Pigging Out in Portland (Maine)

It’s become a tradition to visit Portland each year, since one of my best friends made this city her new home four years ago. With each trip, we’ve continued to dive deep into this old port city and enjoy getting to know all of the aspects that make this coastal vacation spot so special.

Portland has hundreds of miles of ocean, plenty of hiking trails, lots of history and obviously, a killer food scene. That was not said purposely to bother the vegan. In 2018, People magazine named Portland the “#1 Foodie City” and Bon Appetit called it the “Restaurant City of the Year”. We do agree that it lives up to all of that praise!

Although we’ve also spent some time around the Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor area, we decided to keep our focus on the big city that everyone knows and loves. We’ve eaten a lot in Portland and here are the stand-outs; featuring Nat (the “s” of Gastronaut Girls, my wife), Steph (sis-in-law, part of the travel trio), and Suz (friend, the local). I always appreciate their candid enthusiastic bites for which I capture against their will and use on my blog posts without asking permission.

Restaurants:

Becky’s Diner- Becky’s Diner is on all of the lists of must-eats on Google, but it actually deserves to be there. It was one of the only places that served us a meaty lobster roll that was hot (with butter) opposed to the cold congealed butter unpleasant surprises elsewhere. The clam chowder was also a delicious choice.

Empire Chinese Kitchen- My friend and her family come to this downtown, upscale Chinese eatery pretty frequently because they have a lot of vegan options. Everything on the menu is wonderful. The service is great. Pictured are the crab rangoons, honey walnut shrimp, hot and sour soup, Chinese eggplant, shu mai, Shanghai soup dumplings and Kung pao chicken.

Nura Hummus and Falafel Bar- This fast casual joint, owned and run by brothers Dyl and Cam, offers a variety of Mediterranean bowls and platters. First, you choose either falafel, eggplant, trumpet mushroom shwarma or the newly added chicken. Next, you pick which sides you’d enjoy from tabouli, hummus, kalamata olives, feta cheese, pickled beets, pickled red onion, spicy harissa, mango amba, or spicy zhug. Everything was flavorful, juicy and very filling. Seasonally, they also push pitas out of their food truck, “Falafel Mafia” that you might want to check out if you’re visiting in warmer months.

Eventide Oyster Co.: We stumbled upon this oyster bar when we were on a brew tour last summer. We ordered an array of oysters that we were able to pick out from the display. Each type was better than the next. They were all fresh and a really nice treat.

Breweries and such:

We’ve been to 15 breweries in Portland and here are some of our favorites.

Battery Steal, Foundation, Lone Pine, Goodfire, Bissel Brothers, Austin Street and Definitive all had hearty New England IPAs. Yes Brewing had very unique sours, specifically the BlackRazz Parfait. Allagash has a lot of outdoor space which is great for warmer months. Sabego has a lot of indoor space, even during the pandemic, and a nice food menu. Oxbow and Mast Landing currently have tents for the winter.

During this recent trip, we tried mead for the first time at Maine Mead Works. Mead is made out of honey and some are more similar to beer while others more so resemble wine. We sampled a lot of the flavors and learned about the brewing process from the very kind and knowledgeable employee and were so impressed that we had to take some home.

Pastries/Bakeries/Coffee Shops:

The Holy Donut- These donuts are one of a kind because they are made with potato flour. Their standard flavors and seasonal options are all worth trying. I’ll repeat that. Try them all! Some of our favorites include blueberry, sweet potato, crumb cake, lemon and chocolate. Their hot maple latte is also amazing and comforting, especially in the winter.

Tandem Coffee- This is a little hipster cafe with unique baked goods. Every single thing we ate was wonderful. We got scones with butter and jam, an eggplant sandwich, a cream cheese stuffed everything scone and the cold brew coffee. A lot of people bring their dogs and it’s relaxing to sit outside with all of the pups. We didn’t get a chance to go there this time because it was closed, unfortunately.

That’s all we have for now. Be sure to let us know if you head up to Portland and try any of our recommendations. Enjoy!


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