7 Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Everything in moderation, right? Satisfying your sweet tooth falls in this category, and we’ve picked 7 ways for you to explore the candy side of our local culinary scene.

Dean Bingham of Dean’s Sweets was formerly an architect, hand-dipping chocolates was just something he did in his spare time for friends and family. It wasn’t until years later that he went from dabbling in truffle making to choosing it as a new career. His architectural background easily leant itself to the creative design of chocolates, each its own unique piece of art. He is well known for his modern take on the Made in Maine candy, the Needham, substituting the traditional mashed potato filling with Cold River Vodka. Should you, or someone you know, be interested in trying your own hand at candy making, seasonally Dean’s Sweets has offered truffle making classes, so keep an eye out on their events page for when these activities come up! For those who want to stick to indulging in his artisanal chocolates, visit the Fore St. shop in the Portland Old Port or stay at The Press Hotel and you’ll find these tasty truffles at turn down.


deans sweets chocolate truffles

Gourmet chocolatier and avid cyclist. Dean recently completed an Atlantic to Pacific bike ride to raise funds for the MS Society! 

“The pull of tides and scent of sea salt upon the breeze” are the inspiration for Black Dinah‘s confectionary exploration of flavor. Founded “downeast” on Isle Au Haut, these days their beautiful chocolates can be found at their retail location in Westbrook, or if you make it to Blue Hill, at Fairwinds Florist. As a suggestion, their Critter Collection is a fun gifting idea for all ages.

If you love Maine craft beer and chocolate, you’re new favorite confectioner is going to be Laura Rudy.. Her passion for the culinary arts took her to France and Belgium where she became acquainted with European cooking styles and brewing beer which culminated in a delicious business model that is La Creme Chocolat. Her discerning palate has helped her create a line of chocolates that pair wonderfully with Maine craft beer. Allagash, Maine’s own Belgian-style beer brewer, works with La Creme for a specialty line of chocolates you can purchase in their tasting room.

la creme chocolate company

Allagash Brewing Company Reps with Laura Rudy of La Creme Chocolate at the Portland Craft Beer Cellar for a tasting/pairing event.

Haven’s Candies have been crossing the lips of the young and old since 1915 when Hebert Haven started the business out of his Forest Ave. home. Over 100 years later, the company is still taking the same care to create their confections using time-honored recipes and only premium ingredients. Guided factory tours are available by appointment and you can even schedule a candy making party if you’re looking for a delicious destination activity.

From their retail locations in Boothbay Harbor, Portland and Freeport, Coastal Maine Popcorn offers custom made popcorn with a mix of flavors one couldn’t even imagine – such as cotton candy, black licorice, and key lime pie, with new sweet and savory flavors constantly being developed. Their staff have recommendations on which flavors to combine to create even more interesting tastes. If you find a great combo yourself, share it with the rest of us!

coastal maine popcorn

Pamela Laskey of Maine Foodie Tours offering a sample of the Blueberry Dream, a chocolate based popcorn at the Visit Portland Frontline Event.

…and then there’s Len Libby’s based out of Scarborough. For over 70 years, Len Libby Chocolatier has been known for their fine chocolate creations. Make sure while you’re there to take a photo with Lenny, the world’s only life-size chocolate moose! If you’re taste buds are ready for a chocolate alternative, we recommend their salt water taffy!

We’ll conclude with the most health-conscious option to choose when you’ve got a hankering for something sweet – Bixby & Co. Based out of Rockland, you can snack on Tori Burch Award Winner Kate MaCleer’s chocolate bars guilt free, even if you have allergies and dietary restrictions! Her bars are certified non-GMO, kosher, dairy free, gluten free and many are even vegan. If you have a nut allergy, we recommend you circle back to Dean’s Sweets, who doesn’t work with any nuts, unlike Bixby Bars. In Portland you can find them either at Whole Foods off of Franklin, or Le Roux Kitchen on Commercial St.

Bixby & Co

Kate describing the history and inspiration behind Bixby Bars.

These are a few of our favorite things – did we miss one of yours? Let us know in the comments!

Food Events and Tours, Vietnamese, and the Lobster Roll

Outdoor events in the summer in Maine are a very pleasant experience and the weather cooperates most of the time; you can almost always count on lower temperatures and a light breeze. If you are forced inside due to a summer shower, it’s usually brief and with it, comes sweet relief. A Bastille Day Dinner is being hosted by Petite Jaqueline, 46 Market Street, on Friday, July 14, 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. This is an indoor/outdoor cocktail party and BBQ in commeration of the historic French Revolution. You’ll be treated to a raw bar, a crepe station, picnic food, a dessert station, and a full cash bar. A new and special treat is the Maine Lobster Picnic & Harbor Cruise on the 13th, 14th and 15th (and all summer long, see all tours on the Maine Foodie Tours site). Get a taste of Maine coastal living; a land and sea (food) tour, complete with a picnic lunch of a fresh-picked lobster roll, Tourmaline Spring bottled water, Maine potato chips and the state treat, the Whoopie Pie.

Two openings to note: Cong Tu Bot, Inner Washington Ave. is a new Vietnamese restaurant. This pho noodles cafe is opening this week (scheduled) and will primarily serve lunch and dinner with some breakfast dishes. Washington Avenue is the place to go for delicious epicurean delights these days — be one of the first to visit Cong Tu Bot. The other is Portland Pulp, 116 Free Street; offering smoothies and chopped salad. Many have anticipated this healthy dining option in a city filled with good eats.

porthole restaurant lobster roll

…my very subjective five favorite lobster rolls in Portland and places nearby – Photo Credit Maine Foodie Tours guide Joe Dunham

As promised, a bit of lobster roll history for those among you who care to know the and my very subjective five favorite lobster rolls in Portland and places nearby. The founder and owner of Maine Foodie Tours, Pamela Laskey, recently shared a bit of trivia I was unaware of: historians credit Simms Diner in Rockland with the first recorded lobster roll. Also, back before lobster was as popular as it is now, folklore tells us that the lobster roll was created because women did not like picking the lobster apart. This messy business had to go and thus the lobster roll was invented to make it a whole lot easier to eat. And eat them I do. My favorite lobster roll is Bite Into Maine, a food truck at Ft. Williams Park. This creative lobster roll in this beautiful and iconic Maine setting, is wicked good. Next, if you’re looking for a non-traditional lobster roll, Eventide can’t be beat. And now we start splitting hairs . . . third would be the Portland Lobster Company‘s lobster roll; combine fresh lobster with live music on the water and you have a tourist favorite. Fourth would be Porthole’s very traditional Maine lobster roll. Having fun at the Porthole Restaurant & Pub is a mandate. Lastly, and you know I have left so many excellent lobster rolls off of this list, would have to be Two Lights Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth. Sitting at an outdoor picnic table alongside our beautiful rocky coast is just about as good as it gets anywhere. Sample some for yourself and come up with your very own top five list or ten or twenty even and share it with me!!

Buy Local and Discovering Thompson’s Point

Maine is one of several states in these United States with a low population and just one lone area code; 1.33 million people living in 35,385 square miles. Come summer, our numbers grow by leaps and bounds with visitors and snowbirds, the term for our fair weather folk who visit us between Memorial Day and Columbus day, then high-tail it to southern climates such as Florida for the winter. Our economy is small; therefore, it’s important that we keep as much commerce in the state as possible. You’ll find many Mainers are dedicated to buying local, supporting their friends and neighbors small businesses.

Portland Buy Local is Portland’s Independent Business and Community Alliance, a non-profit focused on raising awareness and encouraging small business growth. Buy Local is hosting a series of events this summer to promote local businesses and we’re grateful for their efforts. To celebrate Independents Week here’s a couple to check out –  July 1 to 7, Afternoon Tea Tasting will take place at Dobra Tea. Here you can taste some wonderful teas from Maine and the rest of New England. On Friday, July 7, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., you can enjoy Cider and Kombucha Tastings with Urban Farm Fermentory of East Bayside at the Portland Food Coop.

If you see this logo, you're visiting a business that supports the Buy Local movement!

If you see this logo in the window of a business  you’re visiting an establishment that is part of the the Portland Buy Local movement!

The Food Coop is a bountiful market for local food, beverages and health products — never crowded and on the way to the beautiful Eastern Promenade.

On Saturday, July 8 from noon to 5pm, the Downeast Lobster Roll Festival will take place at Thompson’s Point in Portland. The World’s Best Lobster Roll Competition, featuring lobster from our shores, live music, and food and drink. The competition has been reduced to 12 finalists who compete for the title. Eight of the finalists are from Maine and the other four from out-of-state. The winner will be announced at 3:30 p.m.. Look for the winners and fun lobster roll facts in next week’s blog.

The beautiful and recently developed Thompson’s Point in the Libbytown area of Portland is a great place for food and drink all year round. Enjoy wine tasting at Cellardoor Winery, spirits at Stroudwater Distillery, beer at Bissell Brothers Brewing Co., and tasty fried chicken at Big J’s Chicken Shack.

Thompson's Point

Live music on the waterfront of Thompson’s Point in Libbytown – photo credit Maine Foodie Tours

Cellardoor Winery Tasting Room

Cellardoor Winery Tasting Room at Thompson’s Point in Libbytown – photo credit Maine Foodie Tours

In the early 19th century, this point of land served a hub of barge and boat traffic on the Cumberland and Oxford Canal. Until recently, this industrial site has been underutilized. Much of Thompson’s Point is historic and developers have done a magnificent job preserving the beautiful brick buildings and rehabilitating the site. See a concert on the waterfront or pack a picnic and relax in a splendid setting. Spend a few hours or spend the day; Thompson’s Point has plenty of parking and is a short ride from downtown Portland.

The Best of Maine Food & Drink and Why Farm-to-Fork Matters

Kudos to Down East Magazine for another great “Best of Maine Food & Drink 2017” issue. What I love most is that they ask the reader’s what their top choices are. While I won’t list them all, there were some that I thought you might appreciate hearing about this week.

  • Best Burger – Five Guys
  • Best Donut – Holy Donut (although newly opened HiFi at Monument Square is giving Holy Donut a run for their money — I fell in love with their irresistible donuts this week)
  • Best Italian Sandwich – Amato’s
  • Best Farmer’s Market – Brunswick Farmer’s Market
  • Best Chocolate – Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections in Freeport,
  • Best Pizza – Otto’s Pizza
  • Best Coffee Roaster Coffee By Design
  • Best Brewery Allagash Brewing Company

Quite impressive indeed — see the complete Down East Magazine list here.

Here are also two tips for beer tasting Down East doesn’t want you to miss out on:

  • Flight Deck Brewing, 11 Atlantic Ave., Brunswick. 207-504-5133. “After the Brunswick Naval Air Station closed in 2011, it took six years for anyone to realize that one of the industrial-style buildings would be perfect for making — and consuming — beer. Hard-to-Get Beer: Mott the Lesser,
  • Tributary Brewing Co. 10 Shapleigh Rd., Kittery. 207-703-0093. “When Tod Mott moved from Portsmouth Brewery to his own joint in Kittery, he brought his recipe for the imperial stout that Beer Advocate once ranked the second-best beer in the world.”

Farm-to-Fork dining has been a way of life in Maine for centuries. Serving up locally grown vegetables, farm raised meat, and fish from our maritime waters, has always set Maine apart. Chef Sam Hayward of Fore Street was one of the first chefs in the U.S. to move local ingredients to the front of the plate; earning him a coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Northeast in 1996. Sam has been mentoring chefs who have gone on to open their own noteworthy farm-to-fork restaurants throughout the country. Chef David Levi of Vinland has been recognized as one of the most talented chefs in Maine; the Wall Street Journal did a piece on David’s foraging and totally local sourced cuisine in 2014; months after Vinland’s opening. Hugo‘s chefs Mike Wiley and Andrew Taylor, recent James Beard Award winners “With intellectual curiosity and modern technique driving the process, our ingredients are farmed, fished and foraged almost exclusively here in Maine, reflecting the dramatic seasonal shifts of Northern New England.” None of these tables are easy to reserve; however, worth the effort.

Swanky Cocktails and Sustainable Seafood

Portland is known for swanky bars and beautiful eateries; in fact visitors come from all over the globe to enjoy many of our celebrated places to eat and drink. If you’re among those who enjoy the fancier — put on your Sunday best — places, Opium, a new lounge at the Danforth Inn, is that kind of place. One of the most aesthetically pleasing bars in Portland, Opium will surely make you feel that you’ve been transported to another time and place.

Danforth Inn Opium

The interior of Opium, the newest cocktail bar in the West End of Portland, Maine. Photo courtesy of the Danforth Inn – Photo Credit Kyle Dubay

Opium Cocktail Bar

Opium’s offerings are exotic, tantalizing, and sometimes controversial   (I sorta like that). Photo courtesy of the Danforth Inn – Photo Credit Kyle Dubai

Quickly earning a reputation for being ahead of the eight ball on the cocktail scene, Opium’s offerings are exotic, tantalizing, and sometimes controversial (I sorta like that). Tempo Dulu, the Danforth Inn’s restaurant is also stylish and fanciful, but meant to satisfy in a different way. The Southeast-Asian fare is locally-sourced, beautifully plated, and always delicious. Make a reservation for this intimate and tucked away spot sooner than later.

North43 in South Portland, our closest neighbor across the Bay, has been much anticipated. There you will delight in fresh seafood and a spectacular view of Portland. The owners are seasoned restaurant professionals; making a lot of locals happy about this newly opened dining spot.

Eating local foods has many advantages: freshness, promoting sustainability, and supporting the local economy, to name a few. Our waters are filled with world renowned fish and shellfish and there’s a good reason for that. The cold and clean waters off the coast of Maine are the envy of the world.


Fresh-picked Maine lobster from the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. Photo credit Maine Foodie Tours

The following shellfish can be found in abundance: the American lobster (many come to Maine just to eat fresh lobster), mussels, soft shell clams, hard clams (eg., littleneck and cherry stone), American and eastern oysters, and Atlantic razor clams. Unfortunately, Gulf of Maine shrimp have been in short supply for a few years now, with their season being cut short. They’re also not available during the summer season. The variety of salt water fish you may see on your menu varies from restaurant to restaurant. What you will often see is: Atlantic cod, haddock, pollock, Atlantic herring, white hake, Atlantic halibut, the American four-spotted flounder, and black sea bass. Visit the Gulf of Maine Research Institute on Commercial Street for more information about our marine life.

Strawberries, Lobster and Lighthouses

It is Strawberry season in Maine and if you’re like me, it’s the best time of the year. You’ll see them at all of our farm stands and local markets and front and center on many menus. Maine’s strawberries are considered by many, to be amongst the most flavorful in the world.


The Cape Farm Alliance in Cape Elizabeth, is celebrating with their annual Strawberry Festival on Friday, June 23rd and Saturday, June 24th. They’ll be a tickets only Lobster Bake & Pig Roast on Friday and a free Strawberry Festival on Saturday. Check out the Cape Farm Alliance Facebook page for details.

Since you’ll already be in Cape Elizabeth, I also recommend a drive over to Fort Williams Park to see Portland Headlight, one of Maine’s most visited and photographed lighthouses. While you’re there, have a lobster roll at Bite Into Maine. They’re serving up unforgettable lobster rolls from a food truck — if you don’t believe me, check out their outstanding reviews on Yelp.

Speakeasies, Maine Cheese and an Island Day Trip

It seems that for every new restaurant that opens in Portland, an exciting new bar is emerging on the scene as well. Blyth & Burrows, at 26 Exchange Street, is no ordinary bar. Joshua Miranda has been involved in several notable cocktail lounges around town; however, this is the first project he’s created on his own and for that we’re grateful. The space is beautifully appointed with an eye to the War of 1812. Why that war you ask? As a port city, rich in maritime history, Miranda was familiar with the story of two captains who died in that war and are buried right here in Portland. He’s set his nautical theme, from menu to decor, based on their story. Cocktails are crafted for aesthetics as well as taste with carefully chosen light bites to pair. The bar set up is more like three bars in one, with multi-levels, and here comes the speakeasy part: one of bars is called The Broken Dram. You can enter this clandestine watering hole directly from an alley off of Fore street. Look for the single red light at the entrance and the Dram spray painted on the door, or there’s a prohibition-era clever door you’ll have to find before finally entering the Dram from inside Blyth and Burrows – both of these establishments are well-worth the visit for excellent cocktails and delicious small bites.

Joshua Miranda blyth and burrows

Owner Joshua Miranda in front of Blyth & Burrows on Exchange St.    photo courtesy of Blyth & Burrows, photo credit –  Bonnie Durham Photography

Looking ahead to the weekend, Farmstead Cheese is hosting a cheese lovers event you won’t want to miss Saturday, June 18. Head to Whitefield to meet the sheep and goats behind Fuzzy Udder Creamery’s delicious cheeses. Farmer and cheesemaker, Jessie Dowling will introduce her flock and offer a walk through of the cheesemaking process. Enjoy a cheese tasting and select some of your favorite Fuzzy Udder cheese to purchase and take home. This is one of Maine Farmland Trust‘s featured seasonal events.

fuzzy udder creamery

Can’t make it to Whitefield? You’ll find Fuzzy Udder Creamery cheeses at the Portland Food Co-Op on Congress St. photo by Maine Foodie Tours

Portland’s surrounding islands are not just beautiful to observe from afar. Consider taking an island day trip on the Casco Bay Ferry over to the most visitor friendly of the Calendar Islands, Peaks Island! After a less than 20 minute, inexpensive boat ride, you’ll arrive on a beautiful, quiet and easy to navigate island. Start with a cocktail or a craft beer at the Inn at Peaks Island; to the right and up the hill as you walk after disembarking. Next, treat yourself to a leisurely and delicious indoor/outdoor lunch at the family-owned Cockeyed Gull (to the left on the same road; map unnecessary). Enjoy a menu of fresh fare, assorted beers and spirits. Directly across from the Cockeyed Gull, you’ll find a bike rental shop. Make sure you’ve picked up some bottled waters and snacks at Hannigan’s Market, before you bike or walk this quaint island to check out Battery Steele, to collect sea glass on the beach, and visit the quirky Umbrella Cover Museum. You can easily spend hours here and trust me, you won’t want to leave. A few more facts about Peaks:

  • Peaks Island is the most populous island in Casco Bay, Maine. It is part of the city of Portland and is approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) from downtown. The island became a popular summer destination in the late 19th century, when it was known as the Coney Island of Maine (Wikipedia).

Summer Eats & Live Music Locales Around Portland

June is here and all of us in Maine agree that it is one of the most beautiful months of the year. The humidity and heat have not yet arrived making it a great time for you to relax and enjoy all the food, beverages and live music Portland has to offer, indoors and out.


Liquid Riot Bottling Co. has the distinction of being one of the only breweries AND distilleries in the country. Photo – Maine Foodie Tours

Head over to Liquid Riot in the Old Port. They have a new Chef, Kyle Everett. Kyle recently relocated to Portland after several high-end gigs in California and Florida. Here, you can enjoy outdoor deck seating with Casco Bay views, or step inside to watch the brewing and distilling process through the glass. Liquid Riot also has the distinction of being one of the only breweries and distilleries in the country. Lazzari Italian Restaurant opened recently and you may just want to be among the first to visit. Lots of buzz about this new Italiano spot, and I’d love to hear what you think. Lastly, under new news, I wanted to mention Casco Bay Creamery, adding to the ranks of Portland’s ice cream establishments. It’s a mini ice cream outpost on the outskirts of the Old Port and they’re serving Maine’s famous and nationally distributed Gifford’s Ice Cream. There’s s a good reason locals love Gifford’s. Stroll towards the Eastern Promenade Trail, via Commercial St., and they’re on the right in the former Narrow Gauge Railroad ticketing booth.

The Night Kitchen, a “zesty” new musical written and directed by John Burstein a resident of the Great State of Maine, has just graced our stage. You can see it at the fabulous Portland Stage from June 6 to the 10th, and June 13 to the 17th. 100% of the profits will go to Preble Street, a soup kitchen here in Portland that feeds those in need all week long. “The Night Kitchen” incorporates burlesque, vaudeville, Keystone cops humor and likable, hummable tunes with smart, sometimes sly lyrics . . . In one scene, the chef sings a poetic ode to a butternut squash. In another, a frying pan with aspirations to sauté and flambé tells her troubles to Dr. Pepper: ‘I am tired of being treated like an ordinary pan. There is so much more I could be trying. I was born for more than frying.'” A musical about cooking — what could be more fun and appropriate in this foodie town? Don’t miss it!

Custom House Gang at Andy's Old Port Pub

If you’re like me, listening to good live music while dining is just about as good as it gets – Photo – Maine Foodie Tours

We are fortunate to have several great food spots who offer live music all summer long. Slab Sicilian Street Food has a beautiful patio and it’s the perfect spot for live music, or even a film every Monday when classics and 80s throwbacks are screened. A pizza slab and some tunes or a film and you’re good to go. El Rayo’s is not only known for tacos and a great bar — enjoy music and Mexican fare at their new location on Free Street. Salvage BBQ‘s ribs aren’t the only reason to visit this outstanding BBQ outpost, live music on Friday and Saturday evenings will make an already delicious pulled pork platter taste even better. Both the Porthole Restaurant & Pub and the Portland Lobster Co. serve up Maine steamed lobster and live outdoor music all summer long. seven days a week — check out their calendars to see who’ll be playing during your visit. Andy’s Old Port Pub is a locals favorite for fresh seafood and Maine craft beer who also offers live music nightly! Bull Feeney’s, our own traditional Irish Pub and restaurant, is an authentic old world salute to our Irish immigrants with delicious fare –love their seafood chowder — and weekly live entertainment. None of these businesses charge a cover for the live music and the eats are what brings many of our visitors coming back again and again.


Food Blogging and a Taste of Washington Ave

Those of us who live in Portland are often astounded by the large number of restaurants in our little city — 300 and some, and growing every day. You can only imagine how difficult it can be to choose where to dine out. In some ways it’s harder than it was for me when I lived in New York City. There, I would just open the New York Times and go to whichever restaurant they happened to be featuring. Today, there’s social media and that makes deciding way more difficult. Newspaper reviews are still important, but in the world of food, bloggers and commonplace food writers are the true tastemakers. There are a few such bloggers and food writers in Portland. They are well-respected in the community and should be read by everyone and anyone who loves good food. Here’s a few of my favorites.

The Portland Food Map which is written and maintained by Anestes Fotiades. Anestes has a full-time job, yet he manages to keep this site up-to-date and it’s impossible to resist visiting it daily. Check out the latest openings, closings and posted restaurant reviews. His Under Construction list offers insight into culinary business expansions, confirmed and potential openings – this list is always formidable. This is a man who knows how to track down a great meal. Eat Drink Lucky is a daily on-line newsletter; that’s right daily — with short blurbs about food, drink, and a quick tip about what’s happening in Portland. You can subscribe to this site which also covers several others cities in the U.S. The Blueberry Files blog is written by Kate McCarty. A new blog is posted every couple of weeks. Her take on the Portland food scene is intelligent, down to earth, and her photos truly capture the essence of the dishes she is covering. In addition, Kate has authored a couple of books you might want to add to your library. A third site, Eating Portland, Maine, is an excellent resource for critiques of eateries all around the city. I rely heavily on the monthly archives for good food writing and colorful photos. Lastly, Mainely Eating offers frequent posts, informative reviews, and fabulous recipes. I especially love Leah’s, “25 foodish things you probably didn’t know about me,” in the “About Mainly Eating” section on the site.

Now let’s take a trip to the up-and-coming foodie neighborhood on Washington Avenue.

Silly's Restaurant

I previously mentioned the large number of restaurants here in Portland; per capita, we enjoy the company of very few. Lately, there is no street in Portland with as many new restaurants as Washington Ave. It’s difficult to say exactly which neighborhood Washington Ave. is in — you could say it’s where the East End begins or you might say it’s on the edge of East Bayside. I believe it’s safer to say, “it’s a place all it’s own.” In my mind “Restaurant Row” extends from Silly’s Restaurant to the Portland Pottery Cafe; two neighborhood favorites. It feels like there are new restaurants and craft beverage producers opening on this street almost weekly, and here are three of the newest kids on the block that are well worth the trip: Terlingua (small batch BBQ), The Drifter’s Wife (Ben Jackson is knocking it out of the park), and Izakaya Minato, a new Japanese restaurant getting a lot of well deserved attention for excellence. Take a stroll down Washington Street, but it’s best to visit this part of town with a big appetite.

Portland Pottery Cafe

Eateries and Watering Holes in the News

Memorial Day weekend is here and that means the city is ready to welcome you with open arms in anticipation of your visit. Buildings, roads, restaurants and bars have been repaved, refurbished and new places to visit have been added for your absolute pleasure. One place of note has been in construction all winter; Bayside Bowl in East Bayside has added on a fabulous roof top deck which has an open and airy feel and overlooks parts of the city and the fabulous Back Cove. I for one am looking forward to a night of bowling followed by a cocktail or two above the city. The second hotspot I want to mention is Figgy’s Takeout and Catering. The West End treasure has fried chicken, sandwiches and sides that some people have adapted as their daily diet. There are picnic benches outdoors, a water bowl for your dog and the nicest window service this part of the eastern USA. Walk off your meal by strolling around this beautiful neighborhood. Historical architecture, other great eateries and music venues, in and around Longfellow Square, are the reason many call the West End home. Filling your day with culinary delights is easy in Portland, but one should not miss our outdoor farmer’s market.

The Portland Farmer’s Market is unlike any other within hundreds of miles. The farmer’s market takes place in Deering Oaks Park on Saturday’s at 7:00 a.m. and stays open until 1:00 p.m. Deering Oaks is the largest and most beautiful park in the city; perfect for a picnic. Walk over to Tiqa Cafe & Bakery, in a historic 1894 castle, on the State Street side of the park; opens at 7:00 a.m. and closes at 7:00 p.m. on market day. Fresh baked pastries and Coffee By Design coffee. There is plenty of public parking in the park and an easy walk from Downtown Portland or the Old Port. If you miss Saturday’s market, you can once again enjoy the bounty of our local farms at Monument Square Park on Wednesdays throughout the summer. Hours are 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Get there early to beat the crowds or visit at lunchtime and dine at several restaurants that offer al fresco dining. I mentioned Coffee By Design, but Portland is fortunate to have several coffee shops where you can while away the hours.

coffee shops in portland, maine

One of Portland’s newest coffee shops to Portland, Coffee Me Up, where Coffee by Design coffee is served. Make sure to tell owner Mateo or Alba Zakja (pictured here) that I sent you!

Coffee by Design is known for serving coffee coming from single origin microlots. Crossroads recently recognized the owners with several Business Leader Awards. There are mutiple locations throughout Portland; making it easy to find CBD coffee. Tandam Coffee Roasters has two locations and has the distinction of baked goods and breakfast sandwiches by the very talented Briana Holt. It’s worth waiting on line for one of Briana’s delicious offerings. Bard Coffee, a personal favorite, is known for Kalita pour-overs and outstanding service. Lastly, the Speckled Ax offers wood-fired roasted beans and uses local wood for roasting.

A cup of Speckled Ax Coffee

A cup of Speckled Ax Coffee

The Speckled Ax was the winner of a 2017 Good Food Award. Unfortunately, I cannot name every Portland coffee house in this blog. We’re fortunate to have many coffee shops with excellent coffee. As my last recommendation for today, make sure to try nitro-fueled coffee. If roasting methods or origin matter to you, have some java in Portland.

Christopher Papagni, Ph.D.
Food writer
Culinary consultant