After traversing the West Coast this past summer, Chris and I decided to pay the East Coast a little visit for what I thought was just his birthday celebration (turns out we also got engaged!). New York is usually the obvious choice, but since I've been there multiple times, going somewhere new (my new travel rule) felt like the right thing to do. With an expired passport and most of the U.S. already covered, we set our sights on Portland, Maine knowing little to nothing about the culture. And now, this city now holds a very special place in my heart.
For a short trip, this could not have been any more perfect. Portland is a small, lively city with a rich design and food culture. It also offers day trip options to amazing places like Acadia National Park for a good nature fix. Our trip was dedicated to trying everything we could get our grubby little hands on, and we made it a point to do so. So let's start with our focus: the food.
On our food crawls, Chris and I experienced 3-4 restaurants per day. Yes, that's correct - we indulged, guys. BIG TIME. And it was worth it. We carefully planned our order selections so that we could try as much as possible. And now we can tell you all about it!
Our first stop was at Duckfat to kick us off, so we only ordered a small bowl of the smoked duck breast and kale, as well as the poutine to save stomach space. Both were amazing and it was our first taste of Portland, which signified the greatness to come. Not only was the food great, but the branding of the restaurant was perfectly exectuted – emphasizing this gem of a design culture.
One of the highlights of our trip was an unbelievably tasty brown butter lobster roll that will rock your world and cause you to second guess why you ever ate anything else in life. This small roll might make you wake up crying in the middle of a lobster roll induced dream, wishing you had one (or two) sitting on your nightstand in that moment to throw back into your gullet. It will literally make you sit back in your chair at Eventide Oyster Co. and wonder what you did right in life to deserve such a treat. We went back a second time over the course of our stay to have another and savor every bite. It's not only about the lobster roll, everything here is simply delicious – an absolute MUST!
We also greatly enjoyed Fore Street for their wine selection and dessert. We stopped in at the end of the night for one last bite and sip. A posh, dim lit lounge area sits next to the dining room and makes for a great going out, or night cap, ambience.
A final favorite spot is Central Provisions. You can't make reservations, but we only waited about twenty minutes for a table and ordered around (oops!) ten small plates from the menu. This particular night we celebrated Chris's birthday and our engagement – the champagne was flowin' and the small plates were pilin' up. A standout dish was the suckling pig, but everything was delicious and their craft cocktails are very thoughtfully mastered.
If your sweet tooth is calling, The Standard Baking Co, which lives below Fore Street, has an excellent selection of pastries. We stopped in for morning coffee and a croissant to find ourselves sitting on their outdoor patio, soaking in the quiet morning hours.
I also fell in love with a few Portland brands that gained my Instagram following: Portland Dry Goods and KCollette. Portland Dry goods carries quality brands and unique pieces. Though pricey, if you find something you love it's worth it! KCollette has a curated collection that's authentic and celebrates the story and craft of each artisan. I wanted everything in there, and it was a pleasure to browse.
Since Acadia National Park was a little too far for our short trip, we did a day trip to Camden where we had brunch, went antique shopping, and drove up Mount Battie, which overlooks the bay and town. Traveling to Portland in early October is the perfect time to see hints of fall arriving in shades of red and yellow, giving the feelies that Fall often gives – happiness and contentment.
Portland was an incredible choice for a four day weekend trip. Great food, an impressive design culture, and kind people. Plus, it's a smaller city so it's very simple to navigate. I highly recommend and have so many more amazing ideas to share if you are curious. Thanks for reading!