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The 18 Essential Maine Restaurants, January 2014

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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 (note: elite doesn't necessarily mean expensive or high-end) 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. The list is ordered geographically.

New to this update: The Gothic, Petite Jacqueline and When Pigs Fly Pizzeria.

Maine is a big state, and with this list limited to 18, there are absolutely a number of worthy restaurants not included here. For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? Or hit us up via the tipline. Or send us an anonymous message.


10/10/12 Added: Duckfat, Eventide, Mache Bistro, Natalie's, Street and Co., Zapoteca.
1/8/2013 Added: Local 188, Chase's Daily, The Lost Kitchen, Long Grain, The White Barn Inn.
7/9/2013 Added: Five Fifty-Five, Hugo's, Street and Co.
10/8/2013 Added: Long Grain, Back Bay Grill, The Black Birch
1/7/2014 Added: The Gothic, Petite Jacqueline and When Pigs Fly Pizzeria

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Black Birch

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2 Government St
Kittery, ME 03904
(207) 703-2294
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Elevated comfort food is served in a cool, casual and welcoming atmosphere. The food gets rave reviews and the draft beer list is one of the best around.

2. When Pigs Fly Pizzeria

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460 US Route 1
Kittery, ME 03904
(207) 438-7036
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The wood-fired pizzas are the main draw, but chef Ben Hasty's menu goes way beyond just pies, with housemade charcuterie, a raw bar and some excellent pasta dishes. There's also draft wine and a large selection of craft beers on tap.

3. The White Barn Inn

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37 Beach Avenue
Kennebunk, ME 04043
(207) 967-2321
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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. (Closed Jan. 6 to Jan. 24)

4. 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. 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.

5. 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 last 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 - as well as what may be the state's most innovative lobster roll.

6. 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, will be well worth it.

7. Hugo's

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88 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8538
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The newly remodeled old standby made famous by former owner Rob Evans and made modern by current co-owners Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and Arlin Smith provides a fine dining experience unlike any other in the city.

8. 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 from Maine waters or flown in from Japan. Chef Masa Miyake’s tasting menus paired with sake offer a world-class experience.

9. Street and Co.

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33 Wharf St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 775-0887
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In a rustic brick space off the cobblestones of Wharf Street you will find fresh seafood prepared simply and near perfectly.

10. Local 188

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685 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 761-7909
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A wide-open kitchen, Spanish-inspired menu and quirky, shabby-chic decor define chef/owner Jay Villani's flagship West End institution.

11. Petite Jacqueline

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190 State St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 553-7044
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Frederic Eliot has taken over the kitchen and the Paris-born chef has elevated the Longfellow Square bistro's French cuisine to new heights with his classic preparations.

12. Five Fifty-Five

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555 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101-3308
(207) 761-0555
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Now ten years in, the award-winning restaurant from Steve and Michelle Corry is still going strong, providing a complete dining experience that isn't hip or trendy, just excellent.

13. Back Bay Grill

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65 Portland St
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 772-8833
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It's been a Portland fine-dining institution for a quarter century and chef/owner Larry Matthews has been a part of it for most of those years. Great food and an award-winning wine list.

14. Tao Yuan

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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 Cara Stadler and her mother Cecile create some of the state's most exciting Asian-inspired food using seasonal and largely local ingredients.

15. Long Grain

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31 Elm St.
Camden, ME 04843
(207) 236-9001
A local favorite that has received high praise from the New York Times and others, Long Grain uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare inspired Asian dishes.

16. Natalie's at the Camden Harbour Inn

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83 Bayview St
Camden, ME 04843
(207) 236-7008
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In the luxurious Camden Harbor Inn, Natalie's glamorous red and white dining room is a striking backdrop for creative seasonal dishes from executive chefs Shelby Stevens and Chris Long.

17. Francine Bistro

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55 Chestnut Street
Camden, ME 04843
Chef Brian Hill's romantic, yet energy-charged, 25-seat bistro has a menu that changes daily, featuring four appetizers, a salad and four entrees. On a side street above busy Camden Harbor, it offers a respite from the madding crowds.

18. The Gothic

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108 Main St.
Belfast, ME 04915
(207) 338-4684
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At Eater Maine's 2013 Restaurant of the Year, chef Jason Paul is cooking up modern dishes with local ingredients. Built as a bank in the 1870s, the beautiful building houses a sophisticated dining area that preserves the classical style.

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1. The Black Birch

2 Government St, Kittery, ME 03904
Elevated comfort food is served in a cool, casual and welcoming atmosphere. The food gets rave reviews and the draft beer list is one of the best around.
2 Government St
Kittery, ME 03904

2. When Pigs Fly Pizzeria

460 US Route 1, Kittery, ME 03904
The wood-fired pizzas are the main draw, but chef Ben Hasty's menu goes way beyond just pies, with housemade charcuterie, a raw bar and some excellent pasta dishes. There's also draft wine and a large selection of craft beers on tap.
460 US Route 1
Kittery, ME 03904

3. The White Barn Inn

37 Beach Avenue, Kennebunk, ME 04043
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. (Closed Jan. 6 to Jan. 24)
37 Beach Avenue
Kennebunk, ME 04043

4. Fore Street

288 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101
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.
288 Fore St.
Portland, ME 04101

5. Eventide Oyster Co.

86 Middle St., Portland, ME 04101
The cool blue raw bar was an instant success from the get go last 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 - as well as what may be the state's most innovative lobster roll.
86 Middle St.
Portland, ME 04101

6. 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, will be well worth it.
43 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

7. Hugo's

88 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
The newly remodeled old standby made famous by former owner Rob Evans and made modern by current co-owners Andrew Taylor, Mike Wiley and Arlin Smith provides a fine dining experience unlike any other in the city.
88 Middle St
Portland, ME 04101

8. Miyake

468 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101
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.
468 Fore St
Portland, ME 04101

9. Street and Co.

33 Wharf St, Portland, ME 04101
In a rustic brick space off the cobblestones of Wharf Street you will find fresh seafood prepared simply and near perfectly.
33 Wharf St
Portland, ME 04101

10. Local 188

685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102
A wide-open kitchen, Spanish-inspired menu and quirky, shabby-chic decor define chef/owner Jay Villani's flagship West End institution.
685 Congress St
Portland, ME 04102

11. Petite Jacqueline

190 State St, Portland, ME 04101
Frederic Eliot has taken over the kitchen and the Paris-born chef has elevated the Longfellow Square bistro's French cuisine to new heights with his classic preparations.
190 State St
Portland, ME 04101

12. Five Fifty-Five

555 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101-3308
Now ten years in, the award-winning restaurant from Steve and Michelle Corry is still going strong, providing a complete dining experience that isn't hip or trendy, just excellent.
555 Congress St
Portland, ME 04101-3308

13. Back Bay Grill

65 Portland St, Portland, ME 04101
It's been a Portland fine-dining institution for a quarter century and chef/owner Larry Matthews has been a part of it for most of those years. Great food and an award-winning wine list.
65 Portland St
Portland, ME 04101

14. Tao Yuan

22 Pleasant St., Brunswick, ME 04011
In this tiny, mid-coast bistro, Eater Award-winner 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. Long Grain

31 Elm St., Camden, ME 04843
A local favorite that has received high praise from the New York Times and others, Long Grain uses the freshest local ingredients to prepare inspired Asian dishes.
31 Elm St.
Camden, ME 04843

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16. Natalie's at the Camden Harbour Inn

83 Bayview St, Camden, ME 04843
In the luxurious Camden Harbor Inn, Natalie's glamorous red and white dining room is a striking backdrop for creative seasonal dishes from executive chefs Shelby Stevens and Chris Long.
83 Bayview St
Camden, ME 04843

17. Francine Bistro

55 Chestnut Street, Camden, ME 04843
Chef Brian Hill's romantic, yet energy-charged, 25-seat bistro has a menu that changes daily, featuring four appetizers, a salad and four entrees. On a side street above busy Camden Harbor, it offers a respite from the madding crowds.
55 Chestnut Street
Camden, ME 04843

18. The Gothic

108 Main St., Belfast, ME 04915
At Eater Maine's 2013 Restaurant of the Year, chef Jason Paul is cooking up modern dishes with local ingredients. Built as a bank in the 1870s, the beautiful building houses a sophisticated dining area that preserves the classical style.
108 Main St.
Belfast, ME 04915