1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Visit Portland, Maine: Go for the Lobster, Stay for the Ice Cream, Clam Chowder, Pizza and Greek Food

by Suzanne Fluhr on June 15, 2019 · 28 comments

Andy's Old Port Pub Portland, Maine bacon lobster mac'n cheese

In early spring, I traveled to Portland, Maine to attend the Women in Travel Summit conference. I was happy to learn that some of my baby boomer travel blogger peeps would also be attending. Even better, a number of them are “foodie” bloggers and they invited me to tag along as they ate their way through Portland. These women had done their homework! (P.S.: They don’t like the”f” word, so don’t tell them I referred to them as “foodies”. )

Pirate statue outside a portland maine store

The Time I Was a Foodie Travel Blogger Mascot Groupie
in Portland, Maine

Emilitsa for Greek Food in Portland, Maine

For the first dinner of my visit to Portland, Maine, Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris of the the Food Travelist blog invited me to join them for dinner at Emilitsa, a restaurant featuring “rustic Greek cuisine”.  I was very happy with their choice. Mr. and Mrs. Excitement often seek out Mediterranean food on our travels no matter where we are–i.e., like in London, England, and Dublin, Ireland. We are food wimps enjoy the tasty “clean” flavors, not masked by overwhelming “hot” spices.

Emilitsa is rated the 3rd best out of 391 restaurants in Portland on Tripadvisor. This is no faint praise given that Bon Appetit named Portland, Maine its 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. Our table was not quite ready, but we were happy to spend our short wait getting started with craft cocktails prepared by a friendly, knowledgeable bartender. (Tip: Try Persephone’s Lullaby if you like vodka and lavender).

The restaurant is a handsome space with exposed brick walls and nicely spaced tables. Our baby boomer sensibilities were comfortable in Emilitsa’s relatively quiet, candle lit ambiance. There was no sense of hustle and bustle. Our waiter was just the right amount of attentive and patiently answered all questions.

mezethakia appetizers at Emilitsa Greek Restaurant in Portland, Maine

One of our mezethakia (appetizers) at Emilitsa.

One benefit of eating with food bloggers is that they are all about sharing, so we enjoyed several tasty mezethakia (appetizers), followed by equally good entrees. We ended the meal by sharing some killer (in a good way) baklava. (The bad annoying thing about eating with food bloggers (or actually any travel blogger), is that you’re not allowed to start eating until they have photographed your food from every angle.)

Baklava dessert at Emiltsa's Restaurant in Portland, Maine

We had no trouble convincing ourselves that you can’t finish any Greek meal without baklava.

If you go to Emilitsa:

The restaurant was full, even before the most popular tourist season, so reservations are recommended.

Emilitsa’s Website 

A Portland Maine Lobster Roll Crawl

The next evening, I was invited to tag along with 5(!) food bloggers on a carefully researched lobster roll crawl through Portland.

(True confession: I don’t really like lobster. I think it has something to do with not wanting to think about creatures being boiled alive. That, and you know how you would think a physician-scientist who spends his days trying to cure lung cancer would be sober and mature? Then explain why Mr. Dr. Excitement feels compelled to chase me around the kitchen brandishing a clawing live lobster at me.)

The Eventide Oyster Company

Our first stop was the Eventide Oyster Company, a place receiving high marks on Tripadvisor for its lobster roll and fresh raw oysters. They were able to accommodate us at a counter along the front window of the restaurant. Apparently, in season, there is usually a line outside this establishment. Reservations are only accepted for parties of 6 or more, but there are certain reservation black out dates during the summer. Check the Eventide website for more information.

Eventide is known for it’s special brown butter lobster roll. We shared two among us and it was a different take on the lobster roll. Instead of chunks of lobster on a plain white bread roll, the lobster was more shredded in texture with an Old Bay-ish tasting seasoning. The foodies among us (i.e. everyone except me) thought this was the best lobster roll of the 3 we they sampled that evening.

lobster roll, Eventide Oyster Company, Portland, Maine

Eventide’s brown butter lobster roll was unique among the 3 lobster rolls sampled on our lobster roll crawl.

We were seated next to an impressive looking raw oyster bar replete with different types of oysters. I’ll never make it as a food blogger. When it comes to consuming raw shellfish, I can’t help but hear my mother’s dire warning ringing in my ears, “Eating shellfish is like playing Russian roulette“. My mother is now 94. I can’t be sure her longevity has anything to do with eschewing raw shellfish, but the two facts do coexist. My companions each sampled a raw oyster, waxed poetic about them, and lived to tell the tale.

Eventide Portland Maine oyster bar

The Eventide oyster bar had no fewer than 10 choices of their signature bi-valve.

Some of the food bloggers stuck to water — either because lobster rolls and oysters are expensive or because they didn’t want to sully their palates. Given my anti-lobster predisposition, I did not feel so constrained. I enjoyed one of Eventide’s specialty cocktails, a Spanish spritz, that was a mixture of fino sherry, ginger and cava (Spain’s apple based version of champagne).

Gilbert’s Chowder House

Our next stop was Gilbert’s Chowder House at 92 Commercial Street, the main drag along Portland’s waterfront. We had no trouble finding a table. The feel of the place is mostly bar/pub. The food was served on paper and Styrofoam with plastic utensils.

I’m bit of  a clam chowder snob and Gilbert’s clam chowder didn’t impress me. It was somewhat too viscous for my taste and had too much potato and not enough clams. However, most Tripadvisor reviewers disagree with me, so you might just have to try it for yourself.

I can’t comment on the lobster roll because by this time, the foodsters had decided I wasn’t worthy of wasting any lobster on.

J’s Oyster

Our Their last lobster roll tasting stop was at J’s Oyster at the beginning of a Portland Harbor pier. Their motto is: “If it swims, we’ve got it on our menu!” However, they also claim to buy only the best catch of the day, so they might not have everything that swims every day.

J’s had a Cheers vibe with tables surrounding a bar. At our early spring visit, a majority of the customers seemed to be locals — usually a good sign. Maybe I was reminded of Cheers because our Down East waitress reminded me of Carla, Rhea Perlman’s character on the show — tough, but with a heart of gold, and patient enough to show one of our group how to eat the steamers (clams) she ordered — but only after giving her a hard time about not knowing how to eat them.

Again, I missed the point of being on a lobster roll crawl by not having any of the lobster roll. I’m pretty sure I had some clam chowder, but I also had some vodka, so I don’t remember what I thought of it.

J's Oysters, Portland Maine lobster roll

Even though I didn’t partake of this lobster roll, I was self respecting enough to at least take a photo of it. This one looks more like a traditional New England lobster roll than Eventide’s version.

Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, Fearless Flavor

There’s a counter culture, independent, New England vibe at Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream.

Had I been on my own, it would have been bedtime, but when food blogger, Allison Fraser of Tour and Table suggested ending the evening with ice cream, I was eager to continue our Portland food odyssey.

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream is the baby of a burned out web and multi-media developer. In 2005, he decided he no longer wanted to work for The Man, so he left and started to produce small batch, artisanal ice cream. Once he realized the demand was there, he opened 2 ice cream shops in Bar Harbor. Business got a significant boost when the Obama family stopped in and the President proclaimed, “This stuff is terrific. Excellent. I strongly recommend it.”

Presidential endorsement goosed demand sufficiently to open a Mount Desert Island Ice Cream in Portland.  Along with traditional flavors, Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream experiments with cleverly named concoctions such as Bay of Figs and London Fog.

Mount Desert Island Ice Cream in Portland, Maine

I have to agree with this meme painted on the front window of the Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream store in Portland, Maine: Without Ice Cream There Would Be Only Darkness and Chaos.

Portland Pie Company

One night, Sue Reddel (see 2nd paragraph) invited 12 of her closest baby boomer travel blogger lady friends to join her at the Portland Pie Company. I’m not gonna lie. I was hoping the Portland Pie Company was a place to consume actual pie—as in apple, blueberry, coconut cream, pumpkin, etc. so I was a little disappointed to learn it bills itself as a pizzeria and pub.

I didn’t remain a little disappointed for long. The Portland Pie Company menu had an impressive array of pizza toppings options. They even let you choose from four different types of dough: basil, beer, wheat, and garlic. If you need gluten free, they have that too. Most of us opted for “personal” sized pizzas. I washed mine down with a local hard cider. An assortment of local craft beers were also available. One lucky person with a kitchen where she was staying got to take home all the leftovers.

My experiences of going out to eat with groups of 10 or more people had me expecting a long, drawn out experience with mixed up orders, and surly waitstaff. To the contrary, our one Portland Pie Company waitress took all our food and drink orders, and presented everyone with the correct food and individual checks, all while remaining remarkably cheerful.

Andy’s Portland Pub

I did have one fortuitous good meal on my own. I went on a history walking tour with  Maine Foodie Tours on the coldest, windswept day of my visit to Portland. The name of the tour company notwithstanding, this was not a food tour. The tour ended well after lunch time across Commercial Street from Andy’s Old Port Pub, near the Custom House Wharf. All that shivering and walking left me verging on hangry, so I seized on our tour guide’s recommendation and sought warmth and sustenance at Andy’s Old Port Pub. Voilà: nicely seasoned clam chowder of the perfect consistency (IMHO) followed by a serving of an interesting bacon and lobster mac n’cheese that caused me to forget that I’m not particularly fond of lobster.

Andy's Old Port Pub Portland, Maine bacon lobster mac'n cheese

I wish I could have shared this with Mr. Excitement. Bacon and lobster are his favorite foods.

I feel like a food blogger poser. If only I could use the word “redolent” in my food descriptions with a straight face.


If you attend a travel blogger conference, hang out with the foodie food bloggers!

My second solo meal was at the Portland, Maine International Jetport while waiting for my delayed flight home to Philly.

Lesson learned: Do NOT order clam chowder at the Portland, Maine International Jetport.

Clam Chowder at Portland International Jetport

Gross does not begin to describe the clam chowder I had at the Portland Maine International Jetport. The waitress told me that usually people rave about it. Maybe I just hit a bad batch. 

Pin this post on Pinterest so you won’t forget where to eat in Portland, Maine:

Portland Eats Blog Post

How successful are you at finding good places to eat during your travels?

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Kemkem June 16, 2019 at 1:29 pm

I was so looking forward to a picture of clam chowder and then l read you were a chowder snob.. :-). I miss living in Boston and eating clam chowder often. Good that you got to hang out with foodie bloggers and got to sample at least some local specialties. I would have everything but the oysters.


Suzanne Fluhr June 16, 2019 at 2:13 pm

You definitely wouldn’t have liked the clam chowder at the Portland airport!


Robin June 16, 2019 at 1:34 pm

“(The bad annoying thing about eating with food bloggers (or actually any travel blogger), is that you’re not allowed to start eating until they have photographed your food from every angle.)”

Lucky for us though. I love Mediterranean food. I’ll have to try the Vodka and Lavender. That sounds wonderful! I also liked Portland. Maine is a fabulous state with a variety of views and landscapes that will have me returning. You do make any meal sound so good, it should be able to be sampled as you describe it.


Sue Reddel June 16, 2019 at 3:35 pm

I’m glad we got to share a few meals with you Suzanne. I think you’re on your way to earning your own stripes as a foodie blogger. Pro tip: Don’t eat seafood at airports.


Mike Hinshaw June 17, 2019 at 12:47 am

The mac & cheese sounds delicious, but I haven’t been able to eat bacon for almost 25 years, diverticulitis issues. I do love oysters, lobsters and just about any other seafood. Guilty as charged with the food photos. My wife is not particularly fond of this part of my blog. She understands though. I’ve never been to Portland, but will use your post as a guide if we make it to the city!


Suzanne Fluhr June 17, 2019 at 11:31 am

My husband, Mr. Excitement, is resigned. Now, he even remembers before I do sometimes, “Don’t you want to take a picture?”


michele h peterson June 17, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Your experience with the food bloggers is hilarious – your descriptions are so true on every count from the photographs to dishes “redolent” with whatever! I’ve pinned this post to my “Foodie” Travel Bucket List so I know where to eat ( and not eat) in Portland Maine.


Suzanne Fluhr June 18, 2019 at 3:04 am

One of these days I’ll have enough self esteem to describe food as being redolent of …. something sophisticated sounding: truffle oil, fresh earth, lavender, etc.


Sala June 18, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Suzanne, What a wonderful adventure through the good and not so hot. But if I get to Portland, Emilitsa’s is at the top of the list. I adore Greek food and you’ve made me hungry. Darn, it’s bedtime. (Will Grub Hub deliver from Portland?) Thank you for a fantastic journey.
I will go without food bloggers tho. I don’t like waiting to dig in! 🙂



Suzanne Fluhr June 19, 2019 at 1:01 am

Uber Eats would probably deliver from Portland for a pretty penny. If you like Greek food, I hope you do get to Portland, Maine and have a meal at Emilitsa’s. I haven’t found the Philly equivalent yet. It was especially nice because we could walk easily from our hotel and it’s located in what is known as the Arts District in Portland. Thanks for stopping by!


Karen Warren June 19, 2019 at 4:46 am

Eating out with a bunch of food bloggers – it doesn’t get much better than that! I think I’d have enjoyed Emilitsa the most, partly because I love Greek food, and partly because I’m intrigued by the idea of vodka and lavender…


Suzanne Fluhr June 19, 2019 at 5:05 pm

I wouldn’t have come up with vodka and lavender myself—-or probably any drink with lavender, but apparently, it’s a thing.


Lori June 19, 2019 at 10:46 am

Wow. Sadly on our recent trip to Maine we didn’t have time in Portland except at the airport. Greek food along with Oysters, oysters, and more oysters – you’ve covered the food scene we’ve been reading about. We’ve got to plan another Maine excursion. Thanks for the tips.


Irene S. Levine June 19, 2019 at 4:20 pm

So how many months long was this conference? Was there any time to go to sessions? Your photos had me drooling! What a great list for any foodie visiting Portland!


Suzanne Fluhr June 19, 2019 at 5:04 pm

All this was in 3 days before the conference started! Except for the pizza and the airport clam chowder mistake.


Elaine Masters June 19, 2019 at 7:11 pm

I love your wry wit. Yes, hanging out with food bloggers takes a bit of patience but I too love those shared bites. My favorite meals are lots of small plates and then…ice cream. Wish I’d had more time in Portland, Maine when I was driving through with family two years ago. Must return!


Jeff & Crystal June 20, 2019 at 10:43 am

Your article certainly creates a desire to make our own visit to visit Portland, Maine. Your culinary tour showcases so many delectable dishes. Thanks for sharing you adventure.


Julie McCool June 20, 2019 at 11:42 am

Lobster is my jam so I’m always on the hunt for great lobster rolls when I visit Maine. I enjoyed looking beyond the lobster at all the tasty food you found in Portland. Adding the Greek restaurant Emilitsa to my list of places to eat next time I head to New England.


Cindy Carlsson June 21, 2019 at 10:19 am

This is hilarious, Suzanne! I always remind my husband how lucky he is that I’m not a food blogger because he never has to wait very long to dive into his meal, so I get the whole waiting for the photography to be complete. (Actually, taking time for photography is probably the only reason I’m not a food blogger.) I’m also relieved to know that my husband is not the only one who feels compelled to chase others around the kitchen with live lobsters. (But I love eating lobster anyway.) We haven’t been to Portland in years, but it sounds like it is time to return and do our own food tour — with lobster, but maybe without clam chowder, since you didn’t seem to come across any worth recommending!


Suzanne Fluhr June 21, 2019 at 9:55 pm

The clam chowder at Andy’s Old Port Pub was quite good, but overall I wasn’t impressed. Whatever you do, don’t get any in the airport.


Judy Freedman June 21, 2019 at 4:41 pm

Ooh, all the food sounds divine, except for the oysters. I’m a big lobster roll fan but will not eat raw oysters. During my cooking class in Sicily the chef wanted us to try raw mussels and I refused. After the lobster, I’d say that baklava looks pretty delicious — nice photography.


Suzanne Fluhr June 21, 2019 at 9:54 pm

I don’t think raw mussels is even a thing in the US, but I don’t know why they’re treated differently than oysters.


Patti Morrow June 23, 2019 at 12:27 pm

Having lived in New England most of my life, I don’t miss the weather but I DO miss the food. This reminded me of the two things I love best about home — lobster and clams. There’s no comparison in the south. No stemahs and the fried clams do not have bellies which is the best part, and the chowdah here isn’t good either. Luckily, I’ll be making a trip in July and I can’t wait to eat everything in sight!


somnath dham yatra June 24, 2019 at 7:51 am

Great article. I love Portland. Maine as well. So many good places to eat with a variety of cuisines to choose from. Love the historical aspect as well as the mix of modern things – like the art scene.


alison abbott June 24, 2019 at 8:27 am

I definitely got short changed this time around in Portland. I enjoyed living vicariously through your post and seeing all the spots I missed. Will have to take a return trip to catch up for sure. Especially all those lobster rolls. I am so up for a crawl!


Zena's Suitcase June 24, 2019 at 4:05 pm

I think think hanging out with the food bloggers was a great idea. Your honest reviews made me smile, especially about the clam chowder. I would feel cheated if it wasn’t perfect to be honest


Penelope July 31, 2019 at 6:45 am

Great article. I love Portland. Maine as well. So many good places to eat with a variety of cuisines to choose from. Love the historical aspect as well as the mix of modern things – like the art scene.


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