HOME > Chowhound > All New England Archive >


Top Foodie Destination in New England?

I am looking to go to one city/town in New England for the weekend and would like to know what people think are the top foodie destinations in Northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine. I have heard very nice things about Portland, ME but am inclined to go to Burlington VT. Does Burlington rank up there as a food destination in New England?

Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Trattoria Delia in Burlington is the best place I've been since leaving the Twin Cities back in 1988. The atmosphere was wonderful. The service was impeccable. It was our anniversary and they greeted us with flutes of prosecco, gratis. The food was absolutely fabulous.

    Since I went in Sept. I've seen one comment about a food item not being all they'd hoped for and the manager being a bit snooty about it, but all the other comments I've seen from people place this restaurant as a top-ranked place. :)

    Just half a block away from Trattoria Delia is Suiza's, a Brazillian BBQ place. I'm no expert on Brazillian BBQ, I only know what I like, and this place was fantastic. Loved it from beginning to end.

    Also, A Single Pebble is high on a lot of folks lists (though there are some folks who think they're over rated, I haven't been there since they moved away from Central Vermont, so I can't comment on that).

    I've also been hearing good things about Big Fatty's BBQ, but I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. I'm SO looking forward to trying it out. :)

    I can only assume that the Portland food scene is a bigger, with more choices, simply because Portland has roughly six times the population that Burlington has. :)

    1. Hi Morgana- Portland has about 65,000 people, so I'm not sure about the 6x statement. What Portland does have though are 3 Food and Wine "best young chefs in America" and a few more that may at some point deserve the honor. Burlington is a great town, but I think a true foodie is going to fare better in Portland.

      7 Replies
      1. re: joss2

        I am a little biased as a Portlander, but I also love Burlington...However, I don't think you can beat the talent in Portland. Rob Evan of Hugo's and Duckfat and Corey of 555 get a lot of buzz....Not to mention Fore Street's Sam Hayward....Accolades aside, the seasonal and local ingredient and seafood here can't be beat! Save Burlington for a longer weekend when you can cross over into Canada and hit Montreal!

        1. re: Bunnyfood

          Funny. I'm actually coming from Montreal, which is why I liked the idea of not driving too far to get to Burlington.

        2. re: joss2

          From the city of Portland website:
          "With a metro population of 230,000, the Greater Portland area..."

          The metro population of Burlington is 38,000. 38,000 times 6 is 228,000.

          Most restaurants will be serving the metro population, not just those living within the city limits.

          1. re: Morganna

            Burlington Metro population is 140,000.

            1. re: Big Fat Moe

              *grin* Actually, it's even more than that! Ok, ok, apples is not equal to oranges! That'll teach me to google too quickly. So the metro Burlington area is actually a whole bunch closer in population. Which means Portland, with its more diverse restaurant, scene wins on that score.

              I still stand by my original point, though, that Burlington counts as a good foodie destination for a weekend, simply because there are enough restaurants there to fill up a weekend of meals with great food and service. :)

              BTW, ask me how surprised I was to find that the population of Portland is a bit less than double that of Burlington. The few times I've been there it's seems sooo much larger... :)

          2. re: joss2

            For a weekend trip, Burlington has as much to offer as Portland. There are only so many places you can have a meal in a three day period. I've listed four "true foodie" (whatever that means, maybe I don't rank as one?) destinations in Burlington. Those along with the other really good if not outstanding fare in the area (I didn't even go into Roque's, or some of the other great places in Stowe), I stand behind my implied statement that Burlington is a foodie destination worthy of a weekend trip.

            I didn't say Burlington had -more- to offer, obviously with a population six times that of Burlington, Portland is going to have more options. But that doesn't change that on a typical weekend trip, you're going to have two dinners, maybe two lunches, maybe a brunch or two instead. Burlington can certainly compete with that. :)

            On top of this, Burlington is mostly compact. All four of the suggestions I gave are within walking distance downtown, and near all the best shopping on Church Street.

            I will add here that I have been to Portland but never for an entire weekend. We tend to avoid large cities for our get aways because we're kinda reclusive (we live in rural central Vermont and don't get up to Burlington more than once a month or so). So my preference for compact might color some of this, but I really must emphasize that I'm not saying Portland isn't "better" in a lot of ways, I'm just trying to do justice to Burlington as well. :)

          3. I've lived in both Burlington and Portland. Portland is a food destination, Burlington is not. Portland is second in the nation with restaurants per capita, so yes plenty to choose from. If you wanted to venture outside of the Burlington area and go south on rt. 7 or into Waterbury than you may be able to make a weekend out of it. Plenty of threads on Portland restaurants here.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mjp81

              How long ago did you live in Burlington?

              1. re: Morganna

                Just left a couple of months ago so I still have a good idea as to what is going on in the Burlington area. With a great location like Adriana's had theres not much of an excuse to not succeed. All of Church st. seems to be made up of lack-luster places, which is really too bad. Luckily you don't have to walk far to Flatbread or Magnolia.

                1. re: mjp81

                  Boy, what a peeing match! How about a compromise? Montpelier or Maine's Rockland-Camden area? Montpelier is right off I 89 If one shoots up to the Waterville area from Rockland and picks up the Benedict Arnold highway north to Quebec, one has the added benefit of a very scenic drive.

            2. Thanks for all the helpful replies. Any other foodie hotspots in New England other than Burlington or Portland that may not be on my radar?

              1 Reply
              1. re: thelonious777

                Out of the ordinary: Tony's in Thornton, NH. Great Italian using local ingredients.
                Thai Nakon Ping Restaurant in North Conway, NH. Excellent Thai!

              2. Hi,
                You would be very happy coming to Providence. We have some of the best restaurants in the country, let alone New England.

                Al Forno's
                Mill's Tavern
                Pane E Vino
                Ten Prime Steak & Sushi

                Those are all very highly regarded restaurants, any of which will be excellent.
                Also, there are many small, ethnic places, lots of great little food markets, and the quirkiness of Rhode Island.

                1. Portland is definately a food destination. Just go to Gourmet magazine, Food & Wine, etc... They always write about Portland. Arrows in Oqonquit is highly rated.

                  1. Portsmouth, NH is a great place... plenty of fantastic restos and fun things to do around town and at the local beaches... check the board for some of the great places here: Jumpin Jays, Black Trumpet, victory, popovers, dunaway, pesce blue, red hook brewery, portsmouth brewery..... About 5 hrs from Montreal, nice drive too...

                    1. Burlington isn't so hot, in my opinion. We spent a long weekend there, and I thought it was fine for college town food (a lot of hippie-natural-vegetarian-and-take-your-parents-out kind of places. You can definitely hit more sophisticated spots.

                      I'd recommend Portsmouth, N.H. or New Haven, Conn. Both have lively arts scenes, lots of live music places and historic sites to visit in addition to great food.

                      Portsmouth would be closer to you. Most of the great restaurants there specialize in seafoood. Pesce Blue and Jumpin' Jays are favorites of mine. I also recommend Annabelle's Ice Cream.

                      New Haven has some fine dining and also a lot of interesting high-style ethnic places. Bentara is a fabulous Malaysian place and Caffe Adulis has excellent Eritrean. I also love Zinc, which has an eclectic menu.

                      1. I am a converted McDonalds/Olive Garden Dinner. I Live in portland, have been to burlington a bunch of times. G/f Lives in boston. We go out to eat twice a week. Burlington, Portland, Portsmouth, and Newburyport, Ma are similar cities. Portland is 5 1/2 hours from Montreal. Portsmouth is 4 1/2 hrs. Newburyport, Ma. is 5 hrs. The best complete dinning expirence i have ever had was at 10 Center St. Newburyport, Ma. Ive been 4 times in the Last 6 months. They have dinning in the bar area and a larger area upstairs. I perfer the buzz of the bar area. Never crowded. Dinner menu is always excellent. The wait staff is educated. Price is Very reasonable. Dinner for 2 with 2 apps., salads, 2 drinks apiece, plus main course $90-120. portions are just right.
                        Also Newburyport Black Cow tap and grill is good. the only complaint is the portions are large. The only reason thats a problem is that i usually order to much. I love good food. If u stay in Portsmouth and travel to both portland and Newburyport u will be satisfied, But If you want to end your trip With a smile all the way back to montreal stay in Newburyport for the weekend.

                        1. I'm biased towards Portsmouth, it's such a wonderful town. Great food and lots of other things to do after the meal's over. I'd recommend The Black Trumpet for dinner. Flatbreads, Friendly Toast, Popovers and Poco's Cantina are all great places for quick bites.

                          1. I'm going out on a limb here and suggest Bath/Brunswick with the following restaurant choices:
                            Robinhood Free Meetinghouse in Georgetown
                            Back St Bistro in Brunswick
                            Marty and Harry's in Brunswick
                            Beale St Barbecue in Bath
                            Mae's Cafe in Bath
                            MaryEllen Z's in Bath

                            Portland is a short trip away for the shopping but downtown Brunswick has some cute small shops as does Front St in Bath. Freeport is also nearby and I think Bath has some lovely B and B's including the Packard House on Pearl St. Avoid the hussle and bussle and take a quiet trip a little further north of Portland.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jspear

                              Don't miss the chance to visit the best beach in NE, Popham Beach at the end of Route 209 from Bath to walk off the great eats!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            2. Another vote for Portsmouth! The Wellington Room is spectacular and has an amazing view, and my old favorites are the Library and breakfast at the Friendly Toast.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: soxchik

                                Portsmouth vote here. DH and I had a lovely meal at the Library, and my parents very much enjoyed Pesce Blue on a separate trip. There were several other restaurants that intrigued us during our quick overnight. (And it's fairly central to Boston and Portland.)

                              2. Staying within Massachusetts, I'd think a likely top listing might include, in descending order:


                                and outside of Massachusetts might include, in descending order:

                                Providence, RI
                                Portland, ME
                                Portsmouth, NH
                                Ogunquit, ME (might not be so much way off season, though)

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: bachslunch

                                  I agree with this second part: Boston, Providence, Portland, Portsmouth (in that order).

                                  In response to those that say this or that place has the most highly acclaimed or notable chefs in this or that area, I wish to say that that's really not a good barometer to go by. It’s not unheard of for a restaurant or group of eating establishments to band together and hire a promotions/media expert to put the spotlight on a certain town, area, chef and so on.

                                  1. re: bachslunch

                                    Maybe I just didn't know the best places to go in Ogunquit (well, very likely) but I have to say I was pretty disappointed with what was available for mid to low range (entrees less than $15) meals there. We were on a strict budget and couldn't find much that was what I'd call -good- to eat. Plenty that was sufficiently filling (we were there the week of labor day, just after, so everything was still open), just not what I'd call good food. Probably if we'd had more money in the budget, we could have found some really great food. :)

                                    1. re: Morganna

                                      Oh, I agree, that's why I didn't even mention Ogunquit, ME in my post.

                                      Yes, Joshua's is supposed to be good and 98 Provence, et. al., but Ogunquit is a bit too precious and it's also seasonal.

                                      I'd also like to add that the Burlington area ranks high with regards to local brewpubs and breweries. Burlington has Ri Ra along with Providence and Portland. Burlington has a Flatbread Pizza (the only that brews their own beer) along with Portsmouth and Portland. But with regards to "high end" places, Burlington is lacking. But hey, Montreal is just up the road!

                                      1. re: bewley

                                        Hmmm, for atmosphere, ambiance and food this time of year, I'd go with the Ogunquit/Kennebunkport area. One of the highest rated establishments in the country is the White Barn Inn in Kennebunk... and I can vouch for the experience and atmosphere.... next would be Arrows....I've just read grumblings about Lydia Shire I believe opend a place in Wells Maine that sounds fabulous ....and not pretentious. Of course, the OP was in November, so maybe the weekend trip is all over now !!!

                                        PS: here's the line to the NH seacoast ariticle I saw about Lydia's place called Blue Sky..its in York... but sounds and looks lovely... and not stuffy or too expensive.


                                        PS PS: Oh boy, I need to start putting my glasses on when I'm on here... there's a Blue Sky post on this board at present !!!!!!!

                                        1. re: Buddernut

                                          Ok, so if you're -rich- then I guess the White Barn Inn is a good place to go. :) I don't think I've ever paid $93 per person for any meal at any time in my life. Yeah, the menu looks fantastic, wooo it'd be good, but NINETY THREE DOLLARS MINIMUM (beverages, tax, and tips not included)! *swoons and faints dead away* Ok, guess I'm way out classed here. :) For us, $30 for an entree is really pushing it and reserved for our anniversary dinner. :)

                                          So if that's a standard, I can see why some folks might not think of Burlington as any sort of a good foodie destination. :)

                                          Thanks for opening up my eyes! :)

                                          1. re: Morganna

                                            The food at White Barn is good, but it is served with a side of pretense. Be forwarned- the maitre d may spoil your appetite completely...

                                        2. re: bewley

                                          I've had a second home in Ogunquit for a long time so have seen lots of comings and goings. Consistently great and worth it are Provence (prix fixe menu is recommended for those who want a very good meal at a reasonable price), Joshua's in Wells which is open year round (antique home, great food, lovely setting, no pretense whatsoever even though its a special feeling place), Five-0 has become really expensive, unfortunately. Shore Cafe had a great first season post-renovation - stylish food and fun vibe. We're personally over Arrows - great marketing, but we have had some pretty uneven meals there despite the astronomical prices, and the attitudes are just too much. When the weather is good, stop at Lucia's Kitchen on Route 1 in Cape Neddick; she makes interesting food (with a cuban twist at times) which is great to take home or eat on a picnic. BTW, she used to be the pastry chef at Arrows years ago.

                                          On the bigger debate of Portland v. Burlington, I don't know Burlington at all, but the restaurants in Portland are just phenomenal - great range of choices, style of cooking and great atmosphere. Not an attitude to be found!

                                          1. re: lesliewh

                                            Thanks for these thoughts. I'm saving this list for when we go to Maine again. :)

                                    2. So where'd you go, Thelonious? :D

                                      1. I spent a week in New England this summer that was split between Portland and Burlington. Admittedly I didn't get out as much in Burlington because I was there to tour the New England Culinary Institute, where I will be attending next year, and ate in several of their restaurants. However, I would have to agree that based on reading (Gourmet, Food & Wine, etc.) and my own experiences during my visit, Portland is more of a food destination. I had a dinner at Fore Street that was one of the best that I have ever had. Great ingredients, simply prepared and presented. I also had a nice dinner at 555 and highly recommend having poutine at Duckfat for lunch as well. I will be living outside of Burlington when I go to school and hope to learn more about the restaurant scene during my time there. All best. Brian

                                        1. I'd say that Burlington and Portland are excellent choices, not just for food, but also because they are both interesting small cities with great scenery and lots to do. You may also want to consider Portsmouth, NH, since there are some great restaurants there, and it's a bit like a mini-Portland.

                                          Other interesting places with good restaurants include Lake Placid, NY, Brattleboro, VT, Stowe, VT, North Conway, NH, and Bar Harbor, ME.

                                          Some good combos might be Stowe/Burlington, VT or Portland, ME/Portsmouth, NH.

                                          Have fun!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: hiddenboston

                                            There's not a single foodie restaurant in Stowe. Don't waste your time. Hit Waterbury and Michael's/Hen of the Wood, could even do one of the better if not the best brew pubs in New England with the Alchemist.

                                            1. re: mjp81

                                              Regarding Stowe, it's all a matter of opinion, really. I know a number of food lovers who go to Stowe frequently and enjoy the Foxfire Inn, the Austrian Tea Room at the Trapp Family Lodge, Gracie's, and even Pie in the Sky, which makes a really nice pizza, IMO. I've gone to Stowe countless times and like all of those places, plus The Shed, which gets mixed reviews, but I personally like the food--and especially the beer--there. We agree to disagree, which is what this site is all about.

                                              I'll have to try Michael's and Hen of the Wood the next time I'm up there (I was in Stowe twice over the past several weeks, so it could be awhile before I'm back). Do you like the Alchemist as much as the Vermont Brewery in Burlington? If so, that'll have to be another place I check out.

                                              1. re: hiddenboston

                                                I was very fond of the Stowehof when we went, but that was several years ago, and I have no idea if they're still as great as they were then. :)

                                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                                  Alchemist beats Vermont Brewery hands down. Now if they would just heat the place I'd be psyched. Good thing it's always crowded!

                                            2. totally portsmouth! i live in nyc and i am always amazed at the food in portsmouth!
                                              green monkey and the owner's new latin restaurant across the street
                                              jumpin jay's fish cafe
                                              pesce blue
                                              black trumpet
                                              old ferry landing
                                              portsmouth brewery
                                              so many more too

                                              1. I live closest to Portsmouth, but I have found Portland has it beat on the Foodie scale (love Fore St.). I have had some very enjoyable dining experiences in Burlington. I am a fan of Smokejacks in downtown, but if you are willing to drive a bit south on Route 7, my two recent favrorites are The Bearded Frog in Shelburne and Starry Night Cafe in Ferrisburgh (that one about 20 miles out but worth the trip). I was disappointed in Single Pebble. For that price I want to be a bit wowed--and I wasn't. My favorite restaurant in New England (special occasions) is Arrow's in Ogunquit--a great dining experience. Amalfi in Rockland, Maine is really good. Someone mentioned Bar Harbor--don't miss Cafe This Way there, but take a side trip to Southwest Harbor on the other side of the Island and eat at a little place called Sips. Great food. And for authentic Mexican, XYZ.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: 3catsnh

                                                  As a resident of the Burlington, VT area, here is my take. There are a handful of truly great restaurants in this area. My definition of "great" is a combination of ambiance, service, and cuisine that are all impressive on each and every visit. These restaurants would be successful in any market because the do it right, day in and day out. That being said, here is my list of Great restaurants in the Burlington area (all within 30 minutes of Burlington):

                                                  1. Trattoria Delia
                                                  2. The Kitchen Table Bistro
                                                  3. Cafe Shelburne
                                                  4. Cristophe's on the Green
                                                  5. The Inn at Shelburne Farms (seasonal)
                                                  6. L'Amante

                                                  All are chef owned/operated with the exception of The Inn at Shelburne Farms. My complaints with this area are the number of poor - marginal restaurants far outnumbers the great ones. I blame the consumers that pack the Olive Garden and Chili's 6 nights a week. There are no great steakhouses, only a couple good Asian places (A single Peeble and The Silver Palace), no great butcher shops or fish markets, no true NY Style pizza (I hate conveyor belt ovens). There are alos very few places with a "vibe" in this area, the tyoe of place that has an "energy" you feel when yo walk in the door.

                                                  Just my two cents.............

                                                  1. re: TonyO

                                                    Junior's is, according to my Long Island bred husband, close to NY style pizza. Certainly closer than anywhere else in VT we've tried. :)

                                                    1. re: Morganna

                                                      I agree tha Junior's is about as good as it gets in this area. Unfortunately, thier prices have skyrocketed over the past 3-4 years. Oh well, charge what the market will bear..................

                                                2. If you happen to find yourself in Southeastern VT - check out The Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville. You can spend a weekend there and have great food. The chef uses all local food and has won all kind of awards. Rooms are comfortable with some nice details. You wont be far from Woodstock - where Pane Salute (really good italian)

                                                    1. re: jspear

                                                      I asked before, he's not said. :)

                                                    2. Wow! Thanks for all the replies. My weekend ended up getting cancelled due to work but my fiancee and I are headed down for a week in September. The plan is as follows:

                                                      Burlington - Lunch (undecided) Dinner (Hen of the Wood in Waterbury)

                                                      Portsmouth NH - I'm looking for some recommendations on best restaurant/ top food experience in Portsmouth

                                                      Monday -Thursday
                                                      Portland ME
                                                      Plan on eating at Fore Street, 555, Arrows in Ogunquit and am considering Hugo's and Bresca

                                                      Camden ME or Bar Harbour ME

                                                      If I could get some insight into the best bets for eats in Portsmouth NH that is the biggest question mark.

                                                      Thanks again for all the replies. Looks like I may need to take a few more trips!

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: thelonious777

                                                        Regarding Camden vs, Bar Harbour, even though my grandmother was born in Bar Harbour (Frenchman's Bay really) I would go to Camden. Both places are touristy, but Bar Harbour itself is nuts! Camden also has Belfast, Rockport and Rockland nearby.

                                                        If you really want to go to Bar Harbour, down the twisty coast road there is some inn I can't remember the name of that has great ocean views from the huge porch, huge sloping lawn for kids to play on etc.

                                                        And of course if you can pry yourselves from the food tables, BH has Acadia Park, which is a marvel.

                                                        So, if food is your only focus, and you don't like totally overly touristy places take Camden (I just had a ten day vacation with friends there and it was fun even with all the rain). No matter what, have FUN!

                                                        1. re: thelonious777

                                                          note for your itinerary that Arrows/Ogunquit is actually closer to Portsmouth than to Portland (20-25 minutes vs. 50+)

                                                          1. re: thelonious777

                                                            I heartily recommend Sadie Katz's deli for your Burlington lunch. They've got H&H bagels, Katz's pastrami, Carnegie's Corned Beef and their cheese blintzes are to die for. They wanted to try to bring in Schwartz's Smoked Meat, but I guess I don't have to tell you that Schwartz's wouldn't sell it to them. :)

                                                            1. re: thelonious777

                                                              Make your reservations as early as possible as this is high season (at least in Vermont). The Hen of the Woods is booking several weeks in advance right now.

                                                            2. As a resident of Portsmouth, I wouldn't waste your time here. Unlike Burlington and Portland, larger cities which rely on local residents and word of mouth, Portsmouth is mainly a tourist town with the resulting overpopulation of tourist traps. The one exception is The Friendly Toast, great, creative breakfast in a funky atmosphere.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: derekj

                                                                Samantha Brown (travel channel) just did a show on that area. She had a couple of recommendations for places to eat:


                                                                I have driven past Flo's hot dogs a million times and wondered if it was good or not, and I plan on stopping in next time we're in the area for a getaway. :)

                                                                1. re: derekj

                                                                  Took me years to finally stop at Flo's. Did nothing for me. I prefer the chili dog at the shack in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit.

                                                                  In Portland, for over the top calories, it would be a shame to miss DuckFat for some frites with duck gravy and a shared confit duck panini.

                                                                  1. re: derekj

                                                                    I do really like a Japanese restaurant in the center of Portsmouth, I forgot the name, but they have very creative fresh sushi.