What do you want to eat in Maine? Is it a steamed lobster with all the fixings? Or maybe whatever is in season at a farm-to-table hotspot? Do you want to hit up all the classic diners you can? Those endless coffee refills will keep you going. Maybe you’re on a hunt to find the best lobster roll or whoopie pie. Regardless of what you want to eat, the dining options appear endless, and it seems you’re never too far from a craft brewery (brewing everything from beer to mead to kombucha) or your next favorite cocktail. When it comes to food and dining in Maine, we aim to please. And our natural bounty makes it easy to deliver on that promise.
Maine Food Tours
A great way to sample many local favorites is on a foodie tour! There are a lot of tasteful ways to try Maine’s culinary delights on a walking food tour with Maine Day Ventures. In Boothbay, Bar Harbor, Rockland, Kennebunkport and Biddeford, tours are offered seasonally, and in Portland, there is at least one tour available year-round. Working with chefs and purveyors, brew masters, bakers, distillers, chocolatiers and more, the tours vary in type and price to meet anyone’s desires—tours on water, land, family-friendly, 21+ tours, and more!
Beer Gardens and Wine Tasting
Many visitors come to Maine to experience the harmony of our natural world. Many also discover the way drink harmonizes with food, especially upon visiting a Maine beer garden or winery. Here’s a taste of what awaits, beginning with beer.
In Harrison, Maine, Fluvial Brewing serves up its excellent flagship and seasonal brews in an outdoor tasting area that includes a yurt — for the times when the outdoor temperature seeks equilibrium with the beverages. Nearby in Oxford, Oxbow Beer Garden consists of a restaurant, bar and event space located in a renovated 200-year-old barn. Portland’s Novare Res Bier Café specializes in “crafting wild, wood-aged and blended beer.” Novare Res means “to start a revolution” in Latin. Whether you start one or not, you’ll enjoy great brews and camaraderie in the beer garden. For a taste of beer brewed at sea level, visit Belfast, Maine, the home and port of call for Marshall Wharf Brewing Company. Visitors can enjoy the lovely outdoor beer atrium overlooking the ocean, with 20-plus craft beers to choose from. And we’re also big, big fans of beer and pizza.
Now for some wine, starting in Stetson, Maine, the picturesque setting of the family-run Dragonfly Farm & Winery. There’s a tasting room and beautiful deck overlooking the vineyard, where visitors can enjoy the family’s white, red and fruit wines. Bar Harbor Cellars Winery at Sweet Pea Farm is a bit of a mouthful, and a wonderfully tasty one. It offers everything from simple fruit wines (using the finest Maine apples and blueberries) to complex and bold varietal reds. Ten minutes inland from coastal Camden, in Lincolnville, you’ll find the entrance to Cellardoor Winery. After sampling one of its three signature wine flights, you can pick up a bottle or three to take home.
Another approach to dining in Maine is simply to try all the award-winners (good luck!) Maine’s foodies are proud of the state’s vibrant, creative food scene, which is continuously earning accolades for its world-class chefs and restaurants. Portland—which Bon Appetit magazine named the “Best Restaurant City of the Year” in 2018—is home to four of the state’s six winners of the coveted James Beard Award.
Sam Hayward, of Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, has won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast and Fore Street has also been a semi-finalist for “Outstanding Restaurant” from the James Beard Foundation every year since 2011.
Rob Evans won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast when he was the owner of Hugo’s in Portland. He went on to open Duckfat, a three-time Food Network Chopped Champion restaurant, and one of Portland’s favorite spots for locally sourced foods.
In 2017, Eventide Oyster Co chefs Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley won a James Beard Award in the Best Chef of the Northeast category. Taylor and Wiley also owns another Portland restaurant— The Honey Paw.
Melissa Kelly was already a James Beard Award winner when she came to Maine to open Primo in Rockland. She has won two awards for Best Chef in the Northeast and Primo has been the standard for farm-to-table dining in Maine ever since.
Not all winners are chefs though. In 2019, Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing Company in Portland won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer.
Maine’s roster of amazing chefs and restaurants are often semifinalists for James Beard Awards like Alison Pray of Standard Baking Co., and Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell’s Palace Diner. Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais has been nominated numerous times, most recently for The Purple House in North Yarmouth. Other semifinalists include Vien Dobui’s hip noodle house CÔNG TỬ BỘT, and Keiko Suzuki Steinberger of Suzuki’s Sushi Bar. In 2022, nominees included Courtney Loreg’s farm-to-table Woodford Food and Beverage, Damian Sansonetti of Chaval – a casual French and Spanish café on the West End, Biddeford’s Magnus on Water (check out the relaxed outdoor dining area) and Elda – for a fine dining experience and tasting menu.
Maine Restaurant Week
In early March, Maine Restaurant Week is a winter celebration of Maine’s wonderful culinary ingenuity and commitment to eating local. It is an excellent time to try something new!
During the chilly depths of winter, skip the leftovers and treat yourself to a warm meal. Participating restaurants offer specials and unique offers throughout the event. You’ll not only be doing yourself a favor by savoring the traditional and outside-the-box tastes of Maine, you’ll also be supporting the many local restaurants when there’s fewer visitors. And that’s not all! Maine Restaurant Weeks supports Preble Street’s efforts to end homelessness, hunger and poverty in Maine.