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The Ramp Bar and Grill, Kennebunkport Photo: <a href="http://www.pier77restaurant.com/">Pier 77 Restaurants</a>]
The Ramp Bar and Grill, Kennebunkport Photo: Pier 77 Restaurants]

The Best Dive Bar Dining In Portland And Beyond

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The Ramp Bar and Grill, Kennebunkport Photo: Pier 77 Restaurants]

Dive Bar Dining may appear to be an oxymoron, but in a shabby-chic town such as Portland, "dive" is both uber-hip and relative. The unspoken No Dress Code means rolling out of the rack and throwing on last night's jeans and a Pat's cap when heading off to a brunch, or waltzing in fried and ravenous after a day on the water, still sporting flip-flops and your finest, yet tackiest Hawaiian shirt. Reservations aren't taken and that's OK because most of the time Dive Bar Dining is an impulse feeding experience.

Greater Portland is blessed with many spots deserving of the coveted Miller High Life neon trophy, all umbrella-ed under the dark and fabulously seedy atmosphere required to qualify as "dive." Here are a few of the best that also offer surprisingly good vittles: in town, off the peninsula and outta Dodge.

By Eater Maine contributing writer Natalie Ladd


The One That Got Away:
Binga's Wingas - Owner Alec Altman, and then partner J.D. Way (the world's biggest and most annoying New York Giants fans) moved locations around a bit with different dining concepts before plopping Portland's best in-town wing bar (bar none) on Congress Street, within spitting distance to Maine Med. Everything about the location screamed dive - the graffiti, the overly tattooed servers, the abundance of killer sauces and delicious BBQ, cold beer, tacky game nights ... It was the whole package. When things went up in smoke and expansion to Yarmouth and Free Street commenced, the food simply didn't taste as good. With classy new locations and a mini-corporate feel, Binga's lost it's dive-ish charm.

· All Coverage of Dive Bars [~EMAINE~]

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Ruski's Tavern

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This West End neighborhood gem is a magnet for Bloody Mary snobs and Sunday mornings often look like the crowd shifted from 'da club to the corner table. Proudly owning this distinction, Ruski's sells the Hangover Special to the masses - two eggs, hash, home fries and toast ($6.75). Another post-walk-of-shame special is the artery-hardening Fill Me Up Please - Two eggs, hash, bacon, Italian sausage and an English muffin ($7.95).

Downtown Lounge

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D.T.L. is legendary in that as places come and go, this institution is still standing with as little fanfare and pomp as possible. After pushing through the mixed-bag crowd always found smoking directly outside the door, it's worth the wait for a seat. Daily specials are often the best bet. Other standouts: Greek salad with falafel and home made Greek dressing; the hummus plate with marinated olives, grilled vegetables and flat bread. Both are $9.95 and make for great eats before a show at the State.

Old Port Tavern & Billiards

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O.P.T. has a 40-year history of offering "unique yet affordable dining,” like their special 16 oz. Prime Rib Dinner - Cajun w/ crumbled blue cheese is a favorite. The price point changes with the weather, but check out the ever present, larger-than-life Miller Lite banner hanging out front for details. It may ruin your buzz, but indulge in the over-sized, house-made portion of apple crisp to shoot pool or partake in the worst-of-the-best karaoke in town.

Samuels Bar And Grill

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Best wings in Greater Portland, hands-down, are served here. Sam Minevino and his staff are the winners of excellent dive bar marketing (Don't believe us? Check out the website for an impressive list of daily food and cheap beer specials) and never fail to crack us up with their Facebook postings. There's always a football square to buy and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the 5 cent Sunday morning mimosa special.

Profenno's Pizzeria & Pub

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Recently celebrating half a century of dive restaurant/bar status, surviving a fire, and withstanding the 'Brook's suburban renewal, Profenno's reigns supreme with the purest dive bar dining menu on the list. That means pizza, sandwiches on house-made bread ordered by number, lots of fried food and absolutely nothing that could be considered upscale. The welcome caveat is: everything is done well. Pretend to be healthy with the Antipasto Salad ($9.95), or just own it and go for a large chicken finger and provolone sandwich ($6.95).

The Ramp Bar and Grill

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Tucked away underneath the much swankier Pier 77 Restaurant, The Ramp offers the same quality food, but in an on-the-waterfront, casual, exposed-wood-beam and small-bar kind of way. It isn't cheap by dive bar standards, but hey, it is Kennebunkport. Mussels are served everywhere, but these guys offer “steamed clams three-ways.” The best of the three? Portuguese style - chorizo, garlic, tomatoes, and red chili flakes. They also do serious Maine crab cakes with romesco sauce, and fried capers (both $14).

Cafe Sebago

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The sign says it all. “Nothing Fancy...Just Good Food.” Best known for the Wednesday fresh fried haddock plate special ($8.95), this place hops with locals even in the off-season. Really, really impressive Tuesday lobster rolls ($10.95) are also sold year ‘round and Bobby, one of Maine's best-kept-secret bartenders is there Wednesday through Friday nights, offering up sarcasm and charm in equal measure.

Mulligan's Mill Side Live

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We all know Bidda-fud is synonymous with “dive” and Mulligan's is the best of the best. Located in an old mill, it's cavernous and gets loud and rowdy. Everything on the menu is under $5 - from a bowl of two-alarm chili with cheese for $2.59 to the 12oz. handcut Certified Angus beef steak served with a side for $4.99. The food is honestly rock solid good, but what could we expect from a cook named Bubba?

Ruski's Tavern

This West End neighborhood gem is a magnet for Bloody Mary snobs and Sunday mornings often look like the crowd shifted from 'da club to the corner table. Proudly owning this distinction, Ruski's sells the Hangover Special to the masses - two eggs, hash, home fries and toast ($6.75). Another post-walk-of-shame special is the artery-hardening Fill Me Up Please - Two eggs, hash, bacon, Italian sausage and an English muffin ($7.95).

Downtown Lounge

D.T.L. is legendary in that as places come and go, this institution is still standing with as little fanfare and pomp as possible. After pushing through the mixed-bag crowd always found smoking directly outside the door, it's worth the wait for a seat. Daily specials are often the best bet. Other standouts: Greek salad with falafel and home made Greek dressing; the hummus plate with marinated olives, grilled vegetables and flat bread. Both are $9.95 and make for great eats before a show at the State.

Old Port Tavern & Billiards

O.P.T. has a 40-year history of offering "unique yet affordable dining,” like their special 16 oz. Prime Rib Dinner - Cajun w/ crumbled blue cheese is a favorite. The price point changes with the weather, but check out the ever present, larger-than-life Miller Lite banner hanging out front for details. It may ruin your buzz, but indulge in the over-sized, house-made portion of apple crisp to shoot pool or partake in the worst-of-the-best karaoke in town.

Samuels Bar And Grill

Best wings in Greater Portland, hands-down, are served here. Sam Minevino and his staff are the winners of excellent dive bar marketing (Don't believe us? Check out the website for an impressive list of daily food and cheap beer specials) and never fail to crack us up with their Facebook postings. There's always a football square to buy and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the 5 cent Sunday morning mimosa special.

Profenno's Pizzeria & Pub

Recently celebrating half a century of dive restaurant/bar status, surviving a fire, and withstanding the 'Brook's suburban renewal, Profenno's reigns supreme with the purest dive bar dining menu on the list. That means pizza, sandwiches on house-made bread ordered by number, lots of fried food and absolutely nothing that could be considered upscale. The welcome caveat is: everything is done well. Pretend to be healthy with the Antipasto Salad ($9.95), or just own it and go for a large chicken finger and provolone sandwich ($6.95).

The Ramp Bar and Grill

Tucked away underneath the much swankier Pier 77 Restaurant, The Ramp offers the same quality food, but in an on-the-waterfront, casual, exposed-wood-beam and small-bar kind of way. It isn't cheap by dive bar standards, but hey, it is Kennebunkport. Mussels are served everywhere, but these guys offer “steamed clams three-ways.” The best of the three? Portuguese style - chorizo, garlic, tomatoes, and red chili flakes. They also do serious Maine crab cakes with romesco sauce, and fried capers (both $14).

Cafe Sebago

The sign says it all. “Nothing Fancy...Just Good Food.” Best known for the Wednesday fresh fried haddock plate special ($8.95), this place hops with locals even in the off-season. Really, really impressive Tuesday lobster rolls ($10.95) are also sold year ‘round and Bobby, one of Maine's best-kept-secret bartenders is there Wednesday through Friday nights, offering up sarcasm and charm in equal measure.

Mulligan's Mill Side Live

We all know Bidda-fud is synonymous with “dive” and Mulligan's is the best of the best. Located in an old mill, it's cavernous and gets loud and rowdy. Everything on the menu is under $5 - from a bowl of two-alarm chili with cheese for $2.59 to the 12oz. handcut Certified Angus beef steak served with a side for $4.99. The food is honestly rock solid good, but what could we expect from a cook named Bubba?