Restaurants and Coffee Shops
Here are some of my favorite restaurants in the area (all are in Boothbay Harbor unless otherwise noted). If you’re looking for slightly more gourmet cuisine, your best options are Thistle Inn, Ports of Italy, Boathouse Bistro, Fisherman's and the Newagen Seaside Inn.
My very favorites:
- The Thistle Inn (55 Oak St.). Also open year-round, the Thistle Inn offers a cozy Old English-style pub for the chillier days and a pleasant shaded terrace for warmer summer days, with some of the finest food in the area. (Note: Thistle is temporarily closed! But it should reopen sometime in October 2016.)
- McSeagulls (14 Wharf St.). With an 11-page menu it’s hard not to find something you like! Nonetheless, I just keep going back to the traditional McSeagulls Hot Lobster Roll….McSeagulls also has a bar and is open 7 days a week, all year round, so it makes my must-visit list any time of year.
- The Boathouse Bistro (12 The By Way). An interesting mix of local seafood, tapas and more traditional fare makes for innovative cuisine and something a bit different amongst a host of lobster pounds. The 3rd floor open air deck offers a wonderful view of the Harbor in the summer. There's no better place to be on a warm evening. I highly recommend the cheese platter and their signature blueberry sangria. Now open year-round!
- Ports of Italy (47 Commercial St.). Fine northern Italian cuisine in a somewhat upscale ambience, Ports of Italy serves a variety of dishes with fresh ingredients and local seafood. I love their caprese salad in a parmesan cheese bowl.
- The Lobster Dock (49 Atlantic Ave). The Lobster Dock is Maine seafood at its best—in other words lobster bibs are provided! Offers a nice view of Boothbay Harbor from the other side of the footbridge. I usually go for steamers or lobster/a warm lobster roll.
The Lobster Dock
- Robinson’s Wharf (20 Hendricks Hill Rd., Southport, ME 04576). Robinson’s is in a picturesque spot overlooking Townsend Gut, which separates Boothbay Harbor from Southport Island, making it the only place on this list that is not a 5 or 10-minute walk from the cottage. Still, it’s only a 10-minute drive if the drawbridge isn’t up. Robinson’s has an array of freshly caught seafood and recently switched to sit-down only service. Robinson's is now open year round . You can enjoy live music upstairs by the bar on most Friday evenings.
- Mama D’s (50 Union St., Tel. (207) 633-3464). A friendly coffee shop with breakfast and lunch service, Mama D’s is full of character. Open year round. Don’t miss the blueberry cake!
- Blue Moon Cafe (54 Commercial Street, Tel. 207-633-2220) is an adorable waterfront cafe serving breakfast and lunch daily and now happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays. They also offer packed lunches to go if you're planning a picnic. I love their breakfast burrito.
- Red Cup Coffeehouse is a friendly coffee shop that also serves food, wine and beer. It's located right in the center of the Harbor (29 Commercial St.) Keep an eye out for open mic night (7pm - 9pm). Get there early because it fills up fast!
- Waves is at 43 Commercial St. where the old Ebbtide used to be. For Ebbtide fans, you'll be happy to know that the traditional booths are still there and Waves is an excellent spot for breakfast or lunch (they don't serve dinner). Portions are large and the service friendly.
- Fisherman's Wharf is not your usual hotel restaurant. The menu is much more creative (yet slightly less expensive than some others) and the chef has won several awards. They have a good selection of Maine microbrews and of course a waterside dining room and outdoor seating as well. Everything on the menu looked intriguing; I had the Salmon Wellington and it was delicious (though way too big of a portion!) The chowder was also excellent.
- The Watershed Tavern at the Boothbay Craft Brewery is just past Boothbay center off Route 27. The atmosphere is cozy and delightful and the menu has been expanding recently. I think it's my favorite chowder in town (it has a bit of a kick to it) and the beers are great and as local as you can get!
Mama D's Cafe
- Bet's Fish Fry (Route 27 at Boothbay Common, in Boothbay Center). Bet only serves fish n' chips, but the best fish n' chips you'll ever try! Eat at the picnic tables there, or bring your dinner back to the cottage and enjoy it on the deck.
- Shannon's Unshelled (11 Granary Way). For excellent lobster rolls a stone's throw from the cottage, on our very own Granary Way.
- China by the Sea (96 Townsend Ave). For many years I avoided eating Chinese on my visits to Boothbay but once I tried China by the Sea, it made my must-visit list. The wonton soup is wonderful on a cold day (open year-round). China by the Sea also has a computer with internet available for use.
- If you are in East Boothbay, try Lobsterman’s Wharf (224 Ocean Point Road/Route 96) right on the Damariscotta River (it’s best when you can take advantage of the waterside terrace), or the Ocean Point Inn (Shore Road) just after catching the sunset.
- Brown’s Wharf Inn (121 Atlantic Ave) Brown’s has seafood but also a good turkey dinner on Thursdays and Sundays (check the days to be sure in case they have changed!)
- Dunton's Dog House (Sea Street, Tel. (207) 633-4700) is an institution. This small shack with outdoor picnic tables sells foot-long hot dogs but also an array of delicious seafood. It may be greasy, but it's good!
- Bridge Street Cafe (4 Bridge Street, Tel. (207) 633-7447)) Just a hop, skip and a jump from the cottage, this sunny cafe is a good stop for all your blueberry needs - they serve breakfast all day.
- Baker's Way (89 Townsend Ave) is an excellent spot for a budget breakfast (their old fashioned/plain donuts and chocolate glazed donuts are wonderful) or for a quick or takeout Vietnamese curry lunch. While the inside is rather drab, they just re-landscaped a beautiful patio seating area outback.
- The Newagen Seaside Inn at the tip of Southport Island has a fantastic farm to table restaurant with slightly pricier but exquisite dishes made with locally grown ingredients.
- The new deli at 12 Oak St., Capers, is in full swing. They make everything from scratch: sandwiches, salads, desserts, etc. They do catering as well, and one half of the store is devoted to selling beer, wine and other more gourmet products. There are several tables for a pleasant eat-in experience, or you can order a picnic lunch to go.
- The Linekin Bay Resort was renovated and recently reopened. They have a wonderful waterside setting and large deck that are great if you're craving a quiet afternoon or evening. No promises, but if you bring your swimsuit and a towel, they may even let diners use the pool that's intended for overnight guests. See my friend Karen Watterson's review for Eat Maine for more details on the dining experience.
- Bogie's at the Spruce Point Inn is the more casual of Spruce Point's indoor restaurants (they also have a lunchtime only outdoor grill). It's a spacious and welcoming setting and the food is top notch.
- The Carriage House on the Ocean Point Road in East Boothbay recently reopened after being closed for 15 or so years. The chowder is great and the upstairs boat bar is a sight to see.
- Rocktide has a more modern bar area and a great waterside deck with views across the harbor to the main part of town. Their menu is a bit more creative than the usual hotel fare. I had the lobster poached in champagne, which I would definitely order again!
- Mine Oyster has great sushi and a fantastic view from the outdoor deck (bar stool seating only).
- For waffles and ice cream, you must try Wannawaf (31 Granary Way) and go with a very empty stomach! “The Good Apple” waffle (basically a huge apple pie) is amazing. The portions are just insane.
And there are still others! If you're wondering why I have not mentioned the new Harborside Tavern (where Andrew's Harborside used to be), I just haven't gotten around to trying it yet! I'm also looking forward to trying Karen's Hideaway, the fancier of Spruce Point's restaurants and Cod's Head soon.
A few months ago, I counted nine restaurants or cafes within easy walking distance that are open in the winter and over thirty in the summer! The Chamber of Commerce website lists almost all the local restaurants, coffee shops, markets and more and gives contact details for each. When visiting the cottage, you will also find a basket with menus from various local restaurants.
Cabbage Island Clambakes If you’re visiting in the summer, do not miss this traditional clambake on Cabbage Island (however, I do recommend that you miss breakfast that day!) A boat picks you up in the Harbor and brings you on a tour around Spruce Point to the small Cabbage Island in Linekin Bay where you have some time to explore the island and stake out your picnic table (indoors if the weather turns foul) and prepare to eat 2 lobsters and steamers that are prepared in a bath of saltwater and seaweed on the water’s edge, corn-on-the-cob, baked potato, blueberry cake and more. Be sure to reserve in advance at (207) 633-7200.
While Boothbay does not offer a lot in terms of nightlife, most of the local restaurants have bars and many are open late in the summers. If you’re in the mood to hit a local watering hole, my top recommendations are:
- McSeagulls (14 Wharf St.) Open year-round and 7 days a week, the place to be for locals once the tourists go home at the end of the summer! They have a large outdoor deck in the nicer weather.
- Chowder House (22 Granary Way): literally in stumbling distance, the Chowder House has a great terrace in the summer.
- The Thistle Inn (55 Oak St.) Who can pass up drinks at a bar that is actually an 18-foot dory that once sailed in Boothbay Harbor? Ten beers on tap is also a plus.
- The Boathouse Bistro (12 The By Way). The deck is a great spot for a warm evening. Check out the website for the bistro’s entertainment calendar.
- And don't forget the open mic nights at Red Cup Coffeehouse!
Blueberry sangria on the roofdeck at the Boathouse Bistro
There are a number of options if you prefer to buy food and cook back at home:
- Hannaford’s: At 27 Townsend Ave (a 5-minute drive or 15-minute walk from the cottage), this is the only full-sized supermarket nearby. Open 7 days a week 7am-9pm or until 10pm in the summer.
- Oak Street Provisions (43 Oak St.): This friendly shop 5 minutes up the hill is the place to go for wine and microbrews. They also offer fresh meats and seafood and a number of other specialty food items.
- The Village Market is now closed, but Gimbel's next door (14 Commercial St., only a 5-minute walk from the cottage) has started selling very basic groceries, toiletries, etc. in their downstairs section.
- General Stores: There's a small shop right in the center of the Harbor with your basic necessities: Harbor General Store (12 Commercial St.) But don’t leave the region without a stop at one (or several) of the traditional New England general stores. The East Boothbay General Store (255 Ocean Point Road, open 7 days a week from mid-May to mid-October), first opened in 1893, has had a facelift but it's still great for specialty foods offers gourmet sandwiches and pizza to eat there or to go. The website alone is worth a visit, with a slew of information on the history of East Boothbay and its boatbuilding. Also definitely worth a stop is the Trevett Country Store on Hodgdon Island (known especially for its lobster rolls!) and the Southport General Store. See Picnics, Parks & Picnic Supplies for complete directions to all three stores from the cottage.
- On Thursday mornings in the summer, you can purchase locally-grown and locally-made products at the Boothbay Farmers' Market (9am - noon, mid-May to early October, rain or shine at the Boothbay Commons on Route 27).
- The Chamber of Commerce site lists additional markets. You can also buy lobster, oysters and other seafood to take home at certain locations.
- Orne's Candy Store (11 Commercial Street) has been making candy (most notably fudge) since 1885 and is definitely worth a visit. Orne's was even included in National Geographic's Food Journeys of a Lifetime.
- Wannawaf (31 Granary Way) has delicious (though a bit too copious) ice creams and waffle specials. "The Good Apple" waffle (basically a huge apple pie) is amazing.
- The Downeast Ice Cream Factory (1 By Way) serves more flavors than you could ever hope to try, including Maine specialties such as "blueberry cheesecake" and "moose tracks". Stick to one scoop unless ice cream is going to be your whole meal! This is my go-to place for an ice cream cone.
Orne's Candy Store
Picnics, Parks & Picnic Supplies
Our family has been coming to the Boothbay area for almost 100 years now, and those years have always included memorable picnics in perfect spots. We have left a big canvas bag with a picnic blanket and thermos in the cottage for your use. Here are our three favorite combinations (over four generations) of gorgeous sites with not-to-be-missed places to buy food right on the way.
Barter's Island & Porter Preserve
- Head out Townsend Ave 1.8 miles to the monument in Boothbay center
- Turn left in front of the monument and immediate left on Corey Road
- Go 0.3 miles and turn right onto Barter’s Island Road (follow the signs for the Botanical Garden, which you will pass).
- You will come down a hill and cross a bridge to Knickerkane Island, a lovely park on the left which you reach from the parking lot over a little footbridge. This is a great place to picnic, but in 2011 the bridge is under construction, so save this for next year!
- Continue on over to Hodgdon Island, and just before the drawbridge, turn right into the parking lot for the Trevett Country Store. Stock up on lobster rolls, subs and other goodies. Click here for one blogger’s detailed account of “The Perfect Lobster Roll!”
- Head off across the bridge to Barter’s Island.
- In about a half mile, turn left onto Kimballtown Road and follow the Porter Preserve signs for another half mile.
- You will find the parking lot and trailhead near the old Kimball family cemetery
- Follow the trail markers to one of the great outlooks on the Sheepscot River.
- This is one of the Boothbay Regional Land Trust properties – we have trail guides to all the BRLT preserves at the cottage and we highly recommend them all. This, however, is our all-time favorite.
Southport & Hendricks Head Beach
Hendricks Head Beach at sunset
- Go right on Townsend Ave and take a left on Smith or Union Street up the hill and left again onto Oak Street to reverse direction.
- Take the first right on West Street, following the hospital signs and the shoreline.
- You will be on Route 27, and in about 2 miles you will cross the bridge over Townsend Gut onto Southport Island.
- At the intersection by Robinson’s Wharf (definitely come back there for seafood right on the water another time), stay straight on Route 27.
- In 2 more miles, you will see a monument and the Southport General Store – stock up on food here.
- From the store, go right and then immediate left on Beach Road.
- Follow Beach Road for 0.4 miles to a parking area on the left.
- You will see a sandy beach, with views of Hendricks Head Light nearby and Seguin Island, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, in the distance.
- Enjoy your meal and the beach!
- When you leave, you can continue to follow the road around a pretty 1-mile loop. Going uphill from the beach, it becomes Salt Pond Road. Turn right on Dogfish Head Road and you will see Ebenecook Harbor down below. The peaceful Union Cemetery is soon on your left and then you will be back at the general store. Left on Route 27 will bring you right back into Boothbay Harbor.
East Boothbay/Ocean Point
- Head out Townsend Ave for 0.3 miles and take a right on Eastern Avenue.
- Go 0.5 miles to the Ocean Point Road/Route 96, turn right.
- Drive 1.8 miles to the Mill Pond Overlook (on the right) over Linekin Bay – this is a nice picnic spot in itself.
- Drive through East Boothbay, with the Damariscotta River on your left and go up the hill 0.2 miles to the East Boothbay General Store at the blinking light. The parking lot is just past the store on the right. The sandwiches here are wonderful and plentiful.
- Leaving the store, continue on Route 96 for 3.3 miles to a parking lot on the left – look for it just when you see the water straight ahead – this is Grimes Cove at Ocean Point.
- You can park here and head down to the shore trail on the left, or you can continue on the Ocean Point Road past the stone Wilson Chapel and look for designated parking spaces on the left.
- Find your rock and watch the surf. You can see Ram Island Light and Fisherman’s Island behind it, and beyond is Damariscove (owned by the Nature Conservancy), and around a few more bends you will see Negro Island close by.
- Past the Ocean Point Inn, the road curves inland and circles back to Route 96. Take a right on Route 96 to make a nice walking loop and go back to your car, or left on Route 96 if you’re driving and want to return to the cottage.
- We heartily recommend timing this picnic trip to coincide with sunset – coming to Ocean Point then is a family tradition.
Three more picnic ideas:
- Barrett Park (see Walks from your door) stopping at The Lobster Dock for take-out.
- The Memorial Library lawn during the Thursday evening summer band concerts (7:30pm), with food from Oak Street Provisions, just up the hill, Baker’s Way (89 Townsend Ave, (207) 633-1119), with its mix of authentic Vietnamese food, old-fashioned New England donuts, and French-style pastries and other baked goods, or Hannaford’s at 27 Townsend Ave.
- The Cabbage Island Clambakes – boat excursion and sumptuous food all in one – an experience you won’t want to miss! Leave right from Boothbay Harbor, but be sure to make reservations: (207) 633-7200.