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Portland ME - Hotel, Neighborhood, Food reccs?

  • c

We're going to be in Portland for a few days this summer. We'd like to get some good local flavor, both restaurants (various prices) and a hotel in a neighborhood which is fun to walk around in. What would you recommend?

We like most types of food, but would prefer local ingredients and inspiration.

Thanks in advance...

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  1. If you are going for a couple nights and want to get out to Peaks Island (ony 15 minute ferry ride & only $3 bucks) - there's an awesome Inn just off the ferry. http://innonpeaks.com/ It will be like two vacations in one. But even if you don't stay, take the ferry for dinner at the Cockeyed Gull (lots of great reviews) and awesome views and skyline of Portland. http://www.cockeyedgull.com/

    1. The regency is my favorite place to stay we love to go to the armory for drinks before dinner somewhere out. Don't miss out on the east end while you are in town. Walk up India street and stop at Miccuci's the italian store, turn right on Congress and there are cute shops, you can head up Munjoy hill to the observatory on on to a beautiful view while passing some great restaurants like blue spoon and the front room (there is also bar lola but I think it is cheeky to charge 12.00 for a tiny dish of macaroni and cheese-they call it a tasting menu-I call it a rip-off menu) and a new tea shop called Homegrown with the sweetest owner. Or you can take a left just past the snug Irish pub onto Washington Ave that has Hamdi African restaurant and Tu casa a Salvadorian restaurant, some ethnic shops, Earth and Soul pottery, Portland pottery, coffee by design and if you like to eat outside Silly's restaurant has the coolest outdoor seating. Enjoy!

      4 Replies
      1. re: sk46

        We loved the Regency--great location, nice staff, and if you do the B&B package, breakfast is fantastic. Also, the spa is available to hotel guests--bring your bathing suit--there is a beautiful jacuzzi. The Armory bar is a nice pre or post dinner hangout. http://www.theregency.com/
        On India Street up a little bit from Micucci's is a terrific coffee place--name escapes me but Portlanders will know it. There are many excellent restaurants--search the New England board for much passionate discussion about favorites.

        1. re: whs

          Coffee By Design? There's also Two Fat Cats on India street.

            1. re: serendipityeats

              Sorry yes I forgot about these two also Ben kay for sushi and Standard baking. Does anyone know about the cafe next to the snug or what is going into the old wicked pulp building?

        2. Just a friendly reminder, Folks. Please keep the emphasis on the chow, lodging discussion is out of scope for Chowhound.


            1. re: uncle rico

              We went to Caiolas on saturday night and it was delightful. Sat at the "chefs table" so to speak. The ramp pudding was so light and delicate....overall very impressive.

            2. Hi, A few recommendations for Portland!
              I have lived here for 7 years and still feel like I am in a constant food frenzy, so you should have lots of options for your short stay.
              For the freshest sushi I have ever had, go to Yosaku on Danforth St. It blows the other fish wrappers in town out of the water. The Bento box is a steal and the wait staff never scoff if you pick sashimi twice on your choice of 3 dishes. This dish is enough for two - even two with huge appetites. Their cheap lunch is criminally economical.

              Fore St is still king and never disappoints. The other Dana Street restaurant, Street & Co on Wharf St. is great, but rather than have a full dinner, I recommend snacking at the bar and sampling their "tastes" and grabbing some oysters. The guy who runs the bar is arguably the most competent restaurant employee I have ever seen in Maine, although kind of a piece of work. Duck Fat on Middle St. is known for their french fries - cooked in duck fat (Be sure to get the truffle ketchup) but their tomato fennel soup is truly the sublime menu item - a great lunch choice. In my experience, Hugo's is all show and no substance. I wouldn't bother splurging there. The Front Room on Congress St up on Munjoy Hill has a great and affordable breakfast - gnocchi with poached eggs, bacon and hollandaise sauce! Their dinner menu has a diverse price range, from bistro food to more elaborate fare. I have always had a good meal there, but it is on the loud side and service can be painfully inept. here here on the trip to Miccucci's. Be sure to hit Harbor Fish down on the piers off commercial street. The wet floors and fishmongers chopping up giant sea beasts is not to be missed! You will be jealous when you see the prices, too.

              Oh and definitely do not miss Standard Baking on Commercial St(below Fore ST restaurant) Their ham and cheese croissants are unearthly.
              Have fun!

              1 Reply
              1. re: uni eater

                I just had a pretty disappointing meal at Fore St. (in fact the last few have been...) the atmosphere is great and I would definitely recommend their bar for drinks or dessert. Same with Vignola, another Portland "hot spot" great bar and very cool inside but mediocre food in my experience. I would definitely try the Front Room, a perfect little neighborhood bistro with reasonable and yummy food. They have a great menu at both brunch and dinner. As for the loudness we seem to be okay when we go, it is always busy and sometimes we opt to sit at the bar which is always fun and sometimes more relaxing than the dining room at a peak hour. I would also try Caiolas on Pine Street, again a great neighborhood place.
                Aurora Provisions in the West End for breakfast. Their raspberry scones are unbelievable and their "crack in a cup" coffee is delicious.

              2. Have the wood-grilled mussels at Fore Street and the duck confit panini at DuckFat. Five Fifty Five on Congress Street is a good choice but I can't remember a single thing I ate there.

                1 Reply
                1. re: whs

                  Check out Cinque Terre on Wharf St. across from street & co. Really wonderful Italian, all fresh, seasonal, local ingredients and a wonderful atmosphere. http://www.cinqueterremaine.com/

                2. I would totally second Duck Fat. Also, Mim's is easily in my top five favorite French restaurants. Flatbread Pizza is good for lunch, especially if it's a nice day and you can sit out on the patio.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: gatezilla

                    I heard Mims is no longer open for dinner!!

                    1. re: irwin

                      Really? I hadn't heard about that, but I'm not local. Their website still lists am, mid-day and pm menus.

                      1. re: gatezilla

                        Mim's is presently closed for dinner I think until this summer.

                        Regardless of that - Mim's is truly one of the worst restaurants in Portland and quite possibly the worst restaurant I have ever been to.

                        Atrocious service, predictable menu and mediocre food, there is just no reason to go. What makes it so frustrating is it has a fantastic location with an amazing deck – if the food were halfway decent it would be a great place to go.

                        1. re: ejohnson

                          Wow, I've had an entirely different experience. My only complaint about the restaurant in general would be that the first floor is a bit crowded. I've never had a bad dish there and their cassoulet was excellent.

                          1. re: gatezilla

                            Mim is actually quite good - they've had server issues in the past and I think that they could benefit from more OWNER TIME spent in the restaurant. They have had kitchen difficulties in the past that spilled out onto the floor, affecting the attitude and morale of the staff. That being said, on any given day the food and service at Mims can be outstanding. I also give them credit for being the BEST upscale brunch place in town...

                  2. I agree that Mim's is not very good.

                    1. Two Fat Cats Bakery on India Street is fantastic. Although they are known for their whoopie pies (made from scratch, the velvety filling made without shortening), a must-have for any foodie who visits Maine, their cupcakes, pies and cookies are all delicious. Known for their sweets, I ventured to try the chicken pot pie (a joint venture with Fore Street, who makes the filling) and I was blown away. Chicken pot pie is no easy task and I was floored by the amount of chicken and, of course, the homemade pie crust. You might even catch a fat cat roaming around if you are lucky...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: emmogene

                        Thanks for the Whoopie Pie rec. I've been trying to explain their importance to my midwestern husband and he just doesn't get it.

                      2. best blueberry pancake I ever ate - Becky's Diner. When we left there was a line down the sidewalk for a table. :)