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.
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.
Handmade pies—cream, fruit, and even savory—made from predominantly local ingredients and sold in the store or delivered to you in Portland.
A local institution in the Kennebunkport village of Cape Porpoise, the Wayfarer looks and feels like a New England general store, but chef Brendan Levin, a southern transplant, serves up surprises like chicken and waffles alongside more commonplace seafood dishes—plus deliciously unclassifiable
This 1925 dining car in the former mill town of Biddeford seats 15 for breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunches.
There’s a poetic juxtaposition to the white tablecloths and candlelight inside of two barns from the 1820s, and that intersection of rustic and elegant plays out on the menu as well. Chef Jonathan Cartwright does wonders with game meat and local seafood on creative, weekly prix-fixe menus.
A former post office with family-style seating and specials on chalkboards, the humble set-up at the Black Birch belies the quality of the gastropubby plates (some small and shareable, some entrée-sized).
James Beard Award-winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier opened this raw bar and upscale casual dining room as a relaxed alternative to their (since-closed) fine-dining restaurant up the road.
Seafood with a comfort twist is what attracts hordes of Maine pilgrims to this slightly hackneyed roadside eatery. Skip the adjacent and much-hyped gift shop and tuck in to flaky lobster pie and generously morseled seafood chowder.
Eat where the fishermen and the dockworkers eat—although you don’t necessarily need to dine at 4 a.m., like they do. There’s more than just breakfast at this family-run, waterfront diner, but the pancakes and the lobster omelet are both crazy fluffy.
You might be thinking, “I didn’t come to Maine to eat at a truck stop.” Your loss. Bangor’s no-frills, 24-hour eatery has a from-scratch ethos, hearty portion sizes, and a legendary pot pie that attract famished road-trippers, whether they’re driving eighteen wheels or just four.
A mid-century dining car with unabashed greasy spoon appeal, this Portland landmark is conspicuous on a strip of new condo construction and upscale retail. As it should be, breakfast is served all day.
Opened in 1927, it isn’t Maine’s oldest diner, but Moody’s might be the state’s most beloved and least changed. The open-faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and beets is about as comforting as food gets without being served with a blankey.