I’ve always loved going up to North to Maine. When I was younger, my family would drive up to Bar Harbor for a week or so and hang out with family, go for hikes, eat lobster, swim in the lake and just enjoyed life at a slower pace.
The last time I went we stayed in a town called Southeast harbor, which was close to Bar Harbor but more residential. We stayed in a cottage right along the water and our next door neighbor at the time made us fresh bread each morning. It was incredible, I still think about that cinnamon sugar bread five years later. Just thinking about that trip always brings me back to a time of happiness.
So when I heard that Portland, Maine won the 2018 Best Restaurant City of the year, by Bon Appétit, I just had to check out it. The food I ate when I was three hours north of Portland in Bar Harbor was good, but nothing so amazing to have been recognized. When I first heard that they won, it made me really happy because Maine is underrated. I can’t even tell you how many people from the East Coast who hardly know anything about the most northeast state in our country.
My boyfriend and I drove up to Portland Friday morning and a couple things planned, but the beauty about visiting a small city is that you can pretty see everything in a weekend. After checking into our Air BnB, we headed over to Washington St., which according to the locals, has a bunch of new restaurants. We walked into Drifters Wife, and I remember thinking how a place like this feels way to cool to be in Maine. With small intimate tables, a long and crowded bar in the center, dim lights and candlelit, it felt like the perfect date night. I definitely regret it, but we ended up leaving because there were no spots available, but it holds the #9 spot on the Bon Appétit list and I’m happy I at least checked it out. I actually just listened to their podcast and Gabrielle, the part owner of the restaurant, said that she is from New York City, and was going for the ultimate Brooklyn vibe, which they nailed.
We walked over to Island Creek Oysters because my boyfriend had never tried them and I’ve never tried oysters from Maine. I think this place would be better for during the day because it’s an open space. Although, getting some oysters and wine was the perfect start to our night. We tried three different kinds, and I couldn’t really tell the difference between them but they were fun to eat.The couple next to us at the oyster place recommended Baharat for dinner and said they have great middle eastern food, and I was sold. The next reservation we could make there was for 8:45, and since we had an hour to kill, we went to grab a drink at a Mexican place across the street called Terlingua. We got some jalapeno honey cornbread, roasted cauliflower and Battery Steele IPA which was sooooo good. I love a good IPA and this one was the perfect counterpart to the spicy cornbread.
At this point, we were pretty full, but we headed to Baharat for dinner, just a couple blocks away. Michael got an apple brandy drink and then we split a tabbouleh salad and baba ghanoush. Their food was delicious though, and if we were staying in Maine another night, I would’ve wanted to go back with an empty stomach.
The next morning we stopped at Rose Foods and I am not even kidding, this was the BEST bagel I’ve ever had. In PA and Jersey, they tend to be a bit doughy, but this was perfectly crispy on the outsides, very seedy and I got mine with tofu cream cheese, nova, and dill.
After that eating that bagel that I still can’t get out of my head, we headed out for a biking lighthouse tour of Portland. Biking in the city and along the ocean was so beautiful and gave us the opportunity to experience a true northeast Fall in all its glory. Apparently, we were pretty lucky with the weather because last week they had to cancel their trips due to the wind. After the five hour excursion, I was ready to sit by a fire and eat *another* lobster roll.
Did you think we went to Portland, Maine without stopping at a brewery? No way, we had to fit at least one in, so we went on an 11:30 AM tour at Allagash Brewing Compay. I personally am not a huge fan of Belgian beers, but it was still a fun way to end the trip. If I could do it over again, I would’ve gone to Battery Steele since they have some hoppity hop IPAs. I guess this just means I need to go back to Portland.