We’ll bet you can’t visit Lubec just once. We certainly can’t. This place hooks you right in the heart, and quickly becomes a place you miss when you are not there. On and off the water, there’s lots to do, but some of our best times here are spent doing — nothing.


It’s no secret that George and I are drawn to Lubec. George has lots of family history here, and I used to camp at Cobscook Bay State Park with my parents every summer. Most summers, we’d make a trip to West Quoddy Head State Park or go across the bridge to Campobello.

I was always taken with the beautiful views of the ocean and bays, and hold on to the memories of looking for wild blueberries when we went in August. It was sad to see Lubec’s downtown area boarded up and pretty much abandoned over the years.

Always being one to root for the underdog, I was very happy to see Lubec start to rebound. If you stroll down the main street during the summer these days, you’ll see many people — locals and tourists — poking in the shops and eating at the restaurants.

We’ve written about two favorite restaurants here, Cohill’s and Frank’s Dockside Restaurant. Then friends started asking,  “Haven’t you tried Water Street Tavern and Inn? You really have to try it!”
So, this past June we stopped in for what turned out to be a fabulous dinner.


Jim Heyer and his wife Judy are Water Street’s owners. They took a chance on renovating this building that had been closed for decades. Jim, retired now, was a national beer salesman, hence the concept of a tavern (in fact they advertise it as “The Easternmost Tavern in the USA!”). He really knows his wine and beer and takes pride in their selection, carrying wine not found in supermarkets. Let’s just say that the beverage menu is as long as the food menu!

The restaurant is light and spacious with beautiful pine floors and holds interesting, eclectic decorations. Our window looked across the water to Campobello. The tables are close enough to have a conversation with others if you choose to. At the table next to us, we talked with a couple from New Jersey visiting relatives in Maine, who told us how much they enjoyed a Conducting Concert in Hancock, eating at Le Domaine and staying at The Crocker House. It seems the more trips we take, the more gems we hear about.

George and I shared an appetizer of blue cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms to begin our meal. The three large mushrooms were plenty to share. That deep mushroom taste combined nicely with the cheese and bacon. We also shared a nice house salad.

They change the menu daily here. I was so happy that I ordered the Mushroom Ravioli that night. At their very reasonable price of $14, one can enjoy a spectacular dish. The delectable sauce had real depth in flavor. I asked what was in it and was told sherry. The portabellas made the ravioli extra special.

Jim comes around to visit each table, serves wine, and makes sure each guest gets a personal thank you before leaving. He talked to us and the folks at the next table for a while after most of the restaurant had cleared out.

He told us that the people from the Food Network had been in Lubec the previous week to tape The Next Great Food Truck Race. It turns out that the fall season’s show started in California at a lighthouse and will end in Lubec at Quoddy Head Lighthouse.


The final two teams and all the production staff filled Lubec for a few days, including the rooms in the Water Street Tavern and Inn. If I’d known, I’d have found a way to be there! You might want to tune in on Sunday nights, knowing that the finale will be in Maine. Too cool.

Lubec-Eastport Taxi

A relatively new addition to Lubec is what the locals refer to as the “Water Taxi.” It’s actually called the Eastport Ferry, and in season it travels between Lubec and Eastport four times a day. On the leisurely half-hour trip, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the scenery and the company of those aboard. This is an informal boat. The passengers seemed open to friendly conversation so we chatted a bit with others and before we knew it, we were already approaching Eastport.

Everything we wanted to see was within walking distance. It was about a 15-minute walk to Raye’s Mustard Factory, now owned by fourth-generation Kevin and Karen Raye. We were able to have a tour of the factory, including a short video of the mustard-making process.

It seems that back in 1900, a Pennsylvania Chocolate Factory had ordered four grindstones from France and had them delivered through Eastport. A little too late, they discovered that the grindstones were for a wet grind, and chocolates required stones for a dry grind. That’s when Kevin Raye’s great-grandfather found out about them and decided to buy them and start a mustard business.

Originally Raye’s made a thin mustard sauce for the packing of sardines. They now make 25 kinds of mustard using combinations of three types of mustard seeds. You can sample all of the mustards right there in their store. We have a lot of varieties in our fridge, but somehow had missed out on the Sea Dog Beer Mustard. We remedied that and headed back downtown for lunch.


The Shipwreck

It felt like a dark, cool oasis entering The Shipwreck for lunch. We were pretty hot and parched by the time we arrived in Eastport, and there were plenty of ice-cold beers to choose from. I noticed a fishbowl on every table and ours was labeled “Glitter Puss.” The fish kept an eye on us, swimming back and forth swishing his fancy tail while we ate.

The sign outside had drawn us in — Pork in Green Chili Smothered Burritos.  We both ordered them and though it was a large serving, I nearly cleaned my plate and George totally cleaned his. There was a nice variety on the menu — rolls, wraps and salads at very reasonable prices.
We had time to stroll through the downtown area and noticed several eating places. One of the most popular was Rosie’s Hotdogs, where people were triple-parked in front of the stand at the entrance to the wharf. We had a view of Rosie’s from our lunch table and it was busy the whole time we were there.

The Pickled Herring restaurant came highly recommended to us, but is only open for dinner so we missed out. It did look really lovely inside. And on the boat ride back, people were raving about the Mexican restaurant that made its own handmade tortillas. All good reasons to return!
Lots of the downtown buildings kept the unique features of the storefronts, rebuilt after a fire destroyed them in 1886. The buildings have been beautifully refurbished inside. We found a variety of shops and several art galleries to enjoy before we boarded the ferry for another scenic ride back to Lubec. What fun!

I should never let Linda write her piece first. She’s left me almost no room!
At the Water Street Tavern, my Moqueca — a Brazilian seafood stew full of Maine haddock, shrimp and scallops — was amazing.

Walking in, I struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar, who said, “This is the best place to eat.”  A good start! And our server, Tayla, was a Campobello native, emphasizing just how much these neighboring communities  — in different countries — share.


Jim spent more than two years renovating the building before opening, and his upstairs rooms at the inn range from a large suite overlooking the water, to small rooms that share a huge common area including a dining table and stunning ocean views.

From his specially designed wine glasses, to the impressive list of entrées and delicious seasonal desserts, you’ll have a great dining experience here. I doubt there’s another Downeast restaurant that goes through a case of duck a week! And I was incredibly impressed to find Chicago’s Goose Island Honker’s Ale on draft.

Jim and his wife are also great advertisements for Lubec, where they vacationed in 2001 and loved it so much they purchased a house that same year. I heard Jim talking shotguns with a couple from Texas — my kind of guy!

When we learned he gets his fresh crabmeat from Griffins in Dennysville, where we always call ahead to reserve a couple of containers before we head to Lubec, we knew we were in the right restaurant.

Carol Dennison, President of the Lubec Chamber of Commerce, not only lined up the ferry for our enjoyable visit to Eastport, she also set up a morning cruise on the Lorna Doone, a 25-foot lobster boat that she and husband Ralph operate for whale watching and other ocean adventures, including a history cruise. Alas, we got fogged in the morning of our cruise and had to put it on our list for the next Lubec trip. That can’t come soon enough!

Visit George’s website: www.george
smithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews, outdoor news and more.

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