George

This week, we’re going to feature one of our favorite places we enjoyed over the first seven years of writing this column. We’re always looking for great new places to tell you about, but we’re hoping you’ll enjoy a look back.

We first visited Hot Suppa in Portland in 2012, after our friends Rusty and Sue Atwood recommended it. It quickly became a favorite, with a menu featuring tasty southern cuisine. Anytime someone wants to meet with me in Portland, I insist it be at Hot Suppa.

So, it seemed appropriate to revisit one of our favorites this time, especially considering that our daughter, Hilary, flew into the Portland Jetport that day to join us for Thanksgiving.

Alec and Mo Sabina have created a popular restaurant, focused on the southern cuisine that Mo fell in love with when he attended college in New Orleans. Mo’s the chef and Alec the manager, and before they opened their restaurant they traveled the country, checking out the cuisine.

I especially enjoy the artwork and photos on the walls provided by Alec’s partner, Angela, who also produces a wonderful podcast for kids (check it out at storyspectacular.com).

I’ll let Hilary and Linda tell you about the food, but I have to admit that I almost always have their Cubano, the best I’ve ever had anywhere — including New Orleans. And yes, I enjoyed it again.

Hilary

We did a family Travelin’ Maine(rs) column at Hot Suppa a few years ago during the holidays, so I was very excited to hear that I would be joining in for another travel column visit there.

The Southern fare at this small and cozy restaurant with exposed brick walls and local art is both exciting and comforting at the same time. A spicy shrimp and andouille chowder, fried green tomatoes or hot Nashville-style fried chicken will all warm you up on a cold November day.

At our lunchtime visit, we were able to order from either breakfast or lunch menus — very convenient for a diner who is craving their famous corned beef hash and a fried green tomato BLT at the same time. The fried chicken sandwich, with spicy aioli and red cabbage slaw on a toasted ciabatta roll, was crispy, crunchy, tender and satisfying.

Don’t miss a cup of the spicy and smoky corn, shrimp and andouille sausage chowder. I hadn’t tried that soup before, but will definitely order it on a return trip. It was the standout of a very impressive spread.

A crispy waffle topped with homemade Maine blueberry sauce and freshly whipped cream was an excellent finish to our lunch feast. We would never have ordered dessert on account of being so stuffed from our meals, but thank goodness our server, Alison, brought us a plate. It was spectacular.

Linda

Hot Suppa keeps drawing us back with its home-cooked meals with a southern flair. We have several favorites here, but as I perused the menu I found many more items I still needed to try.

The one item I will never give up is the fried green tomato appetizer. Hilary, George and I all shared, and I thought I held great restraint in not ordering another plate. Yes, it is that good: tart tomatoes in a crispy crust served with an extraordinary remoulade.

I ordered the falafel wrap, ($11), a flatbread filled with falafel, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and tahini yogurt sauce. This is a huge wrap. It is served wrapped in foil and absolutely packed with ingredients. I did manage to polish it off, however.

Hot Suppa is well-known for their side dishes. In fact, my sister-in-law, Edie, says she gets the “four sides” plate every time she goes. There are about a dozen choices in sides, from soup to yellow-eyed beans. We were drooling over the corned beef hash side being eaten at a nearby table.

We managed to get four sides between us for this lunch. I noticed Geechie Boy Grits on both the breakfast and lunch menu, ($3), so that’s what I went with. This was my favorite part of the meal, even though everything was really good. I asked for cheesy grits, and they were delicious. They were creamy, yet had texture and lots of cheesy flavor. Hilary and George raved about them, too. I was surprised how well grits went with a sandwich.

Alison was full of personality and fun to visit with. Hot Suppa has a wonderful atmosphere and you can’t help but feel happy dining here. It is on our favorites list for a reason, and once you try it, it will be on your favorites list, too.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.