Disclaimer: I am not from Maine. I am, in fact, from Tokyo. However, I went to Maine this summer to visit my boyfriend, a real “Maine-r” and was struck by all the delicious food.
Here’s a list that I compiled with his expertise and opinions of the places you have to go in Maine. As a Maine tourist who ate at several of these restaurants, I can say with 100 percent confidence that if you live in Maine, you NEED to eat here. If you don’t live in Maine, you have to go to Maine and eat at these restaurants.
Butternut Squash, Ricotta & Cranberry Pizza from OTTO Pizza
An unusual mix of butternut squash, ricotta cheese, and cranberries is not something you might regularly expect to see on a pizza but OTTO just makes it work. It’s pretty much a Thanksgiving leftover party in your mouth, with a beautiful thin crust and the perfect mix of sweet and savory.
Lobster Diavolo from Street & Co.
Lobster Diavolo is THE PERFECT dish to get in Portland, Maine. A unique blend of flavors and spices with a split lobster on a bed of pasta. Diavolo means “devil” in Italian, but this dish is heavenly. The richness of the lobster pairs perfectly with the light tomato sauce.
Half Dozen Damariscotta Oysters from J’s Oyster
Damariscotta, Maine is a small, small town with a population of 2,000 people. With a town name that means “village of little fish,” it’s no surprise that Damariscotta oysters are perfectly briny and sweet. J’s Oyster prepares them simply, to better enjoy the deep, fresh flavors.
Maine Blueberry Smoothie from Maine Squeeze
The Maine Squeeze was pretty much my home for the eight days I was in Portland. I tried four different smoothies (all of which were AMAZING), but the Maine Blueberry came up on top. Made with banana, blueberry, mint, and apple cider, it is a refreshingly healthy treat.
Honestly, I only went in because of the witty name but came out satisfied and hungry for more. (P.S. If you have multiple days, I also recommend the DreamTeam with dark chocolate, peanuts, almonds, coconut, bananas, and dates.)
Full Lobster from The Lobster Shack at Two Lights
This one seems a little self-explanatory. You just have to eat a full lobster from Portland, Maine. End of story.
House Smoked Pork Belly Sandwich with Kimchi, Pickled Asian Pear & Steak Fries from East Ender
Where to begin with this amazing sandwich? First of all, the combination of the ingredients: pork belly, kimchi, and Asian pear on a perfectly toasted Brioche bun. I’m not the biggest pork belly fan but this sandwich blew me away with its complex fusion of flavors ranging from sweet and savory, to spicy. 10/10, would recommend to a friend.
Maine Wild Blueberry Jam from Stonewall Kitchen
You may have seen Stonewall Kitchen in your local supermarkets but you may not have known that Stonewall Kitchen is originally based in York, Maine. You may also not have known that if you go to a local Stonewall Kitchen store, you can sample all their jams, sauces, and syrups for days. Unlimited samples? Sign me up. And I couldn’t make a list about foods in Maine without talking about the succulent, sweet Maine blueberries.
Malted Cold Brew from Tandem Coffee Roasters
As college students, coffee runs in our veins but I bet that many have never tried a malted coffee. It’s cold brew coffee with malt extract and milk over ice. It’s half soda fountain, half coffee in your mouth. It wins the most original coffee (that doesn’t taste weird) award in my books. Plus, the cafe is in a renovated old gas station. It is a perfect place to sip coffee and do work.
Baklava from Emilitsa
Oh, Emilitsa. Your tzatziki and kotopoulo souvlaki (chicken skewers) are calling me back from Stanford. I’ve been to Greece before and Emilitsa’s Greek food is just as flavorful and delicious. Every dish is painstakingly made with the perfect combination of spices and all-natural whole ingredients. The cherry on the top was definitely this delicious flaky pastry for dessert.
The Peacemaker and Fried Pickles from Po’ Boys & Pickles
This fun dive is a New Orleans-themed restaurant in Maine. It’s always blasting BB King songs and other Southern soul music. You’ll feel like you’re walking down Bourbon St. with a Peacemaker, a mix of fried shrimp and oyster, lettuce, tomato, and red pepper mayo, in your hand. add a Thai tea shake and praline bacon on the side.
#SpoonTip: Add a Thai tea shake and praline bacon on the side.
Maple Bacon Donut from The Holy Donut
The Holy Donut has a secret ingredient: fresh Maine potatoes. Yes, it is a potato donut. This donut joint emphasizes their wholesome ingredients, fresh flavors, and unique combinations. I had the honor of trying the maple bacon donut (middle donut in the picture) which was almost a religious experience. The saltiness of the bacon jives perfectly with the maple, and the whole donut was deliciously moist.
Plus, they give back to the Portland community by donating their leftovers to Preble Street, a community center that provides help to those less fortunate in Portland. If you are in Maine looking to get amazing food, also take the time to donate or volunteer at Preble Street which does so much to help those in need.
Homemade Sausage Sub from Spring Creek Bar-B-Q
Spring Creek Bar-B-Q is the last supply point for hikers attempting the 100 Mile Wilderness, a 100 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail that is considered the most dangerous to navigate. So, hikers who are eating here are serious eaters.
They have items on the menu like “Bucket O’ Pork” or 1/2 lb Prime Rib, but for those of us who aren’t looking to hike, the homemade sausage sub with onions and peppers is the perfect thing. You can also people-watch all the hikers getting in their last meal as you enjoy your crunchy, flavorful sub.
Ol’ Blue Eyes Donut Bites from Urban Sugar
Ol’ Blue Eyes Donuts. Here are ten words for you: mini donuts, lavender pastry cream, lemon curd, and Nilla crumble. Urban Sugar is a food truck that rolls around Portland, selling mini donuts in a range of different flavors.
My favorite was easily the Ol’ Blue Eye Donuts. A lil’ bit of crunch, a lil’ bit of sour, a lil’ bit of sweet is perfection. All the donuts are made to order so you may wait a little longer, but there is nothing better than a freshly prepared mini donut.
Vanilla S’mores from The Marshmallow Cart
Ok, so what’s a s’more doing on this list? I found the Marshmallow Cart when we were walking around the First Friday Art Walk in Portland. It’s kind of like a food truck but it’s on a cart that they wheel around Portland.They make their own marshmallows, with flavors like root beer, vanilla, and strawberry. They don’t look like Rocky Road marshmallows, that’s for sure.
They assemble your s’more right in front of your eyes, and melt the marshmallow until it gets to that perfect golden brown AND they use homemade graham crackers. Easily the best s’more I’ve ever had.
Sauerkraut from Morses’ Sauerkraut
Morses’ Sauerkraut has been around since 1918 so almost 100 years. Morses’ is a place that Mainers know and love, with their briny, crispy, crunchy sauerkraut. It has no preservatives and is packed fresh every day, with good bacteria and probiotics that improve digestion, improve circulation, and strengthen the heart. It’s pretty much a superfood.
Poutine with a Sunny Side Up Egg from Duckfat
This picture practically speaks for itself, but the poutine at Duckfat is phenomenal. Bursting with flavor and crunch, the combination of french fries with duck fat, duck gravy, and melted cheese curds is like a dream.
#SpoonTip: Add the sunny side up egg.
Brown Butter Lobster Roll from Eventide Oyster Co.
As you know, Maine is famous for their delicious lobster rolls, so you have to try at least one while you’re there, and Eventide’s brown butter lobster rolls stood out to me as particularly delicious.
They were made on Asian steamed buns instead of the standard hot dog bun, so biting into one is like biting into a succulent soft pillow. The brown butter really brings out the sweetness of the lobster. You will leave in a happy, food-induced coma. Guaranteed.
#SpoonTip: Add the Testarossa cocktail with tequila, jalapeño, and blood orange soda.
If this didn’t convince you to fly to Maine immediately, I don’t know what will. Maine might have a reputation for delicious lobster rolls but their culinary culture is so much deeper than that. With an overall emphasis on whole foods and natural ingredients, Maine respects their environment but creatively plays with ingredients they have to produce beautiful-looking and delicious-tasting meals, whether it be lobster rolls, donuts, pasta, sandwiches, or fries. For even more New England foods you can’t miss, check these out.