Portland, Where Vacationland Is Delicious: Spilled Milk #24
My favorite restaurants in Portland, Maine.
Portland, Maine, is a city that’s tethered to the ocean and everything it produces.
It’s the pearl of New England. Great food, an incredible art scene, a small-town vibe with big-city amenities. My dad, who passed away in 2015, called Portland home for the last 10 years of his life. I’d spend a lot of time visiting him and my stepdad Andre Laporte, and through their eyes I watched the city transform into the food destination it is today.
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Though I’ve never lived there full time, Portland is one of the places I consider home, along with Minneapolis (where I’ve lived for 30 years) and New York, where I grew up. Whenever I’m in town, which is a few times a year during non-Covid times, I can barely cram in all the places I want to visit.
Here’s where you should eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert on your next visit.
There will probably be a line out the door, but don’t let it deter you—this place is worth the wait. Order a loaded biscuit, which includes a nearly lethal schmear of butter and jam; savory scone or slice of banana and black sesame cake. The malted iced coffee is a local favorite. Grab a seat under the old gas station overhang, weather permitting. It’s the perfect way to start a day.
Open since 2010, this Old Port bakery that specializes in old fashioned potato doughnuts has expanded to its third location. So simple and delicious. I love the plain old fashioned, as well as the glazed fresh lemon iteration. The Holy Donut serves gluten-free doughnuts as well.
I’ve visited this place on Commercial Street almost every day that I’ve spent in Portland. My stepdad loved their baguettes and would buy them two at a time. I never leave without a box of breakfast pastries and two baguettes, even if I’m not quite sure when I’ll eat them (I always manage).
Blueberry pancakes. Full stop. Breakfast here is old-school, filled early with local folks who work the boats and docks in the Old Port. Get what you like, but I have eaten only the superb pancakes the three dozen or so times I have been here.
The Porthole is nothing fancy, which is precisely why I love it. Open since 1929, this place started out as a quick place for lobstermen to grab breakfast. Today, you can still do a cheap and delicious breakfast (the English-muffin egg sandwich is $8 and comes with home fries) and deck views of the working waterfront. It also does a casual lunch or dinner—go and order selections from the raw bar, a lobster roll or steamed clams.