Portland, Maine: Three reasons to make the detour
“New England has never been a more varied or exciting culinary destination,” and Portland, Maine, is doing more than its share to make that so, said Bill Addison and Anestes Fotiades in Eater.com. The gateway city to Maine’s midcoast “punches above its weight at every turn,” so of course it has a must-stop for culinary adventurers no matter the time of day. All three of the spots below just made Eater’s list of New England’s best restaurants.
Eventide Oyster Co. This always-crowded joint, open till midnight, “sets the standard for the modern oyster bar—not only in New England but for all of America.” You should expect a wait, but also expect to be bowled over by the variety of fresh local oysters. The specials are always great, but don’t miss the signature lobster roll, dressed with browned butter, milk powder, and lemon. 86 Middle St., (207) 774-8538
Tandem Coffee + Bakery Tandem was already a beloved local roastery in 2014 when the owners added a West End location and brought in innovative baker Briana Holt. Holt’s creations “perfectly balance sweet and savory.” For breakfast, try a bowl of turmericspiked steel-cut oats or a wedge of plum-and–black pepper pie. No doubt, “you’ll be back by noon”—for lunch specials like the capicola sandwich with chickweed and chile-infused honey. 742 Congress St., (207) 805-1887
Drifters Wife Here’s a great place to get to know natural wines, thanks to a 200-bottle list and the “infectious” enthusiasm of owners Peter and Orenda Hale. Better yet, the wine-bar side of Drifters Wife is “matched in tone and quality” by the dishes on chef Ben Jackson’s bistro menu: a duck consommé, say, or roast chicken and carrots, offset by a house-made yogurt. 63 Washington Ave., (207) 805-1336