Last Friday, some friends and I drove up to Portland, ME for the weekend. I had never been before, but had heard from almost everyone that it was a great town, that it was so cute, and that I would love it. Awesome food, cool community, and right on the water.
And I did! I already want to go back. It’s the perfect place to spend a quick weekend, or to spend a whole week. We didn’t have time to take the ferries or to explore other areas besides the city itself, but with just a weekend, you can definitely get a good feel for the town.
We started with a late dinner on Friday night at Fore Street. This place has been nominated for James Beard multiple times, and the food is local + sustainable, #yay. I loved the incredibly open kitchen and overall vibe. We mostly ordered a bunch of starters and shared – we tried: the tomato and goat cheese tart, the hake, corn & potato soup, oven roasted mussels, roasted cauliflower, and two salads. I would definitely recommend the tomato + cheese tart and the mussels. The sauce in the mussels pan was soooo good. Like, I happily would have just dipped their warm fresh bread in that juice for my entire meal. We thought that both salads were kinda meh. To be fair, I think their meat main dishes are usually the stars of the show, but we didn’t order any. FYI you will def need a res and this place is on the priiiiicey side. We went to a great beer bar afterwards, Novare Res. Definitely stop by if you are a beer drinker – super cool place with tons on tap.
Saturday morning we walked to Local 188 for brunch, which was right up the street from our stellar Air BnB. We loved the food. But did not love the wait. The restaurant can hold a ton of groups, which is atypical for brunch spots, but the table turnaround is soooo slow. We’re talking tons of empty tables for extended periods of time. But besides that, our meal was great. They make their own kombucha, in I think five flavors – I went for Elderberry. Highly recommend. We ordered the deviled eggs and ricotta fritters to start. Both delicious! I was expecting the ricotta fritters to be almost like ricotta latkes, but instead they were like moist, dense donut holes. Topped with strawberry jam and crushed pistachios mmm. I went for the summer scramble as my main, but was seriously tempted by the huevos rancheros, as always. A couple people at the table ordered that, which was fresh and tasty, but needed a bit more flavor. The corned beef hash was fantastic. Heavy, for sure, especially with the hollandaise sauce, but a greeeeat choice. And, the breakfast paella looked so so good I would almost recommend it just off that. I think the biscuits & gravy and pancake are on deck if I go back for brunch.
The rest of that day we walked allll around Old Port and the surrounding area. So many cute shops and cafes. We of course stopped at Holy Donut. Loved their flavors – I was torn between sweet potato + ginger or lemon. We ended our afternoon with a tour of the Allagash brewery. Still independently owned, they’ve had serious success in the last ten years. Allagash White makes up 80% of their sales, which makes sense, but they also have a very cool program of letting employees test out their concepts for beers. If the tasters approve of the small barrel tests, then that idea is made into a legitimate beer sold by the company. Allagash also tries to be as sustainable as possible, donating their leftover oats as feed for local farms and reusing their hot water. And, of course, their beer is great – all around well deserved praise.
After the brewery, we went to Slab for dinner. The perfect meal when you’re a little beer drunk. Their pizzas are Sicilian style, and HUGE. I went for the Greek wedge, which was a full 22 oz. Their classic Slabs are a pound. While the pizza was 10/10 would definitely eat again, I have to say their non-pizzi was equally as good! So many veg/vegan options, including a gargantuan pane e penelle sandwich, which is a fried chickpea-cauliflower patty slathered with black pepper ricotta between two fat pieces of focaccia. Like it’s so big, you can’t pick it up to eat it.
The next morning, we wanted to grab bagels and see the lighthouse before heading out of town. We went to 158 Picket Street Cafe, in South Portland. Yummm bagels and creative options too. I got a seaweed bagel topped with herb cream cheese, cucumbers, tomato, onion, and sprouts. Their lox bagel [below] was drool worthy.
Our weekend was filled with tons of food and tons of beer. There were so many more places we wanted to try — I can’t wait to go back. I love that Portland is so walkable but packed full of great stuff.
Are there any places that are a must-do for the next trip? So far I’ve marked Central Provisions and Hot Suppa. Maybes DuckFat.