Though small, Portland has become known for it’s exquisite and diverse selection of restaurants. A fun fact is that Portland, ME has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Here are some wonderful places to explore during your stay in Portland:
Central Provisions: Best Small Plates
Central Provisions has been on the Portland food scene since it opened a few years ago. With a meu specializing in small plates, this restaurant is known for it’s flavorful and exquisite fare. While you can sometimes pop in to this place downstairs for the bar and appetizers, it’s best to make a reservation as it is one of the most popular restaurants in the city.
Flatbreads: Best Pizza
Flatbreads is a Portland staple, with a location right on the water on commercial street, the pizza is freshly cooked in a wood-brick oven right in front of you. The menu boasts outstanding combinations such as the “Punctuated Equilibrium” with Kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, red onions, goat cheese, and sweet red peppers. They also have an amazing salad and seasonal meat and veggie specials.
Duckfat: Best Fries (& others)
Duckfat is a small café serving sandwiches, milkshakes, and their truly delicious French fries! These fries are cooked in duck fat, making them rich in flavor with a variety of sauces to choose from including truffle ketchup and curry mayo. Enjoy this place as a lovely, quaint place for rich and luxurious food on the cobble stone streets of Portland.
Pai Men Miyake: Best Japanese
The focus of this restaurant is noodle dishes with rich and flavorful broths. However, their shining star is easily the pork buns, which are steaming and full of savory flavors. Pai Men Miyake
Taco Escobarr: Best Mexican
Taco Escobarr gets the vote for best Mexican for not only it’s food, but the drinks and atmosphere! This ceiling of this restaurant is lined with multi-colored chili pepper lights that contribute to the lively atmosphere here. And lively it is! This is definitely not a place for a quiet dinner, as it is often packed and full of laughter and chatter. With plenty of infused Tequila’s, there are cocktail and Margarita options that span from their tropical coconut Margarita to the refreshing cucumber Margarita. The food is not to be overlooked as well – highly recommended are their flavorful burrito bowls!
Nosh: Best Burger
The Nosh Burger has become notorious in Portland since the restaurant’s opening. Topped with blue cheese spread, roasted balsamic garlic sauce, smoked bacon, and a fried egg, this is one of the best burgers in town, albeit not for someone looking for a light meal! The restaurant boasts a variety of other burgers including the Slab burger, which uses Slab (a delicious Pizza restaurant) Pizza slices as the bun. This is a great late night option, as that is often a time when you are able to get a seat without a long wait.
Boda: Best Thai
So, definitely trust me on this one. There are plenty of wonderful Thai places in Portland, and while this may appear too “trendy” to appear authentic, I assure you it is not. My daughter lived in Thailand for a year after college, and I was lucky enough to go visit her during her time there. Both she and I agree that Boda has delivered the most authentic, delicious Thai food in Portland. Most notable is the Pad Thai (wrapped in a thin omelet layer – very authentic Thai!), the Quail eggs, and the Papaya Salad (Som Tom). Order it the spiciest level you can if you want a truly authentic Thai experience, but be warned – it’s hot!
The Front Room: Best Brunch
Situated aside Portland’s picturesque Eastern Promenade, The Front Room is surely the best brunch in Portland. The menu offers savory options (the Huevos Ranchero’s are to die for!) and the sweet options are equally as wonderful. The restaurant does not take reservations, so expect a wait, however an inside tip – call ahead! If you are 15 minutes away and the wait is longer than that, the restaurant will put your name in before you arrive!
Salvage: Best BBQ
Inside Salvage you will find a rustic wooden interior lined with deep cherry picnic tables. The restaurant has an open window where you can order food, with some of the most delicious meat options and traditional sides such as collard greens, coleslaw, and corn bread. They offer a vast array of sauces to accompany your meal as well. This is a great place to go with big crowds, as the tables can accommodate large groups and the self-order style makes it easy for everyone to order on their own time.
The Treehouse: Best Hidden Gem
The Treehouse is arguably Portland’s best kept secret. While the restaurant is not located directly downtown, it is a short ride from the Old Port, no more than 10 minutes. The restaurant gets it’s name from the magical patio outside that truly creates the essence of being in a treehouse, lined with magical tea lights creating a picturesque outdoor scene to enjoy your meals during the warmer months in Maine. I tried this restaurant about a year ago with my husband and daughter. While we initially were drawn to it after hearing about this outdoor scenery, it was the food that blew us away. Expect fresh seafood with savory flavors. We loved the curry Mussels!