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May 8, 2008 11:42 AM

My impossible Chow dream (NY to Bangor and back in 2 days)

I will be leaving early in the AM, and hope to be in Maine by lunchtime. With all this driving, needless to say, I won't want to go too far off the highway....but on the other hand, what's the point of doing all the driving without some good chow to look forward to? What's my best bet for real Maine food within shooting distance of i-95?

From looking through previous posts, I’m thinking about the A1 Diner in Gardiner, North Street Dairy Cone in Waterville, and the Sea Basket in Wiscasset. And I might be able to hit Friars’ Bakehouse in Bangor before I leave the next morning. What do you say?

This will be on the 4th of July weekend.


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  1. I'm not sure how familiar you are with I-95, but by no stretch of the imagination could The Sea Basket be described as "within shooting distance." Even at best case (and going anywhere near the coast on 4th of J weekend is an invitation to bumper-to-bumper Winnebagos), it would be a 45 minute detour from I-95 each way. If you're aiming for Maine by lunchtime, and want seafod, consider The Lobster Shack at Two Lights SP in Cape Elizabeth. From I-95 off and back on again, probably 30-35 minutes total.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mainemal

      On a typical summer day, even during the week, we've found long lines at Lobster Shack. On a holiday weekend, it's not someplace I'd go if I was on a tight schedule. Not to mention, as you pointed out, it's not an easy on/easy off the highway destination.

    2. A few ideas:
      Take the York exit and head north for Flo's, if your a hot dog fan; pair it with a pie from Pie in the Sky bakery, nearby.

      Take 295 through Portland, exit at Franklin Arterial, head to the waterfront: Portland Lobster Co. for outdoor dining on the dock; Port Hole, less fancy; Becky's, all day breakfast. Or take a left off Franklin at Middle for Duckfat (French fries, panini, milk shakes) or on to India Street for Amato's for a real Italian sandwich. Really, all of Portland is at your fingertips, just minutes off 95.

      Or, take the Brunswick/Route 1 exit, then head either out toward Cook's Corner for Fat Boy Drive-in or down Rt. 123 to So. Harpswell for the Dolphin Marina for chowder with a blueberry muffin (about 25 minutes off 95, but worth it).

      Take the Gardiner exit for A-1 or same to Hallowell for Slate's, then rejoin 95 via Augusta. Pair it with an ice cream at Webber's, also in Hallowell.

      Waterville--take the Oakland Road and stop at Riverside Farm Market, and yes, North Street Dairy Cone.

      Hermon, take exit 180 for Dysert's, a truck stop. And definitely Friar's--if it's open, strange schedule there, but go early as it often sells out quickly (good chance won't be open on a holiday weekend).

      Don't even think about the Sea Basket: Route 1 on a holiday weekend? ACK!

      8 Replies
      1. re: Mainegal

        You are always so spot on! How about the clam shack(Bob's?) in Kittery? The little ice cream stand at the triangle in Newport for a fried seafood basket or a reasonably priced lobster roll? Susan's Fish n Chips on N. Forrest in Portland? Capt'n Nicks on N Broadway in Bangor? Portsmouth options? What is that famous seafood restaurant in Seabrook, NH? That may b the best option.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          All these options sound great. I have plenty of time to ponder them all. Thanks!

          And what -is- that famous seafood restaurant in Seabrook, NH?


          1. re: spa

            Brown's(BYOB) and Marky's in Seabrook and BG's Boathouse in Portsmouth. Captain Nick's in Bangor.

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              Ate at Brown's a couple weeks ago. Geeze, the kitchen and counter were so disorganized. They really don't have their mojo down yet for the season. Saw our order up and had to ask for it. Poor kid had no clue whose order was what. Got our food and it was stone cold. Must have been sitting there awhile. Not worth sending it back as we were too hungry to wait for a re-do.

              1. re: three of us

                My friends and I have been going to Brown's for years and look forward to stopping there whenever we travel to Maine. We will even drive up from Boston to eat at Brown's. I have never had a problem with anything there. They have the best lobsters, steamers and onion rings. My friends and family say the fried food is also excellent. DH even tried the baked haddock and liked it. Brown's is not fancy by any means. But I have never had a problem with service and have been going there for over 40 years. It is too late for your July 4th weekend, but keep it in mind for your next trip.

                1. re: oceans

                  2009 Update - I do not know what has changed at Brown's, but the lobster is not that good anymore. I tried it in April and again in July. It was tough and tasteless. I do not believe they are using Maine (or New Hampshire) lobster now. Maine lobster has a distinctive sweet taste that was missing from the lobsters I had at Brown's this year for sure. I am so disappointed. My friends and I look forward to meeting at Brown's.

        2. re: Mainegal

          We hit Becky's for lunch (haddock chowder and grilled cheese, surrounded by people eating amazing looking blueberry pancakes) and we really enjoyed a slice of their bumbleberry (mixed-berry) pie. Dinner was at Captain Nicks in Bangor, also really enjoyable. I'm doing the drive again in a couple of weeks to retrieve the daughter I left at camp up there and hope to hit some of the other suggestions. Thanks!

          1. re: spa

            My second trip involved a stop in Portland on the way up to pig out at J's Oysters (really good fish chowder and oysters as fresh as could be) and cookies from Standard Baking across the street. The next day, I finally made it to North St Dairy Cone for "lunch" (one of the best things about being on the road is calling an ice cream cone a meal). And, down in Mass, Enrico's in Sturbridge served a pretty good pizza for dinner.

            The drive was surprisingly easy, even twice in three weeks. With my list of chow destinations and Car Talk podcasts on the iPod, I'd do it again in a minute. Thanks to everyone for all the great advice!

        3. May want to throw in Red's for a lobster roll in Wiscasset. Is your vehicle equiped with a loo? Your schedule doesn't sound like it will permit much else.

          1. If it were me I would stop for a hot dog at the Doghouse in Kittery, a lobster roll at Harraseeket Lunch in Freeport, and a Cherry Vanilla and Banana cone at North Street Dairy.
            Scratch that. On a holiday weekend, Freeport will be too busy. I think I'd do the awesome Lobster Stew at the Pancake House in Augusta instead.

            1. I second Bob's Clam Shack in Kittery - Right off exit 3 on I-95 and up Rte. 1 for less than 1/2 mile. I also second Harraskeet Lobster Shack in So. Freeport, less than 15 minutes off I-295. Stay off Rte. 1 north of Portland at all costs. It's the longest traffic jam I have ever been on. Near to Bangor is Tremont - less than hour away where Thurston's Lobster Pound is located. In my opinion the best pound in Maine and they serve dinner.

              3 Replies
              1. re: StevensAve

                We prefer The Tidal Falls Restaurant in Hancock, closer, less touristed, great view, and drum roll.......owned by a nonprofit land trust. Profits buy private land and open it up to the public. Be a politically correct glutton!

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Sorry, but as of this season, there is no longer a restaurant at Tidal Falls. Of course, it's still a great place for picnicking.

                  1. re: philbkr

                    Yes, I know! The 29th was the first time in more than 50 years that my wife hasn't had her birthday lobster there. We did get lobster rolls for lunch at Galley at the Bridge and sat and ate them at Tidal Falls. The picnic area is still open to the public. I think we're going to bring our own grill and cook our own lobbers there.