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Jul 29, 2009 05:28 PM

What are your favorite dishes at the most Chow-worthy cafes between Brunswick and Machias ME?

I am starting a 10 day drive up and back Maines coast, and I have read and re-read the posts about the food, and would love to have local experts give me tips on what to try and what to give a miss. I have heard that in the Brunswick area, the Dolphin Marina in S. Harpswell has a fine lobster stew and possibly the fish chowder is even better. I only get to eat one...
In Wiscasset, would you go with the tradition and do a Lobster Roll at Red's, or would the Sea Basket tempt you in with their chowder and haddock sanwich? Or would Sarah's, or Boothbay, or Duntons beat the first two out? Would you do one of these for breakfast, or hit Ebb Tide?
Before I get to Bar Harbor I hear both the Watermans Beach and Upies have their fans, totally different, but if you had to choose one for lunch?
Trenton is a choice for me between Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound and Down East, or is there a better choice for seafood?
I know nothing about Bar Harbor, but have been told by friends that Stewmans is the bomb, others say Down East is better, and another friend said bag both of them and go to Chase's in Winter Harbor. I am only going to eating dinner there, after a bit of hiking, what is the most 'Bar Harborish' of the bunch. Points for seafood, casual and beautiful vistas...
From Milbridge to Machias I have been told that Bluebird Ranch's clam chowder is the best in Maine, and that Cape Porpoise's roll is a better bargain than any nearby, that Helen's is still good though not as good as it was, that Old Salt's boiled dinner on Friday is excellent, but Tall Barney's has the best clams and breakfast in the area....
You get the picture, I have too many recommendations and too little time. Any Chowhounds out there who can point me in the right direction for excellent Maine seafood or breakfasts?
Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. A few thoughts re Acadia/Downeast, since I'm just back from there; perhaps more later.

    Why Trenton? If you're heading north on Route 1, it's only another 20 minutes to Chester Pike's (open breakfast and lunch, and fish fry on Friday nights). If Trenton is a must, consider Pectic Seafood (no view, but great seafood). Or add Martha's Diner to your list for local color (It's in the Reny's plaza, but the other stripmall).

    If you want a lobster pound, while on Mount Desert, head to Thurston's in Bernard, about 25 minutes cross island from Bar Harbor, for best views and experience. OR if you can swing it, head out to Frenchboro on Island Cruises or to Islesboro via ferry or water taxi for sunset dinner at Islesford Dock.

    Winter Harbor is not on the island, but you can get there during daylight hours via passenger ferry. Instead of Chase's, consider Fisherman's Inn. Pricier, but the seafood is excellent (one time when I ate there the guy at the next table had caught my fish). It's also owned by the same folks who own Grindstone Neck Smoked Seafood, and dinner begins with a sample. Oh, and you can get a lobster or crab roll at Grindstone Neck SS. A new place you can get to via the Explorer bus is Harbor Girl; I didn't go, but locals were talking it up. Chase's is good for breakfast.

    Even better though is Country Charm, in Steuben, about 1.5 miles off Route 1 on the Petit Manan Rd. Best fried fish in the area, huge breakfasts, and cheap! Just don't judge it by the exterior.

    Milbridge to Machias: First, Cape Porpoise is near K'port, not in this neck of the woods. In Milbridge, first see Country Charm in Steuben (also if passing through Steuben on Friday or on a Sat. morning, stop into Wildflour Bakery, signed off Route 1). Also local and very reliable is 44 degrees North. And a new place is opening next week or so just across from it.

    I think Old Salt was in Jonesport but that's long gone. Only choices down there are Tall BArney's, okay when open; Jonesport pizza; Lighthouse Cafe for breakfast/lunch; and the IGA. Of course, if you're staying at Harbor House B&B, you get Maureen's fab breakfasts on the harborfront porch. Bluebird is reliable in Machias, Helen's is under new ownership and has improved, or so I've been told, didn't go myself.