Portland Maine has become a bit of a hot spot in the past few years, fueled by its increasingly visible food scene, proximity to New York, craft brewery presence, and beautiful natural scenery. Having officially visited twice now, I can confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a city that you want to be visiting. It still feels small and authentic, and if you stay downtown, everything is walkable. Read on for some of my favorite spots in Portland, Maine!
Where to Stay
Press Hotel – This little boutique hotel in the heart of downtown is my favorite place to stay in Portland. It’s full of unique art and quirky touches, plus don’t miss the rooftop when it’s warm out.
Where to Eat
Duckfat – “Must love duck” should be the tag line here. Spring for the charcuterie board, duck fat panini, and don’t forget the duck fat fries with truffle ketchup. Preferably washed down with an Allagash. Note that they don’t take reservations, and there is always a wait.
Eventide Oyster Co – This Portland institution boasts an incredible selection of the freshest oysters, but is most widely known for its brown butter lobster roll. I highly recommend a side order (or two) of their brussels sprouts as well, they’re a sleeper hit.
The Honey Paw – From the folks who brought you Eventide, The Honey Paw is an Asian fusion spot that’s honestly even better. They don’t take reservations, and the spot is comprised of a central communal table, the bar, and window seating, which makes for a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere. Do not, under any circumstances, miss the wok charred cabbage and the Vietnamese masa crepe, with the smoked lamb khao soi noodles coming in as a “must” not far behind.
Standard Baking Co – Hands-down my favorite bakery in Portland, and one of my favorites outside of Portland as well. Their bread is the freshest, and their croissants and scones are to die for.
Holy Donut – This spot has gained notoriety in the past few years for their potato donuts, and no trip to Portland is complete without sampling one. Spring for the salted chocolate and maple bacon.
Central Provisions – This two-story spot near the water has a spectacular downstairs bar for cocktails, and they also serve a mean bloody mary at brunch. If you drop in close to when they open, you should be able to sit without a wait.
Tandem Coffee Roasters – With two Portland locations, Tandem is my new favorite spot for a leisurely coffee when in town. Go to the bakery location for the most epic selection of homemade treats, including an everything bagel spice scone and a scone and jam sandwich.
Street and Co – One of my absolute favorite dinner experience in Portland. This dark and cozy spot is reservation-required and you sit in the back behind the kitchen. The sole francaise in the pan was divine, and if you spring for the lobster fra diavolo for two you will not regret it.
Two Fat Cats – If you’re a pie lover, hit up this little bakery for a plethora of homemade pies. If whoopie pies are your thing, steal one of them too for the road.
What to Do
Explore the Waterfront – Downtown Portland along the water is charming, cobblestoned, and chalk-full of little shops to explore. Stop by Higher Grounds on Fore Street for a coffee while you wander.
Allagash Brewery – Book a tour online and do some tasting at this excellent Maine brewery. It’s not walking distance from downtown, but it’s a relatively quick Uber away.
Peaks Island Ferry – Portland is right on the water, and is surrounded by incredibly beautiful islands. You can hop the ferry over and explore, but even if you don’t have a day to devote to the islands, take a ride on the ferry at sunset with a beer and just take it all in.
Woodward Point – If you’re looking to be in the great outdoors, Woodward Point is a brand new preserve less than an hour outside of Portland. It’s the perfect place to stroll in summer or snow shoe and cross-country ski in winter, and it’s right on the water in beautiful Brunswick.