Portland, ME

visiting a seaside city in the winter is always interesting. there aren't as many distractions, and the local spots that may have gone overlooked stand out like beacons of light. 

my roommate and i wanted to escape--to gain some creative hydration, so we picked an easy getaway short hours from home. it was my very first time in maine, and we arrived armed with plenty of recommended spots to visit. we stayed in a cute little air bnb on munjoy st., which put us very close to many of the areas we hoped to explore. 

Top Picks: 


TANDEM COFFEE ROASTERS, 122 anderson street

built into the skeleton of an old garage, this roaster is filled with retro gems and baked goods that dot the marble counter top like jewels. any place that has cool neon and indoor plants gets a check of approval in my book, and tandem did not disappoint on either front. if we had not just come from the holy donut toting eight donuts between the two of us, I would have totally walked out with a slice of their pistachio cake that looked like the best freaking pistachio cake one could ever possibly eat. i ended up ordering a regular drip coffee and bought a bag of dark roast beans for home. 

CENTRAL PROVISIONS, 414 fore street

our first meal in portland was appropriately at central provisions, which boasts a locally-sourced, seasonal menu. thanks to karri, we opted to sit at the chef's table, with a view into the open-concept kitchen and the runners' area. every single dish that was produced from that kitchen was a show-stopper, and we honestly had a hard time choosing the dishes that would comprise our meal. we happened to sit in front of chef and owner chris gould who gave us more insight into our dishes and his personal suggestions.


from their daily menu 3/8/2017 we chose:

browne point oysters served with orange-sherry ice

boquerones- reminiscent for me of my time spent in spain, i was not disappointed by chef chris gould's approach to this simple dish. 

cp frites- tossed in a korean chili spice, they were a little sweet, a little spicy, crunchy, and overall insanely delicious. dipped in a beautifully creamy aioli.

spanish mackerel crudo- as suggested by chef

roasted brussels sprouts- i seriously think this was one of my favorite brussels sprouts dishes to date. served in a personal cast iron casserole dish, the brussels sprouts were roasted in a chinese rice wine, tossed with crispy pork and topped with cashew crumbles and scallion. it was a serious party in my mouth.

suckling pig- crispy skin gives way to melty meat finished in a puree of apples and brown butter. i forked marcona almonds into each bite for a little crunch and a buttery finish. so delicious

smoked stonecipher carrots- served on a hearty smear of goat cheese, sprinkled with pistachio and cinnamon. the carrots are smoked with hay and the flavor comes through wonderfully.

for dessert we had our waitress choose for us, and she chose the best thing ever--the cara cara orange curd, which is three heaps of orange curd nestled into pools of marshmallow, centered by a scoop of creamy rooibos ice cream. each heap was completed with pieces of caramelized puff pastry sized to encourage use as a dipping utensil for the creamy, multi-layered plate. 


THE HOLY DONUT, 194 park ave

holy shit. is that why they named their shop the holy donut? because it would make sense. it was the only phrase that made it out of my dough + frosting filled mouth as i took my first bite out of the gluten free chai spice donut.

we visited the original location of this ever-popular spot, and i was super pleased to be greeted by a handful of gluten free options. i took home a pomegranate, chai, and original, and each one was uniquely yummy. they were so sexy that i decided to create a little short of them in the bed of our airbnb. 


DUCKFAT, 43 middle street

say once that your french fries are fried in something other than your standard frying oil and i'm there faster than you can take those fries out of the deep fryer. as the name eludes, their french fries are luxuriously bathed in duckfat resulting in super crispy, perfectly browned potatoes. i highly recommend pairing their fries with the curry mayo sauce. it was a 360 experience in my mouth i tell you. in fact, our whole experience at duckfat was multi-sensory, and every dish had incredible dimension.

also try:

the duck + kale salad: heartily tossed with barley, tart cherries, kale, luscious chunks of duck meat, and topped with crispy duck skin.


PORTLAND POTTERY AND CAFE , 118 washington ave

we stumbled upon portland pottery cafe when we first arrived in town on our way to munjoy street. we made a mental note to come back, and only remembered when we made a wrong turn and ended up on washington ave the following day. we were craving an afternoon coffee and thought to stop in. it was quiet--right in the afternoon lull between lunch and dinner and the cafe had a few patrons enjoying baked goods and coffees sipped out of hand-thrown mugs. we met manda, who invited us to come back in the morning so that she could cook us breakfast.

we came back the next morning, and there she was in the open kitchen, inviting us to sit wherever we'd like. 

karri got the late riser breakfast--a dish of scrambled eggs, peppers, and sausage, and was kindly treated to a side of avocado toast. 

i had the mighty new englander stuffed with housemade corned beef, scrambled eggs, kale, potatoes, and cheddar. the star of the show were the two thick slices of gluten free bread liberally spread with melted butter. my eyes rolled so far back in my head with the first bite. i clenched my chest and exclaimed to karri how freaking delicious this bread was. i spread thick swabs of the homemade raspberry jam that was served with the bread.

as if on cue, manda appeared to ask us how our meals were and simultaneously placed a loaf of this godly bread onto our table-- "i ordered you a loaf of bread last night since i knew you were coming back in this morning", she says. she gifted me a beautiful loaf of this gluten free bread. i was so touched. we were then presented dessert in the form of a monster-sized gluten free cookie of peanut butter, oats, chocolate chips and other goodies, fresh out of the oven. we had to break it apart to get it into the pastry bag--that detail is just for reference of size. 

moral of the story: kindness is so good, you guys. 

tip: head to peyote moon and haberdashery for great shopping options--both of which support sustainable fashion.

TRAVELMaya OrenComment