15 Best Restaurants in Portland, Maine

The state’s proud lack of pretense and its close-knit community of small farms, working waterfronts, and independent restaurants are long-held traditions that predate (and frankly, eclipse) hype phrases like ‘locavorism.’ And it means not only widespread access to far better food for everyone, but that celebrated fine dining here tends to eschew anything high-concept, and instead just keep it real.

That ethos was amplified by Portland’s gastronomic forefathers—chefs like Sam Hayward (Fore Street, Street and Co., Scales) and Rob Evans (Hugo’s, Duckfat)—who first got the country’s attention back in the mid ’90s, and have since opened the floodgates. Now the city’s teeming with answers to almost every foodstuff, all so good they’ll make your head spin: Luscious barbecue and pillowy, umami-laced pizzas; straight-from-the-sea sushi; unforgettable crispy dumplings; and ethereal donuts made from local potatoes. These days, Portland is a jumble of creative and scrappy spots that make snacking your way around town an utter delight. That said, when you want the complete dining experience of a sit-down-and-linger meal that will haunt your dreams, these are the restaurants to be reckoned with.