Portland, Maine, one of the best cities in the Northeast of the United States, is also one of the best places to eat. There are so many delicious restaurants in Portland Maine, and you’ll likely want to stay for several nights so that you can enjoy multiple restaurants.
While there are dozens of restaurants, many of them are very popular. If you visit during the busy season, you are likely to need reservations (or may have a wait, if the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations). Check before you leave on your trip to see if you are able to make reservations.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Portland Maine. We’re including all of the restaurants we have tried, as well as a list of places that are well-reviewed, but that we haven’t experienced first-hand.
Best Restaurants in Portland Maine
Located in the Press Hotel, between Old Port and the Arts District, is UNION. This delicious restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers fresh food from local farms, with an open kitchen.
We visited UNION twice. The first time was a complimentary breakfast because our room at the hotel wasn’t available at check-in time. We were so impressed with the delicious breakfast that we were excited to return for dinner on our latest trip.
Dinner at UNION was delicious. The menu includes local fish, meats, and salads. They do have a kids’ menu, with traditional kids’ food like hot dogs as well as chicken and fish.
Separate from UNION, but also within the Press Hotel is Inkwell. This lobby bar has a great happy hour during the week, and also offers small plates. We had some snacks here before dinner one night, and loved the hummus and fried olives.
We tried to visit Paciarino twice in the past before we finally made reservations. This small, quaint, Italian restaurant is located on Fore Street, adjacent to the Portland Harbor Hotel. It’s a tiny dining room, so you’ll almost definitely need reservations, regardless of when you visit.
The fresh pasta at Paciarino is definitely the best choice here. My son got the ravioli and absolutely loved them. I really enjoyed my spaghetti olio e pepperoncino.
There’s no kids’ menu here, but the ravioli and the spaghetti al pomodoro are both very kid-friendly. The restaurant also serves dessert and coffee specialties. Reservations can be made on Yelp, which is linked from the restaurant’s website.
The Holy Donut
You cannot visit Portland, Maine, without trying some of the famous donuts at the Holy Donut. This Portland Maine institution offers donuts made from fresh Maine mashed potatoes. There are two locations right in Portland, including one in Old Port.
The Holy Donut offers many different varieties of donuts, as well as coffee. Our favorite flavor is the dark chocolate sea salt, but they are all delicious.
Holy Donut does get crowded, and later in the morning, you’ll see a line out the door. They close when they sell out, so arrive early. There are a few seats in the Exchange Street location, but this is primarily a take out spot.
Duckfat is, in my option, the best casual restaurant in Portland Maine. Their food is unbelievably good, and like other restaurants we’ve mentioned, the living room is extremely small.
Reservations aren’t accepted, so you’ll walk into the restaurant and leave your name. There are only a few tables, and you’ll typically be seated with other parties.
Food at Duckfat includes fries, panini, milkshakes, and donut holes. We typically get a few things and share them.
If you don’t want to wait in the line at Duckfat, there’s also the Duckfat FriteShack. Located down the street from the original location, the FriteShack is a walk-up window.
While there isn’t a restaurant, guests can sit at the outdoor tables, or at the adjacent Oxbow Brewery. The menu is a bit different from the regular restaurant, and does vary. However, you can expect to find fries, milkshakes, and donut holes every day.
The Highroller Lobster
In my opinion, the best lobster restaurant in Portland Maine is the Highroller Lobster. It’s located on Exchange Street and originally started out as a food cart.
When you arrive at the Highroller, you’ll order at the counter. Then, they’ll seat you. You won’t order your food without knowing that there’s a seat available for you. Once your food is ready, it will be delivered right to your table.
The Highroller Lobster offers lobster rolls, lobster tacos, lobster Rangoon, BLTs, hot dogs, salad, lobster grilled cheese and more. We especially love the Old Bay seasoned fries. There’s also a bar, offering mixed drinks, beer, and more.
Portland Public Market
One of our favorite places to get lunch in Portland is the Portland Public Market House. This two-story building offers a number of different vendors at individual food carts.
Tables are available on both floors. When we visit, we typically separate and choose our own food, and then meet up at a table. Food options include Pie in the Sky baking company, Maine Squeeze Juice and Smoothies, and Pho Co.
My favorite is Mr. Tuna, which offers sushi rolls and hand rolls. There’s a small sushi bar right in the market, or you can take your food to go or at one of the market tables.
Mr. Tuna also has a mobile food truck/sushi bar. It can be found at different locations and breweries – check their schedule on Facebook or Instagram.
Note that the Portland Public Market House isn’t always open. When we visited this December, for instance, they were closed on Sundays and there was no pizza offered on Sundays. The vendors do change, too, and we found that a few of our favorites were gone on our latest visit.
Looking for Mexican food during your Portland, Maine vacation? Taco Escobarr is a bar/restaurant, located in the Arts District of Portland.
We visited for lunch during our most recent vacation. Seating is available at the bar, at a few high tops, and a few booths. Menu options include tacos (I loved the spicy shrimp ones I ordered), enchiladas, quesadillas, and chips and salsa.
Taco Escobarr also offers a bar, including a selection of delicious margaritas. We really enjoyed our meal there and would definitely return during future vacations.
They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
While the Holy Donut is definitely the most popular of the donut shops in Portland, it isn’t the only option. HiFi Donuts is another delicious choice. It’s located in City Center.
HiFi Donuts offers a large selection of donut flavors, but also has other breakfast food as well as sandwiches for lunch.
DiMillo’s By the Water
The Portland Maine waterfront is beautiful, and one of the most fun restaurants on the water is DiMillo’s By the Water. This seafood restaurant is located in a former car ferry.
The views are absolutely gorgeous, and the food is great. On the menu, you’ll find things like lobster, fish, beef, and chicken. There’s a happy hour, as well as a children’s menu. It’s a fun location and definitely worth visiting.
Pizza is one food that we can always agree on during our vacations, so we typically include at least one pizza place in our vacation plans. Slab is a fun, casual restaurant with delicious, unique food.
While Slab offers salads and sandwiches, the real highlight here is the Sicilian pizza. These are huge square slices of thick, delicious pizza. Just one or two slices is more than enough to serve as a meal.
Reservations are not accepted at Slab. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Flatbread Company
Another delicious pizza restaurant is the Flatbread Company. The Portland Maine branch of this chain restaurant is located right on the Portland Casco Bay waterfront.
This organic restaurant serves flatbreads and salads. We usually get a big salad and a flatbread to share. It’s a great casual restaurant and is very kid-friendly.
Other Great Restaurants in Portland Maine
There are other highly-rated restaurants in Portland that we haven’t yet had a chance to experience. Although we would love to eat at them, they don’t necessarily have entrees that my picky kids would enjoy.
These include Eventide (one of the best seafood restaurants in Portland Maine, with another location in Boston), Drifter’s Wife (from Chef Ben Jackson), Central Provisions, and Honey Paw.