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Lobster-center trip to Maine - advice?

  • f

First, my apologies on discovering that the Chowhound cops moved my original post from the NYC board where it was intended, wasting your time on a very general question. I'll now ask you the more specific question where your expertise would be much appreciated.

I'm planning a long-dreamed-of week or more in Maine next month with the sole purpose of eating lobster. Having never been there before, I'd appreciate your suggestions about where to locate. Coming up from NYC by bus, I'll be limited without a car, so I'm trying to choose a town
-accessible by bus, preferably not too, too far north
-with at least two great lobster places (at least one having lobster rolls)
-with dirt-cheap accomodations, so I can spend all the more money on lobster
-it would be a nice bonus if the town had any great ice cream or bakeries

At the moment, the leading contenders seem to be
-Rockland
-Ogunquit
-Boothbay
in a pinch, maybe Bar Harbor (although that's awfully far, apparently with limited bus service) or Portland

I particularly like Rockland, which thinks of itself as the lobster capital (and they have a movie theater, which is nice), but they're short on cheap lodgings. I've read about some of the restaurants, like Primo, but are there more ordinary places for good lobster rolls?

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  1. Living in Maine for 65 years, this is my suggestion:
    OGUNQUIT MAINE
    Ogunquit has a movie theater too........
    Visit in order of recommendation:
    OGUNQUIT LOBSTER POUND
    BARNICLE BILLS
    There is a bakery on the main st (Route 1) that is osum and next to the candy store.
    This bakery has everything and its all good... Trust me !!!!
    For a restaurant that does not serve Lobster, I suggest 98 Provence, or be a sport and go where our President of the United States eats with his parents in Kennenbunkport called "White Barn Inn". I think the fixed 4 course meal is $91/each. A cab will probably cost you $20 each way. Its well worth the experience.
    Anyway, whatever you decide, have fun, enjoy, be well, and give us your report.

    5 Replies
    1. re: irwin

      Thanks, Irwin. The Lobster Pound and Barnicle Billy's are the two that are on my Ogonquit list. Are those pretty much the only two for lobster? There's also something called the Lobster Shack, but it sounds as though that's not actually in Ogonquit. I saw the dramatic theaters listed, but I didn't know there was a movie theater too, so thanks. Do you have any opinions on the relative merits of the Sea View, Bourne's, and Stage Run?

      One plus is the convenience of Ogunquit being so far south...

      1. re: Fida

        Hi Fida
        I agree with Mainegal, Boothbay Harbor has everything you're looking for with some affordable options. There are some beautiful spots well within reasonable walking distances here. The shops are a fun mix of upscale and honkytonk. Don't miss Bet's Fish Fry if you decide to go here. A mile-high, fresh as you can get, 1lb. mountain of a fish sandwich. I don't say yum, but yum!

        Harp00n

        -----
        Bet's fish fry
        Boothbay Harbor, ME, USA, Boothbay Harbor, ME

        1. re: Fida

          I think all restaurants take a shot at serving lobster, but they are not lobster restaurants. Get my drift ? Never been to the Lobster Shack but I think its in York or Wells. Have not visited the three others that you mentioned, but will list some more places that are very good and recommended:
          Omelette Factory for breakfast
          Merriland Farms in Wells for breakfast
          Joshua's in Wells
          MC Perkins Cove is a excellent restaurant and a sister to the Arrows family
          If you troll down to Portsmouth N.H. then they also have several wonderful eating establishments that are highly rated such as:
          Black Trumpet
          Restaurant Massimo's
          Pesce Blue is a excellent fish house
          Kittery Maine has a few good places too:
          Anneke Jans
          Chauncey Creek at Kittery Point
          Enjoy, relax, be well and tell us how you make out on this trip !!

          1. re: irwin

            I believe the lobster shack is in Perkins Cove at the end on the left side before turning around to go to MC.
            Lobster places in Ogunquit- Barnicle Billy, Billy's etc, Lobster Shack, Oarweeds, Ogunquit Lobster Pound.
            Wells- Billy's Chowder House; Fisherman;s Catch.

            1. re: irwin

              Thanks, Irwin, but as I said, there's no car involved, so Kittery Point, Portsmouth, etc., aren't options.
              The three places I mentioned - Sea View, Bourne's, and Stage Run - were potential places to stay in the vicinity, not restaurants; I just thought you might know something about their reputations.

        2. If you can get to Boothbay Harbor by bus (if you can, it's a new route), that hits all your goals. You can stay in town--the midtown motel, i think that's the name, is reasonable, and then you can walk to pretty much everything, including two lobster coop-type places.

          Bar Harbor is far, yes, but it does have the Bar Harbor hostel, which is within walking distance of many downtown places that serve lobster and it's also on the free bus loop (although you do need to purchase a park pass). There's also a cool theater downtown that doubles as a pizza joint.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Mainegal

            Mainegal, I can't find any Midtown Motel. Could it be a different name?

            Bar Harbor does sound great - although probably not the hostel - but I just can't see going that far except as a last choice.

            1. re: Fida

              Yup: 96 McKown Street • Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04538
              Telephone: 207-633-2751, www.midtownmaine.com.It's right in the heart of town, nothing fancy, simple motel, about $85 per room, but you can walk to two lobster wharves I can think of off the top of my head and plenty of other restaurants, incuding the Ebb Tide, a hole-in-the-wall for inexpensive chow.

              1. re: Mainegal

                Thank you, Mainegal! I guess when I Googled, maybe it didn't cotton to my not having used the hyphen.

                I called them, and they were SO nice on the telephone. And it's even less expensive in the fall. I'm now weighing it against the problems of transportation to get there.

            1. re: JMF

              Actually, JMF, I didn't miss the Lobster Festival by accident. I was operating under the assumption that rooms would be cheaper and more readily available after the Festival and after Labor Day.
              Do you have any specific suggestions - pertaining to food, accommodations, or proximity - or any particular reason for recommending Rockland?

              1. re: Fida

                I love the Rockland area but there aren't any great lobster restaurants in town right now - great restaurants but not if consuming lobster is your primary interest. To get to the great lobster spots you'd need a car.

                If you can't get to Boothbay by bus I'd say go to Portland. There are lots of great restaurants and movie theaters, it's a very walkable small city and you could even take a ferry to one of islands to experience something more rural.

            2. Frida , im not sure if there is bus service to Ogunquit but if there is , Thats where I would go if you dont have your own transportation. You can walk within 20 mins to about 20 Restaurants that serve Lobster or any thing else you want. I will send you a web site for you to look at. Also they have a trolley type bus that takes you all over town for $1.50 each ride. http://www.atlanticmotorinn.com/dinin... Take a look at this site, Also try the chamber of commerce site for Ogunquit. Good luck. Earle

              1. You can take a train from Boston to Wells, just beyond Ogunquit, and then take the trolley from the train station to Ogunquit.Once you are in Ogunquit you can walk to almost everyplace. There are two Barnicle Billy's, next to each other in Perkins Cove. The original, very casual, you order at the counter and theyu call your #. Billy's Etc. is nicer and has steaks, fish, chicken, fried options - in addition to lobster chowder and steamers and you are waited on.

                1. Fida, if you are carless, then you might consider Bar Harbor as your best option. There is a wonderful, repeat, wonderful FREE bus service, The Islander, that connects Bar harbor to all the towns and sights around the Island and Trenton too. You can even load bikes on it. This would give you the flexibility to visit several towns, their restaurants and view the scenic beauty of MDI too. Inexpensive ferries connect you to Winter Harbor, The Cranberry Islands and Swans Island. Plus the Cat would even allow you to take a day trip to Nova Scotia. There are tons of restaurants on the island, probably close to the other towns(with the exception of Portland) added together. There is even lobster ice cream! The Morning Glory bakery is hard to beat and pop overs at the Jordan Pond House with a spectacular view is unavailable elsewhere. There are 2 great theatres too. Google Reel Pizza and The Criterion Theatre. And the coup de gras, there is a youth hostel and women's lodging at the YWCA. Good bus service and a local airport too. There is soooo much to do with out a car. Consider it. Rockland would be my second choice with ferries to North Haven and Vinalhaven. I have lived both near Rockland(North Haven Island) and on MDI(Southwest Harbor) and having lived 3 years in Europe w/out a car I can empathise with your situation and would choose Bar Harbor. There must be at least a dozen(20?) places for lobster in BH alone.
                  Go eat a saltena at Mi Bolivia in Woodside, Queens for me will ya?

                  1. Oh, dear. I just found out that whoever said a bus went to Boothbay Harbor (I think it was Greyhound that told me!) was wrong. It's a $40 taxi from Wiscasset which, with tip, is just about the cost of a night's stay, which is annoying, to say the least. And there's no trolley after Labor Day, either. Bar Harbor does sound great, but I think it would take 10-12 hours to get there, which is tough to face.

                    I'm starting to grumpily wonder if I should just go to Portland.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Fida

                      Go to Portland; you'll love it. The Inn at St. John, the Eastland Park and the Percy Inn have some decent room rates--check their web sites--Inn is on the metro bus route (or a good walk from waterfront), Eastland Park and Percy are an easier walk. Go to Portland Lobster Co. for lobster in the rough--wharfside eating at the harbor with indoor seating too. Go to The Port Hole, again on the wharf, for breakfast. Consider hopping a ferry to Peak's Island. Check out the trendy restaurants--hugo's, 555, Fore Street--all have bar seating and menus, and often have funkadelic lobster creations. Cinque Terre is pricey, but has a wonderful lobster risotto. There are also a few places on the waterfront where you can buy live lobster and have it cooked (I think, maybe Free Range lobster or one of the others). go to J's Oyster Bar. Just walk around the waterfront, you'll find more lobster than you know what to do with as well as plenty of old salts. The great think about Portland is that's it's best without a car. If you're a cyclist, you can rent a bike and pedal out to Two Lights and the Lobster Shack--it's an easy route with only a few hills; probably take you about an hour each way.

                      1. re: Mainegal

                        I agree that if you want a real city with fine dining go to Portland it can't be beat in Maine if you want a vacation with lots of lobbers, look at Bar Harbor. It is a tourist destination, with lots of tourists eating a lot of lobster in many different ways.