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Driving from Portland to Mid coast and back July 4th weekend- looking for outdoor dining

Hubby-to-be and I are driving from NYC to Maine next weekend to finalize some details for our August wedding and will be scrambling from Portland to Belfast and beyond and then back- all with our puppy dog in tow, so we'd like to try and eat at places with outdoor dining options. Here is what I have so far- I would love any suggestions, additions or subtractions to the list.

Saturday July 2nd

Are there easily accessible Portland restaurants that are relatively close to 295 AND have outdoor seating for breakfast? I was considering the following based on Chow recommendations- any advice?

158 Pickett St Cafe, South Portland, ME 04106 (Looks really good if we have time, but its not right off the highway. It does have outdoor seating though)


Brea Lu Café 428 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101 (Right off 295)

Lunch options in Belfast- Chase’s Daily (96 Main Street) or Bay Wraps (20 Beaver Street), Belfast Does either have outdoor seating? Or is there somewhere that does?

Dinner in Bangor at Fiddlehead, unless we are super motivated to drive another hour and half round trip to Ellsworth for dinner- should we do this if the options we are considering are Cleonise or Jordan’s? I think at this point Fergus the puppy will stay in the hotel so we are not concerned about outdoor options, just a really good meal after a long day of driving.

Sunday, July 3rd

Breakfast- Just Barb’s on 24 Main Street in Stockton Springs. Are there any outdoor breakfast dining options in Stockton Springs? Or any outdoor options driving from Bangor to Stockton Springs? (We have a 10am appt in Stockton Springs, so Belfast is out of the question)

Lunch- Bagaduce Lunch w/outdoor seating- Brooksville (40 minute drive from Stockton Springs)

Dinner Options- are there options on Belfast or Bangor that I'm not aware of/haven't listed?

in Belfast-

3 Tides (heavy tapas and beer) or Darby’s Pub (bar food and beer)

in Bangor-

Market Bistro for dinner, Paddy Murphy’s or Nocturem Draft House for drinks/snacks

Monday, July 4th

Breakfast- happy to go to the same breakfast place twice, especially if we can take the puppy- it doesn't have to be in Stockton Springs/Belfast, but we'll be heading south so will be getting hungryand need to eat something before lunch.

Lunch in Portland- Two Lights Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth? I hear it has phenomenal views and outdoor seating.

Just Barb's
24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

Paddy Murphy's
26 Main St, Bangor, ME 04401

Bay Wrap
20 Beaver St, Belfast, ME 04915

Lobster Shack
225 Two Lights Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

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  1. BreaLu may have outdoor seating, but Forest Avenue isn't anything to look at. I'd go with the Port Hole for breakfast in Portland--on the waterfront, so just a few blocks off exit 7, and nice picnic tables on the wharf.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sciencediet

      +1 - My thoughts exactly.

      Two Lights does have great views and outdoor seating and is well worth a visit but is probably a 25 minute drive (at least) from the highway and is in Cape Elizabeth, not Portland. If you have time to kill, jump on the Casco Bay ferry to Peaks Island and grab lunch at the Peaks Island Inn (Shipyard brewery owned). If you do breakfast at the Porthole on the way downeast, you can walk over to the ferry terminal right next door and get all the ferry info you need. The patio at J's or the deck at Gilberts or Dry Dock are good options for a quickie. Far from gourmet, but certainly adequate.

      Oh yeah, be very wary of the traffic leaving Maine on 95... enjoy.

    2. 3 Tides has outdoor seating, Darby's does not. Down next to 3 Tides, the Lookout Pub has outside seating (it's a bit "divey", but I'm soured on Darby's -- I recently had the worst Pad Thai of my life there (yes, I tried Pad Thai at a bar...I was told it was their best seller).

      Next door to the Lookout is a great Thai place called Thai Bhurapar, also with outside options.

      Thai Bhurapar
      37 Front St, Belfast, ME 04915

      1. 3 Tides doesn't allow dogs. Duck Fat in Portland has a few tables outside where Wolfie could join us for a beer and fries.

        Duck Fat
        43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

        1. For Saturday dinner Fiddlehead, Bangor and Cleonice, Ellsworth are both chowworthy.

          I second Porthole for breakfast.

          I love Chase's Daily but not outdoor/dog-friendly.

          Chase's Daily
          96 Main St, Belfast, ME 04915

          112 Main St, Ellsworth, ME 04605

          1. Breakfast Portland: Port Hole yes OR pick up breakfast pastries at STandard Baking Co. and find a bench on the waterfront and enjoy.

            Belfast: Bay Wraps, get to go and walk two blocks to the harborfront park (love their Samuri Salmon wrap).

            Fiddlehead:fabulous! Definitely make rez. (But unless you have a pet sitter, reconsider leaving Fergus alone in a strange hotel room. He might bark, whine, cry or if not crated, chew). There's another newish place in Bangor that's getting raves. Can't think of it off the top of my head.

            Stockton Springs: Just Barbs, can't praise this place enough when traveling with dogs--came through after picking up two pups in Halifax and stopped here for dinner. They were great. We ate outside on the picnic tables, and waitress checked on us, even though technically we did take out. Also check out The Good Kettle, I think there may be a few outdoor tables, but this is an excellent spot to pick-up to-go fare.

            Monday July 4: Holiday, don't count on places being open. Some will, some won't. Either call ahead and verify or especially for breakfast, have baked goods or something to tide you over. Also be forewarned that in some Maine towns, the Fourth of July parades go right down Main Street, which happens to be Route 1. Thomaston is one of those, plan accordingly.

            Two Lights is lovely, but about 25 minutes off 295. Consider Day's in Yarmouth on Route 1, right near 295 Exit 17. Doesn't look like much from the road, but there are picnic tables behind on the tidal estuary. Parking is easy, too.

            Main Street Cafe
            888 Main St, Westbrook, ME 04092

            Just Barb's
            24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

            Bay Wrap
            20 Beaver St, Belfast, ME 04915

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mainegal

              And another outdoor lunch option on the Blue Hill peninsula: El El Frijoles, Route 15 in Sargentville: Mexican with attitude and a Maine accent, and it really works. Great spot.

            2. In Bangor, I definitely recommend Fiddlehead, as well as Market Bistro or Massimo's, all of which you'd do well to get a reservation for. If you want a lighter dinner, however, Nocturnem is great - very small menu, beautiful cheese plate and good sandwiches, and of course, amazing beer. You can eat outside at Paddy's as well, but it's pub food, and I'm not sure if that's what you want.

              For breakfast, if you're in Bangor, definitely try one of the breakfast/lunch spots on Central Street, if they're open for the holiday. Bagel Central, Coco Loco, Giacomo's and Friar's are all excellent, especially Friar's - though I bet they'd be closed on the 4th. You could also head out to the Eagle's Nest in Eddington, or go to the old favorite, Dysart's, in Hermon.

              Bagel Central
              33 Central St, Bangor, ME

              13 Replies
              1. re: rockblogsterbdn

                Wow, so helpful you guys! Thanks very much- I have some great recommendations and I few back up spots just in case. I'll check in after the trip and let you know how it went/post reviews. Happy 4th of July!

                1. re: hmperrin

                  I have to say, I was really disappointed in Fiddlehead. Having never had any 'fine dining" in Maine (its all been very casual, roadside or cooking at home) perhaps I set my expectations too high, but this was just not good. My fiance and I took a hotel shuttle to the restaurant, so I didn't bother bringing my license and wallet (I just brought cash), and I was immediately asked for ID when I tried to order a drink. In my experience if you go to a nice enough restaurant, explain why you don't have ID and ask nicely, they have no problems serving you a glass of wine. Although I look younger than my 29 years, I don't look anywhere close to 21 and this is just an example of bad judgment on the restaurant's part. It went downhill from there, I ordered a chicken liver pate and vegetarian tamales, my fiance had a grilled romaine salad and a steak. The pate was a mousse that had been squeezed out of a pastry bag, defying the meaning of the word "pate", and could have been hummus, as it was so flavorless that I didn't taste any liver in it. The tamales involved two corn fritters(?) inside of the husks, and both stuck when I tried to dislodge them, so maybe they weren't fritters, as I never saw them whole. The tamales were laid out next to satueed zucchini with salsa on top of that and 4 completely unadorned, undressed asparagus spears on top of that. Points for creativity I guess, but the dish didn't come together, and even if it had been well presented, lacked flavor. The grilled romaine salad my fiance ordered was great- This is the spark of creativity that the restaurant is probably known for- it was well but not over grilled, well dressed and minimally covered with "toppings" so the flavor of the char on the lettuce really stood out. Fiance should have stopped there, the steak which he ordered medium rare came out rare and cold in the middle. This to me is the most unforgiveable- its one thing to try something creative and different and not quite pull it off, like my meal, its another thing to be unable to cook a steak, which is a pretty simple task, and the inability to do so is indicative of an incompetent chef, or a poorly run kitchen. Either was, I would not recommend the food at Fiddlehead to anyone dining in Bangor. This is a shame, as they have a very lovely space, a good looking wine and drink menu and reasonably priced meals- perhaps if they raised the prices the quality of the cooking would improve?

                  84 Hammond St, Bangor, ME 04401

                  1. re: hmperrin

                    Sorry your experience wasn't good. Having lived in the Bangor area for many years, but now a resident of Portland, I'd have to say that Banger (to quote the old song) really isn't known for "fine dining" in relation to Rockland or other places along the coast, and certainly not in comparison with the outstanding Portland and points south scene. Hope you come back to check it out!

                    1. re: mainemal

                      Bangor is getting better! I promise! Come back some time and try some of the other places, like Massimo's or Market Bistro, or Fiddlehead in a few months when they change the menu again!

                  2. re: hmperrin

                    We loved Just Barb's when we went there for breakfast- extremely friendly and fast service, good coffee and excellent sausage patties. I wish we had time to stick around for lunch, but were in a hurry to get on the road.

                    Just Barb's
                    24 Main St, Stockton Springs, ME 04981

                    1. re: hmperrin

                      Unfortunately there was a wait at Porthole when we arrive in Portland, but it looked really cute and we could sit outside with the puppy, which would have been great, but we didn't have time to wait so skipped over to the Standard Baking Company. Phenomenal baked goods, I recommend all of the cookies which I've had before, and while there this time had a chocolate croissant and ham and cheese croissant and coffee. YUM

                      1. re: hmperrin

                        You know, I thought of you last weekend and regretted this suggestion. We tried to go to the Port Hole for lunch with my kids and in-laws, and they told us that while they could seat us on the deck, the kitchen was backed up so there would be an hour wait for food. Um, no thanks, but they get points for honesty, no? (We ended up at Gilbert's, which some people loathe but I don't mind on a sunny day.) Glad you found Standard.

                        1. re: sciencediet

                          I had the exact experience last summer - tried to have lunch at the PH and was told there was an hour wait. Like you, appreciated their candor and went to Gilbert's instead.

                        2. re: hmperrin

                          We ran down to Portland today on our boat and decided to have lunch at the Porthole. Last outdoor table had just been taken (by 12:30), so we sat inside, which quickly filled up too. Waited 15-20 minutes to give our order and then almost an hour for our food. One of us was served about eight minutes before the rest. No one let us know there would be a delay. A couple tables had several shrieking children who also amused themselves by pounding on the old upright piano in the corner while parents looked on indulgently. Not a relaxing meal. We thought we loved this place and then realized we'd never been here in the summer. It usually is great - in the 'off season.'

                          Porthole Restaurant
                          20 Custom, House Wharf Portland, ME

                          1. re: Memsahib

                            I was distressed to hear of these incidents at The POrthole as I've had a couple of great breakfasts there, then I remembered that it was snowing both times! I guess I'll stick to going there only offseason as well.

                        3. re: hmperrin

                          One more review from our whirlwind road trip- I cannot recommend this place highly enough. The Good Kettle is right on Route 1 in Stockton Springs, so would be the perfect place to stop for lunch (they have freshly made pre-prepared sandwiches, soups, all kinds of desserts) and have picnic tables outside, so you can eat there or take your goodies to go. This place only opened last year which is why I suspect it doesn't have a line out the door, but is a phenomenal gem for really good late breakfast/lunch/snack food. Try the ice cream sandwiches, made with local Maine Stone Fox Creamery Ice Cream.

                          1. re: hmperrin

                            Anyone have experience with lunch at both The Good Kettle and Chase's Daily, thoughts? Prefernces? Reasons why?

                            Chase's Daily
                            96 Main St, Belfast, ME 04915

                        4. re: rockblogsterbdn

                          After our bad experience at Fiddlehead, we went to Nocturnem. Very friendly service, an extensive and really interesting beer list (they also have wine and spirits), we got to try mead, had some great Maine brews and a really enjoyable time overall. The menu was very limited, but looked good and if in Bangor again, I would definitely go back there for some light dinner and excellent drinks.

                        5. Not planning on stopping at any of the terrific made-on-the-premises Maine ice cream shoppes?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: HaroldandMaude

                            Your food critique is legit, but I can't fault a restaurant in this day and age for not serving to somebody self-described as a young looking 29 year old. Too many liability issues.

                            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                              Agreed - it's not the restaurant's fault that you forgot your ID. I figure that's standard procedure for most establishments, unless they know you personally.

                              1. re: rockblogsterbdn

                                Its actually not a standard procedure for any restaurant that I know of. I live in New York City, go to dinner around once a month and haven't been asked for my ID in years. Going to a bar is different and I have been IDed recently. The difference is going somewhere with the specific goal of drinking in mind, or going somewhere to enjoy a nice meal and having a glass of wine to complement it. While I might have understood had we gone to Fiddlehead only to order drinks, or if I were with a bunch of giggly girls who were clearly looking to get drunk with their meal, I think that it reflected poor judgement on the part of the restaurant not to serve us because it started our experience at Fiddlehead off on the wrong note, and frankly I probably would have been more forgiving about the inept cooking had I been able to enjoy a glass of wine.

                                1. re: hmperrin

                                  Maine does seem to have a "card everybody" policy for liability/CYA reasons.
                                  I live in Portland and both my (botox-free) husband who's in his early 40s and I (late 30s) get carded regularly, even at fine dining spots. When we moved here a couple years ago (well, back to Maine for me--I'm originally from downeast Maine) we took to carrying around two forms of non picture id during the interim period when we were waiting for our Maine drivers licenses to arrive in the mail so we could have drinks with dinner. Granted, we're both from families that age well, but neither of us could pass for 20, even in restaurant mood lighting! Ironically, we were very rarely carded in Boston (the college town).

                                  1. re: hmperrin

                                    Think of the math. The chance of a restaurant in Maine getting busted for not carding people is about nine gazillion times greater than the chance of one in Boston or NYC getting busted for it. A few years back, several restaurants in Portland got into deep trouble for serving underage customers.

                                    1. re: the_MU

                                      I think the motto here is to just bring your ID. Problem solved. Or start a petition to change this country's outdated, puritanical laws on alcohol.

                                      A restaurant can't necessarily rely on the whims of the waitstaff to make these age judgements, many of whom couldn't tell a 21 year old from a 40 year old anyway....thus the need for a rigid policy. I guarantee there are people under 21 who look older than you...

                                      I'm not defending the craziness of it all, I'm defending the need for the restaurant to cover themselves.

                                      BTW, I wasn't aware that the law was more lax at fine dining establishments than at bars.