The Best Eats | Portland, Maine


Our city guide series continues today with Portland, Maine, a magical place known for wild blueberries, pine forests and rocky coasts speckled with lighthouses.

I love the deep and rugged seasons. I love the ocean! I love that people work hard and chill hard, too. Maine offers a lifestyle that can be close to nature — it’s humbling and grounding. Plus, it’s a beautiful place to spend a long weekend.

Drifters Wife is a newer spot in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood. It’s a wine shop and New American café, which has a lovely small menu that changes daily. Chef Ben Jackson puts care into everything he does, and the rest of the team makes you feel at home with their good vibes. Don’t miss the olives (warmed and perfectly herb-soaked) or their natural wines (buy a bottle for home, too).

Blue Spoon (Munjoy Hill) is a true neighborhood spot. It’s not trying to keep up with trends, but rather just wants you to come in for a cozy Italian meal. They’re known for their daily pastas made in a braising pot, delicious burgers (the Bistro Burger is served with smoked onions, thick-cut bacon and a fried farm egg) and their happy hour — “Wine Time” — which runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Make a reservation because it’s on the smaller side.

There’s a reason why the award-winning downtown restaurant Fore Street has been around for 20 years. Sitting at the bar is a true joy, and their every-changing seasonal menu always feels fresh. Everyone loves the mussels, and the cast-iron fish dishes are special, too. If you’re on a budget, slip in for their dreamy desserts with Maine’s famous berries and orchard fruits.

And if you want the true Maine seafood experience, stop by J’s Oyster (an easygoing spot for beer and seafood), The Lobster Shack at Two Lights (sit at picnic tables overlooking the rocky coast — there’s nothing better) and Eventide Oyster Co. (a town favorite).

Although it’s a 20-minute drive from Portland, Palace Diner (Biddeford) is on my must-see list. Located in an old diner car, they serve breakfast and lunch all day, every day. It’s simple food at its best. Everyone goes on about the tuna melt, but the fried chicken sandwich and the Lumberjack Breakfast (silver dollar flapjacks, eggs, potatoes and bacon) have my heart. Don’t be discouraged if the wait is long. It goes fast — and is always worth it.