Portland has an outstanding reputation for being a culinary destination. No, not that Portland, the other Portland. You know, the one in Maine. Didn’t realize there was an east-coast Portland that’s also popular among foodies? I hadn’t either until we stopped by and explored Maine’s largest city on our way to Nova Scotia.
Since there’s so many delicious things to try here, you really should give yourself more than just a day. But if you’re looking for some guidance, here’s a full 24 hour itinerary to help you squeeze as much flavor out of the city as possible.
6:00 pm – Go for a walk around town.
Whether you arrive by car, boat, or plane, the first thing I recommend doing once you arrive in Portland is going for a walk around the city. At the waterfront you’ll find quaint shops selling locally made goods and picturesque views of the harbor and vibrant fishing and lobster community.
7:30 pm – Dinner at Opus 10.
If I could only recommend one meal in Portland, this would be it. From the street, David’s might look like a typical gastropub or bistro, but inside there’s a little secret. It’s a sort of speakeasy for foodies and a delightful surprise for those in-the-know. Toward the back of the bistro tucked behind a magic curtain is a restaurant within a restaurant — David’s Opus 10. The chef offers a set prix fixe menu every evening featuring a playful twist on local ingredients for those lucky enough to score one of the limited 18 seats available. But, don’t let the exclusivity trick you. This is relaxed and approachable fine dining offered at a great value – 5 courses plus a palate cleanser and amuse busche for only $60 per person (and a little more if you want to add wine pairings).
Address: 22 Monument Way, Portland, ME 04101
8:00 a.m. – Sip a cold brew on tap at Coffee By Design.
When it comes to coffee culture, Portland has it in spades. There’s no less than 5 local coffee houses that roast their own beans and take the art of making the perfect cup of joe pretty seriously. If you want to learn about them all, check out the Coffee Lover’s Guide To Portland. But, if you only have time for one, I recommend Coffee By Design. Head over to their new Diamond Street Cafe which also happens to be where their micro roastery is located in an uber cool industrial area that’s also home to a distillery, bakery, and other boutique artisans. Sip one of their cold brews on tap (coffee, that is), pick out a locally made pastry from their daily selection, and chat with locals while relaxing on their front porch.
Address: 1 Diamond St, Portland, ME 04101, United States
10:00 a.m. – Visit one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.
No trip to Portland would be complete without visiting the Portland Headlight. It’s a quick 10 minute drive from downtown to Cape Elizabeth and it’s very easy to find. Give yourself enough time to explore the maritime museum and Fort Williams Park too.
Address: 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107, United States
1:00 p.m. – Stuff yourself on a Maine Foodie Tour.
The best way to sample a city in a short amount of time is with a food tour, and Maine Foodie Tours hosts a great one. Guided by a CIA graduate, we walked around town and got a sample of some of the eateries and shops that make Portland unique including wild blueberry infused balsamic at Vervacious, locally distilled Back River Gin at Sweetgrass Farm Distillery, a modern fusion take on traditional lobster rolls at the Pavilion Lounge, unique sodas and hand crafted tonics at Vena’s Fizz House, and more.
Address: Check with company for exact meeting location downtown as it’s subject to change.
6:00 p.m. – Sip craft cocktails while watching the sun set.
End the day perfectly with your favorite beverage and an amazing view of the city at Top Of The East, Portland’s only rooftop bar. You may be too full for more food after the culinary walking tour, but if you saved a little room, we highly recommend the mini lobster rolls (you really can’t have enough lobstah in Maine). The artisan cheese sampler with local cheese is also spectacular.
Address: 157 High Street, Portland, ME 04101 United States
Photo Credits: Pete Wallace