|Maine Wedding Towns – Where to go, what to do in Portland
by Bethany Tinsley
Maine Wedding Towns – Portland, Maine
In this series of guides to popular Maine wedding towns, we’ll give you the local view, everything from playing tourist to chilling beachside. After all, people don’t just throw weddings in Maine to get married, they come for the built-in vacation. And you’re not just here for the destination wedding, you’re here because you’re destined to have some fun—so come on. To find out more about the series, click here. To learn about all the great happenings in Portland read on.
We love Portland, and just can’t say it enough. We hope you get a chance to wander around and take in a little bit. Since Maine’s tourism usually centers around rocky beaches and beautiful scenery, the “giant metropolis” of Portland is often overlooked. But we’re here to tell you that while Portland is by no means a metropolis, it is a bite-sized center for commercial and cultural events in Maine, and that is what we love about it.
Artemesia Café: Super-fresh ingredients, artful presentation, creative waitressing.
On Pleasant St. between Oak and Center.
Bagel Works: Good fresh bagels. They claim to be New York style bagels, but don’t believe the hype. No one in Maine knows how to make a New York style bagel. No one. But these are pretty good. On Temple between Middle and Federal
Big Mama’s: Greasy spoon in the heart of the Old Port.On Dana between Wharf and Commercial
Breaking New Grounds: A locally run coffee shop frequented by Portland teens and other beatniks. JavaNet up the street is quieter, more “adult,” and with internet access. On Exchange between Middle and Milk
Bubble Maineia: This is one of those places that sells the chai tea with giant tapioca balls at the bottom and a big wide straw to suck them up. It’s an experience, but a bizarre one.
On Commercial between Silver and Market
Coffee by Design: The best local micro-roaster and a big part of the locals’ morning ritual. Check out the shop on India St. or near the corner of Congress and Park St.
JavaNet: See Breaking New Grounds above. This is the more swank coffee shop with overstuffed leather chairs and internet connections. Just don’t go to Starbucks up the street. You can wait until you go back home. We are busy boycotting it here.
On Exchange between Middle and Fore
Marcy’s Diner: The BEST diner in town. It is a small place and can be crowded, but the turnover is fast. All kinds of people gather here, and the prices can’t be beat. Two eggs and toast: $2.50. Having breakfast while listening to AC/DC and Metallica: priceless.
On the corner of Oak and Free
Bill’s Pizza: Normally average pizza, but when bars close at 1 am and it’s the only place still serving food, Bill’s is a slice of heaven. But watch out, everyone on Wharf Street and Fore Street has the same idea. 177 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101-4717 Phone: (207)774-6166
Boone’s Lobsters: You’ll find this place tucked in with the fishmongers in a rickety-looking warehouse building. But don’t worry, since 1898, Boone's has been turning out baked stuffed lobster, haddock, clams and oysters. They know what they’re doing. 6 Custom House Wharf, Portland, ME 04101-4708 Phone: (207)774-5725
The Crooked Mile: They often serve simple but really well made lunch items, like a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. It’s hard to get a not-too-greasy grilled cheese in this town, but this is the place. On Milk between Silver and Pearl
Cinque Terre: An amazing authentic Italian five-course fine dining experience. We like to go here when someone else is paying for dinner. 36 Wharf St, Portland, ME 04101-4144 Phone: (207)347-6154
DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant: Yes, it’s a restaurant on a boat, and thus, it floats. Can you say ‘tourist trap?’ Also, the prices are rather high for the quality of food, but if you need to have dinner while floating, this is the place for you. 25 Long Wharf, Portland, ME 04101-4735 Phone: (207)772-2216
Dry Dock Restaurant and Tavern: Famed hangout of local fishermen, this tavern is the setting for Linda Greenlaw’s last book, All Fishermen Are Liars: True Tales from the Dry Dock Bar. This is a basic place with a substantial menu—you won’t leave this place still feeling hungry. 84 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101-4705 Phone: (207)774-3550
Flatbread Pizza Company: All organic tasty pizzas and salads. It has a deck on the waterfront or if you sit inside you can watch them making your pizza in their wood-fired brick oven. This place has a great homegrown feel and is very family friendly. Try our favorite menu item: ‘The Punctuated Equilibrium. 72 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207)772-8777
Fore Street: Fine dining in the wood-grilled American style. It’s an extremly popular restaurant and not easy to find, but if you locate the Standard Baking Company way down at the end of Fore Street, look up, there it is. 288 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101-4109 Phone: (207)775-2717
Granny’s Burritos: Simple, satisfying, and easy on the pocketbook. If you eat upstairs you will get to enjoy their interesting and haphazard décor. Or is it haphazard? This vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu has three basic food groups: burritoes, quesadillas and rice and beans. 420 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101-4027 Phone: (207)761-0751
Harbor Fish Market: The freshest seafood market in Portland. They ship anywhere you want, or they will pack it to travel through airports if you want to take some lobster home with you. Select hours, so check before hand. Custom House Wharf, off of Commercial Street, across from the Comedy Connection
Katahdin Restaurant: Quirky décor and fresh colorful foods (not to mention divine biscuits) make this a great casual fine dining experience among locals. 106 High St, Portland, ME 04101-3815 Phone: (207)774-1740
Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant: Let us be clear that if you are coming from Texas, there is no good Mexican food in Maine. Period. But this place is not bad, it’s very lively and the margaritas are tasty. On Brown between Congress and Free
Mim’s: The sister restaurant to Natasha’s is nearer to the water with a roof-deck that overlooks the harbor. A lovely spot on a cool summer evening. High-end French cuisine, all local organic ingredients. At the corner of Dana and Commercial
Natasha’s: Fine dining with an Asian flair and artful display of food. Good for a well-made martini. 82 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101-2914 Phone: (207)774-4004
Norm’s BBQ: Absolutely fantastic barbecue. Great margaritas. Usually a longish wait. 606 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101-3304 Phone: (207)828-9944
Old Port Sea Grill: A good restaurant for simply prepared seafood, but we usually just go for a light dinner of appetizers. It has an excellent wet bar and well-prepared drinks. 93 Commercial St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207)879-6100
O’Naturals: Fast food that’s healthy? An enthusiastic yes!! Salads, Flatbread sandwiches, Asian Noodles and more. All Natural and organic ingredients. Try the Chap Chae noodles!
44 Exchange Street, Portland, ME (in the Old Port) 207-321-2050
Oriental Table: Given the curious lack of Chinese restaurants around the Old Port, this is a little slice of heaven with its amazing lunch buffet. (Easy on the budget and super-fast service as well.) 106 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101-5003 Phone: (207)775-3388
On Exchange between Federal and Middle
Pepper Club: An unusual, reasonably priced restaurant that has a lot of great choices for vegetarians. 78 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101-4232 Phone: (207)772-0531
Sapporo: Great sushi and Japanese cuisine. Nice ambiance. Try the fried green tea ice cream for dessert. 230 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101-4616 Phone: (207)772-1233
Street & Co.: An upscale restaurant known for their superbly done seafood. Always a good meal. 33 Wharf St, Portland, ME 04101-4145 Phone: (207)775-0887
On Wharf between Dana and Union
Porthole: A funky mariner’s bar/restaurant great for brunch or happy hour. The deck is right on a working dock, and it has that salty-fishy smell to it. The food is good, and the atmosphere is very friendly. This would be a good place to try steamed lobsters. 20 Custom House Wharf, Portland, ME 04101-4708 Phone: (207)780-6533
Portland Pie Pizza Company: Excellent specialty pizzas, with lots of original combo recommendations. 47 India St, Portland, ME 04101-4209 Phone: (207)772-1231
Tandoor Restaurant: A nice little Indian food place with a cheerful and cozy feel to it. 88 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101-5003 Phone: (207)775-4259
Say your rehearsal dinner is downtown and you plan on going out afterwards. If you want to bar hop, you should wander around Wharf Street and Fore Street between Moulton and Union. They run parallel and are the heart of the Old Port. Wharf Street is a little bit like non-stop Spring Break, so be warned. The Old Port comes alive around 10 or 11 pm on weekends and bars close at 1:00 am. If you are staying in a nearby hotel, they often have shuttles that will come to pick you up; otherwise, there is a taxi stand in front of Gritty’s at the intersection of Fore Street and Exchange Street.
188 Bourbon Street (The Pavilion): One of the better dance clubs downtown, even if a bit of a meat market. In an old bank building 45-foot ceilings, a giant disco-ball and a walk-in vault. Usually local DJs playing hip hop and house music. 188 Middle Street
Portland, Maine, 773-6422
The Alehouse: A good small seedy bar, with unusual live bands and singer/songwriters.
On Market between Milk and Fore
Amigos Restaurant: This decent dive bar has an outdoor patio, frequently with live music in the summer, pool tables and darts inside. On Wharf between Dana and Moulton
Big Easy Blues Club: Live music on most nights, mostly local bands play blues, jazz, rock, reggae, soul and everything else. 55 Market Street, Portland, Maine, 871-8817
Brian Boru: Portland’s premiere and original Irish pub. The outdoor deck is great at sunset, but can often be crowded. You might find live Irish music jam on a Sunday afternoon. If you’re getting married on St. Patrick’s Day, the festivities at Brian Boru begin at 6am.
On Center St. between Spring and Fore
Bubba’s Sulky Lounge: Described as Antique Shop meets Discotheque, Bubba’s combines a fine collection of taxidermied animals, a huge array of retro lunch-boxes, and an authentic 70s era light-up dance floor. Traditionally a dive bar frequented by strong women in chaps and the USPS employees from across the street, Bubba’s has made a comeback with the hipsters due to its bi-monthly 80’s Dance Party. On Portland St. between Parris and Hanover
Bull Feeney’s: The youngest Irish Pub in town, with lots of space but plenty of cozy nooks. It’s where we go, like, to have a pint or tree wit the lads, yardy yar yar. Named for Francis “Bull” Feeney, whom we know by his Hollywood alias, John Ford. A true Portland native who made it big a long time ago. Frequently has a live band. On Fore between Exchange and Market
Downtown Lounge: Or, as the hipsters call it, the DTL. It’s small, the food is great and the menu is always changing. It is also a good place to meet up with people for drinks. A little further afield from the Old Port. On Congress between High and Park
Fore Play Sports Club: Fooseball and Jello shots—what more could you ask for?
On Fore between Union and Exchange
Gritty McDuff’s: Ahh, Grittys, our most beloved local brew-pub. How would we make it through the long cold winter without your Black Fly stout? Honestly, some of the best beer anywhere; also some darn fine Nachos. This place is like home. Until they make you leave. Fortunately it’s right next to the cab stand. On Fore between Exchange and Union
Industry Nightclub: This is an 18+ club, so if you’re not quite 21 but everyone else in the wedding party is, this is the place for you. On Wharf between Dana and Union
Liquid Blue: There’s a lot of neon and tackiness going on here, but if you’ve come to dance, who cares? On Fore between Dana and Union
The Mercury: A small swank martini bar with local DJs spinning electronica. It is REALLY LOUD here. On Fore between Union and Exchange
The Oasis: At the heart of late night revelry on Wharf Street, this place gets hot and sweaty. It is decked out to look like a frat house, and that’s pretty much the experience you can expect.
On Wharf between Dana and Union
Old Port Billiards: The basic idea is lots of pool tables. It has a decent view of nightlife on the street below. On Fore between Moulton and Market
Plush: Moulin Rouge meets Portland. It’s on the second floor above Digger’s, one of Portland’s dirtiest dive bars. But ascend the stairs and you enter a world of painted red walls, tapestry-strewn beds, fuzzy pillows, pool tables and a stereo that only plays Madonna and Michael Jackson. There is supposedly a dress code. At the corner of Union and Fore, in the back of Digger’s up the stairs
The Porthole: A funky mariner’s bar/restaurant. The deck is right on one of Portland’s many working piers. Great for some local color and that authentic ‘we-work-with-fish’ smell to it. Also a pretty great weekend brunch location. They have a reggae band on the deck every Sunday in the summer. On Custom House Wharf, off of Commercial Street (next to the Comedy Connection)
Sebago Brewing Company: One of the many fine local micro-breweries. Not bad for bar food.
On the corner of Middle and Market
Three Dollar Dewey’s: Something like 30 different beers on tap, and FREE popcorn. Also, there is almost always room for a large group of people. On the corner of Union and Commercial
Una Wine Bar: This is actually more of a martini bar than a wine bar with one of the coolest contemporary settings around. A trendy place for young and old alike. Like the Mercury, except you can actually hear the person sitting next to you, which is nice. On Fore between Center and Union
The Wine Bar: On Wharf Street in the heart of downtown. This place is eclectically decorated with a tasteful balance of paintings by local artists and portraits of Elvis. The upholstery involves a lot of leopard print and zebra stripes, but the aura is still somehow more comfortable than obnoxious. You’ll love it. On Wharf between Dana and Union
Visit the “East End” for views of Casco Bay and the Islands. A great spot to toss a Frisbee, take a walk and see why Portland is such a great town.
Fort Williams Park
Portland Museum of Art – http://www.PortlandMuseum.org
A unique wedding venue, but also an impressive collection of art for a city the size of Portland. They have a collection of over 15,000 pieces including works by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, René Magritte, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir
More about the Museum…
Shopping Route: The best place to start is at Exchange and Federal Street. Walk down Exchange to Fore Street and turn right. Continue all the way to Union. Then, turn back and if you have time, and check out Market Street, Commercial Street, and Middle Street for more stores.
Guide to the Old Port: http://portlandme.about.com/cs/shopping/a/OldPortGuide.htm
Lobster for your Loved Ones: Harbor Fish Market: The freshest seafood market in Portland. They ship anywhere you want, or they will pack it to travel through airports if you want to take some lobster home with you. Select hours, so check before hand. Custom House Wharf, off of Commercial Street, across from the Comedy Connection
Simply Scandinavian: They have a Scandinavian food store on Exchange between Federal and Middle that makes you feel like you’re visiting Sweden. Then their home and clothing store is on Market between Middle and Federal, and here they have beautiful sweaters, clogs, modern home furnishings and a great array of dinnerware and glassware.