Portland Maine: The Food & Drink Guide

Editor’s Note: This post is written by a member of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

Nestled along the shoreline of southern Maine amongst the small coastal northeastern towns is one of our favorite food destinations in the United States. When we lived in New York City, Portland was an escape from the city’s congestion and high prices. Little did we know that those were the good old days and that this seaside town would be discovered. Today we don’t bat an eye at a $30+ Lobster Roll, and the days of $12 lobster rolls are a precious memory of the past. Ultimately, if it weren’t fantastic, I wouldn’t be paying those kinds of prices, nor would I be recommending that you plan a trip entirely around food. Granted, there is plenty to see and do, but the fare is the highlight of any trip to Portland.

The Lobster Roll Round-Up

Let’s face the hard truth first. You go to Maine, you have a lobster roll, and you consider your trip to Maine a success. But there is more to the lobster roll than you see on the surface. There is a huge rivalry of sorts amongst lobster roll aficionados: Maine vs. Connecticut. It comes down to cold vs. warm and mayonnaise vs. butter, respectively. Wondering where I stand? Would you ever admit to loving one of your children more than the other? No. I’m equal opportunity, mayo, and butter.

Eventide Oyster Co.

If you’re coming here and expecting cold lobster tossed in mayonnaise on a buttered roll, you might be surprised with what you get. See, Eventide does things differently. Cold lobster salad? Nope. The lobster is lightly warmed. Mayonnaise? Wrong again. Think warm lobster claw and knuckle pieces tossed in a decadent brown butter vinaigrette. Buttered New England hot dog bun? By now, you know that’s not the case. A spongy steamed bao bun. It’s so distinct and so delicious that Eventide has gone as far as to trademark its lobster roll. It’s that good. Pro-tip, the wait at Eventide is often 2+ hours, so place an order online and eat them on the picnic tables on the grassy area half a block away.

Bite Into Maine

If you’re looking for a classic Lobster Roll, Bite into Maine is our top option. If you’re also looking for a lobster roll with a twist, Bite into Maine is also our top option. My favorite is the “Picnic Style.” It has a lightly dressed, finely chopped coleslaw and is sprinkled with celery salt. Typically, I’m not a coleslaw person, but it works here for whatever reason. John goes for the wasabi lobster roll. It’s light on the wasabi but adds a touch of heat that offsets the cool mayonnaise. Oh, and did we mention that there is a kettle of clarified butter that they drizzle on top of your lobster roll when you retrieve your order? Not for the light at heart. Bite into Maine has a few locations: Allagash Brewery and Portland Head Lighthouse are their food truck locations, and their Scarborough location menu is more extensive.

Beyond the Lobster

When you tire of lobster, you know there are good (in fact, stellar) options that aren’t seafood-focused. We always like to try the new restaurants in the area, but these are the tried and true restaurants that we always make our way to.

Noodles at Honey Paw

Honey Paw Wings and Khao Soi

The Honey Paw

Southeast Asian fare is brought to you by the same restaurant group that runs Eventide Oyster Bar. Often times we will opt to dine here when we cannot fathom waiting for hours at Eventide. Typically the wait is not very long. Honey Paw shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking for bold flavors. Khao Soi is highly recommended, especially if you’re here on a cool Autumn evening. Braised lamb and thick egg noodles come nested in a curry-laced coconut milk broth. Wings come crispy, sweet, and savory…and addictive! Leave room for dessert. Their rotating soft serve and cake options are worth stopping for even if you aren’t having a meal.


Scratch Baking Company

I’m making a bold statement – these are the best bagels in the U.S. Scratch Baking only offers a few flavors of bagels: sea salt, sesame, poppy seed, and everything. They are best early in the morning when the bagels maintain their airy interiors and chewy exteriors. Sea salt and poppy seed are true winners here and don’t pass on the whipped cream cheese either. Toasting is not necessary if you’re eating them fresh. Be prepared to get there early, or place an order online to reserve your bagels if you like sleeping in. Scratch Baking is only a short drive from the Portland Head Lighthouse, so if you can resist not tearing into your bagel, you will be rewarded with a fantastic bagel with a view. They also have a large selection of baked goods, all of which have been delightful.

Central Provisions

Get the raw beef salad. Don’t question it, and you can thank us later. Like most Portland restaurants, you’ll want to make a reservation or be prepared to wait. Dimly lit and incredibly inviting, try to budget enough time to sit at the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Central Provisions is an ideal choice for group dining since many dishes are meant for sharing, and you’ll get to sample more of the menu with a group of 4 or 6. Their menu is ever-changing based on seasonality and intentionally balanced across proteins, vegetables, and seafood options. Great cocktails and a thoughtful wine list will likely keep you lingering past your meal.

Eventide Oyster Co. (Listed Twice for a Reason)

You’ll notice that Eventide is on the list twice and not by mistake. While they make insanely delectable brown butter vinaigrette lobster rolls, sticking around and sampling their extensive oyster offering would behoove you. Cocktail sauce and Mignonette are offered as standard accouterments, but their kimchi ice and pickled red onion ice is an enlightening approach to the oyster experience. If, after two lobster rolls and a dozen oysters, you don’t think you can have another bite, think again. The Maine lobster stew is worth undoing your pants’ top button. Not traditional in any sense, the Eventide lobster stew is a green curry stew with large and small pieces of lobster, sweet potatoes, and coconut milk. Mind-blowingly good.

The Beer Guide

When you need a break from the vast culinary landscape that is Portland, you’ll be overjoyed to know that Portland has one of the most breweries per capita in the United States. While there are too may good breweries to visit in one stay (although John has!), we have narrowed our recommendations to those that are most inviting, social, and have food.

Maine Beer Company

In addition to having great beer, wood-fired pizzas, and a beautiful indoor and outdoor space, Maine Beer Company is a downright upstanding company. They are committed to treating their employees right (they pay 100% of their health insurance and provide ample time off), and they pledge a portion of their proceeds to environmental organizations. Their facility has a ridiculous amount of solar that will get any Leisure Travel Van owner thinking about how they can add more panels to their roof. While this brewery isn’t in Portland per say, it is in Freeport, which is about a 20-minute drive away. There is plenty to do in the area to make the drive worthwhile, such as outlets and the very popular L.L. Bean.

Bissell Brothers Brewing

Bright and airy and filled with intensely colored murals, your mood will be instantly lifted when you walk into Bissell Brothers. It’s a fun space to have a meal, a quick beer, or linger and get some work done. Their beer offering tends to be heavy on the IPA, but there are generally various styles available on tap. Bissell Brothers frequently have can releases, where you can purchase one or two beers that are small batch produced. Food options are fairly standard pub fare, but they have plenty of vegetarian-friendly options as well.

Allagash Brewing Company

One of our favorite autumnal breweries to visit, Allagash is a great place to spend an afternoon. They have a vast outdoor space with games and food, which makes it popular amongst families and tourists. Probably a safer bet for people who like beer for recreation as they generally have lighter beers but no less variety. Their beer is distributed nationally, but this brewery feels local and homey.

You’ll be sure to find us in Portland in the fall when the air is crisp, some of the crowds have thinned, and the leaves are putting on a spectacular show. Let us know if you have any favorite places to check out next time we’re there. Even better, if you plan to be there in the fall, let us know, and maybe we can even have a lobster roll and beer meet and greet!

Living Young Until a Ripe Old Age

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Hill is a member of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

How many lifestyles do we live during our days on this earth? Looking back to earlier times, I’ve realized just how much my lifestyle has evolved over the years.

Adopting And Adapting Camping

In the late 1980s, I was in my twenties and finding independence. After getting married in 1988, my husband and I started to build a life together and the lifestyle we adopted at the time influenced our story. We loved traveling and camping and as two working professionals, we took every opportunity on the weekends and on vacations to explore our world. Camping back then consisted of a two-person pop-up tent and a duffel bag filled with camping essentials however, electricity or “hookups” were not in our vocabulary during those days. On the weekends, we would spend time exploring with friends. Stuffing our tiny Toyota Camry with four (young) adults, tents, camping chairs, and sleeping bags sure didn’t provide much glamour but when it came to food, that’s where I brought out my love for cooking. My friend and I both shared the same love for cooking and together, we made each weekend a new culinary adventure by experimenting with cooking over campfires and charcoal. We made steak, seafood, and amazing pork chops on the same Weber Smokey Joe that we still use today! In the coals of our campfires, we cooked roasted potatoes, corn, and onions, just to mention a few.

The late 1990s was the beginning of bringing children into our lives. Our camping adventures started to involve a family tent with a 10 ft x 10 ft center and three rooms that extended from the sides. We had a portable crib in each one of the rooms and my husband and I slept in the center with all of our gear; needless to say, we no longer fit into a duffel bag! Our dinner choices became more simple with a family but we still appreciated a good burger over charcoal! Besides, how can you go wrong with a hotdog on a stick over the fire? Of course, roasted corn and potatoes still had their place in the hot coals of the fire, and s’mores were always the highlight of the evening!

A flash back to tent camping with young children.

The early to mid-2000s brought a much more hectic schedule than we could have ever imagined. Our camping weekends gave way to soccer games, dance recitals, swim meets, and gymnastic meets, and the camping adventures turned into backyard sleepovers and we added a simple 10 ft x 10 ft Coleman tent to our collection for the ease of setting up. Back yard parties with neighborhood families ended with s’mores and kids sleeping in the tent in the backyard. In those days, we fed ourselves well during our neighborhood parties even though our Smokey Joe gathered dust in the garage, our new Weber gas grill served the neighborhood well.

Back yard camping with young teenagers.

Empty Nesting And Changes For The Good

Fast forward to 2017, our last child graduated high school and moved away to college thus beginning our lives as empty nesters. This phase has proven to be the most drastic lifestyle change on many different levels. Inevitably, as you enter the empty nest phase, you do indeed get older but also as you get older, you have to watch your parents get even older and in many cases, decline in health. As with many people our age, we started to watch and deal with the health problems of our parents, particularly on my husband’s side. After months of research, we made the decision to go on a heart-healthy diet because of the heart disease that runs in my husband’s family. A major cause of heart disease is inflammation in the body so we decided to cut out all foods that cause inflammation from our diet which is a long list. The main foods on the list that we no longer eat are sugar, grains, legumes, and night shade vegetables which include tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, and all members of the squash family. We have now been eating this way for five years and it’s become more of a lifestyle rather than a diet and while we never set weight loss as the reason for this change, with regular exercise my husband lost 35 pounds and I lost 14 pounds over the course of a few months.

Now that we have recently entered retirement, we continue to live this lifestyle with the goal of “living young until a ripe old age.” We often meet people who are curious about our eating style as well as those who are completely overwhelmed by it. Most people who are overwhelmed also struggle with weight or health problems and don’t believe they can sustain a healthy eating habit long term. If you are one of those people, I hope you find some encouragement in the substitutes in my delicious recipes.

Over the years, we have found substitutes for almost every type of food that we have eliminated. These substitutes are better for our bodies and overall health. However, don’t be fooled when it comes to calories. In many cases, these substitutes have equal or more calories. For example, most alternative flours are made from nuts which naturally are higher in calories. Therefore, don’t let yourself be tricked into believing you have a free ticket to overindulge yourself because just as many things go in life, moderation is important!

The Journey To Our “Wanda Jane”

About the time we became empty nesters and started our new eating lifestyle, my dad gave us an aged, Coleman trailer that he no longer used which we pulled to some new places that we had never been to in our home state of Colorado.

After a year of pulling around the old Coleman trailer, we attended the Denver RV Show where we were introduced to Leisure Travel Vans. A few months later, we drove our Wonder named Wanda Jane home from Colorado Springs. 


Turkey Meatball Sandwich Featuring Against The Grain Bread

To one pound of turkey, add:

Roll into balls and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and serve on a toasted bun with stone ground mustard, sauteed mushrooms, and provolone cheese.

The first thing people always tell us when they hear about all the foods we don’t eat is “I can’t live without bread!” We have actually found many great brands that are grain free. Some of our favorites are Base Culture and Against the Grain. We have also found some great crackers from Simple Mills which is a company that makes a variety of grain-free products. Our favorite is their almond crackers which have become a staple in our pantry.

Simple Mills Almond Crackers are the perfect staple for your pantry!

The next most popular comment is “I cannot give up Italian food”, especially pasta and pizza! Our favorite pasta substitutes are Miracle noodles and Jovial grain-free pasta. Against the Grain makes a wonderful grain-free pizza made with pesto.

Bolognese Featuring Miracle Noodles

Top noodles with bolognese sauce and enjoy!

The third most popular comment is “I can’t give up Mexican food!” The brand Siete has you covered in so many ways! This is a family-owned brand that started because they had children with allergies. They make wonderful chips, taco shells, cassava, and almond flour wraps that don’t fall apart) Siete also makes a variety of Mexican sauces without additives, gluten, or sugar. Crepini and Egglife both make amazing crepe-like, grain-free wraps that can be used for an array of recipes including sandwiches and burritos.

Siete Chips

Enchiladas made with Crepini wraps

Lastly, there is the whole issue of sugar because it is literally in almost everything! Primal Kitchen does an amazing job with its sugar-free products. They make every condiment from ketchup to barbecue sauce to salad dressings and marinades all sugar-free! For a sugar substitute, we found that Lakanto makes a monkfruit sugar substitute. Monkfruit is a herbaceous perennial vine of the gourd family. This plant is cultivated for its fruit extract, which creates a sweetness 250 times stronger than sucrose. In our opinion, it tends to have a less undesirable aftertaste than pure stevia.  Needless to say, if you have a sweet tooth, monkfruit sweetener will get the job done! The best part is that when used in recipes, it behaves very similar to the real sugar without spiking your glucose. Note: I always reduce the amount by half when substituting in recipes. We choose to use monkfruit sparingly, but on those occasions where dessert is needed, it is a perfect choice! 

Primal Kitchen Sugar-Free Sauces

Monkfruit Sweetener

We also love Birchbenders which is a Denver, Colorado-based company that makes a wonderful sugar-free and grain-free mix for pancakes and waffles.

Birchbenders pancakes: Shown here with unsweetened yogurt, berries, and grain-free granola.

Look At How Far We’ve Come

At the beginning of our eating lifestyle, we either gave up foods we loved or tried baking them ourselves. Although we do have a few favorite recipes we still make from scratch along the way, we have found substitutes for almost everything. The products we have found make it very easy to continue eating healthy while we travel with Wanda Jane. We no longer have a desire for fast food or truck stop junk food and I feel just as great cooking in my LTV kitchen as I do in my own house. 

If you have considered adopting a more healthy eating plan for weight loss, health issues, or simply longevity of life, I hope you have gained some encouragement to do so. Start small by giving yourself a goal of thirty days. You can do anything for a short amount of time and chances are very great that you will join me in never turning back. After all, everyone deserves a long, healthy lifetime of enjoying their LTV lifestyles.

Got Oxygen?

Wow! The air does seem thin up here we thought, as we stepped down out of our Unity travel van. We were in Leadville, Colorado for the weekend. Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the United States, sitting at an elevation of 10,152 ft.  We were here this particular weekend for a running race.  Well … maybe Teresa was, but I was really here to cheer her on, at least at the start and finish, and then ride my mountain bike while she was out of sight!  To call this a ‘running’ race may be stretching it a little though.  I did see people running, but I probably saw even more people making a quick walk or slow run of it.  Regardless, it was a race and no matter how you finished, running or walking, it was a huge task and even bigger accomplishment!

The race is called the Leadville Trail Marathon and Heavy Half.  You get the option to choose which torturous distance you wish to subject yourself to.  For the non-runners reading this, a typical half-marathon is a distance of 13.1 miles.  As you may have noticed in the title of the race, this is called the ‘Heavy’ half.  Well, to add a little more excitement?… challenge?… torture?, the half is actually 15.46 miles.  Don’t worry though, the marathon distance is only 26.2 miles, yep…. twenty six point two miles!!  Did I mention were at the highest city in the United States?  And, to add to the difficulty of the event, you were not only going to start the race at 10,152 ft, but you were going to immediately climb… and climb… and continue to climb until you topped out at a maximum elevation of 13,185 ft.  Then, once you got there, you would turn yourself around and head back to the start/finish line.

Now, I don’t want to make this all about a running race, that none of you may have interest in.  I  really want to tell you about Leadville and our experience camping there and enjoying this quaint historic mining town with an extensive history and amazing views.  This was our first time to Leadville and we weren’t sure what to expect.  We parked Pedro (our Unity CB) at the Leadville RV Corral.  It’s located on the south end of town right off the main street, which isn’t called main, but Harrison Street.  This is a great location in that it allows you to walk everywhere!  The RV park itself isn’t anything fancy, but it’s got all the necessary hookups and amenities.  We ended up not using the showers and bathrooms so I can’t report on that, but I can tell you the WiFi service was good enough to stream movies over.  The owner and manager lives directly on the property and uses a white-board to manage reservations, so don’t expect automatic emails or any type of electronic confirmation when you reserve a spot.  But… rest assured, if you reserve a spot, he will have one for you!

Our RV spot

View out our window

As far as things to do and places to grab some food and drink, there are plenty.  They even have an Oxygen Bar to get a dose of oxygen if the lack of it is wearing you down or you’re suffering from a little bit of altitude sickness.  You can purchase a session and sniff on some flavored oxygen to revive your senses, or you can even purchase portable oxygen cans with an inhaler.  In addition to O2 bars, there are also some regular bars and a local brewery.  We did try some of the local restaurants too.  My favorites were High Mountain Pies and Tennessee Pass Cafe.  High Mountain Pies is a little pizzeria on one of the side streets right off the main street.  They offer pizza, calzones, and sandwiches.  It’s got a very small dine-in area and then some outside seating as well.  The other establishment, Tennessee Pass had more room both inside and outside.  When we went, they had live music playing outside in their large patio area.  Their menu is more extensive with various options and they also provide a good assortment of adult beverages.  The food was quite good!

Tennessee Pass Cafe Patio

Be prepared though, depending on the time of year you go there it could potentially be a little chilly!  Even when we went there in June, the night temperatures dropped!  Remember, you’re at over 10,000 ft., so when the sun goes down so does the temperature.  The main street also has quite a few shops.  Everything from cycling and outdoor gear, to clothing and local arts and crafts.  Leadville is the center for some very extreme running and mountain biking events, as well as festivals.  Some of the events are world class and have even enticed Lance Armstrong to race here.  There is even a movie called, Race Across the Sky, that was filmed about one of the extreme mountain bike races here in Leadville.  So if you plan to go there, you may want to check ahead and see what events may be occurring during your travel time frame.

Leadville was originally a mining town.  The vast majority of miners have since left but the history remains.  We went by the Matchless Mine and checked out the old cabin of Baby Doe.  The Matchless Mine involves one of Colorado’s most famous Silver Kings, a love triangle and a life from riches to poor.   If you want to know more about the history of Leadville and mining you can visit the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum there.

Just the beginning on the way to the summit

We had a great time in Leadville!  We experienced the town, the mountains, some cycling and the views.  It gave us one of our first excursions in the beautiful state of Colorado and made us want more!  Best of all, Teresa finished the race and still had the energy to do more!

Teresa riding the day after her race