Gastronomic Magic - Maine's Culinary Scene
With its farmers, fishermen, and five-star chefs, cutting-edge culinary artistry is now Maine’s calling card. If food is the way to your heart, then you need to make your way to Maine this year.
With five James Beard Award-winning chefs
, and more in contention for the prestigious award this year, it’s partly the culinary scene awaiting you that makes this part of Maine such a unique experience. It’s also the freshest of ingredients, including lobster and fish right off the boat. And farm fresh vegetables and herbs, bursting with natural flavor.
Farm-to-table, sustainable seafood, community-supported agriculture - in Maine these aren’t trends, they’re traditions. The New York Times named Maine "one of the best places to eat in the Northeast” and The Huffington Post dubbed Portland one of the "13 Greatest Destination Food Towns in America.” From the bounty of our locally grown and harvested foods, to our high-quality specialty products, to our creative chefs, the time is ripe to taste how much Maine has to offer.
You can’t walk down the street in Portland without bumping into several ways to treat your taste buds, which is why Maine Foodie Tours now offers culinary walking tours, so you can sample delectable foods while getting a behind-the-scenes look at the craft makers and their industry. Maine Beer Tours and the Maine Brew Bus will drive you to drink samples of Maine’s local breweries, distilleries and wineries, and you can join Sommelier Erica Archer on an educational Wine Wise walk, sail, or harbor cruise featuring world-class wines and delicious scenery.
Of course Maine is legendary for lobster, and you can have it any way you like - steamed with butter and corn, in rich chowder or bisque, or packed into a toasted roll. Certainly indulge in the succulent crustacean but also experience the new tastes of Maine seafood. In affiliation with organizations such as the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Maine Aquaculture Association, our chefs have the luxury of working directly with local harvesters to provide the freshest products while knowing they are featuring abundant, under-utilized, and responsibly harvested seafood. This partnership has provided new seafood products for our menus, opportunities for diners to learn new ways to prepare delicious dishes, and needed resources for our fishermen, all the while jointly working to create a more sustainable fisheries industry.
Food festivals are a particularly tasty way to experience the flavors of Maine. Traditional lobster and clam fests have been augmented by Portland’s annual Harvest on the Harbor, several days of food and beverage tastings, dinners, and events that showcase the sophistication and talent that set the state’s culinary scene apart. Join hundreds of other foodie enthusiasts on Portland's waterfront in October to see what all the fuss is about. Whether you come to Maine primarily for the beautiful scenery or for the fabulous food, you’ll enjoy both once you arrive, often at the same time!
Long known for serving the freshest of lobster and seafood, Maine has now gained a national reputation for its innovative restaurants, craft beers, and growing number of award-winning chefs.
From sophisticated restaurants to funky, artsy cafes - breakfast is one of our specialties; early risers can start their day dockside with the fishing crews at Becky’s Diner or at the retro Miss Portland Diner. For dinner, enjoy views of Casco Bay from restaurants that line the harbor or soak up the ambiance of venues tucked away inside beautifully restored buildings.
Many of Maine’s restaurateurs are proud to be part of the authentic farm to-table movement and primarily use fish, meat, organic produce, and naturally grown fruit that come from local farmers, fishermen, and suppliers. Local foods are featured at century-old farmer's markets and at a variety of small specialty stores that offer a blend of prepared, imported, and local items. When you add "bold" and "innovative" to "fresh and local", you've described the spirit of Greater Portland's restaurant scene and its talented chefs.
In the past couple of years, a fanciful fleet of food trucks has emerged on the Portland scene, serving everything from tacos to cupcakes; fast food is definitely more fun when discovered outdoors from these mobile urban eateries. Ethnic offerings are also prolific with new restaurants fusing modern interpretations with traditional Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines for delicious results.
Micro-brew mania has also infected the region and you can quaff many locallybrewed beers and sip and savor a selection of over 15 Maine grown wines and spirits at the Sweetgrass Winery Old Port location. Create your own brewery and distillery tour or take one of the regularly scheduled tours offered by Maine Beer Tours and the Maine Brew Bus.
Join culinary tourists from around the country who are making pilgrimages to partake of the creativity of world-class chefs who have settled in the Greater Portland area. But whenever you visit, make reservations to ensure you can experience the food and ambiance at the dining spots that most intrigue you.
There's no shortage of gourmet confections here with which to treat your palate. Go on, it's vacation - put a different sweet spot on each day's itinerary.
No trip to Greater Portland is complete without a stop to visit Lenny, the world's only life-size chocolate moose, in Scarborough. For over 70 years, Len Libby Chocolatier
has been known for their fine chocolate creations; tours are available to let you see what goes on behind the scenes.
Dean Bingham of Dean's Sweets
brings his architectural background to the design of hand-dipped truffles, each a unique piece of art which you can indulge in at his downtown Portland shop. The pull of tides and scent of sea salt upon the breeze are the inspiration for Black Dinah's
confectionary exploration of flavor. Crafted "downeast" on Isle Au Haut, their beautiful chocolates can be found at their retail location in Westbrook. Haven's Candies
has been keeping Maine sweet for 100 years, using time-honored recipes and only the finest ingredients. Guided factory tours are available by appointment or visit their Open House, held each Columbus Day.
Like malted milk balls? Try one in every flavor, from peanut butter and mint to vanilla and maple, at Old Port Candy Co. They also have old school candy favorites such as a wall of jelly bellies and bins of gummies; candies are sold by weight, so you can mix and match to your heart's content.
From their locations in Portland and Freeport, Coastal Maine Popcorn offers custom made popcorn with 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.