the Canadian bacon BLT.
More than 75 years in, Bucksport’s tiny Crosby’s turns out all the deep fried seafood classics and goes above and beyond the requisite lobster rolls with tuna rolls, scallop and clam rolls, and a standout, generously stuffed crab roll.
Sure, you can eat inside at Cameron’s—or on the nice covered deck—but why would you want to? The Brunswick seafood shack does a great lobster roll and lobster stew, along with plenty of dashboard-friendly, deep-fried baskets: oysters, clams, shrimp, scallops.
Lewiston’s refreshingly no-frills drive-up opened as a root beer stand in 1959 and doesn’t seem to have raised its prices since.
The ice cream is churned in-house, the clam strips are crispy, and the hot dogs are in red casings (as all true Maine hot dogs should be).
The fine-dining restaurant of Kennebunkport’s Cape Arundel Inn, Ocean shows off its namesake with immense windows that give every table in the house magnificent views of the water.
Dangling at the bottom of the Pemaquid peninsula (actually, on the car-accessible Rutherford Island), Coveside is a welcoming pub with a deck, marina, and a not-small number of diners who arrived by boat.
You have your choice of authentic, hearty seafood joints along the Portland wharf, but none are as fun or as food-forward as the landmark, two-story Boone’s.
There are only a couple hundred feet of land on either side of MC Perkins Cove, an approachable bistro and raw bar run by James Beard Award-winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier. Go all in on a “shellfish tower” of clams, shrimp, mussels, and Maine lobster.
Maine’s pastoral midcoast exists at a glorious three-way intersection of local horticulture, local aquaculture, and world-class ocean fishery.
For starters, they’ll combine one of their cane-sugar craft sodas (I like the cherry bark phosphate) with some vanilla gelato. If that doesn’t appeal, the slightly citrus-y donut holes fried in (you guessed it) duck fat are shamefully good.
After your meal at this buzzy Old Port trattoria, stick around for the nightly dessert.
Sweets are no afterthought at this hip, easygoing bar and small-plates emporium. As with the rest of the menu, the dessert emphasis is on simplicity, local ingredients, and fun.
Maine’s original gelato shop opened in 2007, and the Old Port location (the flagship’s in Brunswick) still has lines out the door every (non-winter) weekend night.