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7 Best Restaurants in Portland Maine: Culinary Highlights for 2024

Portland Maine waterfront illustration
Discover Portland Maine's top 7 restaurants for 2024. From fresh seafood to farm-to-table delights, experience Maine's best culinary offerings.

Portland’s 7 Best Restaurants for an Unforgettable Maine Vacation

Portland, Maine, offers a rich culinary experience that attracts food lovers from all over. This coastal city combines fresh, local ingredients with diverse cooking styles to create a unique dining scene. From casual spots to fine dining, Portland’s restaurants showcase the best of New England cuisine.

Wharf Street in the Old Port district of Portland, Maine

When exploring the dining options in Portland, I found a variety of places that stood out for their innovative dishes and welcoming atmospheres. This guide will help you discover some of the best restaurants in Portland, whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a memorable meal. Each restaurant offers something special that you won’t want to miss.

 

1) Fore Street Restaurant

 

Fore Street Restaurant in Portland, Maine

When I first walked into Fore Street, I was struck by the warm and rustic atmosphere. The open wood-fired grill and brick oven are the heart of the restaurant, where you can see your meal being prepared. It’s a place that feels both cozy and sophisticated, a perfect spot for a special evening.

Fore Street’s menu changes daily, reflecting the availability of fresh, local ingredients. I enjoyed dishes like the Mixed Organic Greens with Sourdough Crouton and Barrel Aged Cider Vinaigrette. The Maine Oysters, served with Seaweed Mignonette and Lemon, were a highlight, full of fresh, briny flavor.

The wood-fired dishes are a must-try. The Wood Oven Roasted Maine Rope-Cultured Mussels with Garlic Almond Butter and Dry Vermouth was a delight. The Wood Grilled Hanger Steak and Turnspit Roasted Marinated Half Chicken were cooked to perfection, each with unique seasonal accompaniments.

Another aspect that stood out is the team behind Fore Street. Executive Chef Samuel F. Hayward and his team are clearly passionate about their craft. The attention to detail shines through in every part of the dining experience.

Rating: 4.6 (1600 reviews)
Location: 288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 775-2717
Website: Visit Website

 

2) Central Provisions

 

Central Provisions Restaurant in Portland, Maine

Central Provisions offers a mix of creative dishes and a welcoming atmosphere. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by the warm vibe and cozy setting. The blend of flavors in the food is outstanding, making every bite an experience.

The partnership with SKORDO, a local spice shop, is a standout feature. This collaboration lets you bring a part of their flavor magic home. I highly recommend trying their unique spice blends, which add a special touch to any dish.

The service is friendly and attentive, enhancing the dining experience. The atmosphere combined with the quality of food makes Central Provisions a must-visit spot in Portland.

Rating: 4.6 (1500 reviews)
Location: 414 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 805-1085
Website: Visit Website

 

3) Duckfat

 

Duckfat Restaurant in Portland, Maine

Duckfat is a unique gem in Portland, Maine, known for its Belgian-style fries. These frites are hand-punched and twice-fried in duck fat. The result is an incredibly crispy and flavorful snack that I couldn’t get enough of.

Duckfat on Middle Street offers a cozy indoor and outdoor dining experience. It’s perfect for a casual meal where you can savor those golden fries. I loved the relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for a laid-back lunch or dinner.

The Duckfat Frites Shack on Washington Ave is also worth a visit. It’s a takeout window with both indoor and outdoor seating shared with Oxbow Blending & Bottling. This location is great for larger groups and just a 15-minute walk from the original spot. Both places serve the delicious Duckfat frites with slight variations in their menus.

Rating: 4.6 (4400 reviews)
Location: 43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 774-8080
Website: Visit Website

 

4) Scales

 

Scales Restaurant in Portland, Maine

Scales is a fantastic dining spot in Portland, Maine. I’ve had the pleasure of eating there, and it instantly became one of my favorites. The ambiance is perfect for a nice evening out, with a cozy yet upscale feel. The staff is friendly and attentive, making sure your dining experience is top-notch.

The menu features a variety of options, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. I particularly enjoyed the perfectly cooked fish and the delicious, hearty chowder. They also offer a good selection of wines to pair with your meal. It’s clear that the dishes are prepared with high-quality ingredients.

Reservations are highly recommended, as Scales can get quite busy. If you prefer a more casual dining experience, bar seating is available. They also accommodate walk-ins, but it’s best to arrive early to snag a table. The patio is a pleasant option in good weather, though reservations are weather dependent.

Gift cards are available, which makes a great gift for any food lover. Overall, Scales provides an excellent dining experience that’s worth visiting. I always look forward to my next meal there.

Rating: 4.6 (2200 reviews)
Location: 68 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 805-0444
Website: Visit Website

 

5) Street & Co

 

Street & Company Restaurant in Portland, Maine

When I walked into Street & Co, I immediately noticed the cozy, bistro-style atmosphere. The restaurant, founded in 1989 by Dana B Street, is tucked away on Wharf Street, a charming cobblestone, pedestrian-only street.

Street & Co specializes in Mediterranean, all-seafood dishes. The chefs put a strong emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients from nearby purveyors, fishermen, and organic farmers. This commitment to quality is evident in the food’s vibrant flavors.

Their menu is straightforward yet creative, with dishes that change regularly based on what’s available. The freshly caught seafood is the star, prepared simply to let the natural flavors shine. The bar and lounge area opens at 4:30 PM daily, while the dining hours vary slightly throughout the week.

Parking can be found on nearby streets, or one of the many pay garages central to the area. For those interested in gift-giving, Street & Co offers gift certificates both in-person and through the mail, which make for a lovely present.

Rating: 4.6 (1300 reviews)
Location: 33 Wharf St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 775-0887
Website: Visit Website

 

6) Twelve

 

Twelve Restaurant in Portland, Maine

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Twelve, a delightful restaurant located on the waterfront in Portland, Maine. The setting is historic and charming, perfectly complementing the modern New England dining experience they offer.

The menu at Twelve is inspired by Maine’s landscape and natural bounty. Every dish is crafted with fresh, local ingredients, making each bite a reflection of the state’s rich culinary heritage. The flavors are both familiar and innovative.

The ambiance is fantastic. The historic waterfront setting adds a unique touch. Whether you are seated inside or enjoying the view outside, it feels like a mini escape from the hustle and bustle. The service is top-notch, and the staff are attentive and knowledgeable about the menu.

Rating: 4.7 (280 reviews)
Location: 115 Thames St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 910-7400
Website: Visit Website

 

7) Evo Kitchen + Bar

 

Evo Kitchen + Bar in Portland, Maine

Evo Kitchen + Bar offers a fresh take on Maine cuisine, blending local ingredients with unique, international flavors. I found the atmosphere to be cozy yet modern, with an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action. The decor is stylish and welcoming, making it a great place for both casual and special occasions.

Matt Ginn, the head chef, has made a name for himself with his impressive culinary skills. He has won Food Network’s Chopped Champion three times, and his expertise is evident in every dish. The menu is diverse, featuring a mix of seafood, meats, and vegetarian options, all beautifully presented and flavorful.

What stood out to me was how fresh everything tasted. Matt’s strong relationships with local farmers and fishmongers ensure that the ingredients are of the highest quality. You can tell that there’s a lot of care and dedication behind each plate, from the appetizers to the desserts.

Rating: 4.7 (784 reviews)
Location: 443 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101
Contact: (207) 358-7830
Website: Visit Website

 

Portland Maine’s Culinary Scene

 

A bustling street lined with diverse eateries, each with unique storefronts and outdoor seating. People chat and dine, creating a lively atmosphere in Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine boasts a vibrant food scene that features diverse cuisine options and a strong commitment to the farm-to-table movement. These aspects make it a destination for food lovers everywhere.

Diverse Cuisine Offerings

In Portland, you’ll find an array of culinary styles reflecting the city’s rich cultural tapestry. From authentic Italian pizzas at Quanto Basta to the innovative sushi at Mr. Tuna, the city offers something for every palate. It’s not just about variety, though. Each restaurant provides unique twists, whether it’s fusion cuisine or traditional recipes with modern interpretations. This diversity ensures that dining in Portland is always an exciting adventure.

Farm-to-Table Movement

The farm-to-table movement is a significant part of Portland, Maine’s food culture. Many restaurants prioritize local and sustainable ingredients, creating dishes that highlight the region’s agricultural bounty. A prime example is the well-known Fore Street, where the ever-changing menu reflects the season’s freshest produce. This commitment to local sourcing not only supports farmers but also ensures that dishes are fresh and flavorful. As a result, diners can enjoy high-quality meals while also supporting sustainable practices.

Restaurant illustration #3

 

Seasonal Specialties

Portland’s food scene shines with its emphasis on fresh, local ingredients and exquisite seafood dishes. These seasonal specialties capture the heart of Maine’s culinary tradition.

Local Ingredients

Many restaurants in Portland focus on using locally sourced ingredients. For example, at Fore Street Restaurant, I often find dishes featuring locally-foraged mushrooms and farm-fresh vegetables. One standout spot is Quanto Basta, known for its Neapolitan-style pizzas made with ingredients from nearby farms. Fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and artisanal cheeses elevate every bite, reflecting the rich agricultural heritage of Maine.

The seasonal approach extends to drinks as well. Many local establishments offer craft beers, ciders, and wines produced within the region. This not only supports local producers but also ensures a unique and ever-changing dining experience.

 

Seafood Delicacies

Portland is renowned for its seafood. Restaurants like Twelve offer dishes with freshly caught seafood, like cod in whey broth. The lobster roll on a hand-laminated croissant is a must-try, reflecting the creativity and respect for local produce.

Portland Maine's culinary scene: bustling restaurants, diverse cuisines, waterfront views, local seafood, and vibrant atmosphere

Fore Street is another favorite, offering dishes with local clams, mussels, and oysters. The seafood is often paired with seasonal accompaniments like roasted onions or a delicate broth, highlighting the natural flavors. Sushi lovers can indulge in freshly prepared sushi at Mr. Tuna, where the fish is as fresh as it gets, sourced straight from the Gulf of Maine.

 

Making Memories in Portland Maine’s Top Eateries: Enjoy the Top Flavors of Maine

Portland, Maine, has firmly established itself as a culinary destination that rivals major food cities across the nation. From the rustic charm of Fore Street to the innovative flavors at Evo Kitchen + Bar, these seven restaurants showcase the best of what Portland has to offer.

Each establishment brings its unique flair to the table, whether it’s through wood-fired cooking, farm-to-table practices, or creative interpretations of New England classics. What unites them all is a commitment to quality, locally-sourced ingredients, and an authentic representation of Maine’s rich culinary heritage.

Whether you’re a seafood enthusiast, a farm-fresh devotee, or simply an adventurous eater, Portland’s diverse dining scene promises unforgettable experiences that will leave you craving more. As you plan your visit to Maine, make sure to include these culinary gems in your itinerary – your taste buds will thank you.

Bustling streets lined with charming restaurants, each offering their own unique seasonal specialties. The aroma of freshly caught seafood and locally sourced ingredients fills the air as patrons eagerly await a delectable dining experience

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for top-rated eateries in Portland, Maine, whether they specialize in seafood, offer cozy atmospheres, or stand out as trendy or hidden gems? Here are some specifics about the best dining experiences in this charming city.

What are some top-rated seafood restaurants in Portland, Maine?

Scales stands out for its fresh seafood and waterfront views. The menu offers a variety of seasonal dishes that highlight local catch. Street & Co is another excellent choice, known for its Mediterranean-inspired seafood preparations in an intimate setting. You can also check out our article of the top seafood restaurants in Portland, Maine for our top recommended seafood places in Portland.

Where can I find cozy and warm dining experiences in Portland, Maine?

For a warm and inviting atmosphere, Fore Street Restaurant offers a cozy dining experience with its wood-fired dishes and open kitchen. The ambiance at Street & Co is also perfect for a comfortable and intimate meal.

Can you recommend some hidden gem eateries in Portland, Maine?

Duckfat is a must-visit for its famous Belgian fries and unique sandwiches. Central Provisions is another gem, offering a diverse menu that features creative small plates in a charming, rustic space.

What are the trendiest restaurants in Portland, Maine right now?

Fore Street Restaurant continues to set the bar high with its innovative dishes and upscale vibe. Central Provisions is also a trendy spot, known for its exceptional small plates and modern flair.

Are there any notable restaurants on the water in Portland, Maine?

Scales provides a picturesque waterside dining experience with its fresh and locally sourced seafood menu. The restaurant’s location on the harbor adds to its appeal, making it a prime spot for a special meal.

Which new restaurants in Portland have been recognized nationally?

While the article lists popular long-standing eateries, newer spots like David’s Opus Ten have also garnered national attention for their dedication to quality and detail. These newer venues maintain Portland’s reputation as a top food destination.

 

 

Picture of Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark Beale - Author Bio

Mark has an extensive background in the Maine Hospitality Industry, having owned the Ledges By The Bay, a boutique oceanfront hotel property, in Rockport Maine, for 40 years. He sold the property in 2016 but remains well-versed in the Maine Tourism industry and has written a number of Maine travel-related articles for various blogs and publications over the years.

Mark founded the TakeMe2 Travel Guides platform, an online travel guide initiative, designed to promote tourism in Maine, New England and in other key states – by providing in depth, unbiased information to potential tourists and travel consumers. TakeMe2 currently features the TM2Maine.com website.

Mark is also currently a stakeholder in VONT, a digital marketing agency in Westbrook, Maine, where he leads VONT's search engine optimization (SEO) practice.

Mark is versed in a number of digital information technologies including web design and development, digital video, electronic design and digital imaging technologies as well as internet marketing tactics such as blogs, web properties, and other smart media such as AI chatbots for content, image and video enhancement. One of his primary tasks at VONT is to find the successful application of these new information platforms in marketing and then teach VONT's marketers how to use them to create marketing campaigns more efficiently, creatively and cost effectively.

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