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planning a chow weekend in Portland, ME

My husband and I are coming up to Portland for a relaxing and food-filled weekend. I'm overwhelmed by all the wonderful suggestions on this board and elsewhere. So far the plan is Hugo's for Saturday dinner and Duckfat for Saturday lunch. Looking to fill in the following spots:

-Friday night: driving up from Boston, we're not sure if we'll make it to Portland in time for dinner. So either need a place in Portland that's relatively casual or somewhere to stop on the way for something quick but nonetheless in the spirit of our chowish weekend.
-Saturday breakfast: light enough that we leave room for Duckfat.
-Sunday lunch: open to anything. prefer lunch over brunch.
-any other foodie destinations: markets, bakeries, great ice cream, etc.

We're open to absolutely any type of cuisine. We don't eat shellfish and we tend to like vegetarian-friendly places. We are looking to have as much deliciousness per square inch of weekend as possible. Of course, we will wander and see where the spirit takes us - but I do like to come to good food cities with a plan in hand.

What would YOU do with one eating-out weekend in Portland?

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  1. Local 188 is on Congress St....should be open later than the rest of the places.
    Caiola's is a must, on Pine St.....it's Italian....delicious....and the staff rocks with friendliness...
    the bar is my favorite place to sit, as Randy, sir mix alot...is genuine and serves a great manhattan, to say the least....555 is another MUST....their Sunday Brunch is absolutely top notch...not to mention Steve Corey winning the Food & WIne Mag Chef of Year 07....I would highly recommend their brunch..Bibo's Mad Apple Cafe off of Congress at Forest is a great small place for brunch on SUnday too. .As far as vegetarian food goes, there is a relatively new, ALL VEGAN place called the Green Elephant. I LOVE IT!, and I am a meat eater...
    it is located on Congress, close to High st.....another place for vegetarian, as the name escapes me at the moment, is three doors down from Hugo's and across the street from Duckfat on Middle st.....they also do a brunch.....
    I hope you enjoy your culinary adventures!!!

    1. Two suggestions: Pepperclub for Sunday lunch - excellent vegetarian.

      Emilitsa - new Greek restaurant that is getting great reviews but I have not tried it yet

      1 Reply
      1. re: StevensAve

        Great suggestion...totally forgot about Emilitsa...it's tasty and a GREAT selection of Greek wines that I have never tried.

      2. For the Saturday lunch, I'd go to Yosaku (assuming you like Japanese food)--plenty of veg options and outstanding sushi. I definitely second the recs of 188 and Caiola's, and the Good Egg (the breakfast incarnation of Pepperclub).

        1. Do you want to add some excersize (not much though) and great scenery (if you love being out on the water) - then take the ferry over to Peaks Island for a fantastic lunch at the Cockeyed Gull. I think it's only $4.00 for the 15 min. trip - goes every 1 1/2 hours and short walk up from ferry dock. There's another great pub there too - Inn on Peaks Island. It's a nice change from being in Portland.

          1. Thanks all! Great suggestions.

            2 Replies
            1. re: edamame

              Caiola's is a must! super wait staff.

              1. re: uncle rico

                get the poutine @ Duckfat or regrets till the next visits!!!!!Theres a food market on congress thats pretty great too,awesome cheese shop and good beer and wine shop ,and bakery ,etc.fore st is always good,and Js oyster bar for classic.

            2. I make a slightly out of the way stop in Old Port every time I head up to mid-coast Maine, for morning buns at the Standard Bakery. All their stuff is good; the sticky buns are great. Under Fore Street right on Commercial St.

              1. Be sure to walk along Middle Street and India Street after visiting Duckfat.

                On India, Steve Lanzalotta is usually cooking up a storm in the backroom at Miccuci's Market--his pizzas, breads and sweets are fabulous. Two Cats Bakery is part of the Fore Street empire and also has delish sweets and gorgeous pies. Amato's is home to the original Italian sandwich. And Coffee-by-Design I think is there, too--a local coffee shop that supports local causes.

                On Middle, diagonally across from Duckfat, is a foodie bookshop--only cookbooks and food-related books. Also on that stretch of Middle are Riboletta, Norm's East Side BBQ, Pepperclub (vegie friendly--and it's sister op serves breakfast), and Hugo's. Quite the foodie 'hood.

                1. There are just so many good choices. I write from Providence, where we have good restaurants, but Portland has more variety, because it is not so heavily Italian. When I'm in Portland, I always like Walter's, and it's right in Old Port, as is Back Bay Grill, which is French and wonderful. And recently I was super impressed by 555 and would go back there. Not so impressed with Caiola's, which other chowhounds here seem to like. Standard Bakery is the best for morning pastries.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: riexplorer

                    OK ! no-one mentioned my favorite BECKY'S DINER for breakfast or lunch.
                    Its a must. Local 188 also has a great menu. Have fun, and report back to us ok !

                    1. re: riexplorer

                      Actually, Back Bay Grill is nowhere near the Old Port. Back Bay, as the name implies is over the hill, on the back side of the city, near Back Bay. Closest landmark is probably the Post Office.

                    2. Reporting back! Portland treated us great. Friday dinner at Yosaku. To my mind, this is the ideal sushi restaurant. We sat at the bar and loved interacting with the friendly chefs. Fresh and delicious sushi and an extensive menu that made us contemplate coming back again in the same short weekend. Saturday morning at the Good Egg. Nice place, would definitely have cozy brunches here if I lived in Portland, food is nothing revelatory (not that it should be for cheap breakfast.) Saturday lunch at Duckfat. Loved it, loved the truffle ketchup especially. For me, fries and a salad were an ideal lunch. For Mr. Edamame, the duck confit sandwich and fries were swoon-worthy. And Mainegal, thank you so much for the instructions to look around the neighborhood. Wow! Chocolate covered macaroon from Two Fat Cats, admired the atmosphere and selection at CBD, browsed forever in Rabelais, the incredible bookstore, watched pizza being made at Miccuci's (and am kicking self for not buying a slice for later - bought a portion of the baked pizza dough that they sell and it was truly awesome.) Dinner at Hugo's was super. I got all the vegetarian choices on the prix fixe - the deconstructed potato salad with transcendent deviled egg (really!) and beet and horseradish risotto with tempura grapefuit and goat cheese were two of the best things i've eaten in a long while. The mushroom meatloaf fell flat, but if I'd eaten the whole thing along with the other courses I would have burst. I also adored what came with my husband's smoked haddock appetizer: pickled cuke, fresh blini and sour cream pannacotta. On Sunday we had lunch at 555. Eschewing the brunch options, which did look fab, I had great parsnip soup with port reduction and he enjoyed a tremendously juicy burger with lavender catsup. Then we picked up some bread to take home from Standard Baking Co. You folks are lucky. Thanks again for the wonderful suggestions.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: edamame

                        I think, without a doubt, you have created a great gastronomic walking tour of Portland!!! Well done and glad you enjoyed so much.