Since it’s summertime, and the Old Port is the perfect destination for a day trip or a fun night out, I thought I’d share a few of our favorite spots to eat and drink.
We’re pretty lucky to be surrounded by so many great restaurants and bars, it’s hard to name just a few. So, I thought I’d pick a couple in each category. The places that we always want to go back to, because the food is “that good” and we love the atmosphere.
Becky’s Diner– It doesn’t get much better than a grilled blueberry muffin with hot coffee and eggs over easy at Becky’s on the weekend. There may be a long line out front, but it’s worth the wait. They open super early- so get there before 8am if you can.
Make sure and say “hi” to my friend Paddy! She knows everyone, and there’s usually a trail of laughter in her wake.
The Holy Donut -If you have not tried a Holy Donut -run as fast as you can to get one! They are to die for!! Dark chocolate with Sea Salt is my pick, but my boys have had every kind they make. The smell alone is enough to add 10 pounds to your thighs!
I love that they use Aroostook County potatoes with local eggs & butter too. They literally melt in your mouth.
Sugarbird Coffee Truck-When you’re ready for a hot or cold cup of coffee, try Sugarbird. The owner Justin will make it just the way you like. Try a hot coffee with some steamed milk. He’s usually located near the entrance to the ferry terminal on Commercial Street.
Lolita– We found Lolita on our way to grab a cup of coffee at Rosemont Market. Rosemont & Lolita share the same storefront. The space is small and cozy with shiplap banquettes, open shelving and funky industrial lighting. But, the coolest thing to see is their open grill that’s fitted with metal racks for roasting meats and vegetables. Our waitress was adorable and described each dish with passion and excitement. We asked about the Torchio Nudja with Peas. She said “the pasta (made in house) was formed into little tubes that cupped the light cream sauce perfectly, the peas were freshly picked and the Nudja (which is spiced pork salami) adds the perfect bit of spice.” She could not have described it any better- it was pure indulgence! We went back again a few weeks later for Easter brunch.
Portland Lobster Company- My favorite meal of all time – hands down – is Maine lobster with steamers. There are a lot of places where you can find this Downeast favorite here in Maine, but we love sitting on the back deck at Portland Lobster Company, looking out over Casco Bay. If you look online you’ll find a schedule of live bands that play here as well. It’s a hopping spot that’s fun to go to, even if you just want to listen to live music and have a glass of wine or beer.
Duckfat– Who could resist these fries?? They haunt me in my dreams! Cooking them in duckfat and tossing them in sea salt makes them extra crisp and delicious. The Meatloaf panini is decadent too. I tried it years ago, and have never felt the need to try another sandwich on the menu. It’s “that good!” Add in a bowl of their savory tomato soup, and you can see why there is always a long line out front. My husband always goes for the thick, rich vanilla milkshake – and he rarely shares it. That pretty much spells out the best lunch you could ask for.
Farmer’s Market & Shays– If you’re in Portland on a Wednesday, it’s worth taking a walk up to Monument Square and shopping the Farmer’s Market for fresh Maine grown produce and flowers. Walk through the square surrounded by buckets of flowers, and then have a quick lunch outside at Shay’s. The Caramelized Pear Quesadilla or Sweet & Spicy Chicken Chop Salad are my picks.
Novare Res –Tucked away at 4 Canal Plaza Suite 1 is Novare Res. The outside beir garten is by far the best spot to meet up with friends for happy hour. The ivy covered brick walkway and umbrella covered picnic tables add to the cool casual vibe that we love here.
Central Provisions– The atmosphere of Central Provisions with its worn brick and wooden beams is what I would call “Old Port Charming”. I want to soak it all in when I’m here enjoying a glass of wine. The craftsmanship in this space from the reclaimed pine bar to the bar stools made with red wine barrel staves is absolutely beautiful and what I would wish for in my own home.
Roustabout– Located at 59 Washington Ave. is Roustabout. We love the modern nautical feel of this place. The staff is super friendly and we enjoyed their version of our “St.John” favorite cocktail called the “Painkiller.” It didn’t disappoint- with the perfect amount of coconut, rum, orange & pineapple with a pinch of nutmeg- It’s the perfect summer drink!
Terlingua– Almost directly across the street from Roustabout at 52 Washington Ave. is Terlingua. The BBQ here is so tender and juicy it falls off the bone. They smoke small batches of meat in- house and the menu is displayed on a blackboard that is always changing. They may run out of what you were hoping to try, but everything on their Caribbean/Mexican inspired menu is delicious. We love their Shrimp Ceviche and Deviled Eggs for starters and always look forward to the laid back intimate atmosphere here.
Empire– Empire is always enjoyable to go to with a group of people. It’s fun to try everything you possibly can on their menu. Our favorite small plates are the Garlic Green Beans and Honey Walnut Shrimp. Imagine just the right amount of roasted garlic with al dente green beans and the crispy shrimp with candied walnuts and citrus Japanese mayo-Hello? To die for! We also enjoy the Beef with Broad Noodles and basically everything on the menu. It’s all good!!
I would love to hear what your favorite spots are in the Old Port as well. Feel free to leave a comment to share with all of us.
I hope this list points you in a direction you haven’t been before.