Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Northern New England >
Jun 14, 2012 05:27 AM

Lunch on drive from Boston to Camden ME

We usually take the slower way up on Rt. 1 when going to Portland but will probably want to go faster this time so it'll be I-95 most of the way. Leaving Boston at noon on a Thurs. so don't want to wait to go TOO far north. Looking for a great typical lunch of seafood and/or burgers/dogs. Scenic/funky would be nice but also don't want to take a long detour off the highway. We've gone to Mike's in Wells, Flo's, Maine Diner, Ray's Hot Dogs, Bob's in Kittery. Was thinking about Ken's in Scarborough but wondered how much time that would take. Maybe something on the southern end then another snack as we get closer to Camden? And what about Camden itself? I know about Primo in Rockland but not sure we want to go that fancy. Will also be in Bar Harbor for 2 nites and hope to get to the Thirsty Whale (who closed up at 9PM the summer we were there). Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You can get to Ken's in about 6 minutes off of 95.
    If you eat upstairs at Primo at the bar, you are not necessarily "fancy". Fantastic food and fairly pricey but you can be fairly casual. Walk around the gardens/greenhouses first. I also like Shepards Pie a lot. Almost pub like. Very good food and the best view you'll ever have in a restaurant restroom.

    7 Replies
    1. re: bobbert

      I'm going to bump this thread and ask a few more questions. Will hit Ken's on the way up to Camden, then probably Graffam Bros for our main meal at nite. Thought about stopping by the bar of Primo first since I feel I have to go there while in the area but was a little shocked at their prices so would just get a cocktail (those look great) and maybe a bar bite. Unless someone tells me I should go to Pearl for this. Their menu is way more reasonable and the setting looks pretty, do they have an actual bar with full liquor license? Do places stop serving food early on a Thurs.? I know we were surprised by the early times in Bar Harbor and won't make that mistake again when we try to go to the Thirsty Whale. Any other BH recs are welcome or for the drive back down before we stop in Portsmouth. Thanks.

      1. re: Joanie

        Graffam Bros. in Roclport? It was just take out when I was there last summer with picnic tables in the parking lot. Has it expanded?

        1. re: crawfish

          They opened a restaurant in the old Bayview Lobster space...

          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

            Where's that? MCM, I can't believe you haven't mentioned this! I count on you to keep me up to date with the local restaurant news :)

            1. re: crawfish

              I've been slacking off! No writeups...haven't been there yet. It's down off of Bayview Street...right on the harbor...

              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                I haven't been to the new Graffam Brothers myself, so it may be unfair for me to post this, but I've heard several mediocre reports. Nothing terrible, but no raves either. I would be interested in reading a full write-up though.

                1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                  I'll be there in August so I can help out :)

      2. My colleague and his wife just stayed up there and I found him the Rock City Cafe in nearby Rockland with some research here, and he says they LOVED it.

        1. Why not get off I-95 at Portland and go to Duckfat for lunch!!
          Five Islands is great — just a short detour.
          As for the Camden/Rockland area, Francine Bistro in Camden and In Good Company in Rockland.
          Primo is over-priced and over-rated.

          8 Replies
          1. re: risibisi

            As others could probably guess, I couldn't disagree more with risibisi's review of Primo. In my humble view it's the best restaurant in Maine hands down.

            Bar menu is also very reasonably priced. But hey, to each their own...

            1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

              I agree with MCM, Primo is a gem. It's also three different experiences, varying with which room/area you choose for dining. Tour the gardens, visit with the pigs and chickens, then dine off the bounty. It doesn't get much better than that. And while it's not cheap, it's not overpriced for the quality and the experience. Dine upstairs, and it's not fancy, either.

              That said, Primo is not a place that compares with those you listed up front (Mike's, Flo's, Maine Diner, etc). Those are all fine, classic Maine institutions, but they're not in the same league with Primo. If you're searching for that type of experience, you likely won't be happy at Primo.

              1. re: Mainegal

                I'm definitely going for more typical tourist eating while in Maine but will want to get a well made cocktail and snack at a nicer restaurant or two (including one in Bar H.). That said, I still don't know if there's a bar and full liquor license at Pearl. In Good Company and Francine look good but for the quick bite and drink, Primo might be the way to go (assuming the bar isn't jammed).

                As far as Risibisi's suggestions of Duckfat and 5 Islands, we're looking for lunch closer to Boston and def. something on the clam shack/dog type of place (plus I've been to Duckfat before and go to Portland more often). Thanks.

                1. re: Joanie

                  Pearl does have a full bar, but I wouldn't go there for a cocktail. Plus the wine list is limited...and only 3 beers on tap. I do like what Michele has done with the food at the Pearl (excellent haddock sandwich)...but it's not really a great place for a cocktail.

                  In my opinion, the best place for a cocktail would be Primo (Rockland), Shepherds Pie (Rockport), or 40 Paper (Camden).

                  If you're looking for a casual bite on the midcoast (breakfast or lunch), it doesn't get much better than Home Kitchen Cafe in Rockland...

                  1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                    Actually, the wine list at The Pearl is quite good and, in some ways, preferable to Primo, at least as far as by the glass pours go. Primo's bottle list is better, however.

                    1. re: Shooley

                      Right...selections by the glass are probably of comparable quantity, but definitely not by the bottle...

                  2. re: Joanie

                    I'm confused. You want "a quick bite and a drink" at Primo before going out to dinner at Graffam Bros?

                    1. re: crawfish

                      By bite I mean literally, one app. of the non fried fish variety and a nice cocktail, something you can't get at Graffam Bros. We often split up our eating at a couple places Altho now that MCM has pointed out 40 Paper who have a happy hour that we should be in time for, that may answer that part of the puzzle.

            2. Clam Shack in Kennebunkport ?


              Google it, and check out the reviews....they are consistently very good. I think you would really enjoy it and not too far of a side trip from I-95.

              (Personally I would stop at Kelly's in Revere Beach as you're leaving Boston and get a roast beef sandwich to eat on a bench across the street by the ocean, but that's just me. LOL! Have a nice time & a safe trip.)