Coastal Maine -- Old Orchard Beach to Bar Harbor -- what not to miss?
We are staying 2 nights each in OOB, Camden, and Bar Harbor the first week in October. We'd love to have at least one very nice, fine dining meal on this trip. I'd also very much appreciate recs for great casual eats (and drinking) along the way, including breakfasts, lobster shacks, and delicious, casual places for lunch and dinner.
I'll be honest... as a foodie, there is not much to eat at OOB. It's mostly pizza-by-the-slice bars and over-priced, fried seafood joints. Whatever you do, do NOT be fooled into eating at The Landmark. It's a cute old house converted to a restaurant -- looks fancy, takes reservations -- but the food is over-seasoned with bloated prices. Old people just flock there thinking it's the bees-knees, haha.
When I go to OOB, I get LISA'S cheese pizza by the slice. It's more NY-style and way better than the famous "Bills Pizza" that tastes like a homemade Chef Boyardee kit. I also like JJ's EATERY on the strand. They have a great, unique lobster quesadilla (lots of meat) and friendly staff. I keep getting suckered into eating at SURF 6, because they have a nice deck on the beach, but It's overpriced and the drinks are weak and very expensive. On the pier, there are several restaurants, but my fave is HURRICANE'S RAW BAR. They have great tropical drinks, strong, at good prices and down-to-earth staff. Great view of the water and local oysters too!
In Camden, go to the Camden Deli. Delicious gourmet sandwiches, particularly the grilled portobello panini. Go upstairs and sit outside on the small deck for a nice view of the water. For a fancy dinner, we like ATLANTICA, although it was not open this spring (??). So we ate at Bayview Lobster House instead -- standard seafood place. Again, sit outside by the water. Cappy's Bar is a fun pub-like place in town... standard pub food, friendly staff, outrageously weird wall decorations, free bowl of butter popcorn at the bar, etc.
Make time to stop in the tiny town of Wiccassett on your way to Bar Harbor!! You will wait in line at least 45 minutes, but they are THE best, and largest, lobster rolls in Maine. It's all over TV food shows. It's a $16 lobster roll, with a ton of other fried food to choose from, but well worth it. I also like their fried mushrooms.
I'm on CHOW today researching restaurants in Bar Harbor for my summer trip at the end of July. I've been there several times before, and the food was all OK. Nothing special -- nothing memorable. I want to try a newer place with a sister restaurant here in Portland (Maine) called HAVANA. President Obama & Michelle stopped in there once. For traditional fried seafood and steamed lobster dinners, go sit outside on the water at the big seafood place at the end of Main Street & West Street (old Quarterdeck Restaurant spot -- not sure what it's called now). McKay's Public House has beautiful little outside garden seating, if you can there early evening, but the menu is very limited (check it first for something you like) and slightly overpriced. Service is good though. I haven't been, but heard good things about Cafe This Way and Leary's Irish Pub. If you want to go to the most upscale, she-she, expensive place in Bar Harbor, that would be The Terrace Grille at the Bar Harbor Inn -- can't miss it. Be sure to take the walking path that goes around the Inn along the shoreline. All these places you should definitely visit at sunset to enjoy the best "magic hour" lighting. We also took a boat toar, worth it, to see seals and other wildlife (eagles, ospreys, etc). In Oct, you'll definitely need a warm jacket!
Cafe This Way
14 Mount Desert St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
McKay's Public House
231 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
37 Main St, Camden, ME 04843
For one nice meal near OOB, try Mia's in Saco. And on route 1 between OOB and Portland you'll see Len Libby's Candy Store....the coconut chocolate chip (Needham) ice cream is a must.
In Bar Harbor, it's The Lobster Claw, recently re-opened on Main Street.
On Pine Point Road between OOB and Route 1 is Ken's Seafood. It's been around forever and can be a bit chaotic during the summer rush, but if you are a fan of fried seafood and chowder, this is a good place to check out. The thing I like best about it is they offer the food either crumbed or battered, which you don't see often.
We discovered a real find this week: The Hope General Store in Hope, Maine. Fantastic real general store, with some of the best pizza in Maine (and I'm from NY and very picky about that) and great sandwiches, including brie, turkey, caramelized onion and apple on a baguette and lots of other great choices. On Route 235 just west of Camden. They also boast over 130 kinds of beer. Wish we had pizza this good in Freeport.
Hope General Store
449 Camden Rd, Hope, ME 04847