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Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor, ME

Chicago foodies are looking for AWESOME restaurants for a second anniversary trip. We want the best grub in town regardless of high-end or where the locals eat. Please provide any information you have on local establishments. Thank you!

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    1. re: Passadumkeg

      Thanks, definitely one I am planning to check out!

    2. In Bar Harbor, one of the places I enjoyed most during a recent trip was Cafe This Way.

      4 Replies
      1. re: andrewr

        We also love Cafe This Way. Our all time favorite in that area is Cleonice in Ellsworth. AWESOME would surely describe it! Enjoy!

        1. re: andrewr

          I forgot to tell you, Cleonice is in Ellsworth!

          1. re: andrewr

            After skulking around these boards for a while, I've finally joined so I can both benefit from others' meals and give my own observations. A trip a few weeks ago included dinner here on the recommendation of several hounds and I was very pleased. We had initially tried to go to the Burning Tree, since we were camping right up the road at the Blackwoods Campground. However, even on a weeknight arriving at 6 pm, they were booked for the whole night. My heart sank as I scanned their menu and realized what I'd be missing out on. Luckily, Cafe This Way saved the day by exceeding my expectations. We had a party of 5 and shared appetizers- a grilled halloumi cheese, a steak salad (minor complaint- strips of steak were cooked to med-well and would have been much more tender if rare or med-rare) and a crab cake which was good but not earth shattering. The cocktail menu was impressive and my sips of everyone's drinks were delicious. 4 out of 5 of our table ordered a macadamia nut crusted halibut- the waitress was a great salesman, I guess. Also, we heard it was a local fish and I'd only ever thought of it being flown in from Alaska so no one was willing to share. It was delicious. My husband had a rare seared tuna fish and chips. Sort of an intriguing idea, but the execution was just a little short of excellent. I guess in order to crisp up the breading you just can't get the tuna as rare as I'd like. The sauce with that dish- some sort of wasabi mayo I think- was absolutely spot-on though. We finished with a blueberry pie, a strawberry rhubarb pie and a banana bread pudding, all of which were very good. I'd definitely go back here- I felt it was a great dining experience and value for a touristy and sometimes-overpriced town.

            1. re: Parsnipity

              Well I'm sure Parsnipity, we're all happy that you've stopped skulking about and took the time to issue this excellent yet concise report. And no, you wouldn't be faulted for thinking that Alaska is where all Halibut comes from because the vast majority of landed tonnage actually does. We're lucky here when, in the New England Summer, we have access to Atlantic Halibut. As the catch is but a shadow of its old self due to previously being a victim of over-fishing.


          2. I'd recommend the Damariscotta River Grill located in Damariscotta, which is a short drive from Boothbay Harbor. Go have a drink first at King Eiders Pub which is across the street.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Scagnetti

              How far is that from Bar Harbor?

              1. re: Alica

                Three hours up rt 1. I agree w/ King Eider's if driving through. Our fav. lob. places are in Hancock (just n. of ellsworth.) Ruth an Wimpies for cheap ($(9.95 lobbers wed-fri nights) and Tidal Falls for scenic beauty, choice, BYOB and politics. I have lived in this area for nearly 20 yrs and have never eaten a lobster in Bar Harbor, but have eaten many at Beales and Thurstons over time. Thurstons used to be much smaller and quaint. But it has been "found".

              2. re: Scagnetti

                I really like the Dam. River Grill, too, but I wouldn't under any circumstances put it in the category of awesome restaurants.

                1. re: Shooley

                  I wouldn't either but it certainly reflects the laid back, casualness of the area. I consider Boothbay Harbor the classic Maine summer getaway place where you eat lobster in the rough, lobster bisque, and steamers until you can't stand it anymore!

              3. In Bar Harbor, add Burning Tree to the list. Short season, though. It usually closes sometime in September. McKay's is excellent, but more casual. Yes, yes on Havana. I love Cafe This Way, but some folks find it a bit too funky. Also, the lobster crepes at Maggie's are fabulous.

                If you're venturing beyond Bar Harbor, add Redbird in Northeast Harbor (also open for lunch, a treat), and Red Sky in Southwest Harbor.

                Boothbay Harbor isn't much of a foodie town--season's too short and population too low to support it, but Ports of Italy is very good and I had a good lunch at Boat House Bistro earlier this year.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Mainegal

                  Burning Tree (just south of Bar Harbor in Otter Creek) is excellent, especially if they have the deep fried, goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms with smoked tomato jam. They sell out fast. I think BT is usually open until Columbus Day.

                  1. Another vote for Burning Tree. How do I always forget Elmer Beale? A local Renaissance man; a chef, musician, and professor, born and raised on MDI.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Is Elmer related to the boat building Beales, Markie?


                      1. re: Harp00n

                        Naw, them Beales is further downeast, either Beales Island or Corea. Elmer was featured in a teach yourself guitar book from the 60's that I still have floating around here somewhere. He's a prof. at College of the Atlantic and brother to old whatshisname who owns Beale's Lobster Wharf in SW Hbr. When we lived in SW, Elmer's mother was like another grand mother to our boys.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Boothbay Harbor is hard pressed to loft a restaurant beyond a three star rating. The NEW McSeagull's is worth checking out, and the Boathouse Bistro is also a fine choice. Just be wary of ALL the hotel restaurants - The Tugboat, Fisherman's, Rocktide. They are all Sysco-dependent establishments offering nearly identicle menus, with food all poured from the same heat 'n serve packaging straight from the Sysco delivery truck...

                          1. re: Keefer Lucas

                            The NEW McSeagull's, eh Keefer?
                            That name has always given me a chuckle.
                            It's as if, they're offering a fast-food seabird option.


                            1. re: Keefer Lucas

                              We had never been to Boathouse Bistro on any of our trips up to BBH as we usually steer clear of anywhere trying to be "fancy" ie, we just eat at lobster pounds and such. Anyways, we tried it this time after hearing about the new owners/menu and it was really great! The blueberry-pomegranate sangria was incredible. For tapas, the pesto ME shrimp (cold) and garlic ME shrimp (hot) were excellent and good portions for tapas. There was a nice crowd there on an otherwise dead Sunday night...it just had a nice feel to it up on the top roof deck. I would certainy recommend it for the sangria and tapas and the fun, relaxed atmosphere.

                      2. Bar Harbor: Poor Boy Gourmet & The Thirsty Whale (bar with cheap good food) Get the lobster corn chowder in a breadbowl.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: spixious

                          I'm at the Thirsty Whale often after work (38 paces away). My fav. is the 12 buck chowder and lobster roll or the fried clams or the very cheap (around 6 bucks) blackened salmon sandwich w/ fries & pickle or the burger.
                          A Bar Harbor Ale to wast it down.
                          It's where the locals go after the tourists go home.
                          Poor Boy is an instituition and probably the highest quality food for the most reasonable price on the island.

                        2. I'm going to be camping for a few days at Acadia mid-September with a few friends. We're college kids so fairly limited funds. Any suggestions for stores that sell local products, farm stands, seafood/farmer's markets, etc in the Bar Harbor area?

                          Also, we'll likely eat out a couple of meals. From what I've read, The Thirsty Whale sounds ideal for us (how's their local microbrew selection?) and maybe Cafe This Way if we want to grab breakfast. I guess I'm wondering about suggestions for a lobster pound/fried seafood type place in the area as well as a possible medium level restaurant. Someplace where we don't need to worry about how we're dressed but can get a quality, reasonably-priced, non-fried meal. I've checked things out a little and some possibilities seem to include Poor Boy Gourmet, Burning Tree, Maggie's Classic Scales, or McKay's? What do people think of these. I gather that Poor Boy has good basic food for a good value, Burning Tree is a little more adventurous with an emphasis on local/organic food (a big positive for me) and I don't know much about the other two. What do people think about these places?

                          Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: stroshow3

                            A few quick thoughts: First, if you want to keep it organic, ultra cas and cheap, you can eat at College of the Atlantic's cafeteria, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday. Second source of inexpensive fare: Rodick Street, most of the restaurants on it cater to the local crowd. I think you'll find Burning Tree and Maggie's to be a bit pricey. I'm pretty sure Poor Boy and McKay's both post online. McKays has choices in all budget ranges. Added plus: you can dine outside on the patio. The Bar Harbor Farmers Market, on Sunday mornings, is a great source of local foods. So is COA's Beech Hill Farm.

                            1. re: Mainegal

                              COA's cafeteria is a natural, since classes will be in session,especially for a Bennington dude. Could be interesting. Eden is a veggie restaurant on West. St., is very reasonable and very good, even for a meat head like me. Cheapest breakfast is at Jordan's.

                            2. re: stroshow3

                              Check out the Morning Glory Bakery for breads, sandwiches, quiche, soups and baked goodies. It's a good stop for a light breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack.

                              I'm a real fan of Cafe This Way breakfast, particularly their blueberry pancakes...light and buttery and real maple syrup. I think they are only $5.95 for two dinner plate sized pancakes.

                              I agree that Burning Tree maybe more expensive than you would want. But it is terrific.

                              You'll find that dress is casual almost everywhere, so you needn't worry about that.

                              In Southwest Harbor, Little Notch Cafe has great pizza and very good sandwiches. A bit on the pricey side, but servings are big and you can make it fit in a tight budget. I am fond of the chicken focaccia sandwich with aioli and roasted onions. Their breads are very good, though pricier than Morning Glory.

                              I'll second the BH Farmers' Market on Sundays. The breads and biscotti from Firefly Farm and goat cheeses and meats from Sunset Acres are very good. There are farmers markets in other towns (Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor) on different days, with many of the same farmers. Check out the local paper for days and times. There's also a Wed morning farmers market in Bar Harbor in the Reel Pizza parking lot next to the town green.

                              1. re: BikeToEat

                                Thanks a lot for the input. The COA farm stand seems like a natural fit. We'll definitely consider the cafeteria but I think we're fairly capable of cooking decent meals. Good suggestion, though, and one I'm sure I wouldn't have come up with on my own.

                                Unfortunately we'll be missing the Sunday farmer's market. The wednesday one looks like a good possibility and we'll check out nearby towns, too.

                                As for Burning Tree, can anyone give me an idea of prices (entrees, apps, etc)? This will be a slightly different trip for me but my general philosophy is that I'd rather spend more for a great meal than somewhat less for an ok/good meal. And obviously I guess, we can just check out the menus when we get there.

                                1. re: stroshow3

                                  Don't rule out Eden for deliish and very reasonable.

                                  1. re: stroshow3

                                    Menu changes daily to reflect what's fresh and available, but last time I looked, the majority of entrees were in thee $20 to $28 range. I wouldn't be surprised to see prices higher now, given the increases in food overall. Why not just give a call: 207-288-9331?

                              2. So, this is what I'm coming up with for dinners out ... anyone want to rank them in order of preference? Also, what else to do? Is this cinema pizza joint worthwhile? Also, what's up with New England pizza -- you're talking to a Chicago girl here, what's worthwhile? Thanks everyone!

                                Mache Bistro
                                Burning Tree
                                Ports of Italy
                                Boat House Bistro
                                Town Hill Bistro

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: jsgrunstad

                                  Don't rule out the COA cafeteria because of its name. It won the Bon Appitite award for the best college food; no small feat in today's college world. I goe ther in the winter when ever I'm in town. The spinach lamb curry is excellent. The food comes from their own organic farm. Check it out, even for lunch.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    We will definitely consider it and I will keep the strong recommendations in mind.

                                    Also, on the opposite end of the spectrum, what would people say is the best clam shack-type place in the area for fried seafood?

                                    1. re: stroshow3

                                      Funny, my wife just said, "Funny, there are none on MDI. Strange." Jordan's Snack Bar on Rt. 1 N. about 2 mi. or recent Beard award winning Bagaduce Lunch Lunch in Brooksville (?).

                                  2. re: jsgrunstad

                                    I had recently tried Town Hill Bistro and was sorely disappointed. I thought the menu concepts were good, but the execution very amateurish and woefully under-spiced. My review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545127
                                    As for your list, I'd replace Town Hill Bistro with Red Sky in Southwest Harbor. I like Burning Tree and Havana and think they are keepers, in that order. I think that Red Sky and Havana are equals. I haven't been to Ports of Italy and Boat House Bistro, so can't compare them with the others. My experience with Mache was so long ago that I don't think it would be appropriate.

                                    1. re: jsgrunstad

                                      Hi there. Reel Pizza is a good place to go see a movie. The pizza is not bad but it's no Chicago pie, for sure! Out of your restaurant choices, Town Hill Bistro is our new favorite. We ended up trying it at the beginning of the Summer because friends of ours are year-rounders and they dine there a couple of times a month. It is such a refreshing change of pace from the much more touristy downtown. We live in the city and when we dine out up here, the last thing we want is to be surrounded by the hordes. That is not to say that this isn't a busy restaurant (they've been packed every time we've gone). The prices are almost half of what you'll pay pretty much anywhere else. We run into Maureen at the Farmer's Market every week buying the produce for the restaurant. The food is fresh and true to "bistro style." I usually order one of the fish entrees but last week I tried the duck and it was hands down the best duck I have ever had. My husband loves the gnocchi so much that he had the chef make some for us to freeze and have at home. And, since we have become regulars, we have gotten to know the owners and staff and they are some of the nicest people we have met up here. They really made us feel at home! I just read a review by biketoeat down below and couldn't believe how different our takes are about the same place!
                                      As for your other choices, we have been going to the Burning Tree for many years. It's a great standby. Very consistant and they have great salads with greens and veggies from their own garden.
                                      I go to Havana about once a year and it's usually good. Quite expensive, though. We also enjoy XYZ out in Manset and Eden Vegetarian.
                                      Let us know how your trip turns out!

                                    2. For a traditional Maine dinner you cannot go wrong with Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Bar Harbor. It's not a fancy place by any means. You go in, pick out your lobster and anything else you want (everything is a la carte). They bag up your seafood (I highly recommend the steamers) and boil it in their homemade seawater wood fire cookers. You will never taste a better lobster. End your meal with a slice of their homemade blueberry pie "to go" and go watch the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. Ugh, that's my idea of heaven.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: krisrishere

                                        Disagree. Tourist joint, no view, high prices, heavy roadside traffic, lots & lots of tourists. May even be closed after Labor Day. They are open a very short tourist season. A waste of time & money. No skill required to boil lobsters or steam clams. The only requirements are hungry tourists w/ $.
                                        Sorry, krishrishere, this may be a bit storng, but I live a coupla miles from the,TBLP, get fed up w/ the traffic congestion they cause, know the owners and just honestly feel there are a lot better options.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          I respectfully disagree. Yes, it's a tourist joint, but they do a good job. They routinely have hard shell lobsters during the summer when all the other places are offering just soft shell. I understand the frustration with the traffic but I don't think that has any revelance to the quality they put out.

                                          1. re: dogwood

                                            Fine, I just know that there are other places, with hard shells (I prefer them too.), w/ abeautiful view. I guess it's all about location, location, location.
                                            I go through this every summer. I give up. Enjoy.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              Just got back from 4-day trip to Bar Harbor, and the best food we had on the entire trip was at Trenton Bridge LP. Some locals we talked to recommended the Chart Room which has a better view but we were disappointed in the food quality (our waitress was also a good salesperson and talked me into the macadamia nut crusted halibut which was ok but, their steamers were bland and flavorless compared to TBLP.

                                              We had breakfast at Two Cats (pretty good) and Jordan's (mediocre food but great service,) and my son who isn't adventurous enough to try places like Maggie's or Mache Bistro forced me to eat at Geddy's, which is interesting but generic and awful food. Wish we'd tried Havana, walked by and read the menu and it looked great.

                                              Definitely go watch the sunset on Cadillac Mountain at least once, and also take in the Acadia Loop Road, awesome cliffs and scenery. Also recommend the Button Point trail though it's fairly steep for old farts like me.