It seems like everyone on the East Coast has been traveling to Portland, Maine this summer. Portland is a hot spot for those looking to get out of the NY, NJ, and CT tri-state area. It’s one of the few places on the East Coast that is almost completely open. I may or may not have had been subliminally influenced to go to Maine after watching countless Instagram stories of friends traveling away, scarfing down lobster rolls at every meal. However, scarfing down lobster rolls at every meal is exactly what I did when I travelled up to Maine, because where else would you get some of the freshest lobster on the East Coast?
My entire trip to Maine consisted of eating and walking to my next meal. Having about five meals a day, I managed to squeeze in a tiny (and I mean tiny) bit of sightseeing. If your trip to Maine doesn’t involve eating until you can’t button your pants, then did you really go to Maine? In a pandemic environment, I thought Maine was extremely safe to travel to, as they take social distancing and protocols seriously. Indoor and outdoor dining seats were very socially distanced from each other and each restaurant had their own safety protocols. Be sure to check the quarantining rules before traveling to Maine if you’re residing outside of NY, NJ, and CT.
Below is a list I’ve compiled of the best foods to eat in and around Portland. Unfortunately, I thought some of the popular spots found on most websites were sadly overrated and I’ll list them at the very bottom of this article as a bonus. However, don’t just take my word for it if you’re still inclined to try!
Bite into Maine
My absolute favorite spot for lobster rolls in Portland. The original location is a small truck in the same park where the Portland Head Lighthouse is located. They have a couple of store locations just outside of Portland and I heard they have slight variations of their menus! The food truck location has six variations of lobster rolls:
1. Maine (mayo and chives)
2. Connecticut (topped with warm butter)
3. Picnic (coleslaw, butter, celery salt)
4. Wasabi (wasabi mayo)
5. Chipotle (smoky chipotle mayo)
6. Curry (yellow Indian curry mayo)
I tried four of the six choices (Maine, Picnic, Wasabi, and Curry). I highly recommend getting the classic Maine and the Wasabi rolls. The rolls were loaded with fresh, meaty, lobster and the sauces weren’t overpowering so that the lobster taste was able to shine through. The Maine was so good that I had to stop by and get another on the way back home. The light mayo and lemon really brought out the freshness of the lobster meat. The Wasabi was my second favorite as it had just the slightest kick and they were not heavy handed with the sauce. The Picnic and Curry were good as well, but it’s really up to personal preference.
The Shop - Portland Oyster Shop
If you’re a fan of fresh, reasonably priced oysters, then you’re in for a treat. At $1.50, you can get a good variety of fresh oysters that they have at the raw bar when you go to order. They have a couple of tinned fishes and caviar to purchase if you’re feeling a little fancy. I ordered two dozen oysters and the scallop crudo small plate to share.
Two Fat Cats Bakery
If you didn’t know by now, wild blueberries are the official state fruit of Maine. Get here early to snag a whole, fresh wild blueberry pie before they sell out for the day! It was hard to control eating just one slice every time I opened the door to my refrigerator. They’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, so plan accordingly!
Eventide Oyster Co.
This is probably one of the most well-known restaurants in downtown Portland for good reason. It’s typically a 2 hour wait, so come early and put your name down as soon as you can! I recommend the fresh raw oysters and clams, where you can choose your choice of side toppings (they have kimchi and Tabasco ice!!). I also recommend the tuna carpaccio and blue fin tuna crudo. They’re known for their brown butter lobster roll which was a bit overpriced and overrated for the portion you’re given, but if you’re interested in trying, no one is stopping you!
Other items that were recommended but didn’t get to try was the New England Clam Bake and buns.
The Highroller Lobster Co.
This place has cute picnic style seating with bright red splashed all over the walls and tables. I wanted to try everything on the menu, but held back because this was my pre-dinner before Eventide (told you I had 5 meals a day). The lobster roll was good, but not my favorite compared to Bite into Maine as the sauce felt a bit overwhelming at times. However, the star of the lobster roll is the toasted bread they use which had the perfect amount of crisp.
They have a large variety of sauces that you can mix and match with any of the menu items which is fun and expands the options until you’re heart is content; however, sometimes simpler is better when less options are given. I recommend getting the grilled cheese which was a perfect combination of cheese to lobster ratio and was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the crab roll or the lobster burger but both looked amazing.
Other Portland Food Recommendations
Below is a list of other food spot recommendations that I did not get to try, but it was on my list to go to:
1. Standard Provisions
2. Gorgeous Gelato
3. Maine Oyster Company
4. Hot Suppa
5. Allagash Brewing Company
Bar Harbor Recommendations
I took a one day trip to Acadia National Park and only stopped by one spot on the way back to Portland, but have listed the recommendations below:
1. The Travelin Lobster – extremely disappointed that this was closed on Sunday and did not get to try. Other than the lobster, the homemade wild blueberry pie with blueberry ice cream was highly recommended.
2. C-Ray Lobster – stopped by this roadside lobster shack as an alternative to the Travelin Lobster and it was delicious! The clam chowder, lobster roll, and lobster grilled cheese were really good. I wish I took a picture before I ate it, but it the grilled cheese had huge chunks of lobster claw meat (so much that their was more lobster than cheese)! The homemade blueberry pie was great as well.