A plate of blackened haddock tacos at Station 118 in Thomaston. Photos by Leslie Bridgers

From the first time I passed Station 118 on Route 1 in Thomaston, I’d been wanting to stop at the hip-looking barbecue joint on my way up or down the coast, but the timing never seemed to work out.

I was expecting the same last month as I was driving south from Camden around lunchtime on a rainy Monday, when its website said it opened at 4 p.m. But upon seeing people sitting in a covered outdoor area out front, I  swerved into the parking lot.

Apparently other people were aware of the actual hours (which have since been updated online), as there was lively scene at the bar, especially for a Monday lunch. But given the casually cool decor, energetic service and several drink specials, it’s easy to see why it would be a destination any day or time.

My lunch date and I sat in the attached outdoor enclosure – a post-and-beam structure with sheet metal siding that provides shelter from the elements but still has plenty of airflow. It’s surrounded on the outside by tables with umbrellas and, in the back, opens to the indoor dining room and bar.

The menu is the same for lunch and dinner with a couple exceptions (sliced brisket and the scalloped potato side are only available at dinnertime), so it felt a little pricey for lunch, though I could have chosen a soup or salad to keep the cost down. The short rib soup on special was particularly appealing, especially for $8, to which I could have added one of several sides, like corn on the cob ($3), marinated cucumbers ($3) or even mac and cheese ($5).

But, despite the $20 price tag, I couldn’t resist the blackened haddock tacos, each of the three filled with a meaty piece of fish, jalapeño pickled cabbage, cheese and chipotle mayonnaise. They were spicy, fresh and filling. The flour tortillas were the perfect combination of crisp and foldable without being greasy – a balance I can never quite achieve at home.

Pulled brisket with potato salad and cole slaw from Station 118.

My lunch date, a brisket lover, settled for the pulled variety of the smoked meat, a plate of which comes with two sides ($26). The homemade potato salad was a highlight, with chunks of not-too-al dente red potato in a slightly creamy dressing.

Other barbecue plate options include pulled pork ($24), pork ribs ($22/$34 for half or full rack) and tofu ($18). All are accompanied by a bucket of squeeze bottles filled with homemade sauces including bourbon and blueberry varieties. A few seafood plates, sandwiches, sliders and appetizers – including a massive slab of warm cornbread with paprika honey butter ($7) that I spotted at another table – round out the menu.

It feels like I’ve been looking for an excuse to stop here for years, but the restaurant only opened last year. Regardless, I won’t wait as long for the timing to work out before I return.

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