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The 18 Essential Maine Restaurants, January 2013

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Presenting Maine's updated Eater 18, your answer to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant ?" This highly elite group covers the entire state, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs. Every few months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

New to this update: Local 188, Chase's Daily, The Lost Kitchen, Long Grain, The White Barn Inn. Note that some restaurants included previously are not here for this go-round because they are closed for the winter, namely Arrows and Primo.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or through the tipline.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Robert's Maine Grill

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Its location in the heart of Kittery’s outlet district aside, Robert’s is a fine option for traditional and not-so traditional Maine seafood served in an open, airy, riverfront setting.

The White Barn Inn

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A former barn with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows is the setting for Maine food that is 180 degrees from the lobster shack. Chef Jonathan Cartwright presides over a first-class dining experience for which jackets for gentlemen - with deep pockets - are required.

Fore Street

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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. The James Beard Award-winning chef was the first in Portland to incorporate ingredients from local farmers, fishermen and foragers. His rustic, seasonal menu changes daily.

Eventide Oyster Co.

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The cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get go early this summer, 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

Duckfat

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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, will be well worth it.

Petite Jacqueline

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The French bistro by husband and wife team Steve and Michelle Corry and their partner Liz Koenigsberg – who also own Portland’s Five-Fifty-Five - exudes modern Gallic charm. It continues to rack up accolades, most recently, Food & Wine Magazine editor Dana Cowin named it one of her 12 favorite restaurants of the year,
A hushed temple of superb sushi from a master of the craft, Miyake serves only fish from Maine waters or flown in from Japan. Chef Masa Miyake’s tasting menus paired with sake offer a world-class experience.

Street and Company

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In a rustic, brick-walled space, Fore Street's cozy sister restaurant - equally a Portland icon - focuses on seafood, much of it served in the skillets it was cooked in, straight onto copper tabletops.

J's Oyster Bar

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Regulars could care less that Bourdain visited, except that it may have made their regular seat at the U-shaped bar even harder to grab. Nothing fancy here, just straightforward Maine seafood served with sass on Portland’s working waterfront.

Zapoteca

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Authentic, upscale Mexican food and an astonishing variety of tequilas keep the urbane dining rooms and bar buzzing with diners who have discovered this out-of-the-fray alternative to the Old Port scene.

Local 188

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A wide-open kitchen, Spanish-inspired menu and quirky, shabby-chic decor define chef/owner Jay Villani's West End institution.

Henry and Marty

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There are newer, more-buzzed about restaurants in Brunswick, but for well-made comfort food in one of Maine's friendliest settings, you can't go wrong here.

King Eider's Pub

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Todd Maurer has made his vertically arranged pub a fixture in this quaint mid-coast downtown. There’s a lively bar on the ground floor; up a few narrow stairs are a tiny oyster bar and snug dining room. In addition to Maine seafood, the menu features pub stalwarts such as steak and ale pie.

Moody's Diner

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OK, it's a diner, but it's Moody's, which belongs on this list for having treated locals and tourists with equal care for 80 years. Craving oyster stew, New England boiled dinner and pie? It's all here.

Natalie's at The Camden Harbour Inn

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n the luxurious Camden Harbor Inn, Natalie's glamorous red and white dining room is a striking backdrop for chef Geoffroy Deconinck's sophisticated seasonal food

Long Grain

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Ravin “Bas” Nakjaroen uses Maine ingredients to transform the street food of his native Bangkok into dishes that have wowed locals and The New York Times.

Chase's Daily

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A vegetarian restaurant with a devoted, maybe even cult-like, following, Chase's serves breakfast and lunch; dinner is available just one night a week. Much of the produce in season is from the Chase family's farm.

The Lost Kitchen

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Largely self-taught chef Erin French is turning out fresh modern food in a distinctive Gothic building downtown. The Lost Kitchen does not take reservations, so the wait may be long, but it will be well worth it.

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Robert's Maine Grill

Its location in the heart of Kittery’s outlet district aside, Robert’s is a fine option for traditional and not-so traditional Maine seafood served in an open, airy, riverfront setting.

The White Barn Inn

A former barn with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows is the setting for Maine food that is 180 degrees from the lobster shack. Chef Jonathan Cartwright presides over a first-class dining experience for which jackets for gentlemen - with deep pockets - are required.

Fore Street

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

Eventide Oyster Co.

The cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get go early this summer, 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

Duckfat

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, will be well worth it.

Petite Jacqueline

The French bistro by husband and wife team Steve and Michelle Corry and their partner Liz Koenigsberg – who also own Portland’s Five-Fifty-Five - exudes modern Gallic charm. It continues to rack up accolades, most recently, Food & Wine Magazine editor Dana Cowin named it one of her 12 favorite restaurants of the year,

Miyake

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

Street and Company

In a rustic, brick-walled space, Fore Street's cozy sister restaurant - equally a Portland icon - focuses on seafood, much of it served in the skillets it was cooked in, straight onto copper tabletops.

J's Oyster Bar

Regulars could care less that Bourdain visited, except that it may have made their regular seat at the U-shaped bar even harder to grab. Nothing fancy here, just straightforward Maine seafood served with sass on Portland’s working waterfront.

Zapoteca

Authentic, upscale Mexican food and an astonishing variety of tequilas keep the urbane dining rooms and bar buzzing with diners who have discovered this out-of-the-fray alternative to the Old Port scene.

Local 188

A wide-open kitchen, Spanish-inspired menu and quirky, shabby-chic decor define chef/owner Jay Villani's West End institution.

Henry and Marty

There are newer, more-buzzed about restaurants in Brunswick, but for well-made comfort food in one of Maine's friendliest settings, you can't go wrong here.

King Eider's Pub

Todd Maurer has made his vertically arranged pub a fixture in this quaint mid-coast downtown. There’s a lively bar on the ground floor; up a few narrow stairs are a tiny oyster bar and snug dining room. In addition to Maine seafood, the menu features pub stalwarts such as steak and ale pie.

Moody's Diner

OK, it's a diner, but it's Moody's, which belongs on this list for having treated locals and tourists with equal care for 80 years. Craving oyster stew, New England boiled dinner and pie? It's all here.

Natalie's at The Camden Harbour Inn

n the luxurious Camden Harbor Inn, Natalie's glamorous red and white dining room is a striking backdrop for chef Geoffroy Deconinck's sophisticated seasonal food