Portland is a charming coastal city known for its historic architecture, vibrant arts scene, and rich food culture. It is home to farmers' markets, gourmet culinary shops, food trucks, and an array of restaurants, many of which serve fresh seafood. In fact, there are so many options for dining in Portland that foodies often choose it as a vacation destination. The city also has great craft beers, with many breweries and bars serving small-batch and regional varieties.
So, where do you begin your food journey in Maine's largest city? These restaurants are some of the best that Portland has to offer.
Located across from the waterfront in the Old Port section of the city, Fore Street features wood-fired cuisine and a menu that changes seasonally as well as daily, depending on what's fresh from the local farms and fishing boats. The centerpiece of the restaurant is a wood-fired oven and grill, where you can watch the chefs work their magic. Fore Street is open for dinner year-round and includes an eclectic global wine list.
Forget French fries. Duckfat whips up authentic Belgian-style frites that are fried not once but twice in rich, flavorful duck fat. These extra-crispy fries are available for takeout at the walk-up window on Washington Ave., but you can check out the full pub menu at the Middle St. location. Whether you tuck into the rich poutine or opt for a panini with homemade soup, the vibe at Duckfat is always warm and inviting.
Central Provisions is a trendy spot with a constantly changing menu of small plates and entrees. Grab a drink at the bar and enjoy several dishes to get the full experience. Brunch is available on weekends, and you can usually order locally sourced caviar no matter when you come. Best of all, dessert is always on the menu, including creative options like the foie gras parfait.
No trip to Maine is complete without seafood, and Eventide Oyster Company brings you the freshest raw bar and James Beard Award-winning menu items. In addition to oysters, clams, and more hot sauce than you can shake a stick at, there's also a not-to-be-missed lobster roll. The full New England Clambake is a great choice for large groups.
The Honey Paw is an Asian-inspired restaurant. The menu features dumplings, noodles, and small plates, with an emphasis on comforting, steaming broths that hit the spot when the wind is off the water. There’s also a super-spicy Mapo Doufu rice dish if you aren’t in the mood for slurping. Communal seating lets you make friends with the locals, but you can order takeout if this popular spot is too crowded.
This high-energy restaurant prepares Maine's signature food in a variety of ways. Lobster tacos? Check. Lobster corndog? Yup. Lobster grilled cheese? You got it. The High Roller Lobster Company does lobster best, but it also has seafood-free menu items for the kids. Don't forget to grab a whoopie pie for dessert—locals claim this cream-filled delight was invented in Maine.
The Holy Donut is a local legend, serving up potato-based donuts every morning. Act fast, though—it closes at noon or sometimes sooner if the product sells out. Most donuts are sweet, some are savory, and all are delicious. Many vegan options are available, and they're so good that carnivores won't even notice the difference. There are two Portland locations: one on Commercial Street and one on Park Avenue.
Located at the Press Hotel, Union is an upscale restaurant with an open kitchen that lets you watch chefs turn local, farm-fresh ingredients into contemporary cuisine. Every ingredient has a story, including the honey harvested from the rooftop beehives. There’s no better place in Portland for private or semi-private parties to gather, and the staff will even design custom menus on request.
Though you can't dine in here, Standard Baking Company is worth a visit for the aroma alone. Load up on baguettes, focaccia, and sweets like chocolate croissants and scones. This artisanal bakery doles out the freshest goodies hot from the oven. Once you get a taste, you’ll notice Standard’s excellent breads in restaurants throughout the Portland area.
This waterfront bistro requires dinner reservations—even for the bar—but the extra planning is definitely worth your time. Scales' house-made bread with creamy clam chowder will get you off to a good start, and you can follow it up with one of a dozen seafood entrees. Save room for the dessert menu, which features sweets as well as a full list of Ports, Madeiras, and other dessert wines.
This Mediterranean-inspired seafood restaurant serves classic Mediterranean dishes, grilled fish and meats, and plenty of small plates. The extensive wine and cocktail list at Street and Co. makes it a great choice for a large group—everyone is sure to find a favorite! For after-dinner drinks, try the house-made limoncello or sticky toffee pudding.
Despite its name, Hot Suppa serves the best breakfast in town. The all-day brunch puts a creative spin on Southern comfort food, including a pulled-pork egg sandwich and New Orleans "Scrambalaya." Burgers and sandwiches round out the lunch menu for late risers, who can choose between hair-of-the-dog cocktails and espresso bar beverages.
A Portland original, this shop elevates pizza with fresh, imaginative toppings. The mashed potato, bacon, and scallion special put Otto on the map, but you can also build your own masterpiece, choosing from a long list of gourmet toppings. There are also plenty of choices for vegetarians, such as a Thanksgiving-inspired pie with butternut squash, ricotta, and cranberry.
Becky's Diner is the real deal. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this old-school eatery prepares hot coffee and honest food for fishermen going to or from the boat. Menu highlights include seafood dishes, sandwiches, breakfast specials, and pies of every variety. Becky's has been featured on Guy Fieri’s "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives," but the fame hasn’t changed a thing about this local favorite.
Fuel up here with pastries, sandwiches, breakfast items, and coffee before a day of sightseeing. Tandem roasts its own beans, which are sourced from small growers and farmers. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, and the baristas are knowledgeable about all things coffee. If the Congress Street location is crowded, try the Anderson Street shop.