World Eats: Portland, Maine

Eventide Oyster Co.

You know you’re headed in the right direction when every Maineiac’s recommendation for his or her favorite raw bar steers you toward the same place. Eventide Oyster Col is the local go-to for briny bivalves. The rotating roster of more than a dozen fresh catches can include Maine favorites such as Flying Point,, Otter Cove, and John’s River Oysters; South of the Border riffs like fluke ceviche with pique de piña (a spicy pineapple flavored vinegar); and homestyle favorites like battered Gulf of Maine hake or a traditional New England clambake overflowing with steamers, lobster and mussels.

The joint is inevitably packed, and for good reason. “More than anything else, it’s our atmosphere that sets us apart. Eventide is a smaller space that features communal seating, so when its bustling, it feels like a party.” Says co-owner and general manager Arlin Smith. “After that, it’s all about the food. We use amazing ingredients and don’t take ourselves too seriously, reinterpreting New England classics.”

There is plenty to choose from when it comes to accompanying libations, and while many gravitate toward sparkling wine as the perfect oyster companion, Smith is more freeform with his recommendations. “We actually don’t think there is a perfect pairing! Since there’s so much that goes well with oysters, you should drink whatever you’re in the mood for and water feels fun,” he suggests. “At Eventide, we particularly enjoy the Dirty Dirty Martini, which actually has oyster brine in it; our ‘delightfully trashy’ Twisted Tea cocktail (black tea-infused Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom and lemonade), which is strong, dry and refreshing—all things that oysters want; or an Allagash Tripel, a staple beer that we have on tap that lends well to the saltiness of the oysters.”

You’ll likely have to wait for a table at the always-packed restaurant, but there are ample retailers nearby to fill and hour’s worth of browsing, or simply take in the sunshine and salty sea air at the Maine State Pier just two blocks away.