Stroll down Portland, Maine’s wide brick-laid sidewalks these days, and you’re likely to see—and smell—the signs of the city’s culinary boom. In onetime factory buildings and warehouses just inland from the wharfs, young Turks of the food world are serving up flavors from far-flung corners of the globe—Indonesia, Polynesia, Mexico and Japan—in addition to modern American fare. Their tables are packed with epicureans who increasingly are making pilgrimages to the city just for the food.
And it’s hardly Portland alone that’s bearing witness to this thriving foodie scene. From Maine’s Southern Coast up to Bar Harbor and beyond, the avid eater can find some of the most toothsome and creative fare anywhere—at laid-back food trucks and fine-dining stalwarts alike. These groundbreaking chefs seek out the best of Maine’s fresh bounty, while drawing hungry crowds and James Beard nominations in their wake.
Some have pulled up roots elsewhere to come here, while others were Maine-born-and-bred chefs who circled the world, then came back home. They could cook anywhere—in bustling hubs such as Chicago or New York, say—but they've decided to hang their aprons in Maine for a reason.