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Maine Classics

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Looking to start a discussion about traditional Maine eateries -- places that have been around for more than 25 years and just say "Maine." Substance isn't as important as stamina and local draw. My short list includes: Moodys, Dysarts, Cole Farms, Red's, Dimillos and Estes. What am I missing?

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  1. I suppose it depends how deeply you want to dig, and what you tolerance level is for the term classic, but I'll add three - the Ebb Tide in Boothbay Harbor, the Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha, and the Blue Bird Ranch in Machias.

    I'll say it now, and I'll say it emphatically - do NOT pass through St. Agatha without stopping at the Lakeview and getting the bread pudding.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Keefer Lucas

      How about White Barn Inn, Newicks, Arrow and Red's for diversity.

      1. re: treb

        Treb, I'd say you have taken it a little high brow...

        1. re: Keefer Lucas

          Newicks and Red's High!

    2. Helen's in Machias,Wasses Hot Dogs in the mid-coast area, the Airline Cafe on Rte. 1, Jasper's in Ellsworth, the Fisherman's Friend in Stonington and Rapid Ray's in Saco are the ones that come immediately to mind...

      5 Replies
      1. re: mollydingle

        im a sucker for bagaduce lunch,the best onion rings in the world!!!

        1. re: im hungry

          Where is Bagaduce lunch??? I'd go miles for onion rings!

          1. re: jillso

            Bagaduce lunch is in Brooksville, ME, It is only open in the summer. It has a great setting, beside a reversing waterfall, where rt 175 and 176 cross the Bagaduce River.

            1. re: vbmontana

              We ate at the Bagaduce for the first time this summer. We loved it. What a great atmosphere . . . and the onion rings were excellent.

        2. re: mollydingle

          It's been a while, but is Helen's pie still "a mile high"?

        3. I can think of a Maine's first pizzeria that's been around 60 years. I guess I'm not allowed to say the name on here since I'm family so I'll let you guess.

          1 Reply
          1. re: grittys457

            I'm not sure if this is it, but Pat's Pizza has been around forever. I still remember scrounging to come up with $2.56 for a green pepper pizza back when I was in college. I ate at one a couple of years ago, the first time in about 15 years. Was still as good as ever!

            Not sure what you were looking for in terms of restaurants, but for me this gives me fond memories and the food was great.

            Another one, Mike's Clam Shack, not sure if it meets your 25 years criteria, though.

          2. Flo's Steamed Hot Dogs. I like 'em with mustard and hot sauce. Sorry, purists, but I just can't get past the idea of mayo on my hot dog.

            Wasses hot dogs are good, too. Just had two today on my way through Belfast.

            Red's Eats for the best lobster rolls ever.

            Amato's for a "real" Italian sandwich. I don't know how "real" it is -- but it's pretty darn good.

            1. You get a homemade blueberry muffin with the lobster stew at the Dolphin Marina in Potts Harbor!

              1. These are great suggestions. I think getting a balance of places from across the state is key. Is anyone familiar with the The Village Inn in Belgrade Lakes? Or the Chickadee restaurants in Lewiston and Turner (the latter being an old family fave)?

                4 Replies
                1. re: eater_va

                  Love the crab rolls at Dunton's Dog House in Boothbay. Also, Rick's Cafe in Naples and the Anchor Inn in Round Pond, both are Maine classics.

                  1. re: eater_va

                    My brother Lurker W and I discovered The Village Inn a few years ago. Most people seem to call it "the duck place."

                    I found the duck to be good, nothing mind-blowing. But Belgrade Lakes is worth a visit.

                    1. re: eater_va

                      village inn in blegrade is terrific. roast duck with raspberry or cherry sause, extremely well executed! beautiful area too.

                      1. re: eater_va

                        I really like the duck at The Village Inn, but I haven't really had much luck with any of their other entrees.

                      2. A-1 Diner in Gardiner

                        1. How about Amato's, home of the "original Italian sandwich."

                          1. The Rockland Diner? I think they've been around at least 25 years... they surely haven't changed their decor/menu/customers in that long (which I appreciate). Yay for fish cakes!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: happybellynh

                              To split hairs, we moved to North Haven in'86 and the Rockland Cafe was not there, but opened shortly thereafter, '87? Had a lot fish cakes and beans for brekkie and 1/2 lb scallop lunches though.

                            2. How could I have forgotten Pat's? Pat's and the truly awful Oronoka defined my years at UMaine...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mollydingle

                                Ah... the Oronoka...how quickly I forget! :-))

                              2. Not sure how long any of these have been around, but it's been quite a while:

                                Downtown Restaurant and AT Cafe, Millinocket
                                Riverside and Winnie's, Presque Isle
                                Al's Diner, Mars Hill
                                Wormwood's and Huot's, Camp Ellis
                                Bristol Diner, Bristol
                                A-1, Gardiner
                                The Breeze, Castine
                                Chase's, Winter Harbor
                                Red Barn, Milbridge
                                Sydney's, Naples
                                Graziano's, Lisbon
                                Covered Bridge, Guilford
                                The Bag and Gepetto's, Sugarloaf
                                Pine Tree Frosty and The Red Onion, Rangeley

                                1. Its kind of sad to think that both Newicks in South Porltand and the Village Cafe in Portland have closed their doors. Sign of the times, I guess? Newick's should never have gotten rid of their paper plates and plastic cutlery, it was part of their charm.

                                  1. IMO, if you put Flo Hot Dogs on list it should be the original one on Rte 1 in York, not the one more recently opened.

                                    1. The Red Barn in Milbridge has been around forever, but I've never hada really good meal there. It has had different owners/chefs over the years and has been inconsistent at best.
                                      I totally forgot Chase's. I'd heard they close a few months ago. Anyone know for sure?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: mollydingle

                                        Pat's? You guys are hurting my feelings, jk. Pat's was the second pizza in Maine I think. He came down to the Portland area to learn from us many years ago. I did love Pat's pizza in Orono when I went to school at UMaine.

                                        Think 50 cent pizzas in 1947

                                        1. re: grittys457

                                          Isn't there a Pat's pizza in Ellsworth?

                                          1. re: Alica

                                            Why yes man there is. Just take Rt. 3 outta town headin' t'wards Bar Harbor. It's on your left. If yur new to this area, give Finelli's a try too. Rt. 1 N, 200 yds from the triangle on the left.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              I go to Bar Harbor every year, we love Maine, especially that area. We tried Finelli's (I think they are from RI, that is where we are from) but someone told us to try Pat's and we loved it. So all of the Pat's Pizzas are the same owner?
                                              We love Cleonis, we used to love Bubba's in Bar Harbor.

                                      2. Ooops, my bad. That's the Airline Cafe on Rte. 9, hence the name.

                                        1. Jordan's Snack Bar in Ellsworth, Jordan's Restaurant and The Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor, The Crocker House and Ruth and Whimpy's in Hancock and unfortunately Duffy's in East Orland just shut. The Coach House Restaurant in Brewer. Funny, nothing in Bangor mentioned.

                                          1. I personally feel that the thing is that most of the older places you are focused on aren't really that great, they've just been around. I guess that's what you mean about stamina. Maine was better known in the past for the home cooking of local and traditional New England recipes. A church pot luck dinner or bean hole supper had food much better than any of the old style restaurants.

                                            Those old restaurants were all there was back then so they developed a following because when that's all there is... that's all there is. So that's why they have local draw, the best are the ones that serve family recipes and stick to the tradition.

                                            Now the new restaurants... that's a different matter entirely.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: JMF

                                              It's true. I remember eating at The Helm and the East Wind with my Grandmother. They were awful.

                                            2. In Bangor, Mama Baldacci's is still there. Miller's, alas, is no more. And I think Oriental Garden is still out by the mall...

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: mollydingle

                                                I'm sorry to hear about Miller's. What about Governor's (Governeur's?) in Orono? That's another old timer--or maybe that's gone too?

                                                1. re: Addisonchef

                                                  Governor's currently has 7 locations...Houlton, Lewiston, Waterville, So. Portland, Old Town, Bangor, Presque Isle,

                                                  Started in 1960.

                                                  (I'm not recommending the food, just reporting facts.)

                                                  www.governorsrestaurant.com

                                              2. I love the Sea Basket in Wiscasset

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hargau

                                                  Mainegal beat me to the punch (pun intended) by listing Graziano's in Lisbon. I do have to say that - judging strictly from the exterior on a recent drive-by - that Graziano's is looking rather sad...

                                                2. Mabels Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport for fried clams and blueberry pie!

                                                  1. Cole Farms in Gray - a trip back to the 50's in every way
                                                    Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth
                                                    Jordan's Snack Bar in Ellsworth
                                                    That place in the Harpswells across the funny bridge

                                                    1. The Fat Boy in Brunswick. Cheap and tasty.
                                                      Mae's Cafe- Formerly Kristina's- in Bath- THE BEST sticky buns.

                                                      1. clam shack in Kennebunk
                                                        cocos locos in kittery

                                                        1. I'm not sure how long Dudley's in Belfast has been around, but I love their grilled muffins. And what about Young's Lobster Pound (again, not sure of duration)-- though their service/quality has not been so great the past two years, IMO. And also, though I've never eaten there, Barbara's Restaurant just North of Searsport says Maine to me with its hilarious clam-wearing-a-boot-on-its-pseudopod sign.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                            Barb's has been there, I think, just under 10 years(I'm madly trying to remember the predecessor.), but I know what you mean, "an instant Maine classic". The Tidal Falls Lobster Pound(now restaurant) in Hancock has been at that location for over 50 years, so I hear tell.

                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                              Bolley's in Aususta and Waterville. Best hotdogs ever. Sarah's and Sea Basket in Wiscasset.

                                                            2. re: Procrastibaker

                                                              Young's was thriving in the 70s, for sure. We vacationed in Northport (just outside of Belfast) and often bought lobsters there.

                                                            3. North Street Dairy Cone and Bolley's Famous Franks in Waterville.

                                                              1. What about The Taste of Maine. I remember that yellow jacketed fisherman since I was a kid (that means at least 30 years).

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: amyc

                                                                  Referred to by locals as Taste Tomaine (sp?). How about the Great Impasta in Brunswick?

                                                                  1. re: amyc

                                                                    Oh man, I'd forgotten all about that place. We're probably the same age. I still remember the commerical with that thick accent, "Taste o Maine restaurant: Route 1, Woolwich, just noth a Baath." Great stuff.

                                                                  2. Love the great Impasta, but has it been around for more than 25 years?

                                                                    1. Maine Classics in the Moosehead/Greater Bangor region:
                                                                      Countryside, Corinth (formerly East Corinth)
                                                                      Flatlander's Pub, Greenville
                                                                      Butterfields (ice cream), Dover-Foxcroft
                                                                      The Dairy Bar (ice cream), Greenville
                                                                      The Coffee Pot, Bangor (I've never been but everyone I know raves about the sandwiches)

                                                                      1. The Chandler House in Calais. Nothing exotic, but good food and a liquor license.

                                                                        1. Bob's Clam Hut...Kittery
                                                                          and I suppose I should also mention the Weathervane.

                                                                          1. oooh - 25 years. The Maine Diner in Wells just eeks in! Don't miss their lobster pie!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: bpjacks

                                                                              I agree the Lakeview in St Agatha is yummy. I used to live in that area growing up and go there everytime I visit. Really good seafood and desserts:)

                                                                            2. Cappy's Chowder House has stamina and is a year round business in a seasonal economy. Very visible in Camden right on the corner of main st.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mainecoastchef

                                                                                How'd we miss it???

                                                                                1. re: mainecoastchef

                                                                                  Cappy's does have nice chowder, and burgers. Definitely a good weeknight burger/beer place.

                                                                                  1. re: happybellynh

                                                                                    hmm is it really that good? We passed by after seeing the menu prices posted outside. $10 for a burger with no fries. $8-9 for a mug of chowder.

                                                                                    1. re: hargau

                                                                                      Good question- I don't remember it being that expensive... I know they have won awards for their chowder, and I enjoyed it very much (although certianly not the very best I've had). Maybe it was partly the allure of a cozy warm place with decent chowder (in big mugs with a plate of crackers) that was actually OPEN on a weeknight in Jan....

                                                                                      1. re: happybellynh

                                                                                        I had recalled it being very expensive which is why we walked on by, and before that last posting i looked at their online menu and quoted the prices from there.

                                                                                2. Angelone's Pizza in Portland used to be located on Monument Square before it was modernized in the '60's. The SoPo branch is still not too bad.

                                                                                  I will mention the Bridgeway in SoPo just for its hanging in there.

                                                                                  Cindy's in Freeport!!!!
                                                                                  Day's Crabmeat in Yarmouth!!!

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Dual

                                                                                    Bob's Clam Hut, Flo's Hotdogs,Cole Farms, and while not exactly an eatery Morse's kraut and mustard pickles.
                                                                                    Now I am homesick through and through !!!

                                                                                    1. re: FoodisArt

                                                                                      Morse's serves brunch/lunch every day except wednesdays.

                                                                                    2. re: Dual

                                                                                      Day's has been closed for a couple years now.

                                                                                      1. re: mjp81

                                                                                        It's a favorite of our family! Days in Yarmouth is not closed.

                                                                                        Days Crabmeat & Lobster
                                                                                        1269 Route 1, Yarmouth, ME 04096
                                                                                        Just off I-295, Exit 17
                                                                                        Lobster Pound (207) 846-5871
                                                                                        Take-Out (207) 846-3436

                                                                                        Open 7 Days - May through October

                                                                                        1. re: HIW

                                                                                          When was the last time you were there? They've had a big for sale sign on it for well over a year and obviously no takers.

                                                                                        2. re: mjp81

                                                                                          Days is not closed, but I think only open in the summer.
                                                                                          BUT, they have a big attitude, so I go eleswhere where they appreciate the business.....

                                                                                      2. Don't know if they have been around for 25 years, but it's been a while: The Harraseekett Lobster Pound in Freeport. I'm vegetarian, but going there once a year with my folks while they gorge on their faves and I scarf a veggie burger and eat onion rings -- right by the harbor, watching the ferry come and go, smelling of ocean, well, pretty fabulous! My mum spent her summers as a kid in Frenchman's Bay, so she has to make the trip to the Maine ocean every year, and combining shopping in Freeport with the Pound is perfect.

                                                                                        And I was reliably informed last year by a local that "Even though it's infested with tourists, we still go there too." Hee hee! Even a President has been there, and it hasn't been ruined yet. Just get there early, or you will have to wait on line and do take out which misses the whole point of the location. Seasonal only, not sure how late it is open in the day.

                                                                                        1. One Stanley Avenue in Kingfield might be close to the 25 year mark. Haven't eaten there in years, but the food was great and the menu focused on local ingredients long before it was the thing to do.

                                                                                          1. Wasses! Other dog joints?

                                                                                            1. the bagel shop (now known as Bagel Central) in Bangor is classic for sure. delicious bagels, pastrami sandwiches, all around kosher goodness.

                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: eeejo

                                                                                                In its current form, Bagel Central is less than 10 yrs old. It evolved from The Bagel Shop, but BC was bought from the owner when he fled to Amsterdam by his workers. Best Rubens around though. Despite it's precipitous decline since the move from Maine St. and the passing of Mama (and Papa and Paul), Mama Baldachi's is arguably Bangor's classic.

                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  People! Iknow it's under new ownership, but it's still there, and has been for over 100 years. Doesn't anyone remember the venerable Whitehall Inn? And, though it no longer exists, sadly replaced by a box full of beds, let's offer a moment of silence for the ever-popular Daves, by the side of the runway at the Thomaston Airport, bastion of fried food and the u-shaped buffet.

                                                                                                  1. re: bi11me

                                                                                                    Do you mean Dave's, across the street from Dorman's? I had a cup of the best oyster chowder of my life at Dave's. That strip of road is so depressing now.

                                                                                                    1. re: crawfish

                                                                                                      Amen! Remember old Rockland w/ CJ's Seafood across the street from the once upon a time Chuck Wagon. We used to get CJ's scallops & fries and slum into O'Brans for a cheap beer. How many incarnations has that place had? What is it now? On Paddy's Day in the late 80's a Harley hog rode through the door around the pool table and out the door again. Boy, has Rockland changed from a down at the heals tough fishing town to a Yuppieville- one- of -the-Top-50-Places-to-Live-in-'Merica! Something's been lost in the translation!

                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                        Maybe somethings been lost in the translation but Rockland was so down and out for so long...

                                                                                                        But I really like it now ... and will miss it when i move later this year nearer to my distillery/winery/brewery. Although I have yet to see what bangor is like.

                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                          Yes, but you're a New Yorker! Funny, going from Rockland area to Bangor is, I feel, a step down. I'll be curious the hear what you think!

                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                            That's ex-New Yorker, and I have lived in 8 states in 6 regions of the country so I consider myself an American in general, and now a New Englander. I'm not moving from Owls Head to Winterport because I want to. Right now I spend 2.5 hours a day and 100+ miles round trip commuting to work. That's over 2,000 miles, over $400 in gas, and 50 hours of driving time a month.

                                                                                                            Alas, I'm not moving to Bangor, but to Winterport where there is NO, ZIP, ZERO! restaurant scene yet. Hopefully we will start a trend there. Right now at Pairings we do a special fine dining, wine pairing menu the second Saturday of the month. As soon as we get our Maine brewery license in the next week or two we will be open for lunch and sometime soon fine dining on weekends and eventually all week.

                                                                                                            Pairings food and wine culinary education center is kicking into gear with cooking classes several days a week. I hope to start teaching home wine making and brewing classes soon, as well as wine and spirits appreciation, mixology/making fine cocktails, and other fun courses and seminars.

                                                                                                            I have heard that Bangor is starting to pick up quite a bit the past year or two and folks who live in town say that they expect good things. It's a 10-15 mile drive so not that bad.

                                                                                                            Maybe I can get some food consulting gigs and help? Although I expect that starting the fall I will be pretty busy with the winery, brewery, distillery, and hopefully our restaurant. Maybe in twenty years we'll be considered a "Maine Classic."

                                                                                                            http://www.WinterportWinery.com
                                                                                                            http://www.PairingsinMaine.com
                                                                                                            http://www.PenobscotBayDistillery.com (coming summer/fall 2008)

                                                                                                        2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                          While I have little doubt that Rockland's wave of good fortune will eventually lead it to "Yuppieville", I think that's still a ways off. Right now it's a good mix of grit and gourmet, with equal parts highbrow and homespun. I'm not sure what was "lost in translation", unless you're referring to the miasma (I remember Rockland in the 80's too).

                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                            I don't mind the new "yuppified" downtown Rockland, at least it's retained some local flavour unlike Camden and doesn't totally rely on tourists. What I hate is the big boxification of route 1 on either side of it and that strip where Dave's used to be (which is actually in Thomaston) is just going to get worse - there's another mall going in at Buttermilk Lane.

                                                                                                            1. re: crawfish

                                                                                                              I hate that strip too - it's hideous and seems to get worse every day.
                                                                                                              I, too, was sad when Dave's closed. It certainly wasn't my favorite restaurant, but it really was a Maine classic and it was nice to have it around.
                                                                                                              I hope Dorman's can hold out. It would really be a shame if that place disappeared.

                                                                                                              1. re: Cassoulet

                                                                                                                There was a line on a different thread that struck me: Where can you get steamers now in Rockland? Without a doubt Rockland has a very nice mix. It's the invasion of the boxes and chains.

                                                                                                    2. re: eeejo

                                                                                                      Come on eeejo.... Bagel Central has just ok bagels, and terrible pastrami. When Richard had the joint it was very good, but in the last few years its really gone down hill.

                                                                                                    3. Summer can not be far away. Jordan's Snack Bar, in Ellsworth opens today! Fried clams, here we come!

                                                                                                      1. All this effort, and no mention of Barnacle Billy's in Ogunquit? The Ogunquit Lobster Pound? The Maine Diner is another favorite of ours.
                                                                                                        A trip to Maine is not complete without a stop at these, Bread and Roses Bakery (since 1989) and Bob's Clam Hut.

                                                                                                        What about Warren's in Kittery Point? Not really our favorite, but it certainly has been there a long time.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jerseydiner

                                                                                                          You know it's funny when one come south from Northern Maine, many of these southern spots are by passed. They are more expensive and more touristy. The nick name south of Portland is "little Boston" and I 95 the Volvo Line.
                                                                                                          There is a drastic diff. between a 6 dollar and 16 dollar lobster roll.
                                                                                                          But I guess you're right, as far as the classic time line.
                                                                                                          Everything is a matter of perspective, isn't it?

                                                                                                          1. re: jerseydiner

                                                                                                            The Maine Diner? Fray not. That place defines "tourist trap" We went a few weeks ago with another couple and were struck by the "previously frozen" fish and canned veggies. Doesn't deserve the hallowed title of "Diner".

                                                                                                            1. re: derekj

                                                                                                              But the Maine Diner has been there for 25+ yrs. Reminds me of a quotation of HL Mencken: "Nobody has ever gone broke underestimating the bad taste of an American." And he never even went to Olive Garden.

                                                                                                              1. re: derekj

                                                                                                                Last time I was there, they'd just picked the veggies in the garden behind the Maine Diner. Oh well, guess they can't do that in the dead of winter.

                                                                                                                Never had a bad meal at the Maine Diner. As tourist traps go, you can do a lot worse!

                                                                                                            2. The Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor; been there about a 124 years. Great lobster braised in bourbon and single malt whiskey menu. Superb views too.

                                                                                                              1. I see that Pat's is already covered.

                                                                                                                Dysart's was also though I have to say I got just a little weirded out to come back and find that they had put a truck in the dining room.

                                                                                                                I don't however see Captain Nick's in Bangor and I don't ever remember that not being around.

                                                                                                                It's sad that The Bagel shop has gone down hill. I remember wandering in there long long ago and getting a cookie when Nana took me along to buy bagels.