We did the research for you! Here is our comprehensive list of favourite finds in Portland, Maine, featuring our favourite places to eat and drink!
Although we’d continuously heard really fantastic things about Portland we still weren’t sure to expect. Upon arrival and after research we realized that some of the best things about the city, and the most exciting things for us is the food and craft beer scene. Therefore we spent our time hopping from restaurants to craft breweries, all to come up with a comprehensive list for you! There was such an abundance of places so please keep in mind that just because we didn’t go there, it doesn’t mean it isn’t good. We spent a couple of days going from place to place and testing out everything we could, here are our thoughts:
Where to eat in Portland:
We heard so much hype about this place that we actually thought we’d skip it. However, after arriving in Portland EVERYONE told us it cannot be missed, so we went. It was mid-week, and midafternoon, and there was a very long wait. But we did it, and it was worth it! Once seated we ordered some local beers, small fries with two dipping sauces, and a turkey panini. We were told that the poutine is exceptional, but we had to prepare for a day or eating so had to cut corners somewhere! The food was exceptional, some the best fries ever, and the turkey panini was fantastic and a great size. Perfect for sharing, tender turkey, with great toppings, and not too messy. This place really is not to be missed and definitely worth the wait!
If you know us, you know we love tacos. Mexican food is our absolute favourite, and is typically our first stop in a new city. We actually went here twice during our three day visit. On our first visit we had just tacos, and they were absolutely delicious! On our second visit we had chicken enchiladas and a taco salad, and again, both dishes along with their great drink menu, impressed us. There always seems to be a line up, so go early! We’d definitely be regulars here if we lived in Portland!
We heard such great things about this place. When we arrived the dining room was completely full with quite a long waiting list, but they informed us that there is a downstairs bar with the same menu, and it works on a first come, first serve basis. We made our way downstairs and immediately found two seats at the bar. We each had a drink and ordered some very small bar bites. The menu is mainly all small and shareable plates. We had pickles and roasted carrots with goat cheese. Both were very light and perfect for a restaurant crawl day! If only we had time to go back again and try more!
Our guess is, this is a perfect lunch spot! It’s relatively small with fast food, you ordered at the counter. They have a vast menu that includes burgers, hot dogs and falafel, but we came for the tater tots! We placed one order to share and got a chipotle mayo to go with it! Both we delicious! We went right before we closed and it was very quiet at the time, but we’re guessing mid day there would be longer waits!
If we can find excellent Asian food while visiting another city, we usually jump on it! This time it was Thai food, and very good at that, set in a modern and vibrant environment. It seems to be a norm in Portland that the best restaurants do not take reservations, and this one was no exception. When we arrived there was a very long line, but we asked for seats at the bar and only waited for about 15 minutes. We had a few bar bites and then each of us ordered noodle dishes and local beers (they had a great tap list!). We’d describe the tastes as modern Thai, but still absolutely delicious. And a bonus to sitting at the bar was excellent conversation with both the bartender and fellow bar patrons!
Sisters Gourmet Deli: We stopped in here one afternoon while searching for a relatively healthy and somewhat quick lunch option. It’s situated right on Monument Square which is in the centre of the city. We each ordered wraps (all menu items can be served as a sandwich, wrap or salad). We both really enjoyed our selections, although found them quite large and commented that we easily could have shared one. It was also quite a long wait but this seems to be a very popular spot for both eating in and take out, so we’re guessing that’s the norm, come prepared!
East Ender: We first visited here as we waited for our table at Duckfat (it’s right next door), and at the time only had a drink, but immediately decided it was worth a second visit and we were correct in our assumption! We returned later in the week to share a light lunch. We opted to split the Chicken Tikka sandwich. It’s actually served on a bun, which makes it a little more difficult to share than if it were on bread. But they did provide us with a good steak knife to cut it, and it worked out okay. Besides that, it was absolutely delicious , but next time I’d order it just for myself!
Where to Drink in Portland:
Not quite downtown but not too far out of the way (unlike many of the breweries we looked up), this is definitely worth a visit. They have a big, bright space with garage doors that we’re wide open on the beautiful summer day that we visited- they also have picnic tables outside and food trucks regularly parked just adjacent. We tried a flight and really enjoyed each of the four beers we tried. They had a very good selection that will most likely appeal to every type of beer connoisseur.
Admittedly, we didn’t enjoy this place quite is as much as Rising Tide, but it’s still worth a visit. They are situated right on the waterfront in a fantastic location in the Old Port. They are not only a brewery but also a distillery, so if you also want to sample some spirits, don’t skip this place!
Top of the East: This lounge is located at the very top of the Westin Hotel. We can’t imagine a better vantage port to get a great view of this awesome city, which automatically makes this a must visit! They also have a vast tap list along with local bottled beer and a really great wine by the glass as well as cocktails! We happened to visit on oyster night, which is clearly extremely busy. If you’re not an oyster fan you might want to try to go another night, but if you are, this is the night for you!
Allagash Brewing: We didn’t actually get to visit here, but it’s not far out of the city! However, they had Allagash White on tap pretty much everywhere and we loved it, so next time we’ll definitely check out the brewery!
Where to stay:
We stayed here and lucked out with a corner room on one of the top floors! It was absolutely amazing with a great view! We’re going to guess the hotel was somewhat recently renovated as it had a fantastic design and even the hallways felt bright and inviting. They also have excellent service, everyone we met was friendly, welcoming and helpful! We can’t imagine staying anywhere else in this city as this hotel was exceptional!
The Press Hotel: Just to give you some choice, we’re adding this hotel to the list as everyone seems to rave about it! We didn’t set foot in it so you can’t take our word for it, but we hear it’s somewhat new and very hip.
How to get there:
The CAT Ferry: If you’re coming from the Maritime provinces, this is absolutely the way to come! It breaks up a somewhat long drive into a totally relaxing experience. You can park the car for the 6ish hour ride and let someone else do the navigating! Meanwhile, sit back, and enjoy some food and drinks and perhaps take in a movie or try to spot some whales or dolphins. Once there you are directly in downtown Portland!