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New England Road Trip (mostly Maine)

I'm heading out in two weeks on a road trip with three friends. Traveling from Nova Scotia to the Catskills in NY state for a music festival. We'll be crossing the border at Calais and taking the Airline Route, then heading to Portland, and from there ... I'm not quite sure of our intended route.

From the border to Portland I'd be interested in any great chow finds - especially great diners or stores selling local and/or interesting specialty items.

We'll be staying in Portland on the way down and on the way back - and are also interested in ideas for dinner/drinks in Portland. I was interested in the Empire Dine and Dance, which I saw on an older post here, and am curious about recent opinions. We'd be happy with diner food or contemporary american or bistro style. We're from the coast, so we're not dying for seafood recommendations. Someplace that is open and serving food up until probably 10 pm would be best. Also, if there are places focusing on local/seasonal stuff, we'd be interested as well (as long as they aren't high end).


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  1. Try Duckfat in Portland. http://www.duckfat.com Great paninis, soups, salads, but most importantly the BEST Belgian fries (cooked in duck fat, of course) I've ever had (and I've been to Belgium). It's casual and inexpensive. Only open 'til 9PM, though.

    1. In Portland, some suggestions are: Caiola's, Pepperclub, Ribollita, Front Room and Blue Spoon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: StevensAve

        Nice suggestions...a good cross section...I would add Cafe at Pat's for weekend brunch or Arabica on Free St for morning coffee and pastries...

      2. Since you mentioned diner food in your post I thought I would mention Becky's Diner in Portland on Commercial Street. It is on the waterfront, has a good following here in Maine. Good food, really good carrot cake if you like it. Also, check out Standard Baking Co. further down the road, excellent baked goods, they have a website as well as Beckys diner. hope this helps.

        1. If you're crossing at Calais, try the Chandler House. It's nothing fancy, but it has good food. In Bangor, I always recommend Dysart's, right off 95 with good home cooking. It's a 24 hour truck stop, so you can get just about anything ,anytime.
          There used to be an AWESOME Korean restaurant/motel, but alas, it is long gone. The Airline Cafe in Beddington is OK, but not what it used to be..

          1. thanks so much thus far - these all look like great options - particularly Duck Fat ... it looks like the sort of thing one of my co-travelers would be totally into.

            I suspect we'll probably be cheaping out and staying out near the Maine Mall - anyone have suggestions of where we could get a decent morning coffee?

            2 Replies
            1. re: parleek

              well, around the Maine Mall area there is a Starbucks(one in the mall and one by the Target), a Tim Hortons, of course Dunkin Donuts, a Panera Bread, McDonalds. I can't think of anything else around there coffee wise. I guess just it depends on what you like or consider a good cuppa joe! I agree with mollydingle, Dysarts is good, it is a truck stop but not tacky and the food is pretty darn good! Dysarts and Beckys is where the locals go.

              1. re: at24

                A few miles south of the Maine Mall, in the Cabela's area is the Freaky Bean - good coffee, roasted locally in Westbrook with pastries also made locally. In the same shopping center is Henry VIIIs which is good for lunch. I haven't been to that location but the one at Monument Square is wonderful

            2. If you go through Augusta, be sure to get off the road and drive a few miles to neighboring Hallowell where there is excellent food to be had at Slates and Joyces. Both of these places serve inventive and tasty food. Hallowell is a charming town that is well worth a visit too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Delhiwala

                If you can continue to Wiscasset from Augusta, stop at Le Garage, great water view and some uniquely maine food like finan haddie.

              2. Thanks again to everyone who posted. We managed to hit a few of the suggested stops and were happy with all.

                Duck Fat was the highlight of the lot - we loved the paninis and the fries. We arrived really close to closing, but the staff really went out of their way for us and were super friendly and helpful. I'd definitely suggest this to others for a casual meal and we'll be going back if we're in Portland again.

                Also tried the Freaky Bean which was a good and convenient morning coffee and made a stop at Dysarts on our trip home for a meal that basically did us for the whole day. Sad that we missed out on making it to Becky's but I've got it on the list for future trips.

                Thanks again everyone.

                1. If in Belfast, Chases Daily. All local, organic, outstanding.

                  1. On the way back from visiting family near Portland, we always stop at Central Bagel in Bangor for treats to last until Saint John. It's not far off the 395, and well worth the stop. Everything we've tried has been delicious— and we've tried a lot; $10 will take you a long way here.