Hi friends. We’re back with another post from the north – Portland, Maine. Even though this is a monster of a post, we are barely scratching the surface of the food scene in Portland. This small city has one of the most restaurants per capita in the country. Once we got there, we understood why – we were literally surrounded by restaurants, bars, and more food. We had two very wonderful friends to show us around this very charming and seductive city.
We had very little sleep when we first arrived so we quickly made our way to Bard Coffee, a place recommended by more than one person. When we entered this little coffee shop, we found a quiet cafe buzzing with the sound of the espresso grinder and milk steamers. In this sun-filled space, we were more than happy to sit down and relax with a couple cups of caffeine.
We ordered the latte and mocha – both equally beautiful and delicious. Bard Coffee has an incredibly relaxing atmosphere; we spent a couple hours there talking about boys, food, and the places we were going to hit up next.
For the next stop, we tackled Pai Men Miyake for the ultimate ramen and umami. Miyake was recommended to us by our old friend from Flour. We tried the Paitan ramen – a pork and chicken broth accompanied by pork belly, soy marinated egg, ginger, and scallion. The broth was perfectly rich and fatty and the noodles were just chewy enough.
We also ordered the pork gyoza and pork belly buns. Are you sensing a theme here? Well, the pork gyoza were simply delicious – juicy pork in cute little dumplings. The pork buns were mouthwateringly savory, with a kick. Each had a more than generous serving of pork belly, along with a spicy pepper relish and fermented gochujang mayo. All the right things were going on here.
We have two quick mentions here, and we meant to take photos but we got too distracted by the mouth watering food to stop and take pictures.
We spent our first dinner at Duckfat, where all our poutine fantasies came true. It was a cute restaurant boasting homemade sodas and tasty sandwiches, with a full wall riddled with word magnets. We ordered a large poutine – with an egg on it, of course – and it was glorious. You’ll just have to take our word for it.
To end our first night in Portland, we visited Gelato Fiasco for dessert. They’ve got incredibly creative flavors and their gelato is out of this world. But you don’t have to visit Portland to get this fix, they also sell their gelato in special stores.
For our first breakfast in Portland, we walked to Dutch’s, our hosts’ favorite spot. It is a quiet little spot filled with vintage posters and camping lamps at each table. Dutch’s was a simple, old-school sandwich place with killer breakfast options, and a slew of specials to choose from.
The buttered blueberry pancakes were soft, fluffy and moist; reminding us what real maple syrup was made for. They never stood a chance against our voracious appetites.
The special spicy chicken sandwich was indeed very spicy, but crispy and perfect between two pieces of buttery biscuits. To top it off, we ordered the loaded hash browns. They came with bacon, scallions, and a white gravy.
We were in a food coma after this and took a much needed walk on Mackworth Island, a small island very close to Portland.
We stopped at a highly regarded local spot, The Holy Donut, to reward ourselves after our not-so-strenuous hike. This place is only a few years old, but still manages to pull off a classic donut shop vibe. They’re known for throwing mashed potatoes into their donuts, making them moist, soft, and somewhat healthier. Our one complaint is that their chocolate sea salt donuts can’t be a daily indulgence now that we’re back in Boston.
For dinner that night, we made a special sojourn to Eventide Oyster Co. and it was absolutely magical. Eventide made all our seafood dreams come true.
For the rest of the night, we did a little bar hopping: starting out at Vena’s, a very hip soda bar that also serves alcohol with their homemade soda, and ending our night at Rhum for some cheeky tiki drinks.
We spent most of the night having drinks at the Scandinavian-inspired Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, a trendy, open-spaced restaurant decorated with antlers, industrial-style lighting, and a whole lot of wood. We got seats at one of their long communal tables right away, with a great view of their expansive bar. Once again we failed to take pictures (after one too many drinks, you can’t really blame us), but check out their Instagram and you’ll get a peek at what these mixologists are up to.
Their house punch was fruity and a little too delicious for our own good. Several servings later, and we were ready to see what else Portland had to offer.
Our friend Jared brought home a few slices from Slab, an Italian eatery specializing in literal slabs of pizza, after our night out on the town. These enormous slices were just what we needed, and our bodies were grateful for the sustenance. (Also be sure to check out Roustabout, where Jared works his magic as he cooks up classy New England fare.)
On our final day, we traveled for thirty minutes to Biddeford for a very, very special place called Palace Diner. Guys, we are not joking – if you are ever lucky enough to grab a seat in this small but charming diner, be very thankful because your tastebuds will go to heaven.
This fried chicken sandwich may possibly be the best fried chicken sandwich we have ever had. Yeah, we said it. It is served only on the weekends – between a sesame bun is a whole perfectly fried chicken breast with cabbage slaw and jalapeño. This sandwich alone was worth the drive and anticipation.
The lumberjack breakfast was just what the doctor ordered. A plate stacked with flapjacks, sausages, home fries and eggs never looks better than it does 12 hours after drinking a little too much punch. And once again, the pancakes were perfection.
Rabelais Books was impressive to say the least. When we first arrived, the door was locked, but just a few seconds later the owner showed up and our hopes were restored. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but we’re pretty sure a gasp escaped our lips when we first stepped inside. Shelves upon shelves and walls upon walls of cookbooks, both old and new, covered every inch of the simple one-room shop. We spent hours pouring over each section, from pasta to bread; from East Asian cuisine to food writing.
Standard Baking Co. knocked it out of the pastry park. This small, family-owned artisanal bakery prides itself on providing the people of Portland with high-quality baked goods made with natural ingredients. They even use 100% Maine-grown grains to make their wide assortment of drool worthy baguettes and breads.
Their brownie was wonderfully and intensely chocolatey, their lemon tart perfectly sweetened and tasted of pure lemons, and their pain au chocolat was truly authentic, as though it came straight out of a small Parisian boulangerie. We actually visited this place twice – it was that good.
Because we’re really just a couple of nerds, we wanted to immortalize our blog love like so many couples before us have. So we got a lock from the nearby Maine Hardware and put it up on the Love Locks fence on Commercial Street. (We told you: nerds.)
But now you know that we really mean it when we say this blog of ours is sticking around, 4 eva.
And with that, our Portland trip had come to an end. We were already talking about coming for a second visit before we had even left. There are a few too many bars and restaurants we still have yet to try, and we’d love to come back for a summer picnic – especially after stocking up on a few things from Rosemont Market, a cute little market with several Portland locations that’s chock full of fresh produce, fresh cheeses and deli meats, and mouthwatering pies and pastries. Our friend Alison whips up their delicious baked goods, and they sell wine. So you’re going to want it on your list of destinations.
We hope you enjoyed this small taste of Portland! Let us know of your favorite Portland places in the comments, so we can check them out on our next visit.
And finally, to these two lovebirds, Alison and Jared: a very big thank you for letting us crash in your cozy living room and for letting us take so many photos before we ate our food. You two simply are lovely.