If you read last week’s post, you got a small glimpse into understanding why my uncle fell in love with Maine. Not only did he find Lori, the great love of his life, there, but he also got to enjoy all of the lighthouses, lobster, music, breweries, and genuinely kind people that the state has to offer. If you find yourself in the southern part of Maine anytime soon, here’s a list of a few of our favorite spots to grab a drink or bite to eat.
Dolphin Marina & Restaurant – Harpswell
Uncle Jimmy took me here a couple of years ago for what he believed to be “the best lobster stew around”. Soups and stews are not dishes that I typically gravitate towards when looking at a menu. But, I am so glad I listened to him about this one. The Dolphin’s lobster stew is literally spilling over with fresh lobster meat. And the “sweetest” part of the meal is the piping hot blueberry muffin that comes on the side. This place is quintessential Maine – blueberries, lobster, and a harbor view.
Hallowell Seafood & Produce – Hallowell
During this last trip, Lori and I decided that the town of Hallowell is the real life version of Stars Hollow. It has a small, but thriving downtown right on the water where the sidewalks seem to always be filled with locals laughing, hugging, and sharing a meal together. Hallowell makes me want to move to Maine, plant a garden, and find my own Rory and Lorelei Gilmore to befriend. Hallowell Seafood & Produce is the Doose’s Market of the town, with the exception of a cranky and pompous owner like Taylor. Justin is the owner of this market, where along with charm and knowledge, he also offers fresh produce, local seafood, fully cooked lobster dinners, Maine made goods, and an impressive assortment of wine. (Other great spots in Hallowell – The Quarry Taproom, The Liberal Cup, Slate’s Restaurant & Bakery)
Rising Tide Brewery – Portland
On our first visit to Maine, Uncle Jimmy called me into the kitchen where he was standing with a bright green can of beer and a very serious look on his face. He looked at me and said, “I want you to try this beer.. and just know that I don’t share these with many people, but I think you will appreciate it.” I’ve never been so honored to try a beer in my life! Rising Tide’s Maine Island Trail Ale is the perfect summer beer. It’s full of hops and depth, yet also light and refreshing with hints of pine and citrus. We leave every year with a couple of 4-packs in our luggage that I protectively ration out over the next few months.
Lori, Patrick, and I visited their brewery and tasting room in Portland for the first time a couple of weeks ago. We ordered a flight to sample all they had to offer, which turned out to be an impressive collection, but nonetheless we ultimately ended up back with the Maine Island Trail Ale. It’s just too good to pass up.
Flatbread Company – Portland
I am always, ALWAYS on the hunt for great pizza, and Flatbread Company’s wood-fired clay oven pies did not disappoint. They had that perfect, thin crust that’s crispy on the outside while still lending to a soft inside. We tried two different styles – The Casco Bay Community Flatbread with a traditional tomato sauce base and the Homemade Sausage with an olive oil base. Both pizzas were topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms (as, I believe, all pizza should be), but we collectively decided that if The Casco Bay Community Flatbread was topped with their homemade maple-fennel sausage, it may have in fact been the perfect pizza.
Flatbread Company’s patio seating overlooks the Casco Bay port, allowing you to watch the cargo ships, ferries, and sailboats come in and out as you enjoy a slice or two of pizza and sip on one of their many fantastic local beers.
Cook’s Lobster & Ale House – Bailey Island
On the last day of our trip this summer, we took a Casco Bay Lines harbor cruise out of Portland up to Bailey Island and back. We cruised past lighthouses, military forts, and island towns only accessible by ferry. We saw a bald eagle nesting on one of the islands, along with a few seals bobbing up and down in the water and sunbathing on rocks. But, possibly the best part of the day was when the boat docked at Cook’s Lobster & Ale House where we feasted on a Maine inspired lunch complete with hot lobster rolls, lobster wontons, and seafood stuffed lobster tails. It was an absolutely gorgeous way to taste and see Maine.
Lori’s House – Gardiner
The southern part of Maine is packed with so many lovely waterfront restaurants, local breweries and small shops, but my favorite place to enjoy a meal or cup of coffee remains to be my aunt, Lori’s house. It’s there that I first learned how to knead a ball of dough into a beautiful piece of fougasse. It’s where I got to really know my uncle and experience his warmth and hospitality first hand. Her house is where we spend lazy mornings on the back porch listening to the wind-chimes sing and watching the hummingbirds hover over the garden. There’s also typically an endless supply of coffee and the softest homemade English muffins you’ll ever taste. Life just seems so sweet and slow there.
Do you have any favorite Maine meals or spots for food and drink? I’d love to hear!
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