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Jun 28, 2011 09:20 AM

Best chowder and bisque in Mid Coast and Downeast Maine

I'm trying to compile a list of the best spots for clam chowder, fish/haddock chowder, lobster bisque, and scallop stew in Mid Coast and Downeast Maine (Portland recommendations are ok, too). I'm hoping you can chime in about the places listed below or provide your own suggestions. All I care about is a highly authentic chowder, bisque, or stew that tastes great. I'd prefer spots closer to the coast, but don't mind travelling inland a bit if the food is really special.

So far, the best clam chowder I've had was at Five Islands Lobster Co. in Georgetown. I've also heard great things about the clam chowder at Just Barb's in Stockton Springs - the OP in the following link described it as being "the best" she has ever tasted:
And I think I heard that Damariscotta River Grill has great clam chowder, too - can anyone verify this? Does Dolphin Marina Restaurant in South Harpswell make clam chowder, and if so, is it as good as its haddock chowder? What about the chowder at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro or Harraseeket Lobster Co. in South Freeport?

For what it's worth, I detested the chowder at Gilbert's Chowder House in Portland (and everything I ate there, really).

The best haddock chowder I've had was at the aforementioned Dolphin Marina Restaurant. Five Islands' haddock chowder was good, too. And Just Barb's is supposed to have a great version (better than Five Islands?) What about the General Store in Port Clyde (I saw a random tip about their haddock chowder from an older CHOW roundup), Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, Thomaston Cafe in Thomaston, or Becky's in Portland?

For lobster bisque, the only places I've tried were Dolphin Marina (very good; best I've had) and Helen's in Ellsworth and Machias (solid). I also read something a while back about the lobster stew at The Sea Basket in Wiscasset and Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park - can anyone report on these?

The only place I've had scallop stew was Helen's (pretty good, with a very subtle but homey taste).

I'm sure I've missed many chow-worthy spots; any suggestions?

Dolphin Marina and Restaurant
515 Basin Point Rd, Harpswell, ME 04079

Five Islands Lobster Co.
1447 Five Islands Rd, Georgetown, ME 04548

Moody's Diner
1885 Atlantic Hwy, Waldoboro, ME

Sea Basket
303 Bath Rd, Wiscasset, ME

Becky's Diner
390 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101

Thomaston Cafe
154 Main St, Thomaston, ME 04861

Helen's Restaurants
55 Downeast Hwy, Ellsworth, ME 04605

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

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  1. The General Store in Port Clyde is under new-ish ownership so I think that chow report is outdated. Last summer when I was in there, there was a dead lobster floating in the tank :(

    1 Reply
    1. re: crawfish

      Yikes, that's not good! Thanks for the heads-up.

    2. Our local joint, the Bowdoinham Town Landing, has some of the best fish chowder I've ever had. But they only make it on Fridays during the cold weather.

      Town Landing
      12 Main St, Bowdoinham, ME 04008

      1. I don't eat chowder as often as I should. There is a not-so-old thread here which might help:

        I haven't had it, but whenever the topic of where can I find some good "down to earth", "hearty", "stick to my ribs", or "homemade" fare, Home Kitchen Cafe in Rockland always fits the bill...and they have a Haddock Chowder on the menu which I'm sure is as great as everything else. Finally tried the new Banh Home sandwich the other day - yum.

        Home Kitchen Cafe
        650 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

        1 Reply
        1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

          Yeah, I've actually read that thread, thanks. Not a fan of what the OP of that thread was seeking (thick clam chowder), as I prefer the traditional thinner style found at places like Five Islands. But the other responses were useful.

          Home Kitchen Cafe definitely sounds good - I'll have to check it out.

          Home Kitchen Cafe
          650 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841

        2. Chester Pike's Galley, Sullivan, Me., good chowder and on Sundays, divine lobster Benedict!

          Chester Pike's Gallery
          2336 US Hwy 1, Sullivan, ME 04664

          4 Replies
          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Thanks for the tip. I've seen you mention this place elsewhere on this board so I'm guessing it's a real favorite of yours! Appreciate the info.

            1. re: italianices

              The best seafood stew I've had is at The Red Barn Drive-in in Augusta, ME. Laura's Seafood Stew is chunks of fish and lobster in a milk broth with butter floating on top. It tastes like my Mom made it. My husband raves about their fried clams too!


              1. re: gittith

                Well if we're moving inland...I'll mention the lobster stew at Augusta House of Pancakes (really) and at Hattie's Chowder House, Hallowell.

                Hattie's Chowder House
                103 Water St, Hallowell, ME 04347

                Augusta House of Pancakes
                100 Western Ave, Augusta, ME 04330

                1. re: HDinCentralME

                  Glad to hear that AHOP still serves a mean lobster stew. I'll have to try Hatties.

          2. You have started me on a mission. I will try as many places as I can in the Ellsworth area for haddock chowwder, for lunch each day, and report back daily.
            Today I started low end at Sylvia's Cafe (very diner-like). We got a bowl of haddock chowder w/
            Salteens for $5.95. The chowder was more milky that creamy, but w/ good flavor, but w/ a lot of haddock and few potatoes. Good hearty, reasonable fare.
            Right of Main, just over the bridge in The Union River Lobster Pot, w/ excellent chowder and you can go sit by the Union River.

            Union River Lobster Pot
            8 South St, Ellsworth, ME 04605