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A trip to Bar Harbor

My wife and I along with another couple are coming to Mount Desert Island the first week of October. This is our first visit since 1994 and are looking for any must eat places. We are staying in a house right near the northern entrance to Acadia and are open to any cuisine (with several lobster feasts a must). We will be hiking every day, so are looking for dinner ideas (not too formal) with maybe a can't miss breakfast and/or lunch.

Any help would be appreciated and get on the DC board if you need me to direct you to the best blue crabs in the US, fresh out of our beautiful Chesapeake Bay.


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  1. Apologies - I searched for info on MDI several days ago and nothing was too up to date. Now I just saw the rather lengthly discussion from last week. I will wade through that but would appreciate any other suggestions.


    1. For lobster at its freshest and most essential, you can't beat the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. As you approach Mt Desert Isl. it's on the right, just before the bridge to the island. www.trentonbridgelobster.com

      You must have the popovers at Jordan Pond House, right in the middle of Acadia. Mid-day tea is one way to relax and enjoy them if it fits in your hiking schedule. Even better IMO is their prix fixe dinner. The entrees are just okay (good, but slightly institutional), but the delicious popovers are served as your bread (just ask for more) and one of the included deserts is their home made ice cream inside a popover with chocolate syrup! Perfect reward after a long day of hiking! www.jordanpond.com/

      For breakfast, try Jordan's. Thirsty Whale is a funky bar, with great beers on tap, better-than-you'd-expect sandwiches, and occasional live music.

      Enjoy your trip.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MrTaz

        On some previous threads about lobster pounds, there were discussions about whether the Trenton Bridge pound was a tourist trap. There's also Lunds which is just a little north on Rt. 3. We just got back from MDI and went to Thurstons in Bernard on the recommendation of the hotel owner. My wife and son tells me the lobsters (we got the soft shells) were delicious. Unfortunately I'm allergic to shellfish :(

        1. re: MrTaz

          MrTaz is correct. These above choices are excellent. I have been going there for years, and I am a native. By the way, every lobster shack is a tourist trap. They need tourists to survive. So what if it is a tourist trap !
          I feel Trenton Bridge is the best in Maine, besides, they have been lobster fishermen for many years, and have their own pound. Lunds and the one across the street is a joke compared to Trenton Bridge. When u go to Trenton Bridge ask for Josette and tell her Vinny sent you. Good Luck and enjoy your visit.

          1. re: irwin

            Correction; they have never been long term lobstermen and do not have their own (im)pound(ment). They are good buyers and have a good business, but for the same price , go for a view w/ you lobber.

          2. re: MrTaz

            I know the Pettygrows. My aversion to Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound is location , location, location. All local lobsters are fresh, easily prepared and of simiiar price, so why not go eat w/ a sew view, like Beale's, Thurston's, Tidal Falls etc. ? Also, due to tourist traffic, Rt. 3 in front of TBLP has a very high auto accident rate.

            1. re: MrTaz

              last time i visited Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound,they were quite expensive. They even had the nerve to charge extra for butter. not a place i will return to. There are much better choices. You can't go wrong by driving to a landing where lobstermen unload their catch, you will probably find a lobster pound, usually operated by the local fisherman's co-op. lobster pounds offer the freshest lobster, clams and corn on the cob. Bring your own beer and chow down! Is this hog heaven or what?!!!!

            2. My favorite breakfast place is Cafe This Way, www.cafethisway.com, which has terrific blueberry pancakes, creative omelets, good coffee and service. Prices are very reasonable for the pile of food you get. They also serve dinner, which is great as well, and a good value.

              If you have hunted down other posts on MDI (search under Bar Harbor), you will see much discussion over the last couple of weeks. I'm not a big fan of Jordan Pond House for dinner, because I think there is more interesting food on the island, but I agree that stopping after a hike to carbo load on popovers, butter and strawberry jam on the lawn with the view of the Bubbles is one of the great (touristy) things to do. Their ice cream is great, though I think that Mt. Desert Ice Cream in Bar Harbor, near the town green is better and more creative.

              Dinners...check out McKays www.mckayspublichouse.com, Havana www.havanamaine.com, Red Sky www.redskyrestaurant.com (though my last dinner their was a bit disappointing, not bad, just not as good as in the past), Burning Tree (no website). McKays is probably the cheapest of the lot, with most entrees below $20. Their daily farmstand salad is usually very good as is the chinook salmon. The others you will expect to drop at least $100 for 2 (app/salad, entree and shared dessert), not including wine. I caution on this since one of the posters didn't like Burning Tree because of the cost, though they seemed to like the food.

              For a great lobster feed that is not at a pound, try West St. Cafe. They also do a good job on a seafood fra diavolo. It's not fancy though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BikeToEat

                The cheapest is a local watering hole The Thirsty Whale, unlike Mckays which closes for the winter, is a true local place. The clam chowder and lobster roll for 12 bucks is a deal. And try The Morning Glory backery for brekkie.

              2. Thanks for the suggestions. Tried on the hiking pants last night and they still fit. They will probably be too tight by the time we are leaving this beautiful part of the country.


                1. My favorite place for breakfast in Bar Harbor is definitely Jeannie's, 15 Cottage Street. Take a look at all of the positive reviews on Tripadvisor. It can get busy but the food is great and the staff is incredibly friendly.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: rufustfi

                    Jenny'y is a tourist trap that will probably be closed by Oct. with the owners returning to Fla.

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Tourist trap? Why? Because tourists go there? Tourists go EVERYWHERE in Bar Harbor. And the food and Jeannie's is good and not overpriced. What makes it a tourist "trap"? The Maine Diner is a tourist trap. Red's is a tourist trap. But Jeannie's?

                      1. re: rufustfi

                        Next time try Cafe This Way or The Morning Glory Bakery or even Jordan's(opens a 5am for the lobstermen). and 2 Cats.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          I haven't been to 2 Cats. Thanks for the tip! You're right, Cafe This Way does a good breakfast, although it's a different kind of place (a bit more upscale). Morning Glory is okay and has decent baked goods but the eggs/pancakes/french toast are much better at Jeannie's, in my opinion.

                          1. re: rufustfi

                            Morning Glory doesn't do eggs/pancakes/french toast. I'm with Passadumkeg on this: go to Jordan's, Cafe this Way, or 2 Cats if you want a hot breakfast.

                            1. re: Mainegal

                              Oops. I was confusing the Morning Glory Bakery with the Cottage St. Bakery, probably because I was thinking of places that do a proper breakfast.

                  2. Havana's. Make your reservation early though...cuban flair, creative cuisine.

                    1. My parent's retired to mt. Desert Is. 20 years ago and my mom is still there, i had the occaison to spend five months w/her a year or so ago and have to tell you about Red Sky in southwest harbor the menu changes weekly and features primarily local ingredients (incliding produce and cheeses) the husband and wife owners are a delight (she is Elizabeth but i'm drawing a blank on his name) they got me through a very a very bleak time and even on occaison sent me home with food on their own china !!
                      they run daily wine specials and will let you try anything from their extensive "by the glass" offerings
                      Make a reservation ! as they are popular w/the locals 207.244.0476
                      my boyfriend and i will be there last week of sept. for my mom's b-day so i will tell them that i recommended them to a nice group from DC
                      bon appetite....also Gaylen's in Bar harbor is excellent

                      1. i forgot about mckay's, i spent every sunday there two winter's ago (jan - may) and am sorry to hear that they are not staying open year round, though it would be understandable i would double check that info...they have great beers on tap, hearty pub-fare, roaring fire and super-friendly staff ! another neat place is Reel Pizza in bar harbour on the town square an old fashioned movie theater that show's a great assortment of indie and mainstream flicks a serves a decent pizza to boot

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: susan myers

                          Susan - thanks so much for the info. Our trip now is also the last week of September, so maybe we shall cross paths at the Red Sky. I will have to sell my ideas to three others, but all data is most welcome. My mouth is already starting to water. The only thing missing from the trip are some of those fabulous Digby scallop sandwishes from across the pond.


                        2. I have a long post called Post Trip Bar Harbor with Kids where I give details of where we ate. We were not thrilled the the actual food at Mcays, although the atmosphere and beer was excellent. The food just OK but since others speak so highly of it maybe we just got a bad night. Maggies was the best food we ate, as well as the Ascitou in in Northeast Harbor, which is expensive and I have no idea what it's like there in the fall. It's somewhat formal. We LOVED the Morning Glory Bakery. They do not do hot breakfast but their sandwiches are top knotch and the bagels and spreads, delish. We had them make our sandwiches for hikes. I confirm that Cafe this Way is good for Breakfast. I would have liked to try their dinner as well but didn't fit it in.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pecan

                            I have highly recommended McKay's on this board and read pecan's review. Maybe it has to do with the choice of menu items. I don't eat beef and both of pecan's menu choices were beef. So perhaps, McKay's isn't a great place to eat it. I usually eat any of the fish or shellfish they serve and have had a good duck dish there.

                            Red Sky is a great place, but I was rather disappointed with my last visit about a month ago. They had substantially reduced the size of the appetizers and I actually paid $11 for three very small baked oysters. It was a bit surprising. My DC got the sausage appetizer and it was half the size it had been in the past and at the same price. Maybe it's an expectation problem on my part. The halibut dish I chose as an entree was a bit over cooked and needed a bit more spice. I totally agree with Susan on the graciousness of the owners, Elizabeth and James. They really do a great job in the front of the house. The wine deals are terrific as well. Desserts are also very good, especially the lemon pudding cake (I think it's called the magical lemon cake) with blackberry sauce and the chocolate pudding.

                          2. One more thread that was quite useful in planning the trip. Would like to share our impressions.

                            Breakfast - Cafe This Way, especially blueberry pancakes - we found them much better than those famous ones in Jordan's. I actually don't know what's the attraction of the latter except for a prompt seating.

                            Ice Cream - rum raisin at Ben&Bill!

                            Dinner - Cafe This Way is nice though the menu is a bit eclectic, Rupununi is to be avoided. We had great burgers at McKay's, and good lobsters at Stewman's Lobster Pound.

                            Snack - nothing beats picking up some wild blueberries while hiking :) And i even found some lingonberries!

                            And of course beer at Cafe Lompoc - we crushed their every night for couple of glasses at the bar - quite an atmospheric place.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: VegaCarpio

                              Is the Cafe Lompoc formerly the 'New Old Lompoc Cafe' on Rodick St.? They brew an ale called "coal porter" which is the nector of the gods. Bar Harbor Brewing Co is available at Fairways, on L.I. and I buy Coal Porter whenever they have it.

                              1. re: ptcandy

                                yes this is the place, and i agree (though not a big fan of porter in general) Coal Porter is amazing - unfortunately i can't find any other Bat Harbor beers either in jersey or MA except for their blueberry.

                            2. Hi
                              We will be visiting MDI next week and will send you a report. We also go to Maryland and Delaware frequently and look forward to your crab report.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ptcandy

                                Super - I look forward to any and all help. The crab season here has been somewhat weak causing smaller crabs and high prices, but it hasn't slowed us down too much. We always love Harris Crab House on the bay near Annapolis and often get to Captain Billy's on the Potomac in Popes Creek. For some reason the little devils always taste better while picking them overlooking the water. Our season is winding down now for the winter so we will have to be watching for good stripper deals for our seafood fix.
                                Enjoy or week next week and leave us some good weather and a few lobsters.

                              2. If you haven't looked back to postings from early summer, go to http://www.chowhound.com/topics/407992 Nothing much has changed on the island since then. I've just returned and have this to add to comments of June 16th:

                                Havana still has my vote as best restaurant on MDI.

                                Red Bird on Sea Street in Northeast Harbor is a year-old, very pretty spot with both indoor and outdoor tables. The food is good, not exceptional. I heard that Bassa Cocina de Tapéo behind the maritime museum there is also good but haven't tried it myself. Mainely Delights in Bass Harbor across from the Swans ferry is closed for the season. XYZ is open only Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Reservations a must as it has a very strong local following. (Have no idea what a previous poster meant about people being dressed up there, it is definitely casual.) I still think Thurston's Lobster Pound in Bernard is the best but perhaps not quite worth standing in the long, long line during high season. Anyone visiting now should not experience much of a wait, if any. Good produce etc, at farmers' markets - NE on Thursdays, SW on Fridays, BH on Saturdays.

                                1. Hi
                                  Returned from our trip to MDI. Here is the report I promised. Ate well at Galyns and Parkside. Both located on Main Street. Lunched on the lawn at Jordan Pond in Acadia. Dining outside during one of the ten best days of the year didn't hurt. Breakfast at 2 Cats on Cottage Street was a real treat. Plan on spending a long time for a table and for breakfast but it's worth the wait. in a hurry, find somewhere else.
                                  Walked out of West Steet Cafe (dinner). Waited a long time not to be waited on. Some restaurants are very short on help and should have closed for the season. If you decide to go there, bring a pillow as the benches have NO padding. We RAN out of Stewmans on the wharf. It smelled from ammonia, was dirty, dark and utterly disgusting. Used to be a nice joint a few years ago.
                                  Ate breakfast at another restaurant opposite the quality inn. took a long time as they were very short staffed. Breakfast ok but there are better choices.

                                  Hit DeMillo's on the way as we didn't want to look for a place to park. My meal was ok. However our friend said she had the best tasting lobter she ever ate there. Also enjoyed Boothbay Lobster pound down the road from Browns Wharf. Never had a bad lobster there. Also, good breakfast at Browns overlooking the water.
                                  One final note, we usually stop at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA on the way home for some meat. We were very dissapointed this time, turkey was dry and didn't taste very good. It worked out as the portions were small . Should have stopped at the Traveller Book restaurant on I84 near the border.
                                  Thats it in a nutshell. Although a lot of places are short of help, visiting Maine during September is the best time .

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: ptcandy

                                    Sincere thanks, PT. We got out the hiking equipment last night and then I started printing maps to all of the restaurant choices we face. We will sit down with the other couple joining us Sunday afternoon and lay out the week's activities. The only manditory one for me is Cafe this Way for blueberry pancakes. Several lobster pounds will certainly be visited and from there we will just take all the suggestions from you and others and off we go. Thanks for the warning on the slow service. That will be something we will keep in mind. Acadia - here we come.

                                    1. re: Maryland Crab

                                      Blueberry pancakes? Did someone mention Blueberry pancakes? My favorite for BB pancakes is a little cafe at the end of the road next to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The small restaurant/gift shop sits high on a bluff overlooking the mighty Atlantic. Mmmmmmmmmm. By the way, you are now allowed to climb up to the top of the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (the one on the back of the quarter) and look out of the lamp room for a stunning view. A little bit out of the way but worth it if you can fit it into your schedule. Take a picture when you climb the Precipice trail and post it here. Have fun and bring warm clothing.

                                      1. re: ptcandy

                                        Okay - just time for a few general comments as I have to pay for the trip just completed. We ran into some old friends we haven't seen in 30 years - they are now volunteers in the park - so we got some good local input to go along with all you guys. No pictures of the Precipice - the North and South trails up Cadillac were the best that we could do at our "advanced" age.

                                        Foodwise - the best dinner was the Red Sky. Excellent wine menu and all enjoyed their meals. Best breakfast was Two Cats although Cafe This Way was a very close second. The blueberry pancakes at Two Cats won out by all of our opinions. Good dinners at McKay's (sat out on the porch as it was really warm last week). The best lobster pound was Thurston's - hands down. Do not go to Trenton Bridge Pound in my opinion. Way too crowded for us and the friends that we hooked up with have had nothing but unfriendly service there even though they live just 10 minutes away. We did have dinner one night at the Cafe This Way based on our friends' recommendation and would certainly go back there too.

                                        All in all - a great week of hiking, some really good lobsters, and incredible luck in running into some friends that we had lost touch with. Bottom line - we are seriously thinking of moving there in three years to volunteer at the park and hike 'til we drop. We would winter somewhere out in California close to our daughter, son-in-law and our first new grandchild due in April, but these plans seem to change as the seasons change.

                                        Again thanks to all for the great responses. You guys are the best.


                                        1. re: Maryland Crab

                                          Glad to hear all went well. Candi and I think about moving up there too, however, you really need to go in the winter. Most places close up tight after Columbus Day and don't reopen until the end of mud season. Remember our bargain. I will check with you for crab joints. :-)