Seafood, seaside and more in Portland, Maine
Updated: Nov 4
Seafood and more in Portland, Maine
Portland is a great starting point to get a feel for Maine. More commercial than quaint, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's touristy. One of the bonuses of being in downtown Portland is it's proximity to the ocean, thus fresh seafood.
The brick-lined and trendy Old Port Exchange is right on the water and great place to walk around to do some shopping. Ships abound with the beauty that is a harbor town. You'll find plenty of small businesses and larger retailers, as well as plenty of food choices.
SPOILER ALERT: MAINE IS PRICEY, BUT…
Quaint little villages literally dot the countryside from Boothbay to Bar Harbor. Truly, this is no exaggeration.
I'm from Georgia where some small towns might have a certain charm and appeal, while others are remnants of forgotten times and industry. In Maine, every municipality is reminiscent of a bygone era that is still breathing: from Revolutionary, Cape Cod, and farm buildings to lighthouses, covered bridges, and churches. There is a certain depth here that differs from my home. Perhaps it's proximity to the ocean and colonial history have enabled Maine to cultivate a kind of down home, fishing village kind of movie-magic. Mainers are friendly, and their slow-paced culture drips from every fishing boat, lobster roll, and chowder.
The local charm is something unique to this region of the country. And, unquestionably, the lobster is the sweetest and softest I've ever had the good fortunate to taste. How could it not be? It's literally trapped and sold immediately.
But even if you're not a lobster fan, like my wife, you will still find an overabundance of haddock, wild blueberries, pottery, and other New England favorites.
So, yes, the prices are may be somewhat high, but the tradeoff is fantastic seafood, local beer, and unique takes on traditional appetizers and cocktails. If you're looking for seafood in Portland, Maine, check out some of my recommendations below.
DiMillo's On The Water
The Pirate Ship theme is a bit cliche, but it didn't detract from the food.
Worth a stop is DiMillo’s On the Water. It's an actual ship - a floating restaurant - so it is, of course, pirate-themed. Don't let that deter you, tough, because the food is really incredible.
Since I do love a great cocktail, I opted for the Gin Smash. Aside from haddock, a popular staple in Portland dining, the highlight was a lobster stew appetizer. Similar in many ways to Charleston's She Crab Soup, this rich and creamy seafood soup is pretty darn delicious. And the lobster chunks are ginormous!
When my youngest son began his freshman year of college at Boston University, we knew that southern boy needed some real winter clothes. So, during Parent's Weekend in October of 2022, we piled in the TINIEST rented car you've (literally) ever seen and headed to L.L. Bean in Freeport. ME.
If you've never been to the original L.L. Bean store, I highly recommend it. Not only is Freeport another quintessential Maine town (albeit slightly touristy), the store has anything and everything you can imagine for wintery, warm apparel.
On our return trip, we stopped in Old Towne Portland to give him a feel for another side of Maine. This time, we dined at Luke's Lobster.
While I feel like Maine gets some slack for being pricey, I'll say it again: it's the best seafood around AND they are generous with the portions.
I mean, just look at that haddock sandwich!