My better half is a born and raised Maine boy. For as long as we've been together, there have been annual pilgrimages to Maine (usually over the 4th of July weekend since I am more partial to Maine when the sun is shinning and the weather is warm). Over the years, I've fallen in love with the state (and particularly Portland), which feels like a quaint New England town with a decent amount of hipster Brooklyn flair and some of the best eating around. On this past trip I managed to hit many phenomenal eateries (some new and some old favorites) and I figured it's about time I share my list of the best Portland, Maine (and the surrounding areas) has to offer (though this is not all-inclusive, that list would be far too long). Most of these spots are food related (duh) but on occasion I do things other then eat (I'm as shocked as you are), so there are a few shops thrown in for good measure! (The antiquing in Maine is like nothing else.)
Miyake - If you are in anyway a sushi-aholic, this is the place for you. Miyake is an adorable man with an inventive style who is keen on using local Main produce (some of which he raises himself!) in all of his dishes. Splurge on the omakase, it's an excellent value and always wonderful. The lobster roll is amazing and is something I often dream about.
The Holy Donut - I may have stopped here twice and over the course of the trip and tried 8 different doughnut flavors (no shame). These are AMAZING. The are made with Maine potato flour which makes for a most flavorful doughnut. I am partial to the coconut though the mojito doughnut was pretty swell as well. Go early in the morning for the best selection. I am already dreaming about when I can have one again.
Palace Diner - Oh this place. I am in love. Located about 20 minutes outside of Portland in an old train car that's been around since the twenties is the diner of my dreams. A former NYC chef (from Gramercy Tavern!) has taken over and is turning out elevated diner classics. The food is fresh, uses lots of local ingredients, and is rib-sticking satisfying. If you go on Sunday you may be lucky enough to find the fried chicken sandwich on the menu, if that is the case YOU MUST ORDER IT (just look at that picture). Best I ever had. I want one right now. The egg dishes looked pretty awesome as well. The french toast is dreamy.
Central Provisions - I have a soft spot for small plate restaurants (I love eating bites of all different things). This is one of the best with a menu approach similar to the small plate restaurants I ate at in California. They don't focus on one type of food, instead the approach is to look at what's seasonal and create a dish around that. I fell hard for the beef with sriracha and peanuts. The space is also beautiful. I have plans to return for brunch.
Leroux Kitchen - If you are on the hunt for a random kitchen object, this is the place for you. Whisks of all shapes and sizes, knives galore, and a superb spice section makes it a favorite place of mine. The staff is super helpful and they carry a nice selection of Made in the USA products which is something that always makes me happy to see.
Two Fat Cats - Whoopie pies (chocolate and pumpkin) and the best blueberry pie around. You shouldn't need to know anything else.
Portland Hunt and Alpine Club - Cocktails. So many wonderfully delicious cocktails. The Brown Derby (bourbon, grapefruit, and agave) may be my new favorite drink. The space has that Scandanavian vibe going for it (something I love) and it's the kind of place I could happily spend an entire Friday night at (it's also the kind of place I wish we had in Jersey City). They have some good looking small-plates if you are in need of some food with your drinks.
Scarborough Lobster - Located outside of Portland, it has my favorite lobster (and crab!) rolls. It doesn't look like much, but it is damm good.
Portland Salvage - Someday, when I have more money and a place Tyler and I call our own, I will come here to outfit our home. I could spend hours aimlessly wandering through the maze of industrial salvaged objects (clawfoot tubs! filing cabinets! old doors!) unearthing treasures on the 4 different floors. The stuff is beautiful and reminds you of a time when things were made in America and quality was of the utmost importance.
Micucci Grocery - Fluffy Sicilian pizza slices the size of your head. If you can finish more then one slice you deserve a prize.
Portland Flea for All - An indoor weekend flea market held in Portland (and next to Portland Salvage) with a nice mix of vintage clothing, antique kitchen objects, and furniture. Prices are reasonable and the assortment is interesting (cake stands and smoky glass bowls were a couple of the items that caught my eye). I left with a most adorable six inch cast iron skillet (already seasoned!) that has become my new best friend.