Dining

Seascape Dining Guide

Midcoast Maine offers an array of choices for dining, activities, and unique experiences, all within a short drive. The two questions most often asked are, “What’s the wifi password?” and “Where should we go to eat!” We’ll share the wifi with you when you arrive, but so you can plan ahead we offer the guide to some of our favorite places.

We know the modern traveler has access to more resources than ever, so the guide is not meant to be exhaustive. You will discover the well-known places on your own, and there’s plenty to be enjoyed there. We’re happy to answer questions about places you may have read about but aren’t listed here. Just because something isn’t on this list doesn’t mean we don’t like it! We simply want to suggest to you some of what, in our opinion, are the best.

Full disclosure: we live and work in beautiful Belfast, Maine, but we are “from away.” This likely colors our view of what is most exciting and interesting about the food scene in the area. (We are from out west, which also means that we crave tacos in a way no Mainer would understand.)

We both have extensive backgrounds working in restaurants and hospitality, so we place a high value on cleanliness and customer service. Almost everything we recommend for dining has options for gluten-free, dairy-free, and at least one vegetarian item.

When visiting the area, know that dining closes early, and many restaurants are closed entirely on Monday and Tuesday. Hours listed are as a reference only–they are listed as the peak season hours and always subject to change. We always recommend checking the website and calling ahead, just in case. Often even if a place has posted hours, they may stop seating earlier than the closing hour.

Breakfast/brunch

 

In the eye of the beholder, a perfect breakfast can vary from the utilitarian to the grand. There are plenty of diners and cafes along the coast, and many do the job just fine. We take our son to the diner downtown, and there you can have the classic short-order experience in downtown Belfast, for grilled cheese or an omelet, with round stools and a formica countertop bar. And many of our guests eat there every day.

But our picks all offer something special and focus on the homemade. You may not find the breadth of menu that you would at a straightforward breakfast place, but here you’ll discover something memorable–like the poached eggs with arugula and crisp prosciutto on soft polenta, a special enjoyed one morning at Crumbs Provisions, with the Belfast Harbor in the background.

All of our breakfast picks take their time, so don’t try to squeeze it in unless you’re there to enjoy it!

 

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

NorthportThe HootInternational farm-to-table, paced out like an eventapple cider donut, chana masala, fried chicken biscuitthehootnorthport.comThursday-Sunday 7a-2pGF/DF friendly
BelfastCrumbs ProvisionsFrom-scratch pastry cafe, worth the pricepeach scone, blueberry-sour cream muffin, breakfast specialsfacebook.com/people/Crumbs-Provisions/100057578854225/Thursday-Sunday, hours varyGF/DF friendly
SearsportRio’sA visually esoteric octagonal dining space, with an equally unusual brunch menufried oyster bennie, pancakes, Rio’s bloody maryriosspikedcafe.comSunday 10a-1pGF/DF friendly
SearsportCoastal Cafe & BakeryEclectic coffeeshop breakfastcorned beef hash, pancakes, blueberry toastsearsportcafe.comWednesday-Sunday 7a-2pGF friendly

 

Lunch & Dinner

 

Our recommendations vary widely, from the casual picnic tables and paper plates at Young’s to the fine-dining-but-less-stuffy experience at Aster & Rose. But all of the lunch and dinner places we like have a personal touch and make everything they can by hand, from scratch, with an emphasis on fresh and local.

If there is a single “must” restaurant, where we send every guest on their first trip to Maine, it is Young’s Lobster Pound. It is the lobster experience everyone should have, where you step into a working fishery, with live lobsters in the tanks and a brick cauldron roiling behind the steel counter. You can pick your lobster, and they’ll weigh it and cook it right there. But I don’t like to work that hard for lobster–the lobster roll here stands above, in our opinion, all others on the coast. Rather than a few paltry shreds of meat on the traditional New England hot dog bun, this is a whole lobster’s worth on a griddled, round roll with lettuce and mayo, pickles on the side. It is the lobster roll I crave. Best enjoyed on the open deck, with Belfast gleaming across the bay. (To note: you can bring your own beer and wine!)

But for those who cannot live on lobster alone, there are options. Just down the road, The Hoot is a place we love for brunch and dinner, especially on their once-a-week Mexican nights. We have been known to get more than one order of churros–they are that good.

In Belfast, Fon’s Kitchen is an excellent Thai restaurant with wonderful dumplings. Satori is a surprise on every level–sushi, mixology, the whole feeling of being transported elsewhere. And though we do more drinking than eating there, Marshall Wharf Brewery is another absolute must, right on the water, with an airy open space filled with great energy.

Three miles the other direction, Searsport is booming with new food. Hey Sailor! is the hippest place for 100 miles at least, but a place you can still take your kid or your dad. (The tagline for Hey Sailor is TACOS ART BOOZE, but I am pretty sure their smash burger is the best burger for 100 miles, hipness aside.) At Rio’s, you can fill your table with plates to share, including specials like steak tartare, or go for the Thursday burger and pint deal. The Homeport Tavern offers two experiences. In the refined dining room, you can enjoy the upscale pub menu or you can find a prized spot at the cozy bar, where you’re likely to meet the locals and enjoy live music. (It’s where we go for Seascape business meetings, which always include a cocktail.) All of our Searsport picks are transplants from away, and big on hospitality.

Aster & Rose in the Youngtown Inn is our favorite special-occasion dining destination, for date night or bringing visiting friends and family. New owners Karrie and Michael have revitalized the restaurant with a thoughtful menu and some of the best service we’ve had in the area.

 

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

NorthportThe HootTerrific Mexican on Mondays, international other nightstacos, entomatadas, anything braised, churrosthehootnorthport.comMonday night Mexican 4:30p-9p, international dinners varyGF/DF friendly
BelfastFon’s KitchenThai home cooking in a cozy subterranean spaceany dumpling, pad thai, Korean fried rice, green curryfonskitchen.comLunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, hours varyGF/DF friendly
BelfastYoung’s Lobster PoundThe singular authentic Maine lobster experienceLobster roll, fresh oystersyoungslobsters.com9a-6:30p seven days a weekGF/DF friendly
BelfastSatoriTerrific sushi, craft cocktails, modern in the best waySpicy salmon hand roll, takoyaki, any signature rollsatoribelfast.comTuesday-Sunday 4p-9pGF/DF friendly
Lincolnville Aster & Rose Our favorite romantic space, in the lovely Youngtown Inn, renovated recently and with an invigorated menu Chef-ly preparations of unusal cuts of meat, such as pork collar on sweet potatoes; delicious pastas; the pop-up Mexican theme night might be the best tacos in the Midcoastasterrosemaine.com Wednesday-Saturday 5p-9pGF/DF friendly
Searsport Rio’s The brightness of the room belies the subtlety of a range of global tapas Carrot hummus, crispy sunchokes, house-made ricotta, chocolate mousseriosspikedcafe.com
Wednesday-Sunday 3p-9p
GF/DF friendly
Searsport Homeport Inn & Tavern A lively, renovated local pub with live music and great service fried clams, chimichurri beef, pasta of the dayhomeporthistoricinn.com/tavern Wednesday-Sunday, lunch 11:30a-3p, dinner 5p-9pGF/DF friendly
Searsport Hey Sailor! Hip urban taco lounge barbacoa tacos, posole, Korean chicken wings, Hey Sailor fries, smash burger, cocktailsheysailorhey.com Thursday, Sunday and Monday 11a-8p, Friday and Saturday 11a-9pGF friendly
Belfast Marshall Wharf Brewery Open air, waterfront, casual beer garden with a small menu of snacks and live music–open “late”! beer flights, pretzel, pemaquid oystersmarshallwharfbrewing.com Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday 12p-9p; Friday-Saturday 12p-10pGF friendly (if you drink wine instead)

 

 Coffee

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

BelfastChase’s DailyBeloved downtown coffee shop and produce market in a tall galley roomcoffee, apricot scone, soft serve ice cream, pizza slicechasesdaily.meTuesday-Friday 8a-3p; produce market on Tuesdays and Fridayslimited menu
BelfastDownshift CoffeeBike shop and coffee, with a few outdoor seatsespresso drinks with housemade syrups; roasted coffee beans to take homedownshiftcoffeeme.comMonday-Saturday 8a-3p; Sundays 9a-2plimited menu
CamdenZootArtistic and minimal, full of light, with a focus on vegetarian, vegan, and GF “munchies”muffins, coffeezootcoffee.com
7a-4p daily
GF/DF focused

 

Coffee

 Treats

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

BelfastThe Only DoughnutA nook of a place on Rte 1, with a few outdoor seats, with revelatory risen and cake doughnutsMaine potato doughnuts and coffee; Sea Smoke and Chocolate Ganachetheonlydoughnut.comThursday-Saturday 7a-2p; Sunday 7a-12pGF friendly
SearsportStone Fox Farm CreameryUnassuming brick-and-mortar ice cream shop near Stockton, with a cart set up on Searsport pierall the ice cream: gingery ginger, Maine Blueberry, chocolatestonefoxfarmcreamery.comSearsport Scoop Shop and Mobile Cone Truck both open 12p-6p dailyGF friendly/ DF sorbet
RockportFreya’sHigh-end feeling gelato shop with a deck overlooking Rockport harborgelato, sweet and savory crepesfreyasicecream.com
Thursday-Monday 11a-7p
GF/DF friendly

 

Treats

Dining Experiences

 

You come to the coast for seafood, and rightly so. But there are so many quintessential Maine culinary experiences to discover.

We’ve loved being a landing spot for many guests who’ve managed to score a reservation at The Lost Kitchen, where the five-hour-long event is filled with Instagram-worthy moments.

The mill is also the site a Tuesday farmers’ market in the summer, The Freedom Farmers’ Market at The Lost Kitchen, with a storefront, if you didn’t win the postcard lottery to get in for dinner. The pilgrimage is event-worthy unto itself (listed here rather than in the markets, as for many, going to visit TLK is primary). There are food vendors (with long lines, so plan ahead), and you can try a small sample of Lost Kitchen fare such as the quite excellent strawberry shortcake we had recently. Descend into the cool hush of the wine cellar, curated like a photgraphic vignette, and find a tremendous array of bottles to take with you or, as we did, to carry off in a wicker basket to enjoy on the lawn by the water. Upstairs is the calm and pretty retail store, low lit and paneled in newsawn wood, with aspirational kitchen items and cookbooks, all beautiful.

Less known, but a little more accessible, is Toddy Pond Farm, where you reserve your spot and order at the bar inside a renovated barn. There you’ll see the domed, wood-fired pizza oven, from which comes–without question–the best pizza you’ll find for 100 miles. Enjoy a beer outside, listen to live music, and your kiddo can meet some piglets!

 

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

 
MonroeToddy Pond FarmWorking farm with animals, reimagined as an event space with live musicFridays: pizza, Moroccan meatballs with hummus, housemade ricotta; Saturdays, prix fixe mealtoddypondfarm.comFridays and Saturdays 4:30p-9p$15 tickets per person are required, and reservations necessary
FreedomThe Lost KitchenCelebrated event dining, with a multi-course, hours-long dinner served in a renovated mill, marked by spectactular stagecraftpre-fixe dinnerfindthelostkitchen.comreservation only, by postcard lotteryIf this is how you are learning about LK, check out the cookbooks and the Discovery+ series
FreedomThe Freedom Farmers’ Market at The Lost KitchenLively tourist event, part market, part sneak peak at the milldesserts, ice cream, winefindthelostkitchen.com/farmers-marketTuesdays 12 p-4pdemand may outstrip supply, so pack plenty of patience

 

Markets and grocery stores

 

All of Seascape’s cottages have fully equipped kitchens, which means you don’t need to dine out every meal. The Belfast Hannaford is the go-to for all of your broadline needs–they’ll even steam a lobster for you.

But there are plenty of local markets with truly special offerings. The United Farmers’ Market and Belfast Farmers’ Market are both great places to buy direct from the community. And the Belfast Coop features many of those local growers if you are here on a market off-day.

Dot’s in Lincolnville is a different kind of gourmet market, with an array of takeaway items you can eat now or heat up later, like enchiladas or shepherd’s pie.

A truly unique market is the Charcuterie, about 25 minutes from Seascape. Former high-end chef Matthew Secich joined the Amish community and produces revelatory smoked meats and cheeses.

 

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

 
BelfastUnited Farmers’ MarketIndoor market with meat, seafood, and produce, plus prepared foods and crafts, with live piano music, a large banquet space and game room for kidsGluten-free and gluten-full baked goods, local smoked oysters, cold-pressed juices, cupcakes, fancy soapbelfastmarket.comSaturdays 9a-2pGF/DF friendly
BelfastBelfast Farmer’s MarketOutdoor farmers’ market with meat, seafood, produce and flowers, plus bagels and other treats, as well as arts and craftswater buffalo mozzarella, blueberry pie, pemaquid lobsterbelfastfarmersmarket.orgFridays 9a-1pGF/DF friendly
LincolnvilleDot’s MarketGourmet specialty food and wine shop with a cold case of prepared food for now or latergrab-and-go sandwiches like the pig and fig or smoked turkey and brie, soups; take-and-bake pies and mealsdotsinmaine.comTuesday-Saturday 7a-5:30p; Sunday 8a-3pGF/DF friendly
BelfastBelfast Community CoopBright, small, and clean, stocked with a superior selection of specialty organic foodsprepared salads and sandwiches, beer and wine, local foodsbelfast.coop8a-8p dailyGF friendly
BelfastHannafordA surprising grocery store for a town of Belfast’s size, with organic product and gluten-free and plant-based items on every aislethe biggest selection of beer, wine, and liquor for 100 miles; local bread and cheese; great prices on specialty snackshannford.comMonday-Saturday 7a-10p; Sunday 7a-9pGF/DF friendly
UnityAmish CharcuterieHand-crafted in every sense, with hand-cranked machines slicing off beautiful cured meats and cheeses–CASH ONLYandouille sausage, rosemary bacon, and any of the extraordinary Bolognasfacebook.com/Amish-Charcuterie-Unity-MaineWednesday 10a-5p; Friday-Saturday 9a-5pGF/DF friendly

 

For the right occasion

 

Some of our favorite places are our favorites because we don’t go there all the time. On a hot day I wouldn’t think of it, but on a day frosted by sea wind and Maine coastal mist, the first thing on my mind is what they are serving at Daily Soup.

There are just as many perfect days as rainy ones, though. And while it’s a little out of the way, there is no better place to dine and enjoy the end of one of those perfect days than at Club Marina and Bar, a place that feels a little like a family hobby, which is sincerely meant as a compliment. It is unfussy and warm and a little less slick, the food perhaps secondary to why you go. The long shadow of summer memory happily stretches over it.

Others on this list are ones we do go to more often. They are places that we have grown to appreciate for doing what they intend to do really well, and we send guests to them all the time. Rice & Noodle is less than a mile from Seascape and is open late (by midcoast Maine standards). Alexia’s is where I take my son after the farmers’ market. We always get slices, but you’ll see a stream of people picking up pizzas to go.

Bell the Cat is a go-to when you can plan a little ahead and pick up on the way. The menu is huge! At the junction of Route 1 and Route 3, it’s on the way to wherever your picnic is.

And when you’re looking for something light, we love Ras Dal Falafel in Searsport. Fresh pita, stuffed with quite good falafel, cabbage, pickled turnips, drizzled with lemony tahini sauce–a refreshing contrast on vacation. 

 

When to go

Town

Place

What’s it like?

What to try

Online

Hours

To experience a harbor sunset on a perfect warm dayStockton Springs
Club Marina and Bar
Feels less like a professional restaurant than a clubhouse, but with an unassailable water viewsmoked seafood plate, pecan pie, cocktailsfacebook.com/The-Club-Marina-and-BarThursday-Saturday 3p-9p; Sunday 2p-7p
Late lunch on a rainy dayBelfastDaily SoupThe best possible takeway for a rainy day–and there are plenty of those, even in summer!try any daily soup!: Moroccan lamb, borscht, Cuban black bean, and don’t forget the breaddailysoupbelfast.comSunday-Tuesday 11a-3p; Thursday-Friday 11a-7p
When you want to stay in but don’t want to cookBelfastRice & Noodle ThaiBetter enjoyed as takeout, which is hot, abundant, and better than average Thai food–always call ahead to order!Pad thai, red and green curry, sweet and sour chickenriceandnoodle2018.comMonday, Wednesday-Friday 11:30a-9p; Saturday and Sunday 12p-9p
When you want lunch for $10 or lessBelfastAlexia’s PizzaThe townie pizza shop is perfect for a fast, cheap stop after the Farmers’ Market$1.50 pizza slices, gyrosfacebook.com/Alexias-Pizza
Wednesday-Friday 11:30a-8:30p; Saturday 11:30a-8p;Sunday 4p-8p
Online ordering, with a drive-through window! Open EVERY DAY.BelfastBell the CatA big menu of sandwiches, soup, and salads. The drive-thru sets your course for an impromptu beach picnic.Combo of any half sandwich, soup or salad (pick 2) and 2 cookies. Infinite customization for the picky.bellthecatinc.com/
Open every day, 7:30 a – 3p
For something light
Searsport
Ras Dal FalafelA bright, spare, clean takeout shop with a deli case of fresh bread and spreadsThe falafel!facebook.com/RasDal-FalafelTuesday-Saturday 10a – 4p