Portland, Maine has become one of the great foodie city’s in the United States. And when you factor in its population (just 65,000 people) its even more impressive how many great restaurants there are in Portland.
But my favorite food in the city isn’t necessarily anything fancy, but rather Italian sandwiches, burgers, and of course lobster rolls.
Here are some of my favorite spots in Portland.
The Holy Donut
What better way than to start off with a blueberry coffee and donuts based upon a northern Maine recipe using local riced potatoes. If you don’t know what riced potatoes are, read here. Donut flavors at The Holy Donut include things like:
- Dark Chocolate Sea Salt
- Fresh Lemon
- Honey Lavender
- Maple Bacon
The owner, Leigh Kellis, had originally convinced a local coffee shop Coffee By Design (a great coffee shop you should also visit) to sell the donuts she made in her kichen. But now she has expended her local donut shop to several locations.
If there’s one lunch item that locals like more than expensive lobster rolls, its Italian sandwiches… And usually, it’s an Italian from Amato’s. In 1902 an Italian immigrant named Giovanni Amato began selling his sandwiches on the Portland fishing docks. They weren’t necessarily like traditional sandwiches from Italy, but because he was Italian that’s how he marketed them. And now these sandwiches are a staple for family picnics, get togethers, or days at the beach.
Tip: Always order them with salt, pepper, and oil!
Eventide Oyster Co
Eventide has changed the game for lobster rolls in Portland. Instead of being served the traditional way on a hot dog roll with mayonnaise, they served on a steamed bun with brown butter. The lobster roll at Eventide has become my favorite in the city, but they have a great selection of oysters, cocktails, and even an excellent burger.
When I go back home, there is one place I want to stop at before anywhere else (yes, before getting Italian sandwiches or lobster rolls). And that’s Harmon’s, where they make some my favorite burgers I’ve had anywhere. They are a very specific type of thin burger on steamed rolls, so you can likely eat 2-3 of them (I used to order 5 when I was in high school).
Harmon’s was opened in 1960, and the burgers have barely changed because as the owner says, “Why would you change something that ain’t broke?” Harmon’s hamburgers are typically named the best or one of the best in the state of Maine.
Tip: Order them with the sweet relish. Many people also get them with the fried onions.
There are roughly 17 breweries in Portland, but Gritty McDuff’s is the original. Gritty’s (as it is often called) opened in 1988 and became Maines first brew pub since Prohibition. Their first two beers were their Best Bitter and Portland Headlight Pale Ale, but they have since expanded to a larger list, including seasonal beers. While you’re there, try the pub food that includes poutine, the lamb burger, and fish & chips.