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May 28, 2013 10:24 AM

Lunch/Snacks on drive from Portland to Bar Harbor, Maine

Heading up to Maine from NYC on May 30-June 2nd. My friend and I will be flying in to Portland, and then driving up to Bar Harbor for a couple of nights. We plan to make it a leisurely drive. I would love some recommendations on the best places to stop for lunch and snacks. We will be making the drive twice (Thursday afternoon & Saturday late morning), so are looking for different stops/locations each way. Not looking for fancy or too pricey because we are planning to do nicer dinner, but still would like awesome. Appreciate any advice and recommendations you have for us!

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  1. If you're interested in a local by-the-side-of-the-road place on the journey, you might check out "Just Barb's" in Stockton Springs, right on Rt. 1 (if you're going via the coast; alternative is I-95 to Bangor and then down to Ellsworth). Excellent fried clams, among other choices.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mainemal

      Awesome, will add this to the list! Is Rt. 1 the better route? We were deciding between that and I-95. We aren't really in a hurry, so leaning towards more scenic/better stops, but worried a bit about one lane road traffic.

      1. re: debscher

        We just came up Route 1, starting from Brunswick. Smooth sailing the whole way to where you'll turn off for Bar Harbor.

        1. re: hitpas

          Sad to say I just returned from a great 4 day trip to Maine! It was absolutely terrific! We ended up getting lobster rolls at Red Barn in Augusta on the trip up. We kind of winged it a bit when we decided we were hungry, looking stuff up in the area on the fly. The place was a great little place with outdoor seating. The lobster rolls were delicious and inexpensive. Would definitely recommend it as a stop. It is right off Rt. 3.

    2. Another suggestion (along the coast) is to get off Rt 1 and drive 3 minutes into Belfast, which is an increasingly interesting town with galleries, etc., and eat at Chase's Daily, a wonderful vegetarian place with mostly locally-grown produce.

      1. Chase's Daily is amazing - a James Beard winner, I do believe.

        Mainemal would know better than I, but have heard that Just Barb's has lost some of its magic. Friends coming up in the summer are now RAVING about The Angler Restaurant (next to Bait's Motel - yup) for incredible fried clams, etc. and killer onion rings. It's on the right a few miles before Just Barb's as you head to Bar Harbor.

        The coast can be slow going, but you're coming before the season really gets crazy. MUCH nicer to drive along the coast. You can cut off a bit of coast (Camden, etc) by staying on 295 to exit 113 (around Augusta) and take Route 3 to Belfast where you get on Route One. If a nice day, you might want to do Route One on the coast all the way up, and see if you want a quicker trip via Rte 3 coming back.

        4 Replies
        1. re: hitpas

          Actually, I haven't been to Barb's in a year or so, so the downhill alert is probably worth paying attention to. I completely agree with the alternative route suggestions.

          1. re: mainemal

            We were at Barb's last September, and "mediocre" would be the highest review I could give the experience.

            1. re: Cassoulet

              Thank you for that update! I will heed the recent warnings.

          2. re: hitpas

            Appreciate the driving advice and the food recs. The Angler Restaurant sounds like it could be a really good option for the drive back to Portland, as we would be hitting that right around lunch.

          3. Sort of what time do you get into Portland?

            1 Reply
            1. re: hitpas

              Thursday will be arriving around 2pm, and starting the drive to Bar Harbor straight from the airport, so doing a late-ish lunch.

            2. By the time you get a car and get out of the airport, you might be a bit peckish. Duck Fat is an easy option from I-295 and, at that hour, you should be able to get a table. You can check their menu at to see if it's something you might be interested in. Not cheap but really and consistently excellent.

              8 Replies
              1. re: hitpas

                If you go to duckfat, walk over to Micucci's and see if they have some Sicilian slabs left -- great car food.

                The pastries -- cannoli and sfogliatelles -- are excellent too. Just drape yourself in napkins before taking a bite.

                1. re: Bob W

                  " Just drape yourself in napkins before taking a bite."

                  That is the best advice possible. I once tried to eat one of their sfogliatelles in my car on my drive home. The hope was that my wife wouldn't know I had been to Micucci's (I'm terribly unfaithful to her when it comes to food). Suffice it to say I was easily busted.

                  1. re: bobbert

                    Hey bobbert, I bet you'll have a good answer for this query:

                    Who makes the best needhams in Portland/vicinity? We discovered needhams last summer, they need a better PR person!

                    For the uninitiated, needhams are a candy, sort of like a Mounds bar, creamy coconut covered in dark chocolate. What makes them unique to Maine is that they are also made with potatoes!

                    A delicious regional food for sure.

                    1. re: Bob W

                      We discovered Needhams on our annual Maine trip last year as well. You are correct, they are very tasty and somewhat addictive once you get started so I understand your predicament !

                      Our Needhams came from Len Libby's shop in Scarborough right on US Route 1. If you Google it, you'll find all the details in case you''ve never been there. Also make sure to see the life size chocolate moose, bear, and bear cubs in the next room. A little touristy to be sure, and we're frequent visitors to the area since 1991 so most of the time we feel more like locals than vacationers, but the chocolate sculptures were neat enough to entice me into finding the camera in the car and taking the obligatory snapshot for the album. LOL. They also have a nice selection of chocolates and other candy items which we have always found to be quite good.

                      Anyhow, we definitely plan on buying at least a few more Needhams to take home (if we don't eat them on the way) the next time we are up in Maine. They're that good.

                      Now, we did find it odd that in all our New England travels through Boston area, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, etc. we had never seen them anywhere other than Len Libby's on our 2012 trip (and we had been to the store more than a few times before) so perhaps someone else will clue us all in to alternate sources,

                      1. re: bakersma

                        Haven's Candies makes a good needham, too--the Haven's needhams are also sold at LL Bean stores.

                        Len Libby makes & serves Needham ice cream in the summer--which is really tasty!

                      2. re: Bob W

                        Homemade needhams that are very good. Tiny shop sort of in the middle of nowhere, worth stopping in. She makes other things besides the needhams but I can't recall as I always get the needhams. Mainsweets
                        284 Five Islands Rd, Georgetown, ME 04548 ยป Map
                        (207) 371-2806

                        1. re: ElsieB

                          I am going to try to get to Five Islands Lobster Company on this visit, so I will definitely check out Mainsweets.I think we had Haven's last year, and they were indeed good. We will be spending a couple days in Portland so we will check out Len Libby's too!

                        2. re: Bob W

                          I hate to say it but I'm not a big needhams guy. I usually don't like anything in my chocolate except for chocolate, maybe some whipped cream. I'm sure the Len Libby and Havens recs are good ones, then again, Mainsweets does sound like it has some potential. I'll make a point of trying Needhams again this summer to see if I can broaden my chocolate horizons a bit.