While we live and work year-round in this state, there is another Maine that exists, primarily in the hearts of visitors from other places. The state’s namesake, Vacationland, is born from a real place, as our state is visited by over 35 MILLION people each YEAR. The vast amount of these visits occur during Maine’s legendary summers, and with this massive influx, we look to our state’s seasonal restaurants – often located on or near water, these establishments specialize in packaging up the quintessential summer experiences that folks come here to find.
We made a mad dash around Ogunquit and Great Diamond Island to visit a few of these spots before they close, and we highly recommend you do as well if there’s still time!
Crown Jewel appeared in the former general store on Great Diamond Island two years ago, and is open for the summer season extending into September. The restaurant serves coastal favorites with a modern feel, and is aesthetically gorgeous, mixing old painted brick with a neon flamingo and compostable plate and drinkware. It’s a rare kind of restaurant, where the reputation and hype not only meet, but exceed customer expectations. Situated on the back of Great Diamond Island, it really is a hidden gem of the Portland restaurant scene in that you literally have to buy passage on a boat to get there, or a water taxi if you’re feeling antisocial. So: adventure is in the air!
A Vacationland legend, and summer staple by all respectable accounts, Barnacle Billy’s has been making summer memories for guests for nearly 60 years, and has hosted numerous luminaries in sports, politics, and business over the years – The photos on the walls tell the story- You immediately know you have entered a venerable eatery that has stood the test of time. Billy’s shutters the doors to its lobster garden in late October. The summertime vibes remain high, though, when you’re sitting at one of their plentiful outdoor seating options basking in the beauty that is Perkins Cove, Ogunquit.
Old Village Inn: everything you need to know is in the name. Situated right in the center of downtown Ogunquit, this bar has the air of having been there for a long, long time with no end in sight. The chairs are well loved, local Police memorabilia and school photos of family members decorate the walls, and the bar is chock full of locals. Take us back to Old Village Inn where the beers are big and the cocktails are stiff!
“When I think of the Front Porch, I picture standing outside the building on the sidewalk late on a Friday night, the sounds of dozens of singing voices from the piano bar carrying from their open windows over downtown Ogunquit. Think disco, show tunes, R&B hits – basically any song that sounds good singing along at the top of your lungs with a piano and a room full of happy people. We settled in to their “regular” bar downstairs for some tasty bar snacks and chatted with the owner Seth Vogel, who worked there for years before buying it a few years ago. It was clear that a contingency of regulars were posted up for happy hour which is always a good sign. We’ll be back for the piano bar.” – Lucy
“It felt special to sit at destination location for the first time. I can’t wait to experience the piano bar!” – Peter
We finished up our Ogunquit visit with a stop at Food For Thought, a brand new all-outdoor gastropub EXPERIENCE! With menu items such as Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders and Flo’s Hot Dog Poutine, our advice is to simply order one of everything and plan on staying for a long while.