Dishes and Dives – Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine, has distinguished itself as an ultimate “foodie” destination, earning acclaim from regional and national magazines, and winning a spot on many a “top ten” list. If you’ve spent any leisure time in Maine, chances are you’ve spent some time looking for places to eat in our largest city. There is no shortage of gastronomic gems in Portland, so rather than asking the “experts” we had a little fun and asked the locals!

“Dishes and Dives” as recommended by Sabre Associates.


Jamie’s Favorites:

Breakfast: Should you find yourself by the waterfront, the notorious Becky’s Diner, on Commercial street, offers the classic diner experience with lots of local flavor. Pro Tip: If you stop by Becky’s during the breakfast rush, expect to wait for a seat as it is usually busy, especially in the summertime.

Lunch: If you enjoy Chinese food, then Empire is the spot for lunch. Located on Congress Street, this restaurant offers traditional and modern Chinese food while taking advantage of the local seafood options. They specialize in Dim Sum, which is a style of brunch featuring dumplings and savory dishes.

Dinner: Looking for a dinner spot with a fun atmosphere that won’t break the bank? Find your way over to Exchange Street and check out The Grill Room. This urban steakhouse features dishes from their wood-fired grill and pizza oven, making it a great place to order a rib-eye or to try their delicious duck breast.

Jamie’s Must-Have: Empire’s garlic green beans, spicy pork belly buns, honey walnut shrimp and shumai dumplings, a perfect meal for two!


Lee’s Favorites:

Breakfast:  Across town from Becky’s diner, Lee recommends the Miss Portland Diner for its authentic American breakfast. Located on Marginal Way, it’s hard to miss the distinguished renovated train-car that is the diner.

Lunch:  On Congress street, Lazzari is an Italian-style restaurant that is typically open for late nights. However, Friday through Sunday, they open at eleven. Give them a try if you’re looking for a few drinks, pizza (which is their specialty), or other Italian options.

Dinner: For a fun meal, Lee recommends Taco Escobarr for their colorful Mexican offerings and their fantastic margaritas. Stop over on Congress Street for happy hour from 4-7 to enjoy some $5-ritas.

Lee’s must-have: Taco Escobarr’s chicken enchilada with a strawberry jalapeno margarita.


Daniel’s Favorites:

 Breakfast: Daniel also recommends the Miss Portland Diner for its selection and classic American breakfast.

Lunch: On Portland street, ISA Bistro serves a variety of options, from seafood and meats to pasta and vegetable choices. Their menu changes seasonally, but you really can’t go wrong.

Dinner: Daniel had two recommendations for dinner, the first being Hugo’s, on Middle Street. Hugo’s offers creative dishes, all of which are wonderfully done, from local seafood to house-made pickles. You can find just about anything you want on their menu. Just off of Congress Street, on Maine Wharf, is the equally matched Scales, home to great American and seafood selections along with a beautiful waterfront view. This is where Daniel gets one of his favorite dishes, the scallops and the sweetbreads.

As Sabre’s resident food expert, we asked Daniel to recommend a few more options.

  • Offering excellent Spanish inspired cuisine, Chaval serves up an incredible range of seasonal options and creative dishes.
  • Blue Spoon is a cozy and excellent bistro on Monjoy Street, an up-and-coming area of Portland.
  • If you’re looking for Chinese food: Empire is a favorite, as well as Lio. Lio offers a greater wine selection than you could possibly drink (no, that’s not a challenge), all while serving well-coordinated small plates.
  • For excellent Japanese food, try Pai Men Miyake, offering Chef’s Choice sushi, omakase meals, and other dishes sourced from the owner’s farm.
  • Finally, for some Mediterranean flavor, Tiqa offers Mediterranean tastes through the owners’ family roots, and Evo serves contemporary Mediterranean options that also take shape seasonally.
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