A look into the thriving food and beverage scene in one of America's most surprising culinary destinations.
The nation's first, and easternmost, city of Portland may not have a TV show, but it does have a food and beverage scene to rival any American destination. From fresh oysters topped with kimchi shaved ice to banana-flavored beer, here are some of our favorite Portland places to indulge your inner glutton.
This year's James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant, Central Provisions features small plates of beautiful crudo, ramen, bone marrow, and—of course—lobster, here in fritter form.
Bright and open, Eventide Oyster Co.'s entryway is dominated by a mountain of shaved ice. It's no wonder: people come here for the oysters, though just about everything on the menu pleases. Don't be shy with their innovative toppings (kimchi ice, pickled ginger) on the half shell.
Related: The 10 Best Lobster Shacks in Maine
Just a short walk away is Duckfat's cozy (and often crowded) dining room. They're known for their sandwiches, but don't miss out on the fries or their truly amazing (and seasonally rotated) milkshakes.
Fishermen's Grill buys their seafood daily: nothing comes from outside of Maine. This classic takeout joint—think paper-lined trays and plastic baskets filled with crispy, fried seafood—has superb outdoor seating when the weather allows.
Grace's beautiful dining room, if you can't guess by the name, is a converted Gothic-Revival church. Come for a cocktail (try the "Holier than Thou"), stay for the food, such as a hearty seafood stew with Maine lobster, mahogany clams, shrimp, and crab hushpuppies.
Eaters of all stripes will be satisfied at The Green Elephant. The pan-Asian inspired bistro offers reliably delicious curries and masala, as well as some adventurous meat substitutes. "Duck," anyone?
Related: Maine Travel Guide
Allagash has one of the best brewery tours out there: just make sure you make a reservation first. Though it's outside of downtown Portland, Allagash is within close walking distance to three of the city's other top breweries and distillaries. If you miss out on the free tour, just-as-free samples are available in the brewery's tap room.
Down the street is, Bissell Brothers Brewing Company. It's considerably smaller than Allagash, but it sports that same Portland excellence. You have to pay a small fee for these samples, but they're well worth the price tag. Enjoy their flagship Substance ale or try i-Lucky, an IPA brewed with fresh ginger.
Next door to Bissell Brothers, the Foundation Brewing Company also offers its own rotating selection of brews for a small price. Try Blaze, a yeasty farmhouse IPA, or Eddy, their own take on a Saison. Food trucks abound here: don't forget to eat!
Down the street, New England Distilling Company is working on something a little more potent. They offer whiskey, gin, and rum made from New England and Midwestern grains, molasses from the Caribbean, and yeast from the Maine Beer Company.
Shipyard is conveniently located downtown. Though you might know the name—or their popular Pumpkinhead beer, which hits major distributors each fall—you don't know anything about Shipyard until you try their banana-flavored brew. Samples are free and plentiful. Be wary: the gift shop full of lobster socks looks a lot more appealing on the way out.
Once you've exhausted all your Portland options, it's time to work up an appetite for more. There's still the rest of coastal Maine to eat and drink your way along.
Visit T+L’s Maine Travel Guide for more Maine vacation inspiration.