The dining in Maine’s coastal towns like Portland and Kennebunkport is simply sublime. Naturally, seafood plays a starring role on most menus, especially local lobster. But a rich farming culture from New England supports the daily catch with fresh produce, breads, and craft beers. The nightlife in Maine is fairly subdued, being more about the local blueberry ale in the brewpub than big name DJs from the State’s party hubs. There are fun, colorful bars in most towns, but again the coast seems to draw the most attention. Check out Portland’s Old Port district for a whole slew of bars and restaurants within walking distance. If anything of note is happening in Maine, it’s probably taking place in Portland.
Bars and Pubbing in Maine
Finding a good bar in Maine isn’t hard, but the seats are more likely occupied by locals than tourists. In Portland, the Old Port area has several nice places to drink, but it is a bit on the touristy side. Instead, head uptown a few blocks to hot spots like the Great Lost Bear (540 Forest Ave, Portland) for New England’s biggest beer menu. Other popular towns like Bar Harbor and the Kennbunks also have decent bar scenes. Check out the Thirsty Whale Tavern (40 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor) or Pepper’s Pub (20 Water Street, Ellsworth) for evening entertainment.
Whenever possible, visit a local brewpub such as Atlantic Brewing Company (15 Knox Road, Bar Harbor) or Federal Jack’s (8 Western Ave, Kennebunk) because Maine has a solid craft brewing community. In fact, brewpubs are perhaps the best venues to hang with the locals, hear live music, and mix good beer with good food.
From Bangor’s Sea Dog Brewing (26 Front Street, Bangor) to Allagash Brewing Company (100 Industrial Way, Portland), brewpubs can be found in big cities and tiny towns alike. All bars in Maine are required by law to stop serving alcohol at 1:00 a.m., though they may stay open later. Smoking is prohibited in all bars and restaurants, even on outdoor terraces.
Dining and Cuisine in Maine
Portland has the most developed dining scene in the state though you can easily find world-class lobster shacks in little fishing hamlets like Camden. The restaurants in Maine put a lot of emphasis on sourcing their ingredients locally, a logical move considering the wealth of seafood, vegetables, and berries on hand. For a true celebration of food, come in August for Lobster-Palooza.
Normally expensive seafood delicacies like lobster, scallops, and haddock are reasonably priced here. Lobster is served steamed with drawn butter, bibs, and claw crackers all year round. Boreal red shrimp, also called Maine shrimp, come in seasonally between November and March, and are a real treat. The state is also the top spot in America for blueberries, which make for a delicious and healthy snack.
Fore Street (288 Fore Street, Portland) requires reservations weeks in advance for its creative cuisine, while the ever-popular Becky’s Diner (390 Commercial Street, Portland) is the quintessential working man’s joint, with tasty, unpretentious meals on the cheap side. In Ogunquit, be sure and plan a night at Arrows (41 Berwick Road, Ogunquit) for expensive New American cuisine or the White Barn Inn (37 Beach Ave, Kennebunkport) for both its unbeatable rustic ambiance and quality fare.