Situated next to Casco Bay, Portland is Maine’s largest urban area. Overshadowed by a larger metropolitan area to the south, Boston, and a very scenic national park in the north, Acadia, Portland is sometimes overlooked by first-time visitors to the Pine Tree State. It shouldn’t be for Portland provides visitors with a trendy Arts District, a historic Old Port and a restored waterfront that abounds in boat cruises, fishing opportunities and numerous places to dine.
Having an active fishing fleet is a great boon to the restaurant industry, which provides a large choice of places to dine for city residents, as well as the many out-of-town visitors that come here throughout the year. Naturally, a large number of the city’s eating establishment feature fresh catches from the sea.
In Maine, lobster is most often foremost in the minds of hungry diners, but prospective diners should not overlook the many other kinds of crustaceans and fish that help make Portland and the coast of Maine a popular destination for vacationers.
A Floating Restaurant
The best place to begin is with one of Portland’s premier dining locales, DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant. Begun in 1954 as a small family restaurant, this place really took off in 1982, when the business moved into a recently-retired automobile ferry. Since that time the popular eatery has become a city landmark. Connected to the waterfront by a single walkway and surrounded by a marina, this metal watercraft provides two levels for indoor dining, along with several outside decks that can be used the summer.
The harbor view from the boat is one of the best in the city, while the menu provides many excellent seafood choices, including their award-winning clam chowder. Besides the ever-popular Maine lobster, mussels, shrimp, haddock, flounder and swordfish can also be enjoyed in a variety of tasty dishes.
For Early Risers
Not far from the big ferry is another popular waterfront restaurant, called Becky’s. First established as a breakfast venue that opened at 3 a.m. to serve fishermen and waterfront workers, Becky’s now serves lunch and dinner as well. Over the years, the clientele has changed dramatically, but the old regulars can still be seen here before the sun comes up. Old-fashioned hearty breakfasts are the biggest selling items here, yet seafood is also popular with dishes that feature lobster, scallops, haddock, clams or fresh fish.
An Old Classic
Another popular eatery is the Porthole Restaurant. To arrive at this waterfront establishment, visitors are treated to a walk down a classic harborside back alley, called Custom House Wharf. The restaurant sits across from a busy fish market and next door to the state’s foremost comedy club, which is appropriately named the Comedy Connection. Inside the Porthole you’ll find a bar and view of the water, plus a small number of tables, scattered throughout the narrow dining space. Fried haddock sandwiches and fish chowder are the specialty for the eatery, but other types of well-prepared sandwiches and seafood are available year round.
In The Old Port
Last but not least is the Fore Street Restaurant, where you find delicious and sometimes exotic dishes prepared by an award-winning chef, and helpful staff. This restaurant is located in an old brick warehouse away from the water in the heart of the old port. The menu here is more exotic and pricier than most places in town, but the quality matches the price, plus the seafood choices are excellent. And while you are in the neighborhood you can stop downstairs at the Standard Baking Company for some fresh baked pastries and bread to take home.
All in all Portland offers diners an excellent array of places to dine. These venues listed here come from one corner of a city that abounds in enjoyable places to eat, but elsewhere in the city and state, there are many more restaurants, where preparing a delectable plate of fish or lobster has also been refined to a culinary art.