Last weekend we visited Portland for our friend’s wedding. It was our second time there but Anna and I have categorized Portland as one of those places we could easily live. Oceans, craft beer, friendly people, and an amazing food scene – what’s not to love? As we recounted our weekend the only thing going through my mind was “if I had one day here, what would I do to recommend a perfect day?” Well, I have some modest suggestions based on experience below.
Be warned – lots of food, craft beer, and sights await.
In and out of Portland’s airport in twenty minutes and I say you need to get your seafood on, and by that I mean plenty of Atlantic oysters. Look no further than The Shop in the East Bay. They source oysters directly through the source (making the prices super reasonable) and you can compare and contrast oysters from Maine and Massachusetts. Wine and beer are both on tap, need I say more?
After spending the last few hours downing oysters and your pick of wine/craft beer, may I recommend going down to the Old Port next to the harbor? With plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants to choose from you won’t be disappointed. However, I like to stop at the Harbor Fish Market and admire all the fresh lobster.
Head south to Cape Elizabeth and admire one of the most iconic sites in the area – The Portland Head Light. Located at Fort Williams Park, you can take in the most picturesque lighthouse of your dreams while demolishing a lobster roll at Bite Into Maine. I’ve tried many lobster rolls in Portland and this is my hands down favorite. All the lobster rolls at Bite Into Maine are great, but my preference is “The Picnic Style.” That being said, you can’t ever go wrong with either the Maine or Connecticut style.
Beer time!. Portland has a great craft beer scene but my favorites are Allagash Brewing and Oxbow Beer. Different sides of Portland and completely different styles of beer. If you prefer Belgian-style beer, head over to Allagash (which gives a complimentary four beer tasting to each visitor). If farmhouse-style/funk is your thing, Oxbow is in the East Bay and makes a pretty kickass Farmhouse Domestic, which is an IPA I can drink all day.
Now that enough beer has been consumed dinner is an excellent choice. I have a couple of favorites that time and again have never failed me.
Belgian-style frites, the best poutine you will find south of Montreal, duck confit panini, and milkshakes. Did I mention they have amazing craft beer and wine as well? Duckfat is elevated comfort food with a twist, and I never get tired of this place. Be prepared to wait at this popular hangout but it will not let you down.
The brown butter lobster roll is out of this world but my mind was blown by the fried oysters. The gochujang adds another layer of heat and funk, but for the less adventurous the fried fish sandwich will make you forget those years of Filet o’Fish at McDonalds in high school. The way to explore this menu is through dividing and conquering with a willing partner. Don’t overlook the oyster selection as a starter and be sure to save room for dessert – a whoopie pie or ice cream sandwich awaits!
I love this place for small plates and the focus always on local and seasonal ingredients. The raw and cold plates on the menu are great but the winner is the seared foie gras with millet from the hot menu. A total exercise in contrasting textures, you probably won’t find a more interesting foie gras dish in New England.
Call it a night. Get up tomorrow and explore this beautiful coastline some more.