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Portland Dining 101: A Guide for Students

Everything you need to know about feeding yourself while attending school in Portland, from classic cheap eats to essential splurges.

Portland's State Pier.
Portland's State Pier.
Corey Templeton/Flickr

Welcome, students! Whether it's your first semester in town or your last, the Portland area is full of restaurants to explore, new and old. There seems to be no end to the dining boom in Maine's largest city, and Eater is here to guide you to the right spot for every situation, whether you need a reliable late-night slice of pizza, a swanky place to impress a date, or the perfect restaurant for your parents' next visit.


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Fore Street in the Old Port is on the current Eater Maine 18./Corey Templeton for Eater

First things first, let's talk basics — these are Eater's signature maps, updated regularly to highlight the best of the best and the newest of the new. Most maps on the site feature points statewide, but as you can imagine, many of the major players are within the Portland city limits.

  • Eater Maine 18 — Updated quarterly, this map features 18 of the most essential restaurants in the state, spanning multiple cities, cuisines, and price points. Naturally, many of these major players are within the Portland city limits.
  • Eater Maine Heatmap — Updated monthly, this map features 12 of the hottest new destinations in the state.
  • Eater Maine Cocktail Map — For the 21+ crowd, this map tracks the bars and restaurants with the strongest cocktail programs.
  • Eater Maine Brunch Map — You're deep in brunch territory. This map will guide you to the choicest spots.


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Tandem Coffee Roasters' beans at sister spot Tandem Coffee and Bakery in the West End./Corey Templeton for Eater

What are you craving? Let these maps show you the way.


  • The Essential Guide to Maine Hot Dogs, June 2015
  • The 9 Essential Barbecue Restaurants in Maine
  • Maine's Most Iconic Burgers
  • Maine Map of Ten Definitive Meat Dishes
  • Seafood

  • The Essential Sushi Restaurants in Maine
  • 15 Essential Maine Lobster Rolls
  • The 17 Finest Fish and Chips Restaurants in Maine
  • Dessert

  • 14 of the Coolest Ice Cream Shops in Maine
  • Hot Beverages

  • 20 Ways to Wake Up: The Best Coffee Shops in Maine
  • Nightlife & Adult Beverages

  • 18 Places to See Live Music in Portland and Actually Enjoy Your Food and Drink
  • The 10 Best Spots in Maine for Karaoke, Mapped
  • Essential Guide to Maine Brew Pubs
  • Essential Guide to Maine Brewery Tasting Rooms
  • 14 Essential Craft Beer Bars in Maine
  • Miscellaneous

  • 19 of Maine's Best Spots for Tacos, Mapped
  • Essential Guide to Poutine in Maine
  • 11 of Maine's Most Essential Pizza Spots

    kim's sandwich shop ext kate mccarty

    Kim's Gift Shop has bahn mi for cheap, deep in the West End./Kate McCarty for Eater

    Looking to eat and drink well without without spending too much? Jump right to these maps and guides:

    Visitors guide

    Need to pick up a pal from the airport, impress grandma with a gorgeous view, or seat your extended family? These maps will empower you to do that and more with your guests.

    Road trips

    bagaduce lunch castine edith young

    A seafood spread at Bagaduce Lunch in Brooksville, near Castine./Edith Young for Eater

    Even with its outrageous selection, sometimes Portland just won't have what you're after. Use these guides to nearby hotspots when planning a getaway with friends:


    Eater Maine is updated multiple times every weekday with breaking news stories (restaurant openings, closings, etc.), features, and more. Here are a few ways to stay in the loop:

    • Keep an eye on the Eater Maine homepage. New stories will always show up near the top and flow down toward the bottom of the page as they get older, while important recent stories or major maps will stay pinned at various points on the page. Also, check out our big sister,, for national and international food news.
    • Subscribe to our newsletter, which goes out every Friday around midday and includes links to the week's top stories.
    • Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates on new stories and more throughout the day.
    • Interested in upcoming restaurant openings? Here's our fall 2015 openings primer.


    Have questions not answered here? Want to send in a tip or a complaint or just say hello? Here are some ways to get in touch with the Eater Maine staff:

    • Email us at
    • Send us a tip, which can be anonymous if you choose, at our tipline.
    • Interact with us on Facebook or Twitter.
    • Post publicly in the Eater Maine forum. You can respond to existing threads or start your own. Feel free to ask questions, share rants and raves about the Boston dining scene, show us your food photos, and more. We'll promote interesting threads to our homepage and social media channels.