clock menu more-arrow no yes
Nosh Kitchen Bar.
Nosh Kitchen Bar.
Photo: Lorre F., Yelp

5 Underrated Menu Items at Portland Hot Spots

View as Map
Nosh Kitchen Bar.
| Photo: Lorre F., Yelp

As much digital ink gets spilled for Portland's hottest restaurants and bars, it's often in service of rehashing, reiterating, and reinforcing what patrons already know or have read elsewhere: Yes, Nosh's bacon-dusted fries are good. Of course Novare Res has a killer beer selection. But even a relatively small and picked-over menu, like that at Duckfat, can hide gems. Here, we shine a light on five items that we feel have been missed at some of Portland's most talked-about locales.

Naturally, we want to hear from readers, too: Is there an underrated menu item at a popular restaurant (whether in Portland or elsewhere in the state) that you cherish? If you don't talk it up, it might disappear. Case in point: Blue Rooster's Red Eye breakfast sandwich (described by Meredith Goad as "'somebody slap me' good"), which co-owner Ilma Lopez says disappeared because the sandwich's limited success wasn't worth the work it took to prep the housemade ingredients each morning. Hit the comments section or share via the tipline, please.


· All Eater Maps [-EME-]

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Duckfat

Copy Link
43 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8080
Visit Website
Duckfat is renowned for decadent menu items like poutine and salted caramel milkshakes. Though salads are available, who orders them at a restaurant with both “duck” and “fat” in the name? Duckfat’s salads, though, are arguably as good as everything else the restaurant is known for, and certainly not limited to a pile of leafy greens. Specific salads change with the seasons, and they all offer unique varieties of flavor and texture, with unusual housemade pickles, confits, and more. They’re satisfying as a side or even as a small stand-alone meal. Go ahead and wash one down with a salted caramel milkshake, too.

2. Novare Res Bier Cafe

Copy Link
4 Canal Plz
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 761-2437
Visit Website
Novare Res Bier Cafe is best known as just that - a hot spot for great beer. The secret, however, is the wine list is also exceptional. “[Manager] Shahin [Khojastehzad] puts a lot of thought and care into Novare’s wine selection,” says Katie Thibodeau, a wine educator and purveyor of wine and craft beer at Mariner Beverage, Inc. With its beautiful outdoor patio, Novare is the perfect place to enjoy a glass in the summer. Katie suggests trying Domaine Bott Freres Edelzwicker, a bold and refreshing Alsatian white wine which can be purchased by the glass or by the 1 liter bottle at Novare.

3. Nosh Kitchen Bar

Copy Link
551 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 553-2227
Visit Website
Did you know Nosh serves dessert? No, not the Holy Donut-masquerading-as-a-bun on the Holy Hand-Grenade Burger. There’s an actual post-dinner course which, due to the restaurant’s epic portions, few guests ever reach--when it’s meal time, who can pass up a hefty burger and bacon-dusted fries in order to save room for dessert? Try hitting Nosh for a sweets-only visit, though, and you’ll find such gems as Betty Ford Brownies and “Dunkaroos” for adults. Yes, please. [Photo: Lorre F., Yelp]

4. Pai Men Miyake

Copy Link
188 State St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 541-9204
Visit Website
If someone gushes over Pai Men Miyake, they’ll undoubtedly mention The Pork Bun. The Nikuman Pork Bun, however—also known as “The Other Pork Bun”—often gets overlooked. A Chinese-style steamed bun featuring umami-rich pork belly, miso, and menma filling and topped with eel sauce and scallions, the Nikuman Pork Bun is undeniably delicious, so stop trying to deny it. Just like Maine’s largest city being called “The Other Portland” by late-comer Oregonians, calling the delicious Nikuman “The Other Pork Bun” is just wrong. Order it hot in-house or frozen to take home, and start appreciating the worthy counterpart. [Photo: Dawn T., Yelp]

5. Fishermen's Grill

Copy Link
849 Forest Ave
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 699-5657
Visit Website
No doubt Maine has earned the title “Vacationland” in part due to the magic that is the lobster roll. If you’re seeking a good one, Fishermen’s Grill has it (as well as other "seafood so fresh you wannah slap it!"). If you want to venture even farther off the beaten path, however, order the Peekytoe crab roll from this hole-in-the-wall instead. If you’re from away, you might know this flavorful crustacean as rock crab (or even less appetizing, mud crab); only in Maine does it have such an adorable name, in part to help it stand out against its spotlight-hogging relative. Next time someone asks you where to get the best lobster roll, get crabby. [Photo: sean k., Yelp]

Loading comments...

1. Duckfat

43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Duckfat is renowned for decadent menu items like poutine and salted caramel milkshakes. Though salads are available, who orders them at a restaurant with both “duck” and “fat” in the name? Duckfat’s salads, though, are arguably as good as everything else the restaurant is known for, and certainly not limited to a pile of leafy greens. Specific salads change with the seasons, and they all offer unique varieties of flavor and texture, with unusual housemade pickles, confits, and more. They’re satisfying as a side or even as a small stand-alone meal. Go ahead and wash one down with a salted caramel milkshake, too.
43 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

2. Novare Res Bier Cafe

4 Canal Plz, Portland, ME 04101
Novare Res Bier Cafe is best known as just that - a hot spot for great beer. The secret, however, is the wine list is also exceptional. “[Manager] Shahin [Khojastehzad] puts a lot of thought and care into Novare’s wine selection,” says Katie Thibodeau, a wine educator and purveyor of wine and craft beer at Mariner Beverage, Inc. With its beautiful outdoor patio, Novare is the perfect place to enjoy a glass in the summer. Katie suggests trying Domaine Bott Freres Edelzwicker, a bold and refreshing Alsatian white wine which can be purchased by the glass or by the 1 liter bottle at Novare.
4 Canal Plz
Portland, ME 04101

3. Nosh Kitchen Bar

551 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
Did you know Nosh serves dessert? No, not the Holy Donut-masquerading-as-a-bun on the Holy Hand-Grenade Burger. There’s an actual post-dinner course which, due to the restaurant’s epic portions, few guests ever reach--when it’s meal time, who can pass up a hefty burger and bacon-dusted fries in order to save room for dessert? Try hitting Nosh for a sweets-only visit, though, and you’ll find such gems as Betty Ford Brownies and “Dunkaroos” for adults. Yes, please. [Photo: Lorre F., Yelp]
551 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101

4. Pai Men Miyake

188 State St, Portland, ME 04101
If someone gushes over Pai Men Miyake, they’ll undoubtedly mention The Pork Bun. The Nikuman Pork Bun, however—also known as “The Other Pork Bun”—often gets overlooked. A Chinese-style steamed bun featuring umami-rich pork belly, miso, and menma filling and topped with eel sauce and scallions, the Nikuman Pork Bun is undeniably delicious, so stop trying to deny it. Just like Maine’s largest city being called “The Other Portland” by late-comer Oregonians, calling the delicious Nikuman “The Other Pork Bun” is just wrong. Order it hot in-house or frozen to take home, and start appreciating the worthy counterpart. [Photo: Dawn T., Yelp]
188 State St
Portland, ME 04101

5. Fishermen's Grill

849 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04103
No doubt Maine has earned the title “Vacationland” in part due to the magic that is the lobster roll. If you’re seeking a good one, Fishermen’s Grill has it (as well as other "seafood so fresh you wannah slap it!"). If you want to venture even farther off the beaten path, however, order the Peekytoe crab roll from this hole-in-the-wall instead. If you’re from away, you might know this flavorful crustacean as rock crab (or even less appetizing, mud crab); only in Maine does it have such an adorable name, in part to help it stand out against its spotlight-hogging relative. Next time someone asks you where to get the best lobster roll, get crabby. [Photo: sean k., Yelp]
849 Forest Ave
Portland, ME 04103

Related Maps