Like over Columbus Day, our main goal for our visit in Portland was to enjoy the many comestibles available. Portland has a great food/bar scene, and once again this trip did not disappoint. From breakfast to dessert, Portland has something for everyone!
Breakfast – Donuts and other carb-loaded delights
If you can only visit one place for breakfast in Portland, it’s gotta be Standard Baking Company. Jess says they only have third best chocolate croissant (that she’s had) in New England, but that it is still quite solid. Standard Baking is very useful though for buying snack, bread for picnics, or whatever you need. You can smell it in the air when you walk nearby and the bread is great – French style, cool on the inside. We went both mornings.
On this trip, we also tried a new breakfast-food place, The Holy Donut. The Holy Donut is a donut place that makes donuts out of potato starch. They also only use all natural ingredients, so their colors are made out of real fruit juices and their glazes are all natural as well. Jess wasn’t a huge fan, but I really liked the donuts here. I had the dark chocolate and sea salt donut which is a best seller – for good reason. Anyway, potato donuts are pretty interesting, they break up a bit more than regular donuts but they still taste great!
Lunch and Dinner – Fancy and simple alike
There are a ton of eating options in Portland. I’ll move from cheapest to most expensive, which is pretty much the opposite of what we ate chronologically. Ten minutes from Portland by car is a park called Fort Williams Park. It’s home to the iconic lighthouse immortalized by Edward Hopper (incidentally one of my favorite paintings). But what’s pertinent is that it’s also home to Bite Into Maine, a food truck that specializes in lobster rolls! We found out the hard way that calling ahead is the best idea – on Sunday we tried to eat dinner at the food truck only to find out they had run out.
On Memorial Monday we went for lunch on our way out of town. Bite Into Maine pretty much only serves lobster rolls, there are rotating sides and potato chips, but that’s pretty much it. It’s a good thing their lobster rolls are amazing! They serve their lobster rolls three ways: Maine Style, which is classic chives and light mayo; Connecticut Style, which is with hot butter (word); and Picnic Style which has a lot more seasoning, including wasabi. Jess had Maine and I had Connecticut, both were excellent.
On Sunday night when we struck out at Bite Into Maine, we found our way to Portland Pie Company. When we showed up we thought it was just a Maine thing, but it turns out they’ve expanded and there’s one like half an hour from where we live, haha. Jess and I “discovered” Flatbread Company in Portland too, even though we live five minutes away from one. Portland Pie Company had very good pizza and is great for kids. There was a large selection of pies and toppings, some of which were pretty eclectic. We didn’t try anything too fancy, although our friends ordered the “everything” crust which has a bit of an anise taste to it (I think it was caraway seed). I ordered my pizza on wheat crust which was really good (I usually just order wheat to feel healthy but this time I think it was good as regular dough), while Jess got a salmon salad that came with a ton of fish. It ended up being a pretty great consolation prize for missing out on lobster rolls that night.
Finally, and fanciest, our first night Jess and I took Emmie to Fore Street, which has got to be one of the hottest restaurants in Portland. It’s always fully booked, though if you wait in line there are some tables left for walk-ins; I’ve never seen a line shorter than twenty people. The line starts at 4:30 (I got there at 4:35 and was 5th), your whole party doesn’t need to wait in line. What happens is at 5:00 PM they open the doors, take names, and then tell you what time to come back for your table. They repeat the process for a second seating later in the night. As long as you get there early enough you’ll get a table, bring a book and the time will pass quickly!
I wasn’t sure how kid friendly Fore Street was going to be – my friend told me one time she brought her son and some old lady pointed at him, looked at our friend, and gave a THROAT SLASH gesture! Are you serious? Anyway, Fore Street is actually pretty kid friendly, especially early, but be aware that they don’t have high chairs so bring your own or deal with a crazy kid (we opted for the latter). But we saw like three other babies when we sat at 5:45 and it wasn’t a problem. Throat slash lady is the one with the problems.
The food at Fore Street is excellent. It shares a building with Standard Baking Company and they both share the same high level of quality. We had the halibut filet and duck two ways – the duck was really special. Overall all the food was excellent, although we ordered fiddleheads as our vegetable which I was quite whatever about. We even managed to squeeze in a dessert. I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about the food at Fore Street, and now that we’ve finally gotten to try it (on our third try!), I must say, it does live up to the hype.
Dessert – Gelato gelato gelato
For dessert, there are two gelato places and one ice cream place worth noting. First, there’s Gelato Fiasco, which I touched on in my last trip to Portland. Needless to say, it’s still great. It doesn’t hurt that it is half a block from the Hyatt Place. Secondly, there is Gorgeous Gelato, which is right across the street. Gorgeous gelato brags that it’s the only Italian style gelato in Portland, but that just means they use more old school techniques to make it. Both gelato places are excellent and I recommend visitors try both! Finally, there is Mt. Desert Island ice cream. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan because they have a ton of weird flavors – but Jess is a fan of weird flavors so she loves that place! I was putting Baby M to bed though so missed out this year (don’t cry for me, I got plenty of calories elsewhere!) Anyway, in grand New England tradition, Portland has tons of ice related treats for your sweet tooth!
Honestly, Portland is a great place to visit if you like to eat and drink. We’re too old to hit the bar scene but there are lots of places to go if you’re thirsty. I also didn’t get to mention that Maine has a ton of craft beers – my buddy at A Pint Half Full put me onto Maine Beer Company and I’m now officially obsessed. I thought it was a great place to take the baby too, everyone is super friendly and happy to serve. Go enjoy Portland! Just watch out for throat slash lady…
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