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Bite Into Maine lobster roll
A lobster roll from Bite Into Maine’s Cape Elizabeth location is a Maine summer must.
Bite Into Maine/Facebook

The 18 Essential Maine Restaurants, Summer 2019

The answer to the question, "Can you recommend a restaurant?"

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A lobster roll from Bite Into Maine’s Cape Elizabeth location is a Maine summer must.
| Photo by Bite Into Maine/Facebook

Presenting Maine's updated Eater 18, the answer to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This highly elite group covers the entire state and includes all types of restaurants from special occasion spot to food truck. Every few months, Eater adds pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must have been open at least six months), or have stepped up their game. Note: map points are listed south to north; there's no ranking involved.

The summer update drops Chase’s Daily in Belfast, and adds Primo in Rockland, open for its twentieth season.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Anju Noodle Bar

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7 Wallingford Square #102
Kittery, ME 03904
(207) 703-4298
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Buoyed by the success of Son-Mat Foods, their line of fermented foods and hot sauces, Gary Kim and Julian Armstrong opened a traditional noodle bar in a repurposed government building. Don't miss the okonomiyaki, the pork buns, and the ramen, where the 14-hour broth is made with meat from the butcher store next door. Insider’s tip: pass through the back of Anju into the sister cocktail bar, The Wallingford Dram.

2. The White Barn Inn Restaurant

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37 Beach Ave
Kennebunk, ME 04043
(207) 967-2321
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For more than 40 years, the White Barn Inn Restaurant has represented the epitome of fine dining in the Kennebunks. New this season, Executive Chef Matthew Padilla revamps the formal tasting menu with modern takes on classic New England fare. The restaurant’s signature lobster with a sherry cream sauce remains, while Chef Padilla’s specialty is a beet and blue cheese-filled agnolotti appetizer. Enjoy a special occasion in the formal dining room, complete with a tinkling piano player.

3. Palace Diner

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18 Franklin St
Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 284-0015
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If the young geniuses who run this old school diner car don't yet have a key to the city, it's time, because they're probably the most effective ambassadors Biddeford has. From the tuna melt to the fried chicken and pancakes to the egg sandwich, portions are just large enough that you probably shouldn't finish, but too delicious to set aside.

Bill Addison/Eater

4. Bite into Maine

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1000 Shore Rd
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
(207) 289-6142
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No visit to Maine is complete without a lobster roll, ideally enjoyed while overlooking the water. Get the best of both worlds with lunch from this Fort Williams Park food cart: spectacular views of the ocean and Portland Head Light, plus delicious rolls overflowing with fresh lobster meat. Visit Bite Into Maine at its two other locations, a commissary in Scarborough and another food truck at Allagash Brewing Co.

5. Chaval

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58 Pine St
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 772-1110
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The newest restaurant from Piccolo’s chef-owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez has become a neighborhood favorite only six months after opening. With a menu of Spanish staples like Jamon Iberico, tortilla, and blistered Padron peppers and a bar program run by Central Provisions alum Patrick McDonald, Chaval has quickly established itself as one of Portland's essential restaurants.

6. Local 188

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685 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 761-7909
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Local 188 pioneered the farm-to-table movement in Portland and has stood the test of time—this Congress Street restaurant and art gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Executive chef Jay Villani and his crew’s ever-changing menu of Spanish-influenced tapas and main dishes continues to impress. House-infused liquors complement the bar program, known for its inventive cocktails and deep wine list.

7. Miyake

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468 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 871-9170
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A hushed temple of superb sushi from a master of the craft, Miyake serves only fish plucked from Maine waters or flown in from Japan. Chef Masa Miyake’s tasting menus paired with sake offer a world-class experience.

8. Central Provisions

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414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 805-1085
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With an ever-changing small plates menu, an impressive drinks program, and fantastic service, Chris and Paige Gould's beautifully renovated Old Port spot has captured the attention of the nation. A finalist for Best New Restaurant courtesy of the James Beard Foundation in its first year, Central continues to make waves in its fourth year.

9. Scales

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68 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 805-0444
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Portland restaurant duo Sam Hayward and Dana Street have another success in this waterfront stunner with a classic seafood menu. Chef Fred Eliot adds his signature French touches to the menu with specials like head cheese and bone marrow onion soup pies.

10. Fore Street

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288 Fore St.
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 775-2717
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Sam Hayward’s spacious restaurant, with its wide open kitchen and wood-fired hearth, helped put Portland’s dining scene on the national map. Though "farm-to-table" has become the norm in the area, James Beard Award-winning chef Hayward was the first in Portland to incorporate ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and foragers. His rustic, seasonal menu changes daily.

Bill Addison/Eater

11. Eventide Oyster Co.

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86 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8538
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The cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get go, making its mark with a great granite trough of pristine oysters, inventive cocktails, and a menu that ranges from crudo and charcuterie to baked beans and biscuits — as well as what may be the state's most innovative lobster roll. Eater critic Bill Addison recognized the restaurant's many strengths with an inclusion on his national 38 list.

Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine Bill Addison/Eater

12. Duckfat

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43 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8080
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Chef/owner Rob Evans won a James Beard Award and "Chopped," but left high-end Hugo's to concentrate on his palace of poutine and duck confit panini. The wait, almost guaranteed even in the off-season, will be well worth it.

13. Drifters Wife

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59 Washington Ave
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 805-1336
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This natural wine bar and the adjacent wine shop Maine & Loire continue to attract national attention. Owners Peter and Orenda Hale are serving a selection of natural wines by the glass and bottle, as well as a small draft list and full bar. The small plates menu comes from their former co-worker, Ben Jackson, who previously was the Executive Sous Chef at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn.

side view of crispy fish filet served over greens and mushrooms Drifters Wife/FB

14. Tao Yuan Restaurant

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22 Pleasant St
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 725-9002
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In this tiny, mid-coast bistro, Eater Award winner and James Beard semifinalist Cara Stadler and her mother Cecile create some of the state's most exciting Asian-inspired food using seasonal and largely local ingredients.

15. Primo Restaurant

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2 Main St
Rockland, ME 04841
(207) 596-0770
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Chef Melissa Kelly’s Mediterranean menu is supported by the on-premise farm which produces up to 80 percent of the menu’s produce in peak season. The extensive charcuterie selection comes from Primo’s pigs, also raised on-site, and the wood-fired oven transforms seafood and meats for entreés. Reserve a table on the first floor of this rambling Victorian for a special occasion or head upstairs to the lounge and bar for a more casual experience.

Primo http://www.primorestaurant.com/

16. Suzuki's Sushi Bar

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419 Main St
Rockland, ME 04841
(207) 596-7447
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With a crew of female chefs, a focus on Maine seafood, and reasonable prices, chef/owner Keiko Suzuki Steinberger breaks the mold on sushi expectations at this humble little spot that locals insist has the best rolls in the state.

17. Long Grain

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20 Washington St
Camden, ME 04843
(207) 236-9001
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A local favorite that has received high praise from the New York Times, the James Beard Foundation, and others, Long Grain uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare inspired Asian dishes. Chef Ravin Nakjaroen won’t disappoint adventurous eaters.

18. Havana

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318 Main St
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
(207) 288-2822
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A longtime favorite of both locals and visitors alike, Havana is perfect for a special night out in Bar Harbor. Chef Cassady Pappas and owner Michael Boland have created a menu that melds Continental cuisine with Central and South American flavors. The bar program, overseen by local favorite Duffy, offers an extensive wine list and expertly made mojitos.

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1. Anju Noodle Bar

7 Wallingford Square #102, Kittery, ME 03904

Buoyed by the success of Son-Mat Foods, their line of fermented foods and hot sauces, Gary Kim and Julian Armstrong opened a traditional noodle bar in a repurposed government building. Don't miss the okonomiyaki, the pork buns, and the ramen, where the 14-hour broth is made with meat from the butcher store next door. Insider’s tip: pass through the back of Anju into the sister cocktail bar, The Wallingford Dram.

7 Wallingford Square #102
Kittery, ME 03904

2. The White Barn Inn Restaurant

37 Beach Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043

For more than 40 years, the White Barn Inn Restaurant has represented the epitome of fine dining in the Kennebunks. New this season, Executive Chef Matthew Padilla revamps the formal tasting menu with modern takes on classic New England fare. The restaurant’s signature lobster with a sherry cream sauce remains, while Chef Padilla’s specialty is a beet and blue cheese-filled agnolotti appetizer. Enjoy a special occasion in the formal dining room, complete with a tinkling piano player.

37 Beach Ave
Kennebunk, ME 04043

3. Palace Diner

18 Franklin St, Biddeford, ME 04005
Bill Addison/Eater

If the young geniuses who run this old school diner car don't yet have a key to the city, it's time, because they're probably the most effective ambassadors Biddeford has. From the tuna melt to the fried chicken and pancakes to the egg sandwich, portions are just large enough that you probably shouldn't finish, but too delicious to set aside.

18 Franklin St
Biddeford, ME 04005

4. Bite into Maine

1000 Shore Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

No visit to Maine is complete without a lobster roll, ideally enjoyed while overlooking the water. Get the best of both worlds with lunch from this Fort Williams Park food cart: spectacular views of the ocean and Portland Head Light, plus delicious rolls overflowing with fresh lobster meat. Visit Bite Into Maine at its two other locations, a commissary in Scarborough and another food truck at Allagash Brewing Co.

1000 Shore Rd
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

5. Chaval

58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

The newest restaurant from Piccolo’s chef-owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez has become a neighborhood favorite only six months after opening. With a menu of Spanish staples like Jamon Iberico, tortilla, and blistered Padron peppers and a bar program run by Central Provisions alum Patrick McDonald, Chaval has quickly established itself as one of Portland's essential restaurants.

58 Pine St
Portland, ME 04102

6. Local 188

685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

Local 188 pioneered the farm-to-table movement in Portland and has stood the test of time—this Congress Street restaurant and art gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Executive chef Jay Villani and his crew’s ever-changing menu of Spanish-influenced tapas and main dishes continues to impress. House-infused liquors complement the bar program, known for its inventive cocktails and deep wine list.

685 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102

7. Miyake

468 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

A hushed temple of superb sushi from a master of the craft, Miyake serves only fish plucked from Maine waters or flown in from Japan. Chef Masa Miyake’s tasting menus paired with sake offer a world-class experience.

468 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

8. Central Provisions

414 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

With an ever-changing small plates menu, an impressive drinks program, and fantastic service, Chris and Paige Gould's beautifully renovated Old Port spot has captured the attention of the nation. A finalist for Best New Restaurant courtesy of the James Beard Foundation in its first year, Central continues to make waves in its fourth year.

414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

9. Scales

68 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101

Portland restaurant duo Sam Hayward and Dana Street have another success in this waterfront stunner with a classic seafood menu. Chef Fred Eliot adds his signature French touches to the menu with specials like head cheese and bone marrow onion soup pies.

68 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101

10. Fore Street

288 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101
Bill Addison/Eater

Sam Hayward’s spacious restaurant, with its wide open kitchen and wood-fired hearth, helped put Portland’s dining scene on the national map. Though "farm-to-table" has become the norm in the area, James Beard Award-winning chef Hayward was the first in Portland to incorporate ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and foragers. His rustic, seasonal menu changes daily.

288 Fore St.
Portland, ME 04101

11. Eventide Oyster Co.

86 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine Bill Addison/Eater

The cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get go, making its mark with a great granite trough of pristine oysters, inventive cocktails, and a menu that ranges from crudo and charcuterie to baked beans and biscuits — as well as what may be the state's most innovative lobster roll. Eater critic Bill Addison recognized the restaurant's many strengths with an inclusion on his national 38 list.

86 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

12. Duckfat

43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

Chef/owner Rob Evans won a James Beard Award and "Chopped," but left high-end Hugo's to concentrate on his palace of poutine and duck confit panini. The wait, almost guaranteed even in the off-season, will be well worth it.

43 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

13. Drifters Wife

59 Washington Ave, Portland, ME 04101
side view of crispy fish filet served over greens and mushrooms Drifters Wife/FB

This natural wine bar and the adjacent wine shop Maine & Loire continue to attract national attention. Owners Peter and Orenda Hale are serving a selection of natural wines by the glass and bottle, as well as a small draft list and full bar. The small plates menu comes from their former co-worker, Ben Jackson, who previously was the Executive Sous Chef at Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn.

59 Washington Ave
Portland, ME 04101

14. Tao Yuan Restaurant

22 Pleasant St, Brunswick, ME 04011

In this tiny, mid-coast bistro, Eater Award winner and James Beard semifinalist Cara Stadler and her mother Cecile create some of the state's most exciting Asian-inspired food using seasonal and largely local ingredients.

22 Pleasant St
Brunswick, ME 04011

15. Primo Restaurant

2 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841
Primo http://www.primorestaurant.com/

Chef Melissa Kelly’s Mediterranean menu is supported by the on-premise farm which produces up to 80 percent of the menu’s produce in peak season. The extensive charcuterie selection comes from Primo’s pigs, also raised on-site, and the wood-fired oven transforms seafood and meats for entreés. Reserve a table on the first floor of this rambling Victorian for a special occasion or head upstairs to the lounge and bar for a more casual experience.

2 Main St
Rockland, ME 04841

Related Maps

16. Suzuki's Sushi Bar

419 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

With a crew of female chefs, a focus on Maine seafood, and reasonable prices, chef/owner Keiko Suzuki Steinberger breaks the mold on sushi expectations at this humble little spot that locals insist has the best rolls in the state.

419 Main St
Rockland, ME 04841

17. Long Grain

20 Washington St, Camden, ME 04843

A local favorite that has received high praise from the New York Times, the James Beard Foundation, and others, Long Grain uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare inspired Asian dishes. Chef Ravin Nakjaroen won’t disappoint adventurous eaters.

20 Washington St
Camden, ME 04843

18. Havana

318 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

A longtime favorite of both locals and visitors alike, Havana is perfect for a special night out in Bar Harbor. Chef Cassady Pappas and owner Michael Boland have created a menu that melds Continental cuisine with Central and South American flavors. The bar program, overseen by local favorite Duffy, offers an extensive wine list and expertly made mojitos.

318 Main St
Bar Harbor, ME 04609