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Eats around Damiriscotta, ME

I'll be vacationing in and around Damiriscotta, ME in June. Can anyone recommend any good places to eat? Good seafood is a must, since most of the gang is from inland places and don't get lobsta very often. We know about Red's and Shaw's, and even though the others love Red's lobster rolls there has *got* to be better. And Shaw's... never again. It doesn't have to be fancy, but the food needs to be great.

Any recommendations? Thanks!

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  1. I'll leave the seafood specialty places to others. Good food in the area includes:

    Montsweag Roadhouse (Rte 1 Woolwich). Excellent steaks, ribs, burgers plus fish and lobster.

    Ocean Grill (Rte 1, Edgecomb) Nice relaxing views of Sheepscot River. Upscale varied menu, but especially salads and brunch items.

    If you get out to Boothbay Harbor I recommend 93 Townsend for lunch or dinner. A place for lobster rolls or lobster risotto, Not touristy; where the locals eat (and drink...check out the martini menu).

    For good retail selection of wines plus gourmet deli salads and picnic makings try McKean & Charles in Waldoboro. Better wine selection and prices than elsewhere in area.

    5 Replies
    1. re: HDinCentralME

      Montsweag Roadhouse - yes, we ate there last time. That was one place we had planned on hitting again. Definitely a worthwhile place.

      I'll put the Ocean Grille on the list. We'll be boating the Sheepscot so it will be interesting to sit by it for dinner afterwards.

      Thanks HD!

      1. re: HDinCentralME

        I go through Waldoboro every weekend on my way to Cushing. Where exactly is McKean & Charles??? I'd love to check it out for good eats.

        1. re: shaebones

          McKean & Charles is on Rte 1 just north of the intersection which contains Ralph's Chevrolet, Ahgren's Appliance, and a gas (Irving?) station. South of Moody's Diner.

          Try their homemade hummus.

          1. re: HDinCentralME

            Do you happen to know their hours of operation?

            1. re: shaebones

              Primo is actually in Rockland, on Rte. 73, just a tad short of Owls Head. It is wonderful, but it's currently closed for extensive renovations. Damariscotta River Grille is very good.

      2. Well, truth be told, there is little in the world better than a lobster roll from red's. you can also get great seafood (specifically fried seafood and lobster stew) at the Sea Basket (also on Rt. 1 a bit south of Red's in Wiscasset). fantastic lobster rolls, amazing fried everything, fantastic lobster stew, air conditioned, bathrooms, a step up in terms of amenities from Red's (though the lobster roll at red's still edges out sea basket in terms of the pure delicious perfectly cooked and chilled lobster meat).
        and very close up rt. 1 from damariscotta is MOODY'S DINER- arguably one of the greatest diners in the world. in Waldoboro ME, moody's serves old fashioned perfect diner food from very early in the morning until 11 pm most nights. turkey dinners, perfect breakfasts, some of the best pies i've ever eaten (4 berry is to die for, strawberry rhubarb, chocolate cream pie, blueberry in season, can't be beat), homemade donuts, whoopie pies, even a nice budget ($10) lobster roll (with mayo, but in season very fresh and delicious). moody's is one of the great restaurants of the world. don't miss it. i have a rule in maine- i never allow myself to drive past moody's without stopping in for something- i could have come straight from lobster rolls at red's, but you must go in and get something- grilled cheese w. bacon, a donut, a piece of 4 berry pie to go... seriously...
        also recommended in nearby Rockport is PRIMO. quite upscale, especially for maine, but still casual, fantastic local ingredients made by a great chef, she grows much of her own produce and herbs right at the restaurant. delicious, pricey, very worth it for a special night.
        i've heard the new damariscotta grille right in downtown (If you can call it that- no traffic light- across from the bookstore) is good, though have not tried it. for cheap eats right in town, we really like Paco's Tacos and Paige's Deli. both have simple fresh food prepared by nice young maine teens and have satisfied many a quick lunch fix in downtown damiriscotta. paige's has a great chicken salad with fresh herbs and pacos tacos is perfectly fresh mexican. also right in the downtown is Waltz's Pharmacy, which in addition to being a pharmacy is an old school fountain soda place. it's really nothing THAT special, but for the kids or for a sweet tooth on a cold day it's great for an ice cream soda. and as for ice cream, we prefer Gifford's Maine Way Ice Cream to Round Top- Round Top was the standard back in the day but has gone way downhill imho... Giffords is great if you can fight off the mosquitos...
        but please, do yourselves a favor and go to Moody's. thank me later... enjoy frankbooth

        1. Pemaquid Point Lobster Co-op. It's a little hard to find, but get your Maine Gazetteer out, and ask a local. Lobster travels all of about 50 feet from dock to restaurant. If I had my gazeteer, I'd be more specific, but it's a great spot, trust me.

          (my dad lives in Jefferson, at the top of Lake Damariscotta, and the co-op is a must do every visit)

          1 Reply
          1. re: cheesemonger

            I definitely agree with this. We go to New Harbor every summer and always make time for the Pemaquid Co-op. The view is spectacular--and of course the lobster is, too.

            Another pretty place is in Round Pond out on the Pemaquid peninsula. There is a little lobster place right on the water where you bring your own fixings and enjoy lobster. Also The Anchor Inn (right above the lobster pound) in Round Pond has good food to go with the view--and more variety than "just" lobster.

          2. Jim Leff hit Damariscotta on his chow tour and raved about Damariscotta River Grill

            Get ya lobsta by day, and for a culinary treat extraordinaire, make a reservation immediately for Primo restaurant. Fresh, local, creative fine dining without any 'tude. If you have a large group of 10 or so, request the private dining room. I like the upstairs bar for a small group of 2-6 -- cozy bistroesque versus formal white tablecloth dining downstairs. On the south side of Rockland. http://primorestaurant.com/home.cfm

            Dip Net restaurant in Port Clyde is very good, with nice view right on the harbor.

            Oh, and your life will be complete and full without a stop at Moody's Diner. Don't go unless you're ravenous while your car is right there. Not remarkable, though good pie.

            3 Replies
            1. re: NYchowcook

              Chowcook, I have to agree with you. My recent breakfast at Moody's did not change my worldview.... I had so looked forward to it, as I love a good diner, but my breakfast there was truly unremarkable. Or I should say, remarkable only in that I was surprised how dull it was. Can't vouch for the pie- I'll certainly go back to try it. But I'd rather spend my grease-calories at Wasses Hot Dogs in Rockland, for a nice karut dog (with local Morse's kraut) and spicy mustard.

              1. re: happybellynh

                no PIE? moody's revolves around pie- pie at breakfast is "de rigeur". please go back and get a slice of 4 berry pie- this should change your worldview... enjoy fb

                1. re: frankbooth

                  Moody's does seem to go on by its reputation and heritage. Breakfast did seem unremarkable fare but I stop there anyway. I did think the four berry pie was one of the more memorable pies I've had. Make a stop at Borealis bakery and get some bread while you're in the neighborhood.

            2. In Damariscotta, we enjoy King Eiders Pub (www.kingeiderspub.com) right in the center of town. Great fresh seafood.

              If your Sheepscot trip takes you up to Wiscasset, you can tie up at the Yacht Club and walk to Le Garage Restaurant. Also good seafood.

              Jerry Saywell

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jerry Saywell

                Is there still a place in Wiscasset called A Taste of Maine? I used to go when I was a kid. pretty sure it was a family place right over the bridge from Bath.

                1. re: chefkev39

                  taste of maine is still there, i believe different owners than back in the day, not great these days. touristy... location location location- rt. 1 is the gateway to moody's and red's and sea basket...

                2. re: Jerry Saywell

                  Le Garage is an especially good choice - very good food, service and view of the Wheepscot. We stopped there several years ago and enjoyed it very much - glad to hear it is still in operation and we'll make it a scheduled stop this summer.

                3. We make a pilgrimage to Waterman's Beach (go past the Owl's Head Museum/Rockland and look for signs) for lobster. Wear a hat and sunglasses if the weather is nice and eat at a table by the water. It's very small but they added a covered porch in the back. We get the pie, too. It's a very quiet area on the ocean. Liked the clams and onion rings at the Sea Basket in Wiscasset ... check the days they are open. I seem to recall they are closed one or two days a week. I love Maine in June when the lupine are blooming but Bath does a great 4th of July with a craft fair on the library lawn. The church ladies sell slices of pie. Just about every kind you can think of and June/July is perfect for rhubarb!!!

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: dfrostnh

                    I would endorse Waterman's though I haven't been there -- won a very prestigious award for the lobster roll not too long ago.
                    Sea Basket on the south end of Wiscasset is all about fried seafood if you're in the mood for greasy.

                    1. re: NYchowcook

                      When it comes to lobster by the water, Waterman's Beach is nice because you're down at water level and if you have small children they can run around without fear they will fall over the edge. But it's not that pretty. Lobster really is pretty much the same at all of the lobster dock type places so it's really all about location. For a beautiful little harbor with spectacular sunsets from a real fishing dock we love Miller's. It's further down the peninsula toward Port Clyde. Our second favourite is over closer to Damariscotta, Round Pond lobster, not as beautiful a location as Miller's but still very nice. We tried the restaurant on the hill overlooking the lobster dock once when it was too cold to eat outside and we were pleasantly surprised. We had an amazing special, monkfish, I think. Some of our other must visit places:

                      Rockland Cafe for breakfast including fish cakes
                      Dip Net in Port Clyde for an oyster po boy
                      Pacos Tacos in Damariscotta
                      Dorman's for ce cream, on rte. 1 between Thomaston and Rockland
                      Conte's, on the harbour in Rockland - we are over it but every guest we take there insists on going back. It's quirky and charming.
                      Primo in Rockland - we've never been but everyone I know who has says it was one of the best meals they've ever had. And not stuck up which appeals to me.

                      And, please, Moodie's is just a diner. No one can live up to a recommendation like that.

                      Because seafood is caught wild the flavour varies enormously, it's always great but sometimes blows your mind. The best steamers I've ever eaten were at Round Pond Lobster but I know that could have happened at any number of local spots. People stop at the same places year after year because once they had the best ... there and they keep coming back with that memory in mind. So try as many places as possible and find your own "best spot for ..."

                      1. re: crawfish

                        Crawfish is pretty much spot on. I've lived in both the midcoast area and downeast and our favorite lobster pound is Tidal Falls in Hancock. If you plan on seeing Acadia Nat'l Park, it is a short detour. Watch a reversing falls, kayakers and eagles gliding by. Best of all, it is owned by the Frenchman's Bay Conservancy and the profits from lobster are used to buy private land and open it to the public.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          (side note) and if you like hand thrown pottery, Gull Rock Pottery is on the same road as Tidal Falls, less than 2 miles past it. Call to chek open hours: (207) 422-3990. On the apporach to Tidal Falls on Rt one, don't miss Sullivan Harbor Farms (on the right side if you are headed downeast)--this is what ducktrap smoked products used to taste like before they went corporate.

                          1. re: SilverDragee

                            I drive passed SHF, twice a day. Want the cheapest lobster, clam, crab, shrimp rolls I know? Rt. ! N to Milbridge. Joshey's Place take out, home of the 5-6 buck fried/fresh seafood roll.

                        2. re: crawfish

                          No offense, but Moody's is not JUST a diner. it's a cultural landmark AND one of the great diners of the world. still run and staffed by the moody family, this family run business has been cranking out spectacular diner food for a LONG time. the whoopie pies and 4 berry pie are definitive, the maine specialities are getting rarer and rarer these days, and moody's is consistantly rated in the top diners in the country. in the case of Moody's (and Red's imho), it can live up to any and all praise- it's the top of the pops!

                          1. re: frankbooth

                            Hey, Moody's will always have a spot in my heart because it was my grandfather's local for pie (Boston Cream) and a flirt with the waitresses but I think you're over selling it to a tourist with no local ties and no admitted preference for diners.

                            1. re: frankbooth

                              Nope, Moody's is just a diner, if I were a tourist I would not be impressed. Maybe for an older crowd for quirkyness, maybe....
                              Primo is really great, and in Rockland Suzuki Sushi is fantastic, In Good Company right next door is great, and drive to Camden and dine at Francine Bistro. Unbelievably good! The chef changes the 4 item entree and 4 item app menu daily, that's quite impressive, not to mention it's local, organic, innovative and so damn good!

                              1. re: aynne35

                                I'm in the "Moody's is just a diner" group, and I recall going to Moody's when our power went out to have a hot meal (not cooked on the wood-fired stove) and wash our faces with hot water before we wized up and bought a generator. It's got memories for me, but if I was a tourist- eh, it's a diner.

                                As for diners- the one I really enjoy in the area is the A-1 Diner in Gardiner, on the bridge.

                                1. re: cheesemonger

                                  A-1 is creative, interesting, hip, cool looking, and generally very not delicious, imho. compare a turkey dinner at A-1 to a turkey dinner at Moody's- no comparison- moody's has the home cooked advantage. i will say this, moody's has slipped (according to mainers i know it happened when grandma moody stopped running the restaurant) and is not 100% amazing all the time, but overall it is just spectacular. at moody's you could eat boiled dinner, liver and onions, hot opened turkey sandwich, even the lobster roll (at $10 a bargain) is good. and the pie, the donuts, the whoopie pies, the cookies, etc... incredible.

                      2. Larson's Lunch Box on Business Route 1 in Damariscotta always served the best lobster rolls (better than Red's) - my family moved away from the area a few years back but they were the absolute biggest for the $$$ then - easily 2 lobsters worth of meat in a $10 roll. You can never go wrong at the Sea Basket in Wiscasset (as someone else said). Don't miss Round Top Ice cream on Business Route 1 in Damariscotta either. Pacos Tacos was always very good as well. Maine Street Books has good coffee and Paige's Deli used to have good subs - haven't been back in a while though.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jakeh54

                          imho, Larson's has gone WAY downhill in the lobster roll dept. last summer a lobster roll i had at larson's was super meh... burgers are still good greasy there, but the lobster roll had nothing on red's or sea basket...
                          i also recalled this morning that there is a new barbeque place on rt. 1 right across the street from larson's called "GrilleZilla"- we ate there at the end of the season last summer and it was great! really, some of the best barbeque i've had in the northeast (not saying much- it's no georgia pig, but for midcoast maine it is great! way better than beale street, the cue place in bath, which is extra mediocre). but in the lobster roll dept., i still say RED'S can't be beat- so fresh, plentiful, perfectly cooked, barely needs butter... enjoy fb

                          1. re: frankbooth

                            Frankbooth is absolutely right about Larson's.
                            The place,like jakeh54 said,USED to be great but the place is just plain medicore for lobster rolls anymore.
                            We've been going there for years now and the place was sold a few years back,then the place closed for a season,and the place was open again last summer where we ate medicore,at best ,lobster rolls.
                            It's too bad because Larson's was one of the best lobster rolls we ever had and like jake said,they had about 2 lbs. of lobster meat in every roll.
                            Missing-the-old -Larson's-Catnip

                        2. Yowza! Thanks for all the replies!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Scottes

                            Nobody has mentioned Five Island Lobster Pound. Leave D-cotta, hang a left on Rt. 1, go south young man, go south, stop at Red's for lunch, just before Bath hang another left (I'm a leftist.) A toddle down past Georgetown and stop where the road ends and Viola! the Five Island Lobster Pound! BYOB!

                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              2 places that i also forgot to mention are both great breakfast spots- one is in bath, i can't remember the name exactly, but if you are going south on Rt. 1 from wiscasset, you go over the bath bridge, take the exit right at the end of the bridge into bath. right at the stop sign- on the next corner slanting down from the road you are on is a breakfast place in the basement on the right- amazing homemade baked goods and breakfasts. really spectacular.
                              also in damariscotta is "The Breakfast Place" an excellent breakfast spot that is only open until 1. great homemade breakfast stuffs... but you are so close to moody's there, just a 10 minute drive up rt. 1. also in damariscotta is the food Co-Op which is a fabulous food co-op that allows non-members to shop and has all the Little Lads products (a bizarre and amazing maine company- some spiritual trip they are on, but the products are amazing- the popcorn is spiced popcorn that is like crak- you can't stop eating little lads popcorn- amazing vegan fruit pastries, baked goods- little lads is deep- the HUGE bag of little lads is a great, or deadly, car snack purchase). also in the summers there is a wonderful farmers market in damariscotta... not daily though...

                              1. re: frankbooth

                                yup. Got outta Maine and broke the Little Lad's popcorn/crack addiction. Zany and wonderful it was.
                                I think there's a Little Lad's store/cafe in Brunswick. Good thing I'm 5 hours away. Also at the natural food stores in Brunswick and Freeport. Watch out!

                          2. Well we just got back, and after all the recommendations we managed to hit only two places: Montsweag Roadhouse and Sea Basket. Well, we hit Red's, too, of course.

                            The lobster rolls at Red's are good, but kinda boring in my opinion. It's a lot of lobster, but it's simply cooked, refrigerated lobster on a hot dog bun. I could think of many ways to make that a lot better (like a quick stir-fry in butter). I have to admit that I love the batter Red's uses on the fried clams. Delicious. And I love the fried mushrooms.

                            Monstweag Roadhouse was excellent. They add something to their clam chowder which makes it quite tasty. One of the guys thought it was some type of shredded cheese that had melted and added a soft creamy texture. The potatoes were perfectly done, and the clam pieces were large and extremely tender. By far some of the best clam chowder I've ever had. Their sweet potato fries were fantastic, the ribs very good. The others at the table were all extremely happy with their meals - steak tips, rib eye, pub steak, and oyster sandwich. All in all, the Roadhouse is highly recommended. I will eat there every time I'm in the area.

                            Sea Basket was very good, quality food at a good price, IMHO. Their platters are simply huge - 3 of us ordered the Mixed Sea platters, and none of us ate even half. Everyone was certainly pleased. It was some of the best fried seafood I've ever had (except for the tiny shrimp) but it's tough to be spectacular with a plate of fried seafood. Definitely recommended, if you're looking for a big plate of fried seafood.

                            We had breakfast 2 days, once at a place in Bath right by the Bath Iron Works. (Sorry I can't remember the name...) Very good, and one of the guys raved about his omelet. Sure, breakfast is simple, and difficult to screw up... Or so we thought. The next day we ate at Karen's Kitchen, near the Irving station in Wiscasset. We had eaten there 2 years ago, and they had a fantastic steak & eggs - delicious. So we went back this year, but this was one of the worst breakfasts any of us had ever had. And all 4 of us who ordered coffee agreed that it definitely was the worst coffee any of us had ever had. Gray, and terrible. Absolutely terrible.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Scottes

                              Funny I LOVE those tiny shrimp. In fact I have been going to Sea Basket at least 3-4 times a year every year for the past 25 years and i almost always just get the shimp and onion rings. I think the small maine shrimp have a much sweeter and nice flavor then the larger variety you get from the gulf of mexico or asia. But whatver you get, its really nicely fried and not greasy at all and the portions are huge!

                              1. re: hargau

                                I'm with you all the way on those "petite" Gulf of Maine shrimp, hargau
                                and the Sea Basket in a prime purveyor. I just love this place! :-))

                              2. re: Scottes

                                Indeed, Karen's Kitchen does not seem to have survived the move (they used to be right next to the sea basket, now in the former location of the miss wiscasset diner). we've had some great breakfasts there in past years, but the last few years since the move to the new location i've had slow service and very mediocre breakfasts. i even had a waitress quit between taking my order and delivering the food... the sign at karen's says "best breakfast in maine"- moody's "eats it for breakfast", imho... pardon the pun. enjoy fb