Brendan Dolan and Emma Kipp share a laugh under a heating lamp in the outdoor seating area at Tomaso’s Canteen. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Mainers will have a chance to prove just how hardy they are this fall and winter, when some restaurants plan to keep outdoor dining areas open to customers willing to bundle up in order to eat out. If there were any city where residents and visitors would risk freezing temperatures and snowfall – but not COVID-19 – in order to go to a restaurant, Portland would be it.

To support the businesses banking on these adventurous diners, the city is awarding extensions for outdoor dining permits that were supposed to expire on Nov. 1. We’re highlighting a few of the spots with the best set-ups, including patios and parking lots decked out with tents and heaters to try make winter outdoor dining as bearable as it can be – which, for some, will always be better than not eating out at all.

PORTLAND HUNT & ALPINE CLUB

WHERE: 75 Market St., Portland, (207) 747-4754. huntandalpineclub.com
HOURS: 2-10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations recommended.
DETAILS: Portland Hunt & Alpine Club plans to open its Base Camp outdoor seating area on Nov. 11 with what’s described as “Scandinavian apres-ski vibes.” The patio will have several heaters and jumbo umbrellas to cover the entire space, but will leave the sides open to ensure airflow. Hunt & Alpine is collaborating with local blanket company Evangeline Linens to make custom Hunt blankets that guests can use (and that will be cleaned between each use). They’ll also have Hot Hands (small, crushable heat packs) available. Base Camp plans to stay open until Dec. 31. On the food front, look for hearty stews, campfire poutine, braised root vegetables, warm pies and more. There will also be a few other surprises up their wool sweater sleeves.
HOT TIP: The house-made soft pretzel with hot mustard is a comforting treat, as are tableside hot cocktails, including Spanish coffee and Glogg.

Outdoor dining area at Maine Craft Distilling. Courtesy of Maine Craft Distilling

MAINE CRAFT DISTILLING 

WHERE: 123 Washington Ave., Portland, (207) 613-9068. mainecraftdistilling.com.
HOURS: Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
DETAILS: Maine Craft Distilling has an expansive area for outdoor seating and is in the midst of building heated, individual structures similar to ice houses. Some are already done, and the rest should be finished by Dec. 1. For food, the distillery’s menu ranges from fried arancini (Arborio rice balls stuffed with charred vegetables and mozzarella) to the beef, pork and black bean chili served with a corn muffin.
HOT TIP: Warm your bones up with a hot, boozy drinks like Hot Butter Rum, Hot Wassail and the Hot Toddy, or the adult versions of hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee.

Outdoor dining area at Woodford F&B. Courtesy of Woodford F&B

WOODFORD F&B 

WHERE: 660 Forest Ave., Portland, (207) 200-8503. woodfordfb.com.
HOURS: 4 p.m. to close daily. Reservations suggested.
DETAILS: Watch the world go by on Woodfords Corner in the outdoor patio at Woodford F&B. You’ll find about 10 tables, half beneath a tent and half under umbrellas. You’ll stay toasty with a variety of large and small patio heaters. Woodford F&B is in full fall comfort mode with menu items like roasted mushrooms, Parisian gnocchi, seared duck and veal schnitzel.
HOT TIP: Try its latest cocktail, called the Minor Dalliance, made with cognac, amari (herbal liquors of Italian origin) and citrus, as well as a selection of hot toddies and fall warmers.

LITTLE GIANT 

WHERE: 211 Danforth St., Portland, (207) 747-5045. littlegiantmaine.com
HOURS: 5-9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday
DETAILS: Little Giant is open four nights a week for outdoor dining and will be adding brunch once its new covered back courtyard, which will be heated and covered but ventilated, is ready later this month.
HOT TIP: Favorite menu items include the lobster roll, burger and black rice.

Outdoor dining tents at Bruno’s. Courtesy of Bruno’s

BRUNO’S 

WHERE: 33 Allen Ave., Portland, (207) 878-9511. brunosportland.com.
HOURS: 11:30 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. No reservations.
DETAILS: Bruno’s has two outdoor seating tents, both with heaters and both with eight tables placed 6 feet apart. The tents are conjoined, with several sides open for ventilation and means of egress. The restaurant plans to keep the tents up as long as possible.
HOT TIP: Try the roasted butternut squash ravioli with sage butter and the Black Magic sangria, made with red wine, blood orange liqueur and dark cherry juice.

Outdoor seating at TIQA. Courtesy of Tiqa

TIQA

WHERE: 327 Commercial St., Portland, (207) 808-8840. tiqa.net
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (kitchen closes at 9 p.m.) Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.) Friday and Saturday.
DETAILS: We may be on the Atlantic ocean here in Maine, but you can get a taste of the Mediterranean at Tiqa, which plans to keep its patio open for the foreseeable future. Sit around the fire-pit seating area or at a table by a heater. Tiqa also has seven sidewalk tables that can seat up to six guests, and those will be open at least through Dec. 31.
HOT TIP: The entire menu bursts with Mediterranean marvels, including baba ghanoush, lamb gyros, falafel, chicken shawarma, lemon lentil soup and several kabobs, including a vegetarian one of fall vegetables. On the cocktail front, the apple sage mule looks mighty tasty.

Evo plans to install small sheds around its outdoor picnic tables. Photo courtesy of Matt Ginn

EVO KITCHEN + BAR

WHERE: 443 Fore St., Portland, (207) 358-7830. evoportland.com.
HOURS: 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations suggested.
DETAILS: Evo has an outdoor seating area with heaters and picnic tables for four to six people. Chef Matt Ginn says that within next couple weeks, small shed-like structures will be installed to provide coverage over the tables. On this hot corner of Portland’s Old Port, expect plenty of from-a-safe distance people-watching while you enjoy Evo’s eastern Mediterranean cuisine.
HOT TIP: Share an order of chickpea “fries” or majadara (lentils, onions, grains and eggplant) and then tear into the beef kibbeh, monkfish or Italian sausage. Evo is all about fresh, local ingredients and their dish presentations are works of art.

VIA VECCHIA

WHERE: 10 Dana St., Portland, (207) 407-7070. vvoldport.com.
HOURS: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4-9 p.m. Sunday
DETAILS: Italian-inspired small plates await you in snazzy outdoor parklet at Via Vecchia in the heart of the Old Port. Warm your bones with pizzettes, pork tenderloin, grilled cauliflower or one of the small plates, including mussels.
HOT TIP: One word: zeppole! It’s fried Italian pastry with orange marmalade and Nutella. Pair it with a boozy Italian coffee or an espresso and you won’t be worried about how it is outside.

TOMASO’S CANTEEN

WHERE: 18 Hampshire St., Portland, (207) 536-1285. tomasoscanteen.com.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
DETAILS: There are plenty of opportunities to hang outside at Tomaso’s Canteen as it’s open more often than not. Its new patio is just about ready and at least some of the tables will have heaters near them.
HOT TIP: Tomaso’s is a place to eat and drink with abandonment and its comfort foods are many. You can’t go wrong with a chicken bomb, mac and cheese, fried pickles and, gasp, a three-pound bucket of chicken wings. Wash it all down with, well, just about anything you can think of, including plenty of local brews.

BLUE SPOON

WHERE: 89 Congress St., Portland, (207) 773-1116. bluespoonme.com
HOURS: 4 p.m. to close Tuesday through Saturday
DETAILS: Near the top of Munjoy Hill is where you’ll find Blue Spoon and its fabulous heated sidewalk patio. BYOB (bring your own blanket, that is) for extra coziness. The bistro is working on installing individual pods around a few of its six sidewalk tables, and those should be ready within a few weeks. The pods will have personal heaters and provide shelter from the wind.
HOT TIP: The house-made mushroom fettucine will stick to your ribs as will the Blue Spoon burger. Kick it off with some charred carrots or angus beef tartare but leave room for dessert because a recent special was an epic-looking pear tart, and you never know what chef/owner Will Lavey and his wife, Liz Koenigsberg, will whip up.

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