When it comes to foodie cities, Portland Maine may not be the first place that comes to mind. New York, New Orleans, San Francisco for sure, but, as I recently discovered while filming new episodes of Outside Today, the tiny seacoast town of Portland is a surprising culinary contender.
After a long day shooting in the studio, Ethan and I hit the streets to sample some of the city’s best eats. The goal? Whet the appetite, tantalize the taste buds and send ourselves into a satisfying, all paralyzing food coma. While there are plenty of different cuisines to choose from, recurring items across all menus include oysters, lobster rolls, New England clam chowder, little neck clams, and a host of other delicacies caught fresh daily.
If you find yourself in this quaint coastal town and are looking for a delicious meal, be sure to check out one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Portland:
J’s Oyster Bar: This gruff, fisherman type townie hangout on the waterfront serves up fresh seafood, local beer, melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes, homemade cheesecake and a boat load of dive-bar charm. This low-key local institution doesn’t take reservations , so be prepared to wait in line or try to snag a seat at the first-come-first served bar.
FlatBread Company: If you like organic produce, nitrate-free tomatoes and pizza baked in a wood-fired cauldron, this is your place! This is where Ethan and I do our best script work (and our most indulgent eating). My favorite is the Coevolution, a flatbread with Kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, red onions, oven roasted red peppers, goat cheese, mozzarella and garlic. Delicious!
Cinqua Terra: Just reading their menu can induce salivation. Pan seared Maine scallops with parsnip purée, brussel sprouts, pancetta, balsamic caper aioli. Hand rolled gnocchi with black currants, organic radicchio, Gorgonzola dolce. Roasted duck leg with Italian farro, sautéed kale, duck liver mousse crostini. OMG. Epicurious.com called this Italian restaurant one of the “Top 10 Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the U.S.A” and I’d have to agree. Amazing oysters, delicious deserts but fyi – the service is a bit slow.
Fore Street: A favorite restaurant in Portland, you can’t beat this cozy hangout
complete with exposed brick, an extensive wine list and a bustling open kitchen. The menu changes daily with locally grown, organic food. Start with the goat cheese and heirloom tomato tart and go from there…pretty much everything on the menu is amazing.
Walter’s: In the heart of the Old Port, this hot spot serves eclectic seasonal cuisine with innovative global flair. I started with the addictive Cracklin’ Calamari (spice dusted, lemon caper cherry pepper aioli, basil leaf, candied jalapenos), followed by the haddock (brioche crusted, herb ricotta crab stuffed French crepes, horseradish parmesan cream and smoked tomato coulis). My compliments to the chef.