Beyond the coastline and the beauty of our inland lakes and forests, Maine has made a name for itself in a completely different area – the culinary world. The state has become something of a foodie’s paradise, with new restaurants opening up from Portland to Rockland and just about every place north, south and west. Some spots are only open for a few hours a day and others have a limited menu and inventory. This can mean longer wait times, but we think many are worth that wait. Here are just a few of the harder to get into Maine restaurants that we think are totally worth the wait.
1. Canterbury Royale Gourmet Dining Room, Fort Fairfield
If your dream is to be treated like royalty, you should get yourself to Canterbury Royale as fast as you can. This might be one of the most unusual dining experiences you'll come across. Hidden in Nothern Maine, this spot has only one dinner seating each evening and requires reservations weeks in advance. Once made, you'll be emailed to choose the dish you'd like for each course. People rave about the individual attention of the chefs - from accommodating food allergies to finding a way to incorporate the foods you say are your favorites. The attention to detail is something you won't find at many other restaurants in Maine, let alone the area. Visit them at 182 Sam Everett Road, Fort Fairfield / 207-472-4910
2. The Sedgley Place, Greene
What gives Sedgley Place a spot on this list is their constant stream of patrons who love it for special occasions and holidays. The restaurant has been welcoming folks for their 4 (or so) seatings a day for over 20 years. The homey feel and consistency is what keeps people coming back and reviewers rave about the constantly evolving menu. It changes weekly. Visit them at: 54 Sedgley Road, Greene / 207-946-5990
3. Central Provisions, Portland
Central Provisions has been humming in the Old Port since 2014. The historic building that is home to the restaurant provides the perfect, cozy feel to this small plates and cocktail-focused establishment. If you can't get a table, try showing up for a bar seat. Then, make sure to order enough to share including the spicy beef salad and lobster toast. The suckling pig gets rave reviews as well. Visit them at: 414 Fore Street, Portland / 207-805-1085
5. The Oxford House Inn, Fryeburg
Folks who have visited rave about the food, but the pickled appetizer gets special kudos. The only thing more notable seems to be the service, which is top-notch and includes interested and engaged owners who often stop to chat with customers. Gluten free? You'll have plenty of options here. A reservation is best and, if you've had too much to eat, just roll into bed at the inn! Visit them at: 548 Main Street, Fryeburg / 207-935-3442
5. Havana, Bar Harbor
This Bar Harbor establishment is hard to get into owing mainly to its small size. But, if you love local Maine seafood and American food with a Latin flair, you'll want to dig into the Lobster Moqueca at Havana. The small local restaurant gets rave reviews for both food and cocktails and has an incredible wine list as well. Visit them at: 318 Main Street, Bar Harbor / 207-288-2822
6. Fore Street, Portland
This place is a bit of a Portland institution, so it's no wonder that getting in during the rush dinner hour can be a bit tough. The open kitchen and dining room makes for a lively night, but of course the meal steals the show. The menu is local and changes daily, so you'll always be met with a nice variety. The cocktails are incredible and the separate bar area is a night in and of itself. Remember to make a reservation if you want to eat at a desirable dinner hour. Visit them at: 288 Fore Street, Portland / 207-775-2717
7. Royal River Grill House, Yarmouth
This popular spot in Yarmouth requires a bit of pre-planning. Mostly because you'll want to come hungry, but also because you may have to wait a bit. You may recognize them from our brunch article - we love their brunch, which is marked by great drinks and tons of options. Visit them at: 106 Lafayette Street, Yarmouth / 207-846-1226
8. The Palace Diner, Biddeford
Known for their simple menu items that come impeccably prepared, you won't find typical diner fare at The Palace. While the names may sound familiar, each ingredient is made fresh and local (whenever it makes sense) and the taste is nothing short of perfection. Diner food can sometimes taste quickly prepared, but here individual care is taken with each dish. Visit them at: 18 Franklin Street, Biddeford / 207-284-0015.
9. Emilitsa Greek Restaurant, Portland
Emilitsa is great for special events. The place is always busy, which makes the fact that they stay open later than many other local restaurants a plus. Make a reservation and then try the highly rated octopus appetizer. The Greek coffee is a must-try at the close of your meal. Visit them at: 547 Congress Street, Portland / 207-221-0245
10. The Lost Kitchen, Freedom
Head chef and owner, Erin French, is completely self-taught. Using recipes passed down from her family, she's improved upon them to make them uniquely her own. The kitchen is manned with those she considers friends, who share her love of locally sourced ingredients and beautifully prepared foods. Everything you'll find here is as uncomplicated as possible, while still providing an experience worth the 1.5-hour drive from Portland. But, you'll want to book a few weeks (if not a few months!) in advance if you're hoping for a table. Call them for reservations: (207) 382-3333.
11. Eventide Oyster Co, Portland
The lobster roll here gets so many rave reviews, that we actually didn't want to even mention it here. Give another shellfish a chance, guys! But, now we've gone and mentioned it simply because it's delicious. But, if you're not a lobster person you'll be happy with any of the other incredible menu options. Try the chickpea fries to go along with whatever you order as well. And, make sure you've got snacks while you wait for your turn at a table. Visit them at: 86 Middle Street, Portland / 207-774-8538