As a born and raised Mainer home for the summer, I'm ready for some of the best foods and dining experiences Maine has to offer.  Check out my bucket list if you are ready to experience the state like a native  and be sure to pack some bug spray, it's wild in the Pine Tree State!

1. DiMillo's On the Water - Seafood 

Price Range: $$$ Dress: Semi-Formal

There is a reason that there is always a wedding at this idyllic restaurant, it's on a boat! DiMillo's is a beautiful ferry transformed into a restaurant and event space. The dining room offers spectacular views of the water, and while you don't set sail, you can watch the beauty of the ships docking around you. Enjoy a plethora of dishes and desserts as you experience a more upscale version of fresh Maine seafood (think lobster mac'n'cheese instead of lobster roll). The scenery steals the show at a place like this, but the food is delicious and the restaurant is popular spot for celebratory dinners. Their menu changes with the seasons and stays fresh year round. 

DiMillo's history dates back to 1965 when restaurant owner Antonio DiMillo opened DiMillo's on the Waterfront, this was the first DiMillo's restaurant and was, like most restaurants, on land. After Purchasing Long Wharf, Antonio opened DiMillo's Marina in 1978 and 4 years later, DiMillo's on The Water opened her doors. The boat itself was commissioned as a ferry from Delaware to New Jersey but after a long journey (read more about that here) became the restaurant we know and love today!  

Portland: 25 Long Wharf, Portland, Maine Open 7 Days a Week 11 am - 9 pm or 10 pm Friday and Saturday

2. The Great Impasta - Italian 

Price Rang: $$ - $$$ Dress: Semi-Formal

Tucked away on the corner of Main Street, Brunswick, a small brick building with a yellow awning is serving up endless rounds of garlic knots that will steal your heart. 

The Great Impasta is the best Italian joint around. It's tables are always packed with people celebrating or on their way to the theater. Not to mention it is a premiere spot for date night.  The Great Impasta is a classy little place with the best Carbonara I have ever had, and a revolving menu that introduces the best of what the season has to offer. Their lobster ravioli is the star of the summer, and their location puts them in walking distance of some of the greatest gelato in Maine, Gelato Fiasco. They even have some on the menu, but you are in for a real treat if you stick around and try the Tiramisu cake. Layers of deliciousness await you, and you will leave stuffed beyond your wildest dreams. Every entree is served with a delicious Italian salad and buttery bread knots for the table. You won't regret a cent that you spend here, and I guarantee you will be back for more.  

Brunswick: 42 Main St. Brunswick Maine. Open Monday - Thursday 11 am - 9 pm & Friday - Saturday 11 am - 10 pm 

3. McSeagull's - Seafood

Price $$ - $$$ Dress: Casual 

To put it simply, McSeagull's has great food, and a great atmosphere. It is a little cheaper then DiMillo's, and located in scenic Boothbay Harbor. The restaurant serves delicious fresh pastas, and sandwiches, that include that ever so popular Maine staple, lobster. Boothbay Harbor is one of the busiest and quaintest towns in Maine, and with great local attractions like the picturesque Botanical Gardens and the old timey Railway Village, it is a can't miss Maine destination.

Stop in to McSeagull's for a delicious lunch on the water, and while you eat, watch kayakers and sailors alike as they make the most of the pine tree state. The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, but if the weather is nice snag a seat on the deck for the best dining experience.

Boothbay Harbor: 14 Wharf Street at Pier 1, Boothbay Harbor Maine. Open Sunday - Thursday 11:30 am - 9 pm & Friday - Saturday 11:30 am - 9 pm.  

4. Mae's Cafe and Bakery - Brunch

Price Range: $-$$$ Dress: Casual 

Mae's Cafe is the sort of blink and you miss it joint that Mainer's love. The best brunch spot around, Mae's serves up some delicious classics with a sophisticated and local twist. Like the Kennebec, an eggs Benedict with Maine crab, tomato, spinach and cheddar, or Ethan's Oats, whole oats with wild Maine blueberries, brown sugar and walnuts. Their pastry counter is loaded with goodies (the sugar cookies are a personal favorite) and the coffee is always flowing. This quaint breakfast spot is just a short walk away from the bustling city center of Bath Maine. Visit on a Saturday and experience the joys of the local farmer's market, a great group of locals selling homegrown vegetables and homemade bread down by the river!

Mae's Cafe also has a brother Restaurant, Big E's, a small and delicious burrito, bowl and salad place on Main Street Brunswick. Like it's sister, it is a smashing success and the lines are always out the door. Be sure to carve out some extra time in your day if you want to sample this Maine treat!  

Mae's Bath: 160 Center St. Bath Maine                                      Open 7 Days a Week 8 am - 2 pm Bakery 8 am - 3 pm

Big E's Brunswick: 111 Main St. Brunswick Maine (down the street from Gelato Fiasco!) Open Monday - Saturday 11 am - 9 pm 

5. Gritty McDuff's (Gritty's to the locals) - American/Pub Fare

Price Range: $$-$$$ Dress: Casual 

Gritty's is a great place for a lively meal. It's friendly and welcoming atmosphere comes from great service, great food and live music. A large facility with outdoor seating, and a bar, Gritty's serves pub fare and entertainment all night long. The first brew pub opened after prohibition, Girtty's is the oldest in the state and a popular spot for happy hour. If you're a local, or planning to stick around awhile, you can join the Gitty's Mug Club, allowing you to keep your own mug waiting for you at the bar. 

There are locations all over the state, but the Freeport Gritty's is by far the most well known, and is home to one of two "Brewtiques", store's selling merchandise that includes t-shirts and pint glasses with clever Gritty's sayings on them. You can also visit them at their Auburn, or their Portland location, the later being home to the second Brewtique. If the Brewtique is not open when you visit, you may ask the pub manager to please open it for you and they will happily oblige! 

Freeport: 187 Lower Main St. Freeport Maine                          Open 7 Days a Week 11 am - 12 am 

Portland: 369 Fore St. Portland, Maine                                      Open 7 Days a Week 11 am - 1 am 

Aurburn: 68 Main St. Auburn, Maine                                        Open 7 Days a Week 11 am - 12 am 

6. Fat Boy Drive In (Fat Boy's to the locals) - American Fair

Price Range: $ Dress: Casual 

Burgers, fish sandwiches, chicken tenders, milk shakes, your all American classics. The catch? You eat in your car. 

Fat Boy's is known for its fast service and unusual dining atmosphere, you turn on your lights when you are ready to order, and the waitresses come out to your car. When it is time to eat the runner will place a tray on your window, loaded up with fried goodness, allowing you to enjoy your meal in the comfort of your car. If this isn't for you, you also have to option to eat inside the restaurant at one of their cozy kitchen side booths. 

Opened in 1955, Fat Boys has stood up to the surrounding competition, namely McDonald's and Five Guys, by staying true to their customers and provided excellent service every time. For a unique and tasty dining experience, be sure to stop in and try some of their classic onion rings! Flaky batter and soft mouth watering onions steal the show, and the haddock sandwich is what dreams are made of. 

Brunswick: 11 Bath Rd.  Brunswick, Maine                                      Open Thursday - Tuesday 11 am - 8 pm

7. Clam Shack - Sea Food 

Price Range: $$-$$$ Dress: Casual 

Quick and easy clams served on the Kennebunk River. Be prepared to drop a little cash on this seafood meal and buy yourself a lunch box, your favorite seafood served with french fries and coleslaw. They also have multiple sandwiches and soups to enjoy with a glass of lemonade. 

While the outside might look a little rough, the Clam Shack has a reputation for serving up some of the best clams around and having an exciting atmosphere, with people lining up down the street waiting for a taste of Maine's best. If you want to skip the line, call ahead and order for pick-up. The food is great and served in huge portions, you'll be back for more!

Kennebunk: 2 Western Ave Kennebunk, Maine                            Open 7 Days a Week 11 am - 8 pm

8. Two Lights Lobster Shack - Lobster

Price Range: $$-$$$ Dress: Casual

If you are looking for a gorgeous view and a delicious Maine meal, Two Lights State Park is a must. In fact, if you are looking to check two things off your Maine bucket list, then it is even better because at Two Lights you will find two extremely quintessential Maine things, lighthouses and lobster. 

Coming out of the parking lot you will walk up a small hill and suddenly be buffeted by the sea breeze and smells of the kitchen. The rocky coast line is a fun natural playground for the adventurous, and the picnic tables and chairs are perfect for the casual tourist. The Lobster Shack it's self is a casual joint to order sea food of all kinds, but the lobster roll and lobster dinner are a real treat. Done the Maine way, made simply and served fresh, their lobster is some of the best in the state and you cant get a better dining experience. You can sit inside the cozy dining room, or outside in the fresh air, and enjoy your buttery Maine delicacy as seen of the travel networks Man vs Food. Just look out for the sea gulls that flock around the spot, they will steal your food!

Cape Elizabeth: 225 (End of the Road) Two Lights Rd. Cape Elizabeth, Maine Open March 31st through October 25th 7 Days a Week 11 am - 8 pm

9. Lisa's Pizza - Pier Fries

Price Range: $ Dress: Casual Note: Cash Only

Don't let the name fool you, you are really here for the pier fries. Lisa's has been around since 1972, and is located on the extremely popular Old Orchard Beach boardwalk. It's the kinda place that visitors come back to years later, remembering the treat from their childhood.  

Lisa's has 3 windows, the first serving up french fries just waiting to be smothered in salt and vinegar, the second serving up hot pizza made to order, and the third serving fresh fried dough with strawberries and bananas. It's like an ice cream stand for fried foods and pizza and is known up and down the beach for its great taste. 

After you get you food you can walk the boardwalk or the surf, taking in the sights and enjoying the sun. Lisa's is popular all day, but you never have to wait too long for your food, and you know its fresh, you can see it being made through the windows. Their menu has expanded to include Poutine after noticing a rush of French tourists in the area. This was an amazing addition to the menu, and some of the best Poutine you can get without heading up to Quebec! 

Old Orchard Beach: 17 Old Orchard St. Old Orchard Beach, Maine Open Sunday - Thursday 11 am - 12 pm & Friday - Saturday 10 am - 1 am 

10. Pie in The Sky - Pizza

Price Range: $ Dress: Casual

When it comes to Maine pizza, there's some debate. Fan favorites include Portland Pie and Otto's, but my personal favorite, and lesser known pick, is Pie in the Sky. Located in the Portland Public Market, one of the best spots for a quick eat in the city, and created on fresh pizza dough from the Big Sky Bread Company, their crispy slices are a a must. Their thin dough with bubbling cheese is cooked right at the counter and only $3.50 a slice is pizza perfection. The Thai Chicken is in a league of its own and will leave you craving more, making it my favorite pizza in the state. 

While in the market you can check out some of the other delicious booths including, Maine Squeeze, the best place to get fresh juices and smoothies, and Sticky Sweet, the best (and possibly only) place in the state to get sticky rice!

Portland: 28 Monument Way, Portland, Maine                          Open Monday - Saturday 8 am - 7 pm                                              Sunday 10 am - 5 pm

11. Li's Place / Li's Chinese Express - Chinese

Price Range: $ - $$ Dress: Casual 

Li's Chinese is hands down incredible! The food is served hot and customized to the level of spice you think you can handle, and has some of the best service around.  Li is a local mom and a fabulous cook. You can often find her family working with her to pump out endless orders of Crab Rangoon and Lo Mien to hungry shoppers and local Chinese food lovers.

In summers past, Li's has had a quick service food cart in downtown Freeport, and while it is still unclear as to whether or not that location will be opening again this year, it is another great option when it comes to local dining. The restaurant on West Street, which will definitely be open this year and for years to come, is a quiet location to regroup and refuel as you shop your way through town. It's very hole in the wall, and very very good. 

Freeport: 51 West St. Freeport, Maine                                        Open Tuesday - Sunday 11 am - 8:30 pm

12. Becky's Diner - American Breakfast 

Price Range: $-$$ Dress: Casual 

Located on the Portland waterfront, Becky's Diner is a cheap place for an early, or late, bite with friends. Designed for the blue collared worker, Becky's opens early, 4 a.m., to give people on their way in to work a place to eat before they start their day. 

Alongside these early risers you can find a younger crowd of night owls making memories with their friends. While the 4 a.m. crowd is certainly the most interesting, you can find great people dining here all day. Take a seat at the counter and swap stories with new friends or plop in a both with old ones, and enjoy a good meal no matter what time it is.

You can find Becky's on Guy Fieri's "Dinners, Drive-Ins and Dives" talking about their homemade sausage, one of the key features of their homemade menu. 

Portland: 390 Commercial St. Portland Maine                          Open Sunday - Thursday 4 am - 9 pm & Friday - Saturday 4 am - 10 pm. 

13. Gelato Fiasco - Gelato

Price Range: $ Dress: Casual 

This local company started in 2007 with a promise to bring the art of Italian gelato to the USA. Today they have two stores in Maine, and can be found in over five-thousand grocery stores across the country. They know what their fans like, hence the creation of Netflix and Chill (caramel, brownie bites and peanut butter), and carry seasonal favorites like Strawberry Balsamic year round. In the summer they celebrate local talent and create a new flavor for every show put on by the Maine State Music Theater. For a real treat, visit the flagship store in Brunswick and try the Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp! 

If you can't wait, or make it to visit, check out the online store where you can purchase the Love Maine 6 Pack, 6 pints of delicious fan favorites. Or, if you are staying in Portland, and don't feel like leaving your hotel, good news! They recently joined UberEats! This allows you to order gelato on your phone and have it delivered to your door in minutes, just like ordering a pizza. 

Brunswick: 74 Main St. Brunswick, Maine Open 7 Days a Week 11 am - 11 pm

Portland: 425 Fore St. Portland, Maine Open 7 Days a Week 12 am - 11 pm

14. Wicked Whoopies - Whoopie Pies

If you haven't had a Maine Whoopie Pie, you are missing out. Yes, every Mainer will tell you that there Grandma's Aunt makes the best Whoopies in the state, but I think we can all agree that Wicked Whoopies are pretty damn good. Even Oprah got in on the action, naming them a "Great Gift" and giving them a place on the "O List". They have a variety of flavors from strawberry to cookie dough and of course the original chocolate and vanilla. In store you can pick up a jumbo 5 pound whoopie pie that's perfect for birthday parties, or whoopie pies with custom wrappers for weddings and events.

Freeport: 100 Main St. Freeport, Maine.                                    Open 7 Days a Week 10 am - 6 pm

15. Garside's - Ice Cream 

Price Range: $ Dress: Casual 

In business since 1955, Garside's is the perfect after-the-beach pit stop. It is the oldest homemade ice cream stand in Maine and its delicious ice cream is by FDA standard, Super Premium Ice Cream, this means the quality of the ingredients and the care that they take in creating their ice cream sets it leagues above the norm. 

This hidden gem displays it's flavors on an old fashion board nailed to the store, and you cant go wrong with any of them. There is quaint seating on benches scattered around the parking lot, and as the night cools off, Garside's is a quiet place to recuperate before the drive home. 

Saco: 295 Ferry Rd. Saco Maine                                                Open Sunday - Wednesday 12 am - 9 pm & Thursday - Saturday 12 am - 10 pm

Let's Eat!

No matter what you're in the mood for, or where you go to eat, you cant go wrong in Maine. Mainers care about eating local, supporting the community and keeping things fresh. Here you feel good about what you're eating, and have many great options when dining out. Eat like a Mainer and enjoy food created at the hands of community members, restaurants as historical as the lighthouses, and lobster in that great vacationland air.