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The requisite lobster roll
Bite into Maine [Facebook]

The 18 Essential Maine Restaurants

From a destination brewery in a former ski center to boutique barbecue with Caribbean flair, here’s everywhere to eat in the Pine Tree State

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The requisite lobster roll
| Bite into Maine [Facebook]

Maine restaurants have long been recognized for serving more than just lobster rolls. A farm-to-table ethos is the norm in many parts, while Portland, the state’s largest city, has become a destination for diners, punching well above its weight in worthwhile culinary experiences. There’s certainly plenty of lobster to be had, but also a diverse selection of thoughtfully prepared cuisine available across the Pine Tree State.

Update July, 2021:

Many Maine restaurants are breathing an optimistic sigh of relief this summer. After one of the worst seasons for the restaurant industry, in which many beloved establishments closed, pandemic restrictions have lifted and Mainers have achieved one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country. But it’s not back to pre-pandemic normal. Facing staffing shortages and the residual stress of the winter, some restaurants have reduced hours or discontinued walk-in seating. Other longtime favorites may seem different now, with a new chef, menu items, or service model to bolster financial security and accommodate changing customer habits (takeout, anyone?). This list of 18 Maine restaurants is a diverse group, ranging from special-occasion spots to food carts, united by their enduring hospitality and, of course, great food.

Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the Maine CDC website.

Kate McCarty is a writer and community educator from Portland, Maine. She teaches food preservation at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and writes about Maine food at The Blueberry Files.

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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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This noodle bar in a repurposed government building in Kittery serves “free-style” Asian fare. Don’t miss the okonomiyaki, pork buns, or ramen fortified by a 14-hour broth made with meat from the butcher next door. Insider’s tip: Pass through the back of Anju into its sister cocktail bar, the Wallingford Dram, for a drink before or after dinner.

2. Oxbow Beer Garden

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420 Main St
Oxford, ME 04270
(207) 539-5178
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Farmhouse brewery Oxbow Brewing’s third location became an instant classic as soon as it opened in the former home of a cross-country ski center. Yeast lovers flock to the outpost in Western Maine for the tasting room’s 15 taps, wood-fired pizzas, and adjacent bottle shop. Perfect for groups of friends and families, the beer garden is a worthwhile destination all year long.

A four-pack of beer bottles beside a full pizza on a wooden pizza paddle, all sitting on a barrel in front of a wood pile
Beer and pizza at Oxbow
Oxbow [Official]

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. They’re probably the most effective ambassadors Biddeford has. From the pancakes and egg sandwich to the tuna melt and fried chicken, portions are just large enough that you probably shouldn’t finish, but too delicious to set aside.

Bill Addison/Eater

4. Magnus on Water

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12 Water St
Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 494-9052
Visit Website

Chef Ben Jackson, formerly of Drifters Wife, moved to Magnus on Water after a pandemic reboot. There he joined former Elda bartender Brian Catapang and general manager Brittany Saliwanchik, along with partners Julia Russell and Carmen Harris, to serve up original cocktails and small plates like sherry-steamed clams and sugar snap peas with goat cheese, mint, and country ham. Find a seat on the adjoining outdoor patio, which overlooks the nearby Saco River.

A bartender strains a cocktail from a shaker through a fine mesh strainer into a lowball glass in front of a backbar filled with bottles
Beverage director Brian Catapang at work
Searching the Shadows Photography

5. Bite into Maine

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Allagash Brewing Co, 50 Industrial Way
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 289-6142
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No visit to Maine is complete without a lobster roll. All of Bite Into Maine’s locations serve some of the best lobster rolls in the state, but the seasonal location at Fort Williams is the most scenic. In addition to five styles of lobster roll, you’ll find chowder, a variety of grilled cheeses, and whoopie pies.

A hand holds a well-packed lobster role, topped with mayo and chopped chives, in front of a rocky coastline and a lighthouse in the distance
The lobster roll in all its glory
Bite into Maine [Facebook]

6. Woodford F&B

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660 Forest Ave
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 200-8503
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This neighborhood eatery with a retro diner feel provides a much-needed dining option to Woodfords Corner. A Fore Street alum, chef Courtney Loreg delivers brasserie classics like mussels and fries, an epic cheeseburger, and Maine crab cakes. Classic cocktails from the bar make this spot an off-peninsula destination.

A table packed with food and drink, including deviled eggs, oysters on ice, mussels, sandwiches, fries, and steins of beer
The full lunch spread
Woodford F&B [Facebook]

7. Chaval

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58 Pine St
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 772-1110
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This West End bistro from chef-owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez has become a neighborhood favorite thanks to its homey vibe and leaf-covered back deck. The menu includes Spanish staples like jamon iberico and blistered Padron peppers, as well as French dishes like coq au vin. The bar program, run by Central Provisions alum Patrick McDonald, delivers updated classics and originals.

8. 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 it has stood the test of time, welcoming diners for over 20 years to its Congress Street restaurant space and art gallery. Executive chef Jay Villani and his crew’s ever-changing menu of Spanish-influenced tapas and main dishes continue to impress. House-infused liquors complement the bar program, known for its inventive cocktails and deep wine list.

9. Central Provisions

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414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 805-1085
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With an ever-changing menu, an impressive drinks program, and fantastic service, Central continues to make waves five years after it started turning heads. At their beautifully renovated Old Port spot, Chris and Paige Gould serve small plates of globally inspired cuisine like smoked halibut dip, a lobster and chorizo roll, and cauliflower-feta agnolotti.

10. Terlingua

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40 Washington Ave
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 956-7573
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The outdoor dining at this “boutique barbecue” restaurant is a worthy destination in Portland’s East End. With a menu of house-smoked meats and dishes with Caribbean flair, Terlingua has something for everyone (including vegetarians). A solid craft beer and tequila selection ties it all together.

A full barbecued lamb shoulder on butcher paper in front of a closed grill
Herb & garlic lamb shoulder
Terlingua [Facebook]

11. Eventide Oyster Co.

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86 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8538
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Eventide’s cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get-go. The restaurant made its mark with a great granite trough of pristine oysters, inventive cocktails, and a menu that ranges from crudo and charcuterie to fried chicken and biscuits — as well as what may be the state’s most innovative lobster roll.

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

12. Fore Street

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288 Fore St.
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 775-2717
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James Beard Award-winning chef 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, Hayward was the first in Portland to incorporate ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and foragers. His rustic, seasonal menu changes daily.

A dining room inside a restaurant blends into the open kitchen. One wall is all brick, and there are lots of wooden accents throughout the space. Bill Addison/Eater

13. 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 headcheese, and bone marrow onion soup pies. Huge windows offer expansive views of Portland’s working waterfront.

14. Crown Jewel

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255 Diamond Ave
Portland, ME 04109
(207) 766-3000
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This small bistro on Great Diamond Island provides an escape with its tropical decor and neon flamingo. The new menu, designed by Eventide alum Sara Devereux and owner Alex Wight, features seafood dishes like lobster tail yakitori, miso steamed mussels, and tuna poke. To get to the island, take the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Diamond Cove or arrange for a private water taxi.

A restaurant interior with checkered floor, wooden tables with bowed wooden backs, a bar with wooden stools, a neon flamingo on the backbar beside bottles and light pouring through windows
Inside Crown Jewel
Courtney Elizabeth Media

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 cooking is supported by the farm on premises, 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 entrees. 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 meal.

A kitchen counter with open shelving packed with dishes and pickle jars, a counter topped with jars and bunches of herbs and a chalkboard sign, decorative backsplash, and dried meat hanging beside pendant lights near the ceiling
The Counter Room at Primo
Primo Restaurant [Official]

16. Nina June

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24 Central St
Rockport, ME 04856
(207) 236-8880
Visit Website

This Italian trattoria from former New York chef Sara Jenkins offers a menu of classics and simple seasonal dishes in downtown Rockport. Located in the former home of Salt Water Farm, Jenkins’s restaurant overlooks the harbor, providing nice views with your pork ragu. Pro tip: The restaurant’s name is pronounced NINE-a June, after the chef’s childhood nickname.

From above, a salad of sliced cucumber, radish, and greens with a thick orange sauce on a decorative plate
Salad at Nina June
Nina June [Facebook]

17. Long Grain

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20 Washington St
Camden, ME 04843
(207) 236-9001
Visit Website

A local favorite that has received national praise, Long Grain uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare inspired pan-Asian dishes. Chef Ravin Nakjaroen won’t disappoint adventurous eaters with spicy night market noodle soup, stir-fried ginger chicken, and Maine crab fried rice.

18. Havana

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318 Main St
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
(207) 288-2822
Visit Website

A longtime favorite of locals and visitors, 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 Mark “Duffy” Dyer, offers an extensive wine list and expertly made mojitos.

A bright red drink in a lowball glass garnished with a lime wedge on a wooden bar
A cocktail at Havana
Havana [Facebook]

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1. Anju Noodle Bar

7 Wallingford Square #102, Kittery, ME 03904

This noodle bar in a repurposed government building in Kittery serves “free-style” Asian fare. Don’t miss the okonomiyaki, pork buns, or ramen fortified by a 14-hour broth made with meat from the butcher next door. Insider’s tip: Pass through the back of Anju into its sister cocktail bar, the Wallingford Dram, for a drink before or after dinner.

7 Wallingford Square #102
Kittery, ME 03904

2. Oxbow Beer Garden

420 Main St, Oxford, ME 04270
A four-pack of beer bottles beside a full pizza on a wooden pizza paddle, all sitting on a barrel in front of a wood pile
Beer and pizza at Oxbow
Oxbow [Official]

Farmhouse brewery Oxbow Brewing’s third location became an instant classic as soon as it opened in the former home of a cross-country ski center. Yeast lovers flock to the outpost in Western Maine for the tasting room’s 15 taps, wood-fired pizzas, and adjacent bottle shop. Perfect for groups of friends and families, the beer garden is a worthwhile destination all year long.

420 Main St
Oxford, ME 04270

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. They’re probably the most effective ambassadors Biddeford has. From the pancakes and egg sandwich to the tuna melt and fried chicken, portions are just large enough that you probably shouldn’t finish, but too delicious to set aside.

18 Franklin St
Biddeford, ME 04005

4. Magnus on Water

12 Water St, Biddeford, ME 04005
A bartender strains a cocktail from a shaker through a fine mesh strainer into a lowball glass in front of a backbar filled with bottles
Beverage director Brian Catapang at work
Searching the Shadows Photography

Chef Ben Jackson, formerly of Drifters Wife, moved to Magnus on Water after a pandemic reboot. There he joined former Elda bartender Brian Catapang and general manager Brittany Saliwanchik, along with partners Julia Russell and Carmen Harris, to serve up original cocktails and small plates like sherry-steamed clams and sugar snap peas with goat cheese, mint, and country ham. Find a seat on the adjoining outdoor patio, which overlooks the nearby Saco River.

12 Water St
Biddeford, ME 04005

5. Bite into Maine

Allagash Brewing Co, 50 Industrial Way, Portland, ME 04103
A hand holds a well-packed lobster role, topped with mayo and chopped chives, in front of a rocky coastline and a lighthouse in the distance
The lobster roll in all its glory
Bite into Maine [Facebook]

No visit to Maine is complete without a lobster roll. All of Bite Into Maine’s locations serve some of the best lobster rolls in the state, but the seasonal location at Fort Williams is the most scenic. In addition to five styles of lobster roll, you’ll find chowder, a variety of grilled cheeses, and whoopie pies.

Allagash Brewing Co, 50 Industrial Way
Portland, ME 04103

6. Woodford F&B

660 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04103
A table packed with food and drink, including deviled eggs, oysters on ice, mussels, sandwiches, fries, and steins of beer
The full lunch spread
Woodford F&B [Facebook]

This neighborhood eatery with a retro diner feel provides a much-needed dining option to Woodfords Corner. A Fore Street alum, chef Courtney Loreg delivers brasserie classics like mussels and fries, an epic cheeseburger, and Maine crab cakes. Classic cocktails from the bar make this spot an off-peninsula destination.

660 Forest Ave
Portland, ME 04103

7. Chaval

58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

This West End bistro from chef-owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez has become a neighborhood favorite thanks to its homey vibe and leaf-covered back deck. The menu includes Spanish staples like jamon iberico and blistered Padron peppers, as well as French dishes like coq au vin. The bar program, run by Central Provisions alum Patrick McDonald, delivers updated classics and originals.

58 Pine St
Portland, ME 04102

8. Local 188

685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

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

685 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102

9. Central Provisions

414 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

With an ever-changing menu, an impressive drinks program, and fantastic service, Central continues to make waves five years after it started turning heads. At their beautifully renovated Old Port spot, Chris and Paige Gould serve small plates of globally inspired cuisine like smoked halibut dip, a lobster and chorizo roll, and cauliflower-feta agnolotti.

414 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

10. Terlingua

40 Washington Ave, Portland, ME 04101
A full barbecued lamb shoulder on butcher paper in front of a closed grill
Herb & garlic lamb shoulder
Terlingua [Facebook]

The outdoor dining at this “boutique barbecue” restaurant is a worthy destination in Portland’s East End. With a menu of house-smoked meats and dishes with Caribbean flair, Terlingua has something for everyone (including vegetarians). A solid craft beer and tequila selection ties it all together.

40 Washington Ave
Portland, ME 04101

11. Eventide Oyster Co.

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

Eventide’s cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get-go. The restaurant made its mark with a great granite trough of pristine oysters, inventive cocktails, and a menu that ranges from crudo and charcuterie to fried chicken and biscuits — as well as what may be the state’s most innovative lobster roll.

86 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

12. Fore Street

288 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101
A dining room inside a restaurant blends into the open kitchen. One wall is all brick, and there are lots of wooden accents throughout the space. Bill Addison/Eater

James Beard Award-winning chef 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, 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

13. 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 headcheese, and bone marrow onion soup pies. Huge windows offer expansive views of Portland’s working waterfront.

68 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101

14. Crown Jewel

255 Diamond Ave, Portland, ME 04109
A restaurant interior with checkered floor, wooden tables with bowed wooden backs, a bar with wooden stools, a neon flamingo on the backbar beside bottles and light pouring through windows
Inside Crown Jewel
Courtney Elizabeth Media

This small bistro on Great Diamond Island provides an escape with its tropical decor and neon flamingo. The new menu, designed by Eventide alum Sara Devereux and owner Alex Wight, features seafood dishes like lobster tail yakitori, miso steamed mussels, and tuna poke. To get to the island, take the Casco Bay Lines ferry to Diamond Cove or arrange for a private water taxi.

255 Diamond Ave
Portland, ME 04109

15. Primo Restaurant

2 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841
A kitchen counter with open shelving packed with dishes and pickle jars, a counter topped with jars and bunches of herbs and a chalkboard sign, decorative backsplash, and dried meat hanging beside pendant lights near the ceiling
The Counter Room at Primo
Primo Restaurant [Official]

Chef Melissa Kelly’s Mediterranean cooking is supported by the farm on premises, 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 entrees. 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 meal.

2 Main St
Rockland, ME 04841

16. Nina June

24 Central St, Rockport, ME 04856
From above, a salad of sliced cucumber, radish, and greens with a thick orange sauce on a decorative plate
Salad at Nina June
Nina June [Facebook]

This Italian trattoria from former New York chef Sara Jenkins offers a menu of classics and simple seasonal dishes in downtown Rockport. Located in the former home of Salt Water Farm, Jenkins’s restaurant overlooks the harbor, providing nice views with your pork ragu. Pro tip: The restaurant’s name is pronounced NINE-a June, after the chef’s childhood nickname.

24 Central St
Rockport, ME 04856

17. Long Grain

20 Washington St, Camden, ME 04843

A local favorite that has received national praise, Long Grain uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare inspired pan-Asian dishes. Chef Ravin Nakjaroen won’t disappoint adventurous eaters with spicy night market noodle soup, stir-fried ginger chicken, and Maine crab fried rice.

20 Washington St
Camden, ME 04843

18. Havana

318 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
A bright red drink in a lowball glass garnished with a lime wedge on a wooden bar
A cocktail at Havana
Havana [Facebook]

A longtime favorite of locals and visitors, 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 Mark “Duffy” Dyer, offers an extensive wine list and expertly made mojitos.

318 Main St
Bar Harbor, ME 04609