Experts select Portland, Maine’s best restaurants

After being christened “2018 Restaurant City of the Year” by Bon Appétit, which restaurants are experts’ favorites?

Portland’s foodie scene has skyrocketed — trendy coffee shops, hip breweries, and delicious eateries now permeate the city making it a cultural hotspot not just for its breathtaking views and New England charm. Portland is enormously walkable, so it’s easy to spend a day eating your way through the micro-city. Though, given the extensive list of restaurants to hit up, you may need a weekend to come even close to enjoying all this food haven has to offer. See below for the cream of the crop in Portland’s ever-evolving food scene.

Though Portland’s food scene has exploded in the past few years, Fore Street has been a mainstay since its unveiling in 1996. Twice listed on Gourmet Magazine’s list of Top 50 Restaurants of the United States, this downtown Portland gem impresses with its locally sourced ingredients which are then cooked on hardwood and apple firewoods. Though each main dish is special, the charcuterie is exceptional — it changes and is handcrafted daily.

Prepare for long lines, especially on weekends, but the seafood is well worth the wait. Most people just want to Instagram their brown butter lobster roll, but it tastes even better than it looks. And while the menu may seem sparse, it’s teeming with a variety of oysters and a handsome selection of fish sandwiches. Plus, if you’re okay weathering the cold, Eventide offers dollar oysters whenever it’s snowing.

Just next to Eventide is the centrally-located darling Hugo’s, where organic ingredients and rich plates reign supreme. Serving Portland since 1988, Hugo’s boasts a knowledgeable staff, a cozy interior, and nightly-rotating menus that cater to vegetarians, pescetarians, and omnivores. This should be no surprise; Hugo’s tagline is “Foraged, Fished, and Farmed.”

If you’re only feeling peckish but still want an exquisite dining experience, Central Provisions is the spot to visit. But if you want a full meal, you’re also in the right place. In addition to its bounteous small plates, the restaurant also offers citrus, crab, and beet salads alongside bulkier options like monkfish a la plancha and suckling pig. Most curious on the menu, listed under the “Hot” section, is the Root Beer Float. Like the rest of the offerings, Central Provisions brings out the most in simple dishes; this particular float is prepared with madeira-foie gras ice cream.

Located on Portland’s main drag, Five Fifty Five isn’t just the time of day when light starts to fade over the city’s Munjoy Hill — it’s also the address of this classy dinner restaurant run by a husband-wife team. Lighter fare and innovative cocktails are served in the restaurant’s Point Five Lounge while seasonal large plates (truffled mac and cheese, three-day marinated hanger steak, local scallops) are prepared for the restaurant proper. No matter where you sit, Five Fifty Five’s robust wine list is available to all.

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