By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective
One of the best ways to experience travel is by indulging in the local cuisine.
In Portland, Maine, there are many dishes crafted with fresh, local food that every visitor must try. Here are the top 10 dishes that Portlanders love — and visitors will, too:
1. Pancakes With Maple Syrup
The most important meal of the day needs to be delicious and satisfy hearty appetites. Pairing buttery pancakes with fresh fruit and local syrup to make breakfast is classic. For Portlanders, the pancakes are great, but they aren’t necessarily the highlight. It’s the maple syrup — which is produced all over Maine — that makes the meal.
People from Maine love their maple syrup so much, they have a day called Maine Maple Sunday each year in March to celebrate the official state sweetener.
2. Potato Donuts
Typical donuts are made with yeast, salt, butter, sugar, buttermilk and flour — but then there are potato donuts. This Portland staple has those same ingredients as well, but there are also mashed potatoes thrown in, making them heartier than your typical glazed or iced breakfast treat.
People in Portland love that they can eat their savory spuds in a sweet way. The Holy Donut, made potato donuts a staple when they opened in 2011 and started cranking out 40 dozen a week — all made from scratch — before growing to 100 dozen and more. Now, they make over two million donuts a year.
3. Poutine Fries
Poutine is also popular among Portland potato enthusiasts, especially when it originated just next door. Originally from Canada, poutine is made with thick-cut french fries, locally sourced cheese curds and homemade gravy. The dish is typically offered as an appetizer or side and is gone within minutes.
4. Hot Dogs
Carnival and fair food have a place on the Portlander’s plate as well.
Jazzing up a hot dog is something Portland takes pride in, especially when creative renditions become popular. Made with local beef, restaurants like Blue Rooster Co. and El Corazon are crafting franks featuring flavors like kimchi, peanuts, beans and guacamole. Adding a bit more to the hot dog seems to give it a better spot on the menu.
5. Crab Salad
Crab salad is a customizable dish, which can be offered as an appetizer or main meal. Crabbers catch and harvest their crabs off Portland’s own shores, so the crab is always fresh. Top a bed of fresh greens with it or use it to dress up your pasta salad for some northern Atlantic flair.
A traditional clambake you might find in New England is done over a fire-pit in the sand — but it can also be done without. It’s made of mussels, clams, lobster and any other kind of seafood you like, along with corn, potatoes, onions and other veggies. It’s completely customizable, so it’ll likely vary a bit depending on where it’s being served, but it’s perfect for those who want to indulge in a variety of seafood. Plus, it feeds multiple people at one time, so it’s ideal for sharing at parties and special occasions.
7. Haddock Chowder
Haddock and fish chowder is another delicacy Portlanders love. The dish was created by Helen and Larry Mugnai when they opened Helen’s Restaurant in 1950, and it’s been called a New England classic ever since.
8. Lobster Grilled Cheese
It wouldn’t be the best bites of Portland, Maine without mentioning lobster.
Lobster finds itself in many seafood dishes, but none are like the lobster grilled cheese. Seared between two thick slices of bread with melted butter and cheese, lobster grilled cheese is a classic made for Portlanders of all ages.
9. Lobster Pie
Besides adding lobster to their grilled cheese, Portlanders have found ways to incorporate lobster into other dishes, too.
Combining all the warm, comforting aspects of pot pie with Portland lobster, lobster pot pies are popping up on the food scene and delighting taste buds. It’s like chicken pot pie, but it uses lobster tails and crab combined with the chicken broth and fresh vegetables instead.
10. Lobster Rolls
Offered at many restaurants and food stands, lobster rolls are one of the best dishes when it comes to traditional Portland fare. Blanketed with butter that highlights the fresh catch and seeps into the soft bun, a lobster roll is something every Portland visitor should experience. It’s one of the must-eat items when you visit Maine.
The Way to Portland’s Heart
Any of the dishes above are bound to turn visitors into happy travelers. When stomachs are satisfied, so are hearts — and they’ll want to come back.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.