The Mainers can prove how hardy they are this winter, with some restaurants keeping their alfresco dining areas open to patrons ready to bundle up to eat outside. If there was one city where residents and visitors would risk freezing temperatures and snowfall – but not COVID-19 – to eat out, it would be Portland.
We’re highlighting some of the places with the best layouts, including terraces and parking lots with tents and heaters, to try and make winter outdoor dining as bearable as possible – which for some , will always be better than not. eat out at all.
OR: 89 Congress Street, Portland, (207) 773-1116. bluespoonme.com
HOURS: 4 pm-9pm Wednesday to Saturday
DETAILS: Near the top of Munjoy Hill, you’ll find Blue Spoon and its sidewalk tables. BYOB (bring your own blanket, that is) for added convenience. Or you can park in the side patio. Either way, you’ll be in the elements, but the heaters will help cool you off, as will a little something from the hot drink menu.
TRICK : The cilantro-rubbed pork belly with braised cabbage and golden raisin mostarda will stick to your ribs just like the Blue Spoon burger. Start with grilled carrots or angus beef tartare, but leave room for dessert as a recent special was an epic pear pie, and you never know which chef / owner Will Lavey and his wife, Liz Koenigsberg, are going. concoct.
OR: 33 Allen Avenue, Portland, (207) 878-9511. brunosportland.com
HOURS: From 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. No reservations.
DETAILS: Bruno’s has an outdoor tent with heaters and eight tables placed six feet apart. Some sides are open for ventilation and means of egress. The restaurant plans to keep the tent as long as possible.
TRICK : Try the lobster ravioli with a sherry cream sauce or one of your old-fashioned Italian comfort foods and be sure to leave room for dessert as they have cannoli, ricotta cake with strawberries and several other tasty treats.
OR: 58 Pine Street, Portland, (207) 772-1110. chavalmaine.com
HOURS: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
DETAILS: If Spanish and French inspired cuisine is your thing, while international travel is on the cards, head to Chaval where al fresco dining options are plentiful. If no precipitation is forecast, take advantage of the heated but uncovered terrace. Or, for added convenience – and $ 25 more – book a private greenhouse.
TRICK : It makes perfect sense to try arctic char made with roasted golden beats, spinach butter mash, winter citrus and shallots. For something that will really stick to your ribs, maybe Maine’s Shortrib tempts you. It’s a slow-braised, glazed local beef shortrib with a Maine potato and parsnip gratin, a wild mushroom fricassee and a red wine jus.
EL RAYO TAQUERIA
OR: 26 Free Street, Portland, (207) 780-8226. elrayotaqueria.com
HOURS: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
DETAILS: On the back deck of the downtown El Rayo Taqueria location in Portland, you’ll find two picnic tables with heaters and a pair of heated greenhouses. All are first come, first served.
TRICK : Anytime is a good time for authentic Mexican food and a freshly made margarita, but if you visit El Rayo during the week you can take advantage of some special offers. On Mondays, classic burritos cost $ 6.95; on Taco Tuesday, tacos are $ 3; classic rice and bean bowls cost $ 6.95 on Wednesdays; and on Thursdays, the daily enchiladas cost $ 8.95. We also suggest a Mexico City corn cob appetizer drizzled with chipotle mayonnaise and sprinkled with cojita cheese for $ 4.95, and from the dessert menu grab a divine coconut cupcake for $ 4.95 . It’s large enough to be shared, although you don’t have to.
KITCHEN EVO + BAR
OR: 443 Fore Street, Portland, (207) 358-7830. evoportland.com
HOURS: 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
DETAILS: At Evo, you can book your own private heated chalet-restaurant for groups of two to five people for a two-hour time slot. It’s like your own culinary snow globe sanctuary where you’ll enjoy a delicious meal prepared by the Evo team, led by Executive Chef Matt Ginn.
TRICK : Evo shines with its Mediterranean cuisine and sources its products, meat and fish from local farms and fishmongers. From chickpea fries and falafel entrees to entrees like duck, prime rib and gnocchi, there’s something for every palate in Evo, including vegetarians and vegans.
OR: 211 Danforth Street, Portland, (207) 747-5045. littlegiantmaine.com
HOURS: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday for dinner, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for brunch
DETAILS: Little Giant is open six evenings a week for alfresco dining and weekend brunch mornings and recently completed work on a fabulous covered courtyard.
TRICK : Favorite menu items include the lobster roll, burger, and black rice.
OR: 60 Portland Pier, Portland, (207) 274-6097. lukeslobster.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day
DETAILS: The outdoor seating at Luke’s Lobster is split over several levels and includes a waterfront terrace. The lower deck has benches and small tables that can be moved to accommodate groups of different sizes. As for lobster, it has plenty of it, not to mention every other classic Maine seafood you can think of, as well as burgers and chicken popcorn for non-pescatarians.
TRICK : From Thursday to Sunday (weather permitting), al fresco diners can enjoy a special called Pier Pressure. Two fireplaces are lit and you can get a fish chowder for $ 3 and hot drinks for $ 8.
MAINE ARTISANAL DISTILLERY
OR: 123 Washington Ave., Portland, (207) 613-9068. mainecraftdistilling.com
HOURS: from noon to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday
DETAILS: Maine Craft Distilling has ample space to sit outside and has built individual heated structures similar to coolers. On the food side, the distillery’s menu ranges from fried arancini (arborio rice balls stuffed with grilled vegetables and mozzarella) to beef, pork and black bean chili served with a corn muffin.
TRICK : Warm up your bones with hot alcoholic drinks like Hot Butter Rum, Hot Wassail, and Hot Toddy, or the adult versions of hot chocolate, hot cider, and coffee.
OR: 40 Washington Avenue, Portland, (207) 956-7573. terlingua.me
HOURS: From noon to 8 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday
DETAILS: On the always-crowded stretch of Washington Avenue, Terlingua is the place to go for a menu of delicious grill that fuses southwestern cuisine with homemade smoked meats. They have a lovely heated and covered two-level rear patio for alfresco dining. There’s also an outdoor margarita garden with a fire pit, Adirondack chairs, and four picnic tables with heaters. But that’s not all, Terlingua also has a pair of heated and covered fish huts that can accommodate six people each. Walk-ins are welcome, but it’s a good idea to make a reservation for one of the covered spots as they fill up quickly.
TRICK : Besides mouthwatering menu items like ceviche, the very popular Baja fish tacos, green chili with pork shoulder and plantain fritters, you can also have take out with things like smoked meats, kits of tacos and dry produce from the neighborhood market. On the cocktail side, it’s no surprise that Terlingua’s signature drink is the margarita.
OR: 327 Commercial Street, Portland, (207) 808-8840. tiqa.net
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day
DETAILS: We might be on the Atlantic Ocean here in Maine, but you can get a taste of the Mediterranean at Tiqa, who plans to keep their patio open for the foreseeable future. Sit around the fireplace or at a table near a heater. Tiqa also has seven sidewalk tables that can seat up to six people, and they will remain open until spring.
TRICK : The entire menu is packed with Mediterranean wonders, including baba ghanoush, lamb gyros, falafel, chicken shawarma, lemon lentil soup, and several kebabs. On the cocktail side, there is a potion called Pomegranate made with tequila, chili liqueur, triple sec, pomegranate and lime juice which looks very tasty.
OR: 18 Hampshire Street, Portland, (207) 536-1285. tomasoscanteen.com.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
DETAILS: For the winter, Tomaso’s canteen has transformed its outdoor seating into a covered and heated patio, increasing its capacity, which is limited inside the small bar.
TRICK : Tomaso’s is a derelict place to eat and drink, and its comfort foods are plentiful. You can’t go wrong with a chicken bomb, mac and cheese, fried pickles, and, panting, a three-pound bucket of chicken wings. Wash it all down with, well, just about anything you can think of, including lots of local beers.
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