With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the country, Portland has earned its designation as a foodie mecca many times over. We loved every single meal in this town and if we’d had another week, we’d likely recommend another dozen restaurants. All this to say that when it comes to planning your Portland culinary adventure, you can’t really take a wrong turn.
Breakfast + First Things
Tandem Coffee + Bakery
122 Anderson Street | (207) 899-0235
A kitted out former brake shop serves as the backdrop for the tantalizing aromas of Tandem’s biscuits, focaccias and buttermilk cakes, not to mention their house-roasted coffees. A light and airy place to enjoy a leisurely carbfest while jamming to Janet and Whitney LPs: what’s not to love?
185 Middle Street | (207) 899-4788
A space thoughtful enough for Bill S. himself, this friendly local café brewed up our morning cappuccino of choice during our Portland visit. Slip into a seat at the window-facing bar and watch as Middle Street awakens.
Two Fat Cats Bakery
47 India Street | (207) 347-5144
Home to Helen’s wedding cake, this pie palace has a special place in the Gather cockles. Racks of fresh baked pies have a “please do not touch” warning that will test your willpower along with an irresistible ‘pie for breakfast’ special and seasonal whoopie pies. Classically made from scratch, the Fat Cats live by an ‘everything is delicious’ credo that we can wholeheartedly endorse.
Standard Baking Co.
75 Commercial Street | (207) 773-2112
A slice of Provence in the center of Old Port, this perfectly rustic boulangerie turns out splendid baguettes, batards and boules in addition to an epic array of rolls and pastries. Their sunny, seaport-facing patio and a morning bun proved to be a breakfast for the books. Don’t forget to take a bag of their famous maple almond granola for the road.
Eventide Oyster Co.
86 Middle Street | (207) 774-8538
The culinary poets at Eventide speak of their special little galley as a place to mark the transition between day and night – and day or night, they are a revelatory source of refreshment. The cutest little oyster company we ever did see, Eventide is a swath of merry, seaswept teal and nautical rope. With oysters from Maine and “from away” plus Buns & Rolls aplenty, we suggest commandeering a barstool and ordering up any and everything that piques your curiosity. Unexpected twists on a classic like a brown butter lobster roll or spicy-hearty curry stew made for hearty seafaring fare that was nothing short of a delight. Not to be missed.
468 Fore Street | (207) 871-9170
The combination of fresh-off-the-boat Maine seafood and pristine Japanese flavors proved a delicious one-two-punch at this Fore Street sushi temple. If you’ve been availing yourself of Portland’s exuberant cocktail scene, Miyake’s miso is a particularly restorative elixir, while the chef’s Daily Bento Box was a vibrantly satisfying combo.
25 Preble Street | (207) 245-3088
Sometimes you just need a big, comforting slice of pizza. Sicilian eatery Slab elevates a common craving, serving up doughy vessels topped with the likes of caciocavallo cheese and casalinga sauce or a ‘meat wedge’ with pepperoni, spice and the house blue cheese dip. An Italian wine list, killer cocktails and a live music scene make this an all-day destination you’ll want to revisit.
The Honey Paw
78 Middle Street | (207) 774-8538
Like Hugo’s and Eventide before it, the newest feather in Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley’s cap nails its riffs on the classics. The menu presents a burst of eclectic flavors and noodle concepts, but the result is a creative (and definitive) party in your mouth. Be sure to save room for the impossibly good soft serve.
11 Middle Street | (207) 747-5307
With its twee whitewashed façade and teal awning, Piccolo is the kind of place you walk by and coo over. Happily, the interior delivers on the outward promise with an intimate glow and outstanding cuisine. Dishes like Stonecipher broccoli with Calabrian chiles and Apulian stracciatella are comforting, but this being a foodie heaven, also nuanced and dynamic. In a town whose James Beard cup runneth over, we were naturally spoiled by memorable meals. Piccolo, however, made us feel like we’d been welcomed to the family tavola.
288 Fore Street | (207) 775-2717
The warm, wood-fired open concept and copper kitchen tables invite you to cozy up, no matter the weather outside this expansive enclave. Tuck into oven roasted seafood or turnspit meats roasted to perfection and request a window seat for a promenade view. The impressive menu, classic sides and doting service all culminate in a meal to remember.
414 Fore Street | (207) 805-1085
A wood beamed hideaway with a cobblestone-level view of patriotic passerby where the skilled bartenders shake up the classics. “Good food and strong drink” is the governing maxim here and the oast delivers on both fronts, turning out inventive small plates while the best classic rock underscores a jovial vibe. We’re still recalling our boquerones and ramen carbonara with wistful fondness.
Street & Co.
33 Wharf Street | (207) 775-0887
A low, thatched roof building with a ‘Cliffs of Dover’-feeling bar and a spare, Tuscan dining area churns out splendid shellfish (the oyster options were stand outs), unreal whole fish and linguine combinations we’re still talking about. The understandably impossible-to-get reservations are worth planning your trip around.
The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club
75 Market Street | (207) 747-4754
Where the chefs go, so too do the tinctures that must restore and sustain them. Enter this Pendleton-accented ode to the straightforward art of classic cocktailing, a Matterhorn adventurer’s drinking lair meets clean Scandinavian cabin. And the drinks – perfectly balanced concoctions like the spicy Firecracker and the addictive White Noise – well, they speak decisively for themselves.
188A State Street | (207) 899-3277
A former bookstore’s new chapter, this all-American bar and restaurant stole our literary-loving hearts with its overstuffed reading couches and bookshelf-lined walls. The encyclopedic selection of on-tap microbrews impressed us, but clever cocktails like the Longfellow #2 and the Ery’ Daly/Daily hit the sweet spot.
15 Chestnut Street | (207) 899-0235
Housed in the majestic former Chestnut Street Church, Grace is a spectacular scene to behold. The restored building, all stained glass windows and soaring arches, is a fitting backdrop for mischievous spirits like the Holier Than Thou and the Heated Affair.