If you’re anything like us, the first thing you do when planning a trip—perhaps even before booking a plane ticket—is figure out where you’re going to eat while you’re there. Museums, sightseeing, and shopping are all well and good, but food is often the main attraction. To make trip planning a little easier, we’re compiling lists of our can’t-miss pit stops in some of our favorite places. JBF Award winners, hole-in-the-wall favorites, America’s Classics, and one-hit wonders—we’ll give you a quick rundown of our absolute must-eats in each featured location.
Low-key Portland, Maine, has quietly become a culinary powerhouse, with Japanese noodle joints, cheeky oyster bars, and artisanal gelato shops headlining the small city's impressive array of edible offerings. Here are the places we couldn't get enough of during a recent visit:
Eventide Oyster Co.
The new owners of Hugo's knew what they were doing when they opened this sibling oyster bar next door. There they offer a daily list of more than a dozen raw oysters from Maine and beyond, as well as a smartly edited menu of seafood standbys like New England clam chowder with salt pork; lobster rolls dressed with hollandaise, house mayo, or brown butter vinaigrette; and crudi.
Highlights: Raw oysters with accoutrements like Tabasco ice or tomato water; special of cucumber-cured Arctic char with melon, mint, and kasha
Pan Men Miyake
Japanese for "100 noodles," Pan Men Miyake is Portland's second restaurant from chef Masa Miyake, who has been dazzling locals with his sushi mastery at Miyake since 2007. At this more casual spot, several types of ramen, tastefully creative sushi, and small Japanese dishes like gyoza are on offer. Many items are made with fowl, pork, and produce from Miyake Farm in nearby Freeport.
Highlights: Paitan ramen with Miyake Farm chicken and pork broth, pork belly, and soy-marinated egg; steamed pork buns with gochujang mayo and pepper relish
Standard Baking Co.
Owned by husband-and-wife team Matt James and Alison Pray, this small bakery in the heart of Portland's Old Port District excels at artisan French breads and pastries.
Highlights: Frangipane and seasonal fruit tartlets; cinnamon-glazed, croissant-like morning buns; Asiago fougasse
The Gelato Fiasco
This inspired gelateria offers a rotating selection of more than 30 gelato and sorbet flavors, like blood orange, black currant, and passion fruit–caramel, all made with Maine milk and natural cane sugar.
Highlights: Blood orange sorbet; fresh cream gelato
Rabelais: Fine Books on Food & Drink
Formerly housed in the Eventide space, this absorbing collection of new, rare, and out-of-print cookbooks and other culinary collectibles recently relocated to a larger space in Biddeford, about 20 minutes south of Portland. The shop is open on Saturdays and by appointment only during the rest of the week, so call ahead to schedule a visit.
Highlights: The vast selection of cookbooks on every subject imaginable (we counted more than 25 bee-related books alone); chests of drawers filled with vintage branded recipe booklets, posters, and other ephemera
Editor's note: the original version of this article incorrectly listed Sam Hayward as the owner of Standard Baking Co. We regret the error.