Here is how to win the Portland ME food and drink scene

Last year, I wrote about a full weekend of a visiting friend and I going to what I felt were the best of the best in Portland’s food, fun, and beverage scene. He returned this year and I needed to recreate the experience with an entirely new set of locations, making sure it felt fresh, but still great. I picked what I thought were the most enjoyable locations while staying within a reasonable budget and also keeping the Uber rides to a minimum. Here’s how our weekend played out.

On Friday afternoon, he arrived and I figured beer would work well for both of us. We headed out to Industrial Way to check out a smorgasbord of breweries. We each started at Foundation Brewing Company with a four ounce IPA for $2 and picked up a Kobayashi Dog – grilled hot dog, katsuobushi, benishoga, scallions, nori, kewpie, okonomi sauce – at Mami food truck sitting nearby.

The hotdog was full of Japanese flavors and went just fine with our beers. It was delicious and the reckless abandon with which we shoved it into our faces proved it. We finished the dog and the small beer and moved on Battery Steele Brewery in the same building. A five ounce pour of stout was $2. We sat for a few and once that was done, Austin Street Brewery next door provided another five ounce IPA again for only two bucks.

After three brewery stops, we had one left, crossing the street to visit one of my absolute favorites – Allagash Brewing Company. The great part about Allagash is that they have four samples per day and they offer four ounces of all of them for free. Allagash makes some of the best beer around and the ones on tap that day were great as are most of their beers.

Seven “samples” of delicious local beer and one gourmet hot dog cost us $11 bucks apiece and kept us happy for the better part of the afternoon. If you’re rolling into town ready to try some of what Portland has to offer, I’d suggest you make your way over to Industrial Way where the beer is plentiful, inexpensive, and some of the best around.

Learn more about Mami at mamifoodtruck.com

Foundation Brewing Company can be found at foundationbrew.com

Find Battery Steel Brewing at batterysteel.com

Allahabad Brewing Company is at allagash.com

With Friday evening upon us, we again looked to keep the costs low and the fun factor high. Mash Tun on Wharf St. was an obvious choice. With their massive beer list and outstanding, simple food, I was excited to pay them a return visit even though I’d been there recently. With a small bit of thought, we wasted no time selecting our brews. He went with a stout and I with a double IPA.

Our beers were delivered and we ordered some food. We went with the awesome Cheese Plate – Bally Shannon Cheddar Cheese, honey Dijon, Strawberry Jam, Toasted Points – to share. I wanted to try something new and ordered the Tacos Al Pastor – red cabbage, cilantro. He ordered the Grass Fed Burger with cheese and bacon added.

The cheese plate was awesome as always. He raved about the burger. My tacos were pretty basic, but the sauce on them was just perfect. Sweet, salty, and not remotely overpowering, the pork was well balanced. The cabbage and herb added some crunch and a nice overtone of freshness. Mash Tun is never less than stellar and they served us a bit of happiness for a grand total of $50 including tip.

After the beer bar, we made our way to Bayside Bowl to check out the new rooftop bar. We went straight to the top of the building past a sign which stated “no glassware, no smoking, no dogs, yes sunsets”. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much sun that evening. Still, we ordered a beer and some food, splitting the $5 Fish Tacos – crispy local Pollack, pickled cabbage, avocado crema – and $4 Chips with house red salsa from the Mexican themed food shack.

We waited for the food and then sat down to eat. Then tacos were delicious and the cream in particular was refreshing and bold. The salsa with the chips was mediocre. I felt it could have been a little more flavorful. Nonetheless, we finished everything and went inside to warm up a little and also reserved a lane to bowl a few strings. After that we called it quits and made our way home.

For a full review of Mash Tun – http://pppe.bangordailynews.com/2017/05/20/home/beer-bar-with-crazy-good-burger-thrives-on-simplicity/

Bayside Bowl is at baysidebowl.com

Saturday morning brought hunger and I knew the perfect place to satisfy it was Bayou Kitchen. The southern-themed breakfast and lunch joint serves up super food and their breakfast always kills it. I am consistently intrigued by their three daily chalkboard specials which usually include a couple savory omelet types and a sweet offering.

My buddy and I both skipped the white chocolate macadamia pancakes in favor of another special. We went with the Omelet with polish sausage, provolone, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers. I chose the home fries for a side and the jalapeno cheddar cornbread as my “toast”. Then I picked a hot sauce from the wall full of them.

The food came out quickly and my omelet was excellent from the first bite. There were no shortage of ingredients folded into the egg and the hash browns were super crispy. The cornbread had outstanding flavor. It was definitely the best flavored cornbread I’d had. I used a little hot sauce on some of my omelet and that threw a nice change into the mix. We ate our last morsels and were full for only 29 bucks.

For a full review of Bayou Kitchen – https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2013/01/28/bayou-kitchen-southern-cookin-in-northern-new-england/

Later in the morning, we made our way to Thompson’s Point. Arriving there around 11, we were a little worried that nothing would be open. Fortunately, Stroudwater Distillery had just started summer hours the week before and were happily accepting walk-ins. We took a seat at the bar and started looking at the menu for a late morning cocktail.

We both had a serious craving for some bourbon and finally decided on the Windigo – Stroudwater Distillery Bourbon, agave, orange bitters, cherry bitters, orange twist. With a leaning toward an Old Fashioned, the drink was a beautiful display of the spirit. We took our time drinking and got out for $26 after tip.

Even though it wasn’t that long after we ate breakfast, our next stop was J’s Chicken Shack. We loaded up on lots of food, ordering three Traditional Tenders with cheddar chive biscuit and pickles, three Portland Hot Tenders with white bread and pickles, a small Tijuana Street Corn, and a large Mac and Cheese. It put us out only about another $26.

Our food appeared and we immediately dug into it. The tenders were both tasty. The sweet/mildly hot Portland version were a little hotter than I remembered and the traditional, which were new to me, had a moderate seasoning. The corn was a last second choice when ordering, but turned out to be a good one as the heavily seasoned, well-sauced half ears were utterly brilliant. Combined with the creamy mac, it all made for a well rounded meal.

Next, we went to Bissell Brothers for some beer. I ordered the Reciprocal, an Australian IPA they they had released that day. He went with the Barrel Aged Umbra oatmeal stout. Those cost us a total of $5 and we met some visitors from MA who were stocking up on some BB brothers beer to take home and make all their friends jealous.

Our final stop at Thompson’s Point was Cellar Door Winery. I chose the four most full-bodied reds. My buddy chose two whites and two reds for some variety. Intermingling one ounce pours of wine and snack crackers provided the pleasure of feeling slightly refined. The wines at Cellar Door are great, but it’s the knowledge of the staff that really makes a visit there so fun. It was well worth the $16 we spent.

For a full review of Thompson’s Point – https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/08/29/​the-thompsons-point-quadrumvirate-stroudwater-distillery-bissell-brothers-brewery-cellar-door-winery-and-big-js-chicken-shack/

Saturday evening started with a trip to Hot Suppa. We were seated right away and with just a glance at the menu, decided on a Sazerac – Pernod coated glass with rye, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters. We had been discussing their greatness earlier in the day, though I wasn’t sure I had ever had one. From there, we had to make some decisions about food. The tough part about that was that the menu was full of outstanding choices.

After some serious consideration we went with a starter of Charbroiled Oysters – Creole garlic butter, parmesan, French bread. Then I ordered the Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese – caramelized onions, South Carolina barbeque sauce, tobacco onions. He chose one from the specials board, Fried Stuffed Calamari. We waited for those while sipping our beverages.

From the first oyster, I was very pleased. The cheesy, buttery mollusks were awesome, but the parting gift was dipping the bread into the remaining butter on the bottom of the plate. Each of the six oysters made us more and more excited about our main courses and they came out shortly after the final bite of bread was consumed.

My mac and cheese was creamy and rich with the pork and onions the perfect mix-in. The flavor was plentiful and the cheese nearly endless. As I stuffed my face, my counterpart raved about his calamari. We both took our time savoring all the food, and eventually decided that dessert wasn’t in our immediate future. The tab was very reasonable at $58 including tip.

Next up was Arcadia National Bar on Preble St. The classic arcade with killer drinks is always a great time. We started our fun with The Covfefe – Absolute Citron, lemon, Canton maple syrup, and constant negative press. As I walked away laughing with the drink in hand, we headed toward the change machine for quarters and then proceeded to play some games.

The drink was both strong and sweet, giving us enough power to win at everything. We spent the better part of a couple hours feeding quarters to pinball machines and arcade games, spending $9 each on the drink and probably $15 total on games. I hated to leave, but I could spend endless hours in front of those machines, so it was best to head out when we did.

After a little bit of walking around the city, we made a stop at Rosie’s. The place was packed with customers drinking and eating late and we decided to do both too. We quickly decided on a stout and after a long decision making process, I ordered the Jumbo Soft Pretzels served with honey mustard dipping sauce. He went with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. I was a little jealous, but didn’t want anything sweetRe.

Two large pretzel sticks accompanied by a creamy honey mustard suited me just fine as a final bite to eat. I ate them while admiring the pie on the other side of the table. The Irish stout made a good complement to my salty snack. We both finished our food, paid the tab which ended up somewhere in the $20 range, and we made our way home for the night.

For a full review of Hot Suppa – http://pppe.bangordailynews.com/2017/04/29/home/southern-food-superstar-raises-the-brunch-bar-really-high/

Acadia Nation Bar is at – arcadiaportland.com

For a full review of Rosie’s – https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/10/11/rosies-still-what-it-used-to-be/

Before he had to leave on Sunday morning, my wife and I took my buddy to Silly’s for their brunch. It was a beautiful morning and having arrived shortly after they opened, we were the first people sitting on the terrace. We gathered our thoughts and looked through the menus. I wanted something new and looked carefully at what was right for me.

I eventually picked The Full Monty – Silly’s potato bread done “French toast style” stacked with smokey ham slices and melted cheese with candied maple bacon on top, home fries. He went with the Holla-Daised and Confused and Mrs. Portlandeater chose the EggCeption which is one of her regular orders. She also added a mango mimosa a few minutes later.

To say the least, my meal was well thought out as my French toast ham and cheese sandwich tasted like it had syrup on it because of the pile of candied bacon on top. It was so delicious and so large, I knew it was the absolute perfect way to cap off a weekend of insane food and drink. Was it too much? Nah…it was just enough.

As is always the case when we go to Silly’s, everyone gave two thumbs up to their meal and we sat there with looks that said we knew we had made a great decision. Our final tab of the weekend was in the $55 range before tip and it was worth every penny. We had a great meal and were excited to sit on the terrace for the first time this year.

For a list of what makes Silly’s great – https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2017/04/19/ten-things-i-love-about-you-sillys/

My buddy headed out after our brunch. I felt comfortable that I had shown him some of the best of what Portland had to offer and kept it on the low end of the cost spectrum. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the places we went to and, while there are plenty of great places beyond these, the ones we got to suited our need for food, drink, and fun exactly as we needed them. If you come to Portland, or even if you’re already here, you’d do well to visit any of these great locations.

For many more of Portland’s very best locations, check out last year’s article of the same theme – https://peterpeterportlandeater.com/2016/07/21/peter-peter-portland-eaters-somewhat-definitive-suggestions-of-where-to-eat-drink-and-play-in-portland-maine/

Stay hungry.

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Peter Blanchette

About Peter Blanchette

Peter Peter Portland Eater grew up in Lewiston, Maine and graduated from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in English. After college, he left the state to work in Massachusetts, but the allure of a more comfortable life in his home state brought him back after eight years. Upon his return and after meeting his now wife – Mrs. Portlandeater, he slowly integrated himself into the Portland food scene by trying as many restaurants as he could afford. That and a desire to write for others again led him to start Peterpeterportlandeater.com where he reviews restaurants and blogs about whatever Portland/Maine food topics he finds interesting.