When Portland Press Herald Dine Out critic Andrew Ross began to compile a list of his favorite restaurants, cafes, bakeries and bars in Greater Portland late this spring, he planned to limit the list to 50 – a nice round number.

But while few other people know the region’s dining and food scene as well as he does, Ross soon realized he’d underestimated its vigor. Fifty was too small a number to give credit where credit was due, he told us, or as he put it, “I couldn’t do it.”

Is it any wonder that Bon Appetit magazine named Portland its Restaurant City of the Year in 2018? (And if they didn’t pick a new city every year, we think we’d have been a contender in 2019, too.)

That’s the backstory to our Press Herald list of 75 best places to eat, drink, indulge, devour, graze, relish, linger, snack and feast. Even expanded by 50 percent, the list left Ross making some tough calls. He has singled out his top 15.

This is the first year we’ve compiled a list of Press Herald best restaurants and more. We hope to make it an annual event. Who knows? Maybe next year, we’ll be forced to make it 100 best. As avid and often delighted diners, here’s hoping.

 

ABOUT THE WRITER:
Andrew Ross has written about food, wine and dining in Portland, the United Kingdom and New York, where he co-founded NYCnosh, a food website that published from 2005-2009. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He has written our weekly Dine Out restaurant review since April 2016, and is the recipient of two 2018 Critic’s Awards from the Maine Press Association. By day, Ross, who loves layer cake and hates popcorn, builds online programs for universities and colleges.


(Businesses are listed in alphabetical order.)

158 Pickett St. Cafe
Cheesy homefries, omelettes and soups are all great options in this cozy yet ramshackle space. But save room for house-baked bagels in flavors ranging from plain to seaweed, each served with your choice of schmear. If you’re hankering for spice, the chili-garlic cream cheese is a perfect solution.

158 Benjamin W. Pickett St.
South Portland
(207) 799-8998
Facebook

FILED UNDER: Breakfast, Lunch, Bagels, Bakery | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Artemisia Café
Booths upholstered in 1980s florals and a feral-looking tangle of vines over the bar make this Arts District standby feel retro and homey. That same hyggelig atmosphere extends to the menu, where comforting soups and “sammies” star.

61 Pleasant St.
Portland
(207) 761-0135
Facebook

FILED UNDER: Bistro, Eclectic, Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, North-American, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Back Bay Grill
Portlanders don’t agree on everything, but you’ll have a hard time finding a local who has eaten a bad (or even mediocre) meal at chef/owner Larry Matthews’s Back Bay Grill. The kitchen takes its focus on precise technique and high-quality, locally sourced ingredients seriously. The result is a traditional yet never hidebound menu whose pleasures are only amplified by an expansive, award-winning wine list.

65 Portland St.
Portland
(207) 772-8833
Website

FILED UNDER: Fine-Dining, North-American, Wine, Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Baharat
Aerated, garlicky hummus and nutty falafel balls are only part of the story at this casual Levantine restaurant. An ever-changing roster of desserts (lemon trifle, chocolate-halvah cake) and a creative, ingredient-forward cocktail list make Baharat ideal for a quick bite or a big, boozy meal.

91 Anderson St.
Portland
(207) 613-9849
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Cocktails, Middle-Eastern, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

BaoBao Dumpling House
Fluffy steamed buns that barely resist being torn apart, fried and steamed jiaozi (dumplings) and peekaboo shumai parcels are all part of why BaoBao has become a favorite lunchtime destination for downtown workers. On the weekends, it’s dim sum that does the trick.

133 Spring St.
Portland
(207) 772-8400
Website

FILED UNDER: Lunch, Dim-Sum, Chinese, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

Bard Coffee
Pourovers and espresso drinks made from custom-roasted beans are the stock in trade at this stylish, contemporary Old Port café. The staff takes its work seriously, with a few competitive-league cuppers and brewers among its ranks. Better still: On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you’ll find Norimoto Bakery’s financiers and chocolate sake cakes in the pastry case.

185 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 899-4788
Website

FILED UNDER: Coffee, Snacks, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box
Equal parts Victorian parlor and Weimar boudoir, Nan’l Meiklejohn’s bar is a funky, elegant setting in which to sip frequently ingenious cocktails. Drinks on the constantly changing menu lean toward strong spirits and herbal, bittersweet concoctions, with half-sized drinks available if you don’t feel like getting (even more) tipsy.

644 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 747-5384
Facebook

FILED UNDER: Cocktails, Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Samantha Schnare

Belleville (BLVL)
Classic French pastries like croissants, pains aux raisin and sticky kouign-amanns are all top-notch. But the bakery’s superb Roman-style pizzas are so sensational; their reputation may eventually eclipse that of the buttery laminated treats. Sacré bleu!

1 North St.
Portland
(207) 536-7463
Website

FILED UNDER: Bakery, Coffee, Breakfast, Pizza, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Big Fin Poké
The first of a recent wave of poke (cubed fish served with rice, salad greens, and savory toppings) restaurants in the area, Big Fin remains the best of the bunch, serving high-quality salmon, yellowtail and tofu, along with bright, sometimes spicy, house-made sauces.

29 Western Ave.
South Portland
(207) 536-0416

855 Main St.
Westbrook
(207) 591-0171
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Lunch, Seafood, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Bite Into Maine
When the sun is shining, head to the scenic Portland Head Light, where BIM parks its truck from May until October. But if you’ve missed tourist season, or it’s gloomy outside, BIM’s commissary serves the same menu of plentiful fresh-picked lobster on butter-griddled buns. Try the mayo-dressed Maine-style and the drawn-butter Connecticut-style.

Commissary: 185 Route 1 #2
Scarborough

Food truck: Fort Williams Park
Cape Elizabeth

At Allagash Brewing Co.
50 Industrial Way
Portland

(207) 289-6142
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Lunch, Seafood, Food-Truck, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Blyth & Burrows
Ignore the not-really-a-secret room behind the bookcase upstairs, and instead focus your attention on the concise list of sophisticated cocktails. If you opt for something from the lethal “Navy Strength” portion of the menu, you’ll probably require one of the bar’s Asian-inspired small plates to balance out the booze.
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26 Exchange St.
Portland
(207) 613-9070
Website

FILED UNDER: Cocktails, Snacks, Moderate-Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Samantha Schnare

Bob’s Clam Hut
Fried belly clams, lobster rolls and milkshakes might be the most summery foods in Maine. At Bob’s, the Portland sibling of the celebrated Kittery location, you’ll find them year-round, along with local beers on draft and by the can.

111 Cumberland Ave.
Portland
(207) 536-7608
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Lunch, Snacks, Seafood, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Buxton Common
The drive out to The Buxton Common is worth the hassle for the smoked meatballs, pork spare ribs and fried chicken sandwich alone. Factor in a fine list of cocktails and perhaps the lightest, most layered biscuits in the state, and it’s hard to justify staying home.

1420 Long Plains Road
Buxton
(207) 298-9621
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Barbecue, Brunch, Cocktails, North-American, Southern, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Central Provisions
Plenty of chefs tell you that they base their menus on what’s in season, but chef Chris Gould really means it, often altering his restaurant’s menu every day to accommodate an unexpected influx of local bounty. Using a melting pot of regional and international techniques, he and his team produce imaginative, flavor-forward small plates. It takes around four to make a meal, but you’ll leave wishing you could have eaten more.

414 Fore St.
Portland
(207) 805-1085
Website

FILED UNDER: Brunch, Eclectic, North-American, Small-Plates, Moderate-Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Chaval
Incorporating local products into their half-Iberian, half-Gallic menu, chef Damian Sansonetti and pastry chef Ilma Lopez reimagine Maine as the westernmost member state of the European Union. With sherry on tap and an inventive cocktail menu, Chaval is an ideal spot to spend a leisurely evening out. Desserts, especially the phenomenal churros and chocolate, are unmissable.

58 Pine St. (West End)
Portland
(207) 772-1110
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Brunch, French, Spanish, Moderate-Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Cong Tu Bot
At this hip, modern and whimsically decorated Washington Avenue hotspot, be sure to try the noodle dishes, especially smoky-spicy hu tieu xao (fat rice noodles sautéed with chiles and sweet, coffee-infused sauce) and aromatic pho ga (clear chicken soup with rice noodles). The menu is short, but provides chef Vien Dobui plenty of runway to demonstrate how contemporary Vietnamese cuisine could/should evolve.

57 Washington Ave.
Portland
(207) 221-8022
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Vietnamese, Noodles, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Crown Jewel
Nothing about Crown Jewel is predictable: not the tropical, flamingo-themed dining room in a former military blacksmith’s shop on a Casco Bay island; nor Rocky Hunter, the vegan chef in charge of an eclectic, fully omnivorous menu. Yet somehow, after a romantic ferry ride and a Strawberry Smash cocktail, it all makes an idyllic sort of summertime sense.

255 Diamond Ave.
Great Diamond Island
(207) 766-3000
Website
Note: Crown Jewel is seasonal. See website for hours and dates of operation.

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Eclectic, North-American, Snacks, Seasonal, Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

David’s 388
Chef/owner David Turin has been an important figure on the Portland food scene for nearly three decades. His informal South Portland restaurant demonstrates why – bistro classics (duck breast, bacon-topped burger, Caesar salad) get an occasional tweak to tether them to Maine, but largely, they remain faithful, well-executed renditions of great dishes.

388 Cottage Road
South Portland
(207) 347-7388
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Bistro, North-American, Eclectic, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Drifters Wife
Peter and Orenda Hale, owners/managers of Drifters Wife and Maine & Loire (the natural wine shop nested inside their restaurant like a matryoshka doll), have a seductively charming vision of what an upscale neighborhood restaurant should be. Backed up by chef Ben Jackson and his succinct, ultra-seasonal menu, the three have brought their dream to life — twice. A must-visit.

59 Washington Ave.
Portland
(207) 805-1336
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: North-American, Wine, Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

East Ender
Casual, satisfyingly filling dishes are at the center of East Ender’s wheelhouse. Chief among them, the superb cold-smoked beef burger, served on a savory, schmaltz-enriched bun and plated with french fries that have taken not one, not two, but three trips through the fryer.

47 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 879-7669
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Bistro, Brunch, North-American, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Eaux
In a narrow space reminiscent of a New Orleans shotgun-style home, you’ll find some of the area’s finest Southern food, including maque choux reimagined as a garlicky ear of roasted corn and phenomenal chicken-and-waffles with house-pickled Fresno chiles and Maine maple syrup.

90 Exchange St.
Portland
(207) 835-0283
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Brunch, Cajun, North-American, Southern, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Elda
When chef/owner Bowman Brown got the itch to relocate from Salt Lake City and start afresh, we Mainers were lucky he had seafood on his mind. His quaint, Scandinavian-Japanese 50-seater has become one of the area’s very best restaurants, thanks in part to Brown’s propensity for taking local ingredients and magnifying their flavors through a combination of deftly deployed modernist and classic techniques.

140 Main St.
Biddeford
(207) 494-8365
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: North-American, Seafood, Small-Plates, Fine-Dining, Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Emilitsa
Emilitsa is cozy and welcoming, with a terrific list of Greek wines, but its strength lies in its faithfulness to traditional recipes and preparations. From oil-bathed, grilled whole fish to oregano-scented bone-in pork chops, you’ll find all the Hellenic classics on the menu here.

547 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 221-0245
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Greek, Fine-Dining, Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Eventide Oyster Company
During tourist season, snagging a table at tiny Eventide becomes an extreme sport. But those lines snake around the block for good reason. Big Tree Hospitality Group’s swashbuckling reinvention of the coastal seafood shack is appealing from start to finish, especially the fresh, local oysters from the raw bar, fried seafood sandwiches served on steamed bao-style buns and cocktails that range from bright to savory. It’s hard to admit, but Eventide really is worth the wait.

86 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 774-8538
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Seafood, Eclectic, Small-Plates, Snacks, Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Evo Kitchen + Bar
Nearly every wall of chef Matt Ginn’s restaurant is made of glass. Gawking pedestrians strolling down Fore Street may be the reason why his plates are always artfully composed explorations of Evo’s Maine-meets-the-Mediterranean overarching theme. Better still, they taste as good as they look.

443 Fore St.
Portland
(207) 358-7830
Website

FILED UNDER: Lunch, Middle-Eastern, European, Small-Plates, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Figgy’s Takeout & Catering
Scratch-made biscuits and cole slaw are both stand-outs at this well-hidden storefront — really just a window in the side of a building that also houses a coffee shop. But the reason to seek out this West End gem is the crisp, juicy cage-free, skillet-fried chicken.

722 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 805-0085
Website

FILED UNDER: North-American, Southern, Takeout, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Forage Market
Maine is in the middle of a bagel renaissance, and the wood-fired, open-structured version from Forage are among the state’s finest examples. Don’t miss The Cure, a bagel sandwich featuring an over-easy local egg, prosciutto and a drooling slice of brie.

123 Washington Ave.
Portland
(207) 274-6800
Website

FILED UNDER: Bakery, Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Leslie Bridgers

Fore Street
One of the cornerstones of Portland’s food scene, Fore Street was among the first area restaurants to focus on seasonality and local ingredients. Since it opened 23 years ago, it has earned national plaudits, and so has chef/co-owner Sam Hayward, who won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northeast award for his work here in 2004. Since then, the top-flight kitchen, wine program and service have kept pace with the city’s evolution into a dining destination.

288 Fore St.
Portland
(207) 775-2717
Website

FILED UNDER: European, North-American, Fine-Dining, Wine, Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Whitney Hayward/Staff Photographer

Gross Confection Bar
Chef/owner Brant Dadaleares’s subterranean chamber of sweet and lovably kooky delights is a great place to stop for a late-night treat or a post-prandial nibble on the walk back from another Old Port restaurant (someplace that doesn’t take sugar, butter and chocolate as seriously).

57 Exchange St.
Portland
(207) 956-7208
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Desserts, Bakery, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Highroller Lobster Co.
In a recently expanded space kitted out in lurid ’80s red, white and black, you’ll find some of the region’s most creative seafood dishes. Lobster and crab rolls are the main focus, but they’re given a new, offbeat sensibility with accompanying sauces that range from lobster ghee to charred pineapple mayo.

104 Exchange St.
Portland
(207) 536-1623
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Seafood, Lunch, Food-Truck, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

The Honey Paw
Although Honey Paw is technically a “noodle bar,” its best dishes often involve no pasta at all: tilefish crudo with Japanese knotweed, mayonnaise-rich pan-fried lobster toasts, even gado gado (a salade niçoise if it were conjured up in Jakarta). And did I mention homemade soft-serve?

78 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 774-8538
Website

FILED UNDER: Southeast-Asian, Eclectic, Small-Plates, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Hot Suppa
Southern comfort food — everything from buttery grits to gumbo teeming with seafood and andouille sausage — is what draws scores of brunch customers who line up down the block every weekend. But don’t sleep on the dinner menu, especially the sticky barbecue spare ribs served with pickled watermelon rind.

703 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 871-5005
Website

FILED UNDER: Southern, Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Hugo’s
The oldest and most conceptually refined property of Big Tree Hospitality group’s portfolio (the other two are Eventide and The Honey Paw), Hugo’s takes the stories of local ingredients and retells them using the grammar and vocabulary of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. The multi-course, $90 tasting menu offers a singularly memorable dining experience that gallops from amuse bouche to friandise.

86 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 774-8538
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: North-American, Eclectic, Small-Plates, Fine-Dining, Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Huong’s Vietnamese Restaurant
Huong Le’s phenomenal pho starts with slow-simmered, painstakingly skimmed beef broth fragrant from charred onions, cloves and star anise, then hits a crescendo with the addition of crushed holy basil, bouncy tendon meatballs (bo vien) and tissue-thin slices of sirloin (tai). Sip or slurp — it doesn’t matter. You won’t find a better bowl of pho tai bo vien in Maine, perhaps even New England.

267 St. John St.
Portland
(207) 775-2344
Facebook

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Vietnamese, Takeout, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Isa
If you’re not paying attention when you pick up Isa’s menu for the first time, you might miss the tiny sparkles of Central-and-South American flavor that make it a standby for every food person I know in this city. Subtle touches like smoky mezcal in place of gin in a Negroni cocktail and chimichurri sauce spooned over grilled octopus elevate and extend Isa’s palette of flavors beyond what you’d expect from an ordinary bistro.

79 Portland St.
Portland
(207) 808-8533
Website

FILED UNDER: Bistro, Brunch, Lunch, North-American, European, Mexican, Eclectic, Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

Izakaya Minato
Although Minato seats just 37 diners at a time, the space seems like a much larger restaurant, thanks to a split-space design that feels a little like what you might get if you opened an izakaya in a rabbit warren. It is lively and tremendous fun to eat a meal here, especially the bargain-priced, chef’s choice omakase meal that always finishes with a bowl of savory egg-fried rice.

54 Washington Ave.
Portland
(207) 613-9939
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Japanese, Small-Plates, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Lazzari
Start with meatballs and a serving of whatever wood-grilled vegetables (delicata, Brussels sprouts) are on the menu, then grab a blistered, oniony Amatriciana pizza, slid out of the glinting copper Le Panyol oven at the rear of the restaurant. A contender for Portland’s best pizza restaurant.

618 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 536-0368
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Pizza, Italian, Lunch, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

LB Kitchen
Grain and salad bowls, open-faced sandwiches and the kitchen’s signature dish – dark ochre chicken bone broth – make LB Kitchen a hot-spot for health-conscious locals. Amid a sea of yoga mats, you’ll also find some the area’s most revitalizing drinks, like the spicy, naturally tinted Blue Chai wellness latte.

249 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 775-2695
Website

FILED UNDER: Breakfast, Lunch, Healthy-Options, Vegetarian-Options, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Lio
A stunner of a dining room – ceiling-high windows, branching bar seating that seems to trickle like a forking stream into the center of the space – and inventive small plates make Lio the ideal destination to impress a guest. Clever, tasty cocktails certainly help.

3 Spring St.
Portland
(207) 808-7133
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: North-American, European, Small-Plates, Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Liquid Riot
Part distillery, part brewery, part restaurant/bar with an inviting wharf-front patio, Liquid Riot offers something for just about everyone. Not least of all a surreptitiously fine menu that features arguably the best french fries in the city.

250 Commercial St.
Portland
(207) 221-8889
Website

FILED UNDER: Cocktails, Beer, North-American, Small-Plates, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Little Giant
There’s something to be said for keeping a rock-solid option for a burger and a beer in your mental Rolodex. Scandinavian-design-inspired Little Giant offers just that, along with a cocktail menu that gets a perennial thumbs-up.

211 Danforth St.
Portland
(207) 747-5045
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: North-American, Bistro, Eclectic, Cocktails, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Little Woodfords
Charming without ever feeling twee, this off-the-peninsula café feels a bit like it has been teleported in from Copenhagen. Lavender lattes and squat tumblers of iced coffee draw a loyal crowd of Deering Highlands locals as well as caffeine addicts from across the city.

643 Forest Ave.
Portland
(207) 536-4990
Website

FILED UNDER: Coffee, Snacks, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Local 188
The shabby chic dining room and mix-and-match design aesthetic remain constant no matter when you visit, but Local 188 has oscillating identities. At dinnertime, it is a traditional Spanish restaurant, but when weekend brunch rolls around, it transforms into a bustling egg-and-fried-potatoes joint. It’s a safe bet at either time.

685 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 761-7909
Website

FILED UNDER: Brunch, North-American, Spanish, Vegetarian-Options, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Carl D. Walsh/ Staff Photographer

Lolita – Permanently closed Sept. 2019
Carefully selected wines and a blazing, open-flame wood grill are only two of Lolita’s many charms. Tender-crisp toasts spread with pots of tangy labneh, red pepper purée or olive tapenade should be the first item you order.

90 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 775-5652
Website

FILED UNDER: Spanish, North-American, European, Eclectic, Small-Plates, Wine, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Mami
It may live inside an exposed-brick building in the Old Port now, but Mami still acts like a food truck. Chef Austin Miller never seems to stop updating his menu of street-food and izakaya classics like indulgent bacon okonomiyaki, takoyaki and smoky yakisoba.

339 Fore St.
Portland
(207) 536-4702
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Japanese, Small-Plates, Lunch, Snacks, Food-Truck, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Maple’s
It may fly under the radar for now, but that won’t last. With enormous English muffins, fruit scones, sprinkle-topped ricotta cookies and some of the region’s best bagels – all baked on-site – Maple’s is good enough to justify dropping crumbs all over the interior of your car on the drive back to Portland.

881 US-1
Yarmouth
(207) 846-1000
Website

FILED UNDER: Breakfast, Lunch, Bagels, Bakery, Coffee, Snacks, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Miyake
Chef Masa Miyake’s flagship restaurant prides itself on using the finest seafood and freshest local produce (some of which comes from Miyake’s own farm). And it shows. Sushi here is exceptional – as good as anything you’ll find in the country’s biggest cities – and the $21 daily lunchtime bento special represents one of the biggest fine-dining bargains you’re likely to encounter.

468 Fore St.
Portland
(207) 871-9170
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Japanese, Seafood, Lunch, Fine-Dining, Expensive, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

More & Co.
A design-forward café nestled into the shore of the Royal River, More & Co. is as much a home décor shop as it is a restaurant. But its food and drink offerings punch way above their weight, thanks to a terse menu of nibbles and phenomenal espresso drinks brewed from Detroit, Michigan’s Astro Coffee.

106 Lafayette St.
Yarmouth
(207) 747-4830
Website

FILED UNDER: Coffee, Snacks, Lunch, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Angie Bryan

Mr. Tuna
Visit any of the area’s breweries and you’re likely to find one of Mr. Tuna’s mobile temaki tents. But now that chef/owner Jordan Rubin has taken possession of a brick-and-mortar space on the ground floor of the Public Market, you’ll know just where to find him when you’re hungry for a spicy crab-and-scallop hand roll.

28 Monument Square (in the Public Market House)
Portland
(207) 805-1240
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Japanese, Seafood, Snacks, Lunch, Food-Truck, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Noble Barbecue
Buttermilk fried chicken, peppery pastrami, and slow-smoked beef brisket with fried onions are all excellent options at this outer Forest Avenue outpost. But, stealthily, Noble offers one of the region’s best vegetarian dishes: a delightfully messy, sweet-and-crunchy, smoked spaghetti squash patty slipped into a buttered brioche bun.

1706 Forest Ave.
Portland
(207) 536-1395
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Barbecue, Southern, North-American, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Ohno Café
I’ll admit it: I walked past modest Ohno! Café for a year before I went inside. Then I spent the next year kicking myself for missing out on its bialy-and-bagel-based breakfast sandwiches, especially the #1, with sweet-savory maple prosciutto, cheddar, egg and Tabasco sauce. I made up for it by visiting twice a day sometimes, often returning for a lunch of grilled shrimp BLT on ciabatta.

87 Brackett St.
Portland
(207) 774-0773
Website

FILED UNDER: Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, North-American, Takeout, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Omi’s
In its former West End space, Omi’s was a decent spot to grab a cappuccino — not much more. However, when it relocated to a space large enough for a baker’s kitchen, it blossomed. Now in a renovated historic building in South Portland, Omi’s serves excellent layer cakes, homemade biscuits and a rotating selection of savory lunch and breakfast specials.

372 Cottage Road
South Portland
(207) 835-0145
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FILED UNDER: Coffee, Bakery, Snacks, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Courtesy of Omi’s

Otto Pizza
Imaginative pies with flavors that actually work well together – jalapeno with ricotta and bacon, roasted pear with arugula and bleu cheese – are the secret to this burgeoning pizza empire’s great success. With a half-dozen beachheads in greater Boston, Otto just might be everywhere by the time you read this. And that’s no bad thing.

Several locations across the Greater Portland region.
Flagship: 574-576 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 358-7090
Website

FILED UNDER: Pizza, Italian, Lunch, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Pai Men Miyake
Some of the area’s best appetizers and snacks live here: minty, fish-sauce-dressed Brussels sprouts; steamed, gochujang-drizzled pork buns; or my personal favorite, the Kewpie-rich crab hamayaki. But don’t forget the ever-improving ramen program, especially the brothless, egg-topped Tokyo Abura.

188 State St.
Portland
(207) 541-9204
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Japanese, Noodles, Lunch, Snacks, Vegetarian-Options, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Palace Diner
If I told you that quite possibly the best diner in the country occupies a 15-seat space, just off the main drag in Biddeford, would you believe me? Five years ago, co-owners Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell refurbished a tiny, 1927 railroad dining car and immediately started making food that brought together high-quality ingredients and a captivating faithfulness to short-order tradition. Visit on a weekday to avoid waits that can extend beyond the two-hour mark.

18 Franklin St.
Biddeford
(207) 284-0015
Website

FILED UNDER: North-American, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Piccolo
The talented husband-and-wife duo behind Chaval began their Maine story here, with a bijou, pasta-focused restaurant that derives most of its culinary inspiration from the flavors of central and southern Italy. And where other restaurant owners might have left their first-born to fend for itself, Ilma Lopez and Damian Sansonetti continue to improve Piccolo, altering the menu in 2019 to encourage light meals and snacks (and to drop the average tab considerably).

111 Middle St.
Portland
(207) 747-5307
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Italian, Small-Plates, Snacks, Moderate-Expensive- | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
Few activities are more emblematic of what current-day Portland has become than sipping a craft cocktail at twilight while gazing out a picture window at Post Office Park. You don’t have to be a tourist to take part, either – after all, these vermouth, curacao and tequila Matadors aren’t going to drink themselves.

75 Market St.
Portland
(207) 747-4754
Website

FILED UNDER: Scandinavian, Cocktails, Eclectic, Snacks, Small-Plates, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Purple House
When Krista Desjarlais departed Portland, she left a Bresca-shaped hole in the hearts of many locals. A few years on, after decamping to start her seasonal “snack shack,” Bresca & The Honeybee on Outlet Beach at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester (where she still spends every summer), she opened The Purple House. Locals breathed a sigh of relief. Now, during the cooler months, in a converted cottage with an open hearth, she bakes dense, sweet Montreal-style bagels; buckwheat financiers; and pizzas.

378 Walnut Hill Road
North Yarmouth
(207) 808-3148
Website
Note: The Purple House closes for the summer season and reopens in the fall.

FILED UNDER: Bagels, Bakery, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Rose Foods
Jewish deli standbys like Health Salad; crisp, golden-fried latkes; and corned beef sandwiches (on rye, naturally) are as much of a draw as chef/owner Chad Conley’s light, sourdough-esque bagels and novel (not nova, although that’s here, too) bagel sandwiches. Among the best: the Monday Morning – spread thick with chicken livers and schmaltz-fried gribenes – and the lox-and-avocado-schmeared Dill Motel. On summer weekends, be prepared to wait.

428 Forest Ave.
Portland
(207) 835-0991
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch, Deli, Bakery, Snacks, Moderate, Top15 | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Scales
With wharf views on two sides plus outdoor seating at the back, Scales is an excellent spot to reacquaint yourself with the working waterfront. The shellfish-exuberant menu, which showcases locally sourced seafood (some of which arrives to the docks just outside), will do the same.

Maine Wharf at 68 Commercial St.
Portland
(207) 805-0444
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Seafood, Small-Plates, Fine-Dining, Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Schulte & Herr
Unpretentious and cozy, this tiny Bayside bistro serves homey, comforting German food like tart-and-herbal cucumber salad, bratwurst with sauerkraut and some of the best schnitzel on the East Coast. Schulte & Herr’s business is also counter-cyclical, so if you’re trying to avoid summertime crowds, head here.

349 Cumberland Ave.
Portland
(207) 773-1997
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: German, Bistro, Brunch, BYOB, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Scratch Baking Co. and Scratch Baking Co. Toast Bar
Locals know Scratch for its bagels (which sell out in nanoseconds every weekend morning), but the bakery is a versatile business that produces some of the region’s tastiest sweet treats: brownies and blondies, coconut layer cakes and scones — they’re all pretty fantastic. Nearby, the sandwich-focused Toast Bar gives customers a place to sit while they eat – a whimsical space built inside a former car wash renovated to look like, you guessed it, a toaster.

Bakery: 416 Preble St.
South Portland
(207) 799-0668

Toast Bar: 205 Broadway
South Portland
(207) 613-9804
Website

FILED UNDER: Bagels, Bakery, Coffee, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

The Shop – Raw Bar & Shellfish
It may not have anything resembling an oven (or even a stove), but this raw bar crossed with a seafood market is one of Portland’s best places to slurp oysters. That goes double when the weather is nice, and you can sit at one of the bar-height tables outdoors, sipping draft rosé and spooning mignonette onto locally farmed Belons or Mookie Blues.

123 Washington Ave.
Portland
(207) 699-4466
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Seafood, Lunch, Snacks, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Sichuan Kitchen
Owner Qi Shen’s menu of sinus-clearing, tongue-numbing dishes is a delightful departure from the tired crab-rangoon-and-egg-roll menus at many New England Chinese restaurants. Subtler dishes here are also excellent, especially the frilly cloud-ear mushroom salad appetizer and buttery-tasting wok-sautéed cabbage.

612 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 536-7226
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Chinese, Lunch, Vegetarian-Options, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Slab Sicilian Street Food
One thing is guaranteed at Slab: You won’t go hungry. Offering Brobdingnagian wedges of the same puffy-crusted Sicilian-style pies owner Stephen Lanzalotta once exclusively sold out of Micucci Grocery, this downtown pizzeria has evolved into a Southern Italian crowd-pleaser with outdoor music and a terrific bar.

25 Preble St.
Portland
(207) 245-3088
Website

FILED UNDER: Pizza, Italian, Lunch, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Solo Italiano
Chef/owner Paolo Laboa’s Northern Italian (mostly Genovese) menu is simple and traditional, but never boring – especially his Stracchino-cheese-filled, flatbread-like focaccia di Recco, and his signature dish: wide sheets of handkerchief pasta sauced with his award-winning basil pesto.

100 Commercial St.
Portland
(207) 780-0227
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Italian, Pasta, Fine-Dining, Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Speckled Ax
Third Wave coffee roasters Speckled Ax are particular about their beans and their brewing. Inside their narrow, tawny-walled café, you’ll encounter enough glassware to outfit a laboratory, including pourover vessels and Japanese-style siphon percolators. Taken together, they form a guarantee that you’ll never drink anything less than an excellent cup of coffee here.

567 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 660-3333
Website

FILED UNDER: Coffee, Snacks, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Standard Baking Co.
An enormous deck oven around the back of this shop is celebrated baker/owner Alison Pray’s secret weapon. On its stone platforms, she bakes some of the state’s best French-and-Italian style breads: airy miches, slick rosemary focaccias, webby fougasses and crusty baguettes.

75 Commercial St.
Portland
(207) 773-2112
Website

FILED UNDER: Bakery, Breakfast, Coffee, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Tandem Coffee
Apart from serving an intensely smoky roast of coffee that has garnered national recognition for founders and Blue Bottle Coffee alums Kathleen and Will Pratt, Tandem sells some of the area’s best pastries. Baker Briana Holt’s short-crusted fruit pies, miso-glazed scones and gooey, softball-sized sticky buns are three Portland foods I never want to do without.

Café & Roastery: 122 Anderson St.
Portland
(207) 889-0235

Coffee and Bakery: 742 Congress St.
Portland
(207) 805-1887
Website

FILED UNDER: Coffee, Bakery, Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Terlingua
Portions are human-sized at Terlingua, where your meal might include the unlikely (outside of Texas) pairing of smoked brisket tacos with deviled eggs and a sweet-tart hibiscus margarita to wash it all down.

52 Washington Ave.
Portland
(207) 808-8502
Website

FILED UNDER: Barbecue, Southern, Breakfast, Lunch, Small-Plates, Mexican, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Thai Esaan
A humble space just past Woodfords Corner hides one of Portland’s best-kept secrets: Siwaporn Roberts and her menu of spicy, superbly prepared Northeastern Thai specialties like fragrant and herby laab gai, crisp pork krah pow moo grob and unassuming-yet-fiery khao mun gai.

849 Forest Ave.
Portland
(207) 536-0752
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Thai, Takeout, Vegetarian-Options, Inexpensive | Show-All
Photo: Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

Tipo
Airy and contemporary with a bar wallpapered in overlapping license plates from around the country, Tipo is the secret getaway for Portlanders who want to escape the throngs of tourists on the peninsula without settling for a second-tier meal. Brick-oven pizzas, roasted vegetables and house-made rye cavatelli are evergreen winners.

182 Ocean Ave.
Portland
(207) 358-7970
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Brunch, Italian, Pizza, Small-Plates, North-American, Moderate-Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The Well at Jordan’s Farm
It is hard not to be won over by the enchantingly recursive concept of a farm-to-table restaurant located on the farm itself. Dinner at The Well takes the form of either a plated, five-course tasting menu or (for parties of six or more diners seated in private gazebos) a more rustic family-style meal. Both options are fantastic and make use of the farm’s own produce as well as local meats and seafoods.

21 Wells Road
Cape Elizabeth
(207) 831-9350
Website
Note: The Well at Jordan’s Farm is seasonal. See website for hours and dates of operation.

FILED UNDER: North-American, Seasonal, Fine-Dining, Vegetarian-Options, Expensive | Show-All
Photo: Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Woodford Food & Beverage
Within view of Forest Avenue’s recently illuminated “Hopeful” sign, in a building with a mid-century, crinkle-cut roofline, chef Courtney Loreg prepares some of New England’s best brasserie-style dishes. She puts her own uniquely American twist on many – using brisket in her burger, maitake mushrooms in her salsify bisque, and local mussels in her moules frites. It’s tradition-adjacent food that feels like it belongs here.

660 Forest Ave.
Portland
(207) 200-8503
Website

> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Brunch, North-American, European, Bistro, Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Yobo
General manager Kim Lully and her husband, chef Sunny Chung, own and operate tiny Yobo without much extra help, even in the midst of tourist season. It doesn’t faze them. They’re too busy sharing Chung’s modern American vision of traditional Korean dishes like crunchy-bottomed bi bim bap, caramelized beef rib galbi and soy-braised perilla leaves that the couple harvests from Chung’s mother’s sprawling New Hampshire gardens.

23 Forest Ave.
Portland
(207) 536-0986
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> Read our Dine Out review.
FILED UNDER: Korean, Small-Plates, Snacks, Inexpensive-Moderate | Show-All
Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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