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"It's too late to turn back, here we go..... to Portland." --The Replacements, 'Portland'

I'm baa-aack!! :) I've been away from Portland for about 3 years, so a lot of this stuff is outdated. I'll be doing research to update this page as soon as I can get my feet under me.

What's there to do in Portland Maine?

My opinions on...
Food; Breakfast, Lunch, Coffee, Dinner, Drinks, Ice-cream.
Excercise; Dancing, Walking In-Town, Walking the Urban Wilds, Hiking(etc).
Other Amusements; Movies, Theatre, Live Music.
Other sources for info...


I try to balance quality of food with affordability, so there might be better places which I won't go because I can't afford them. However, there are hundreds of restaurants around here, so I haven't tried all of them, yet. If you happen to have a suggestion, e-mail me and let me know!
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I recommend Becky's, on Commercial St., for big plates of food at a good price. Yeah it's kind of a greasy spoon, but a pleasant one, I think. I also ought to mention Victory Deli. They have at least one decent breakfast special, and they're right in the middle of town, on Monument Square. Friendship Cafe, on Congress St, is a bit more pricey, but has excellent homemade corned beef hash and is generally a little less greasy.
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Just before I left Portland I got very fond of Oriental Table on Exchange St. For $5 you can get their buffet special - a plate heaped with food, and your choice of soup or a soda. Delicious, and nice decor, very good service. The bean curd in garlic sauce with vegetables is probably their best dish - really good tofu..

Hangin' at coffee shops

Portland is coffee shop capital of Maine, there are probably 8 or 10 within easy walking distance of where I lived. I recommended Java Joe's, but it's changed hands and been renamed The Daily Grind. Right accross the road from The Movies, on Exchange St., in the Old Port is an excellent location. But I haven't been there yet and really can't say if they still have good coffee, board games, or live music, as Java Joe's used to.

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American 'Eclectic': Norm's on Congress St. Still here, since I left and came back, and as good as ever! :) A little expensive, but good enough to be worth it. :) I always want the pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes. Full bar, open until 1am, but they close the kitchen at 10PM, so be aware. For Barbeque: I had recommended Norm's on Middle St. (yup, same Norm) I have to update this, because I think they've moved to India street, but it's probably the same... Very good food, and lots of it. Relaxed, homey atmosphere where you eat at big long tables on benches with other folks. I really liked that they would start you right out with a big pail of pretzels as soon as you stepped in the door. Their only drawback - for sandwiches, they only served them on onion rolls.
Greek: Free Street Taverna, three guesses where it's located. A block off Congress St. The lamb stew and lamb gyros are absolutely mouthwatering... I don't even know or care what the cost is like. My vegetarian friend says the vegy gyro is excellent, too. Also, they have a full bar and often have live music.
Thai: I'm changing my recommendation, here. I had previously recommended Sengthai Food 2, 921 Congress St. (the main drag of Portland). A hole in the wall in a seedier part of town, I had gone with the recommendation of a chef I know. However, since then I've been to Vientian, which I absolutely LOVE. From the outside it looks like a little asian market, but they have about 4 tiny tables stuffed in there, and they do a brisk trade in take-out. The service is generally amazingly fast and friendly, and the food is very fresh.
Indian: Tandoor, on Exchange Street is pretty good. But I'm torn between there and Hi Bombay!, at the corner of Pleasant and Fore Streets. That's where I had my college graduation dinner.
Chinese: Oriental Table (see Lunch).
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For a while I was quite fond of Una. The decor is interestingly sleek, and there's no television, and I love their fresh-baked braided herb bread with olive oil. You have to pay more to not have to see tv, it seems. It -is- too expensive, drinks are about $7. But just before I left Portland the music was getting louder, and they took away the smoked seafood munchies plate which I liked.*pout*

Ice-cream - The Sacrament.

Q's do both a wide variety of really good ice cream and they have Green Mountain coffee, and excellent brownies for $0.50. If you really want to fly! They're located a little outside the Old Port, on the corner of Fore Street and Center Streets, right next to both Hi Bombay and in the same building as the new wine bar, Una. So, when your mouth is burning from that Indian food, or if you need to sober up a bit before staggering home, you have a very short walk. :) But for cheap you can't beat Red's, in South Portland. Decent ice-cream, and a good variety of topping sauces and fruits. (You can also get low-fat ice-cream substitutes, or frozen yoghurt, and non-fat topping sauces.) There are some things to watch out for... sometimes the low-fat ice-cream doesn't keep well, I think. And don't get mint sauce - it tasts like toothpaste.
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and after all that eating, you're going to need some...



I can't give a really good reference, because I didn't go dancing all that often. I used to really like Zootz, but sadly they are out of business now.
I've also really enjoyed the shows at Stonecoast Brewery, where I saw Bim Skala Bim and Beat Soup. (check my links page under music for more about them). But they have been pushed out of their previous location by the landlord raising the rent, and I don't know where they've gone, yet. The problem is, people in Portland don't seem to like to go out. Sometimes you'll go to some national act and there'll only be 5 people in the audience. That can be depressing, I admit..

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Walking In-Town

Window Shopping - plenty to be done in the Old Port.
Scoping Architecture - Portland is one of the older cities of the U.S., and has a plethora of brick and stone buildings - built after the city burned twice.
The Promenades and Back Cove - These three areas are the most planned places where you can power walk, jog or bike, and include excercise stops, porta potties (though not where you really need them!) and drinking fountains.
The two Promenades are; Eastern with the view of the sea, and Western with the view of... well, Westbrook. At Eastern Prom they've put in a new walkway with a narrow-gauge train alongside, which runs from the working waterfront, near the Casco Ferry Terminal, along the water to East End Beach, and then up to the sewage treatment plant. That bit is better if the wind is off the ocean. They hope to eventually link the Prom to the Cove, so we can make a complete circuit of the end of the penninsular.
You may hear the trail next to Baxter Boulevard around Back Cove referred to as either "walking the Boulevard" or "walking the Cove", depending on which view you prefer, I suppose. The Cove is a wetland sanctuary of sorts, so you see lots of birds in the summer. Or you can watch the butts of the joggers...

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Walking the Urban Wilds:

It's sometimes hard to find the trails, but they're kind of nice.
Behind Evergreen Cemetary, on Steven's Ave, are trails which wander through lots of open, park-like woods, and once my brother and I wandered into a bit of darksome everglade-like swamp. But I've never been able to find that again.
The Fore River Sanctuary has some dark woods, a pretty little waterfall, a long run through a bamboo glade in the summer (Maine bamboo dies off in the winter), and lots of open, grassy saltmarsh with wooden walkways stretched accross them - which always inspires people to say, "have you seen 'The Killing Fields'?" The Sanctuary is owned by the local chapter of the Audebon Society, and they constantly do little improvements. Entrance on Outer Congress Street, by Stroudwater.

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Hiking, camping, canoeing, rock-climbing:

From Portland it's about an hour or two to good stuff in the White Mountains. There's also smaller stuff available nearby.
The Maine Rock Gym is intown, on Marginal Way.
Wolf's Neck is a lovely area in Freeport, owned and operated by the University of Southern Maine (though I heard a rumor that most of the property might be reverting to the town soon, I think). There's a couple of low climbs and boulders there, lots of level woods trail, and camping (if you're willing to pay $16 per night) at Recompense Shore.
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Other Amusements


The Movies at 10 Exchange St, right across from The Daily Grind, is the place to go for the interesting stuff - foreign film and such.
Hoyt's Nickolodeon, at the corner of Temple and Middle, is cheap (I think it's gone up to a pricey $3). They get the ordinary things, usually shows that didn't do quite as well at the first run theatres, about a month or 2 after they come out. It isn't necessarily all lousy stuff, either.

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There are a number of good theatre companys around Portland, including Mad Horse out Forest Ave, and Oak Street Theatre on (guess where) Oak Street, just off Congress Street right in the middle of town. Oddly, though I used to be a theatrical technician as my summer job in high school, I never go to shows lately. Too much else to do.
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Live Music

Check in with Free Street Taverna, The Big Easy on Market St, Asylum on Center St, or check the following sources:

Other sites to check for local scene info...

Face Magazine, specializes in local music.

Casco Bay Weekly, it's cool, it's hip - it's free. :) Covers local news, reviews restaurants, music, theatre and galleries.