The Best Places to Eat, Shop, and Stay in Portland, Maine
Consider this your go-to guide when visiting the New England city.
Published Jul 10, 2017 2:00 PM
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Lobster and ocean views have always drawn visitors, but Portland’s up-and-coming restaurant scene, stylish shops, and creative energy are making Maine a must-visit summer destination.
WHERE TO STAY
119 EXCHANGE STREET, 207.808.8800, Located in the former Portland Press Herald printing plant in the Old Port District, the Press Hotel takes inspiration from 1920s writer’s offices. The guest rooms feature vintage-style desks, leather writer’s chairs, and wall hangings by local designer Angela Adams. The hotel’s UNION Restaurant is a meeting place for locals and out-of-owners alike and offers a seasonal menu including blueberry gallettes with whipped ricotta, prosciutto and mint, and a solid selection of local craft beers.
273 STATE STREET, 207.420.2420 Owners Tim Karu and Jacob Krueger integrate environmental sustainability into every part of their inn, from locally sourced and vintage furnishings to farm-fresh fare. Modern touches like Eames chairs and Componibili side tables mingle with cozy details like a wood-burning stove and freshly baked pastries each morning.
WHERE TO EAT
5 PORTLAND PIER, 207.772.4828 If you’re looking for an authentic Portland experience, J’s (above) is the place. Set on Portland Pier, it’s the perfect spot to order lobsters, a bucket of steamers and an Allagash White while you kick back and watch the boats go by.
CAFE & ROASTERY 122 ANDERSON STREET, 207.899.0235; COFFEE & BAKERY 742 CONGRESS ST, 207.805.1887 With an original roastery and café in East Bayside, Tandem’s expanded to a gas-station-turned-bakery at the West End of town. The old ‘Brakes and Shocks’ sign still graces the storefront, but inside you’ll find a light-filled café. For the quintessential experience, order a malted iced coffee and a slice of baker Briana Holt’s blueberry pie for breakfast.
Eventide Oyster Co.
86 MIDDLE STREET, 207.774.8538 If you visit only one oyster bar in Maine, make it Eventide (pictured above). Chefs Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor put their own twist on East Coast classics. There are littleneck clams and (of course) oysters, but you can also order a lobster stew with green curry or a celery gimlet, advertised on the menu as “practically health food.” Oysters are iced on a block of Maine granite and labeled with hand-lettered wooden sticks—all part of the cool, casual vibe.
18 FRANKLIN STREET, 207.284.0015 Twenty minutes southwest of Portland in the seaside town of Biddeford, the Palace Diner (shown above) is putting a local spin on greasy spoon classics. Located in a vintage Pollard Company dining car—one of two left in America— the Palace Diner features a long counter where chefs Greg Mitchell and Chad Conley are putting their heart and soul into every plate. Try the challah french toast drowned in Maine maple syrup with a brûléed grapefruit on the side.
414 FORE STREET, 207.805.1085 Located in a former provisions storehouse once owned by the East India Trading Company, this spot has worked hard to honor Portland’s history. Everything is made by local craftsmen, from the reclaimed wood counters and tabletops to the blacksmith-forged chairs and barn-style bathroom doors. The menu is deceptively simple. Try Chef Christopher Gould’s heirloom cinnamon-smoked carrots sautéed in butter and served with pistachios and goat cheese.
The Honey Paw
78 MIDDLE STREET, 207.774.8538 The latest venture from the guys behind Eventide and Hugo’s, The Honey Paw (above and below) is Portland’s new rice and noodle shop. Order an old-school egg white cocktail, then get the lobster tartine and wok-fried greens to start. For dinner, split bowls of bibimbap, and don’t miss the honeycomb caramel sundae for dessert.
Pai Men Miyake
188 STATE STREET, 207.541.9204 Before moving to Portland and opening a series of Asian restaurants, chef Masa Miyake worked at Oceana in New York. Pai Men Miyake serves up Japanese ramen and soba noodle soups in a laid-back State Street storefront.
Mount Desert Island Ice Cream
51 EXCHANGE STREET, 207.210.3432 At this artisanal ice cream shop founded in 2006, the tagline sums up the approach: “fearless flavor.” Nowhere else will you find Blueberry Basil, Maine Sea Salt Caramel and Bay of Figs ice cream, all on one menu. This is summer.
63 WASHINGTON AVENUE, 207.805.1336 Owners and Brooklyn transplants Peter and Orenda Hale aptly describe Drifter’s Wife as “a wine bar in a wine shop.” With a focus on sustainability, interiors evoke a cool Parisian-style café, with bentwood stools, globe lights and a small open kitchen.
The Bearded Lady’s Jewelbox
644 CONGRESS STREET, 207.747.5384 “The bearded lady” is owner, artist, and mixologist Nathaniel Meiklejohn’s alter ego, and the jewel box is his Arts District bar. Fueled and partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the space may have a mezzanine and velvet chaise, but the overall aesthetic is warm and welcoming. Check out the mural by Beth Kleene and order whatever craft cocktail suits you from the ever-changing menu.
WHERE TO SHOP
3 MARKET STREET, 207.747.4778 In her airy boutique (pictured above and below), Brooke Beaney sells what she likes to wear: sculptural silhouettes from designers like Rachel Comey, Ulla Johnson, and Apiece Apart. There’s also an edited selection of accessories: bowls from makers Fort Standard, watercolor-and-pencil artworks by Tait Hawes (who also designed Judith’s logo) and bucket bags by Building Block.
100 COMMERCIAL STREET, 207.775.9099 Proprietor Karen Burke’s style is eclectic and accessible. She effortlessly mixes vintage ceramics sourced from the Brimfield Antique market with more modern finds, likeRebecca Atwood pillows
Portland Trading Company
157 MIDDLE STREET, 207.899.0228 Sporting a fedora, cardigan, and bright red tie, Kazeem Lawal—pictured above in his shop—mixes East Coast cool with a flair for the unexpected. His signature style is on display throughout his shop, a design-minded “general store” that sells everything from vintage croquet mallets to beard balm. Don’t miss the private label chambray shirts and the impressive selection of hard-to-find lifestyle magazines.
Portland Dry Goods
237 COMMERCIAL STREET, 207.699.5575 Known in Portland as “Mr. Menswear,” David Hodgkins is an advocate for Maine-made clothing. His highly tailored store (above) of men’s and women’s clothing carries totes by Swans Island weavers, handcrafted penny loafers from Lewiston-based Rancourt, and jewelry by Portland designer Cat Bates.
2 MAIN STREET, 18-214, 207.602.6320, After you’ve made the trek to Biddeford for brunch at the Palace Diner, stop by Rabelais, a rare bookshop specializing in food and wine. Housed in a former textile mill, the shop’s shelves are filled with thousands of out-of-print cookbooks and bartender’s guides.
More & Co.
112 HIGH STREET, 207.747.4730 Every few months, creative director Maria Alexandra Vettese curates More & Co.’s assortment and releases a new lookbook (inspiration shown above). Concepts like “summer blues” and “feel the sun” allow her to build collections around playful products, like her popular Imagine Maine shirts and small-batch ceramics.
131 MIDDLE STREET, 800.255.9454 In 2002, textile designer Angela Adams put Portland style on the map with the opening of her first store and showroom. Over a decade later, she’s still the queen of coastal color. In the flagship store, her island inspiration is evident in rugs that resemble waves, rocks, and starry skies. You’ll also find handcrafted wood furniture designed by Adams’ husband, Sherwood Hamill.
42 EXCHANGE STREET, 207.274.2100 This cute, colorful shop in the Old Port neighborhood is technically for kids, but design-conscious adults will love it, too. You might be tempted by the bright pink-and-blue beach paddles from Sunnylife, Seedling colored pencil kits or Meri Meri pinwheels and party decorations—even if you don’t have a baby to buy for.
This story was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue. It was updated and republished in July 2017.