HOME > Chowhound > Northern New England >


Portland - need non dining food stop ideas!

My husband and I are coming to Portland over Labor Day weekend. We have our dinners planned (Fore St and Emilitsa), we have tickets to the BrewFest, and we are taking a bike tour of the lighthouses. What we NEED are ideas for shops of the culinary kind to make sure we hit as we stroll around Old Town. We will not have a car, so while I am sure there are lots of places within a short distance, please don't tempt us with locations outside a reasonable walking distance of the Old Town area. My husband wants to be sure to get a good lobster treat and I really want to make sure I get a good chocolate treat! We love cheese and meats and wandering local markets or little food markets is something we enjoy doing. We also love good coffee! So please help us fill a few hours of wandering. Oh, does anyone know if Old Town shops are generally open on Sun and Labor Day Monday?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. LeRoux Kitchen is one of the best food and kitchen gear places I have EVER been in. Olive oil tastings, vinegar tastings, chocolates, and everything wonderful for the kitchen. It's on the main street of the harbor, Commercial Street, and close to most of the great restaurants. Check its hours etc on the internet: http://www.lerouxkitchen.com/Store/pc...

    I only wish I lived close by! Their 18-year-old balsamic is the best, I hoard it from year to year.

    1. Leroux Kitchen,newCabot cheese store both on Commercial St. Rosemont Mkt on Munjoy hill,Good coffe places abound,Gourgeous Gelato Does espresso, and authentic gelato.Standerd bakery, many I have omitted because of the Sun. Mo. stipulation.Have fun!

      1. I second LeRoux Kitchen! Get yourself a Vic Firth peppermill, made in Newport, ME, as a functional memento of your trip!

        For coffee--skip Starbucks and go to Bard Coffee (directly across the street from Sbucks on Middle Street.) Portland is a big coffee town, and Crema/Arabica (2 shops, same owner) and the Speckled Axe are also quite good--all have their own different feels. Crema has the best homemade chocolate caramels--if they're in stock they're usually right next to the cash register--)

        For local chocolate there's Sweet Marguerite's which is across the bridge in South Portland. Their chocolates are available at Whole Foods and other local retailers, tho (I think Le Roux sometimes carries them??) Dean's Sweets on Middle Street is good, too. For chocolatey baked goods, 2 fat cats bakery has really good whoopie pies. East End cupcakes are tasty and pretty--I love her chocolate/salt caramel cupcakes...Standard Baking Co. also has some really tasty chocolate items. The best desserts in town are at Bresca, if you wanted to change up your dinner reservation situation--her ice creams are something special! I also second Gorgeous Gelato--so good!

        (also, the tourist district in Portland is the Old Port, not Old Town. Most things should be open on Sundays/for the holiday weekend).

        1. One more plug for the amazing LeRoux kitchen, a place my wife and I never fail to visit when visiting Portland!

          1. Another vote for LeRoux.

            If they're open on Monday (definitely closed on Sunday) I'll recommend Browne Trading on Commercial st for great smoked foods, cheeses, caviar, wines etc. and Miccuci's Italian market for great Italian meats, cheese and bread. My wife and I will sometimes grab some of their stuff and walk over to the water to eat with a view. Alas, my gut says they'll both be closed...

            1 Reply
            1. re: bobbert

              agree that LeRoux is worth a visit...and they are open on Sunday.

            2. also--Sunday may be hit or miss on the shops, but Portland is a big brunch town! For places in the old port or very close; 555 or Vignola are decent. Or you could take a slightly longer walk (between 15 minutes to a half hour depending on your speed) or a very short cab ride to the West End area and go to Caiola or Local 188 (my 2 favorites). The West End is one of the best preserved Victorian neighborhoods in the US so you'd get to see a different, and very pretty, side of Portland, in addition to the Old Port area.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sultanaboudreau

                Sunday will not be hit or miss for any shops in the Old Port on Labor day weekend. They will all be open; with the only exception of miccuci's which I believe is closed on Sundays.

              2. Wow! This is so wonderful! Thank you for all the suggestions and notations about what will be closed on Sunday. My apologies for referring to the Old Port as Old Town. . . we have done a bit of traveling lately and I clearly slipped!

                One more question I just thought of. . . is Portland an early town or a late town? We tend to eat dinner on the later side and have often found ourselves butting up against the kitchen closing time. What is the best time to grab a meal so that we can enjoy it and be amongst other diners as well?

                2 Replies
                1. re: LabPal

                  Most go for that prime 7 - 7:30 reservation. With a few exceptions, I consider Portland an early town when it comes to eating in the better restaurants. By 10 pm most are dead except for those with the more lively bar scenes. At that time the town is transformed as the younger crowd takes over and the party goes on until 1 am. Just curious where are you staying? It can make a big difference when it comes to recommendations for someone who is walking.

                  1. re: LabPal

                    agreed--Portland restaurants close up very early--if you take a 9PM seating, the latest most local restaurants offer, you'll likely be faced with a very rushed meal and an empty restaurant. Boda Thai, Grace, and Petite Jacqueline are good choices if you prefer eating later--

                  2. There's a book store that's exclusively devoted to cookbooks and books about food, on Middle Street across from Duckfat (where you should also stop at least for some fries) and a block from Micucci's. Not sure if it's still open - last time I was there was a few years ago - but if it is, it's definitely high up on the foodie shopping agenda.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: monopod

                      It was a great store but closed and moved out of town. Replaced by Eventide Oyster Company which is owned by and shares a kitchen with Hugos. Excellent oysters and the fried oyster bun is fantastic. Great cocktails and they're open throughout the day making it a great stop for a 3-4pm snack especially if you're doing a later dinner seating.
                      For the OP, since you like your beer, you really have to add Nuvare Res to your itinerary. It's got to be among the top brew pubs anywhere with the widest selection from around the world. It would make a nice complement to the mostly local beers you'll see at the brew fest.

                      1. re: bobbert

                        Agreed with Novare Res! It's a bit of a cozy spot that also has a big outdoor deck and will be a nice counterpoint to the brewfest.

                    2. And while you're wandering on Commercial ST, take a quick peek in Harbor Fish. Just do.

                      1. This is all so excellent! I just finished pulling together a walking tour that I think will be a nice treat and get most of these suggestions in as well. We can't wait to get there and check all these places out!!

                        Thank you all for your help - I will report back next week with where we went and what we thought. Cheers!