Boothbay 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 Harborside 1902, [Thistle Inn], Ports of Italy, Boathouse Bistro, the Spruce Point Inn or the Newagen Seaside Inn.
- NEW IN THE HARBOR! Harborside 1901 Bar & Grill (12 Bridge St.) is in the old Harborside Tavern location at our end of the footbridge. It’s a great new addition and while I am sure all their food it great, their sushi is so exceptional, I can’t bring myself to order anything else. Prices are high but the portions are even bigger! And now Harbor Treats has taken over the old Wannawaf spot and continues the tradition of offering sweets as well as morning coffee, pastries and breakfast sandwiches!
- Watershed Tavern at Boothbay Craft Brewery (301 Adams Pond Rd) is my other favorite of the moment. They have started serving food again after a bit of a hiatus. The food is great, beer is excellent and the cozy Old English pub-style interior can’t be beat on a cold winter evening (at least until Thistle reopens!) In the summer, they have a bunch of outdoor tables, beer garden style.
- The Thistle Inn (55 Oak St.). Under new ownership and now re-opened! As just as excellent as ever! 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.
Mama D’s Cafe
- 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, as well as the haddock sandwich on flatbread. 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.
- 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.
- Cozy’s Dockside (36 Cozy Harbor Rd, Southport, ME 04576) is where Oliver’s used to be, open in season. They offer salads, burgers, sandwiches and a small selection of seafood, but I go mostly for the lovely outdoor space overlooking Cozy Harbor.
- Brady’s (25 Union St.) is the newest restaurant in town, at the head of the harbor. Very friendly, great pub food as well as lobster and other mains and flatbreads. They have a spacious and newly renovated interior though I can’t wait to try out the deck in the summer. Open year round.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Footbridge Brewery is literally in crawling distance from Back Bay Cottage. Its friendly owners serve great beer and a light menu as well. And now (NEW IN THE HARBOR!) Bridge House BBQ has taken over Shannon’s old outdoor space, offering BBQ to go along with your brews.
- NEW IN THE HARBOR! Kelly’s Cafe has taken over the old Bridge Street Cafe spot (4 Bridge Street, Tel. (207) 633-7447)) Just a hop, skip and a jump from the cottage, this sunny cafe offers breakfast, lunch and bagged lunches for those heading out for the day.
- NEW IN THE HARBOR! Farm 23 (102 Ocean Point Rd.) has been a very welcome addition to the harbor, with its delicious baked good, including pastries, breads and bagels. Save time to peruse the gift shop too!
- NEW IN THE HARBOR! Woodsong Market (23 Townsend Ave) With basic and not-so-basic food items, gifts and a café (including great coffee and bagels and other breakfast and lunch options), this is a welcome new addition to the neighborhood!
- 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 (formerly 11 Granary Way but moved to Boothbay Center just off the south side of the green!) For excellent lobster rolls by the water!
- 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 Carriage House on the Ocean Point Road, which offers both pub and fancier fare (open year-round). The upstairs bar area is especially nice.
- 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!
- 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 Linekin Bay Resort has 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.
- Ports Pizzeria is open year-round and does excellent wood fire grilled pizza, salads and a small pasta selection.
And there are still others! 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:
- Footbridge Brewery and Boothbay Craft Brewery–see above!
- 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.
- Brady’s (25 Union St.) They have not one but two bars inside and a huge deck for warmer weather. Open year round.
- 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.
- NEW IN THE HARBOR! There’s a whiskey bar hidden in the back of Marcel’s submarine shop (also worth a visit!) Just around the corner from home and open late.
- Coastal Prime (35 Atlantic Ave) is a popular but pricey option for dinner but a lovely spot for a drink on their large deck with fire pits on the east side of the harbor.
- Tugboat (80 Commercial Street) has a fantastic new roofdeck with a spectacular view!
- Of course in season, just about every restaurant in town offers a bar and most offer a bar menu as well!
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.
- NEW!! Woodsong Market (23 Townsend Ave) With basic and not-so-basic food items, gifts and a café (including great coffee and bagels and other breakfast and lunch options), this is a welcome new addition to the neighborhood!
- The Harbor Mart at 15 Commercial St. is a 5-minute walk from home and has basic groceries, toiletries, etc.
- Eventide Specialties (5 Boothbay House Hill Rd) offers a range of specialty foods in addition to their broad range of olive oils, vinegars and wines. They also have a cheese and bakery section (and homemade soups and sandwiches!)
- Pinkham’s is now Pinkham’s Gourmet Market. They opened a beautiful new shop in a new location just past the Y as you’re headed out of town. In addition to fish, you can purchase most (high-end) grocery needs.
- 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), 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. Most of these shops are open year-round.
- 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). Every day in the warmer months, pick up fresh veggies and other goodies at Brown’s Farm Stand (209 Townsend Avenue).
- Atlantic Edge at 71 Atlantic Ave sells lobster, oysters and other seafood to take home (and will even steam it for you!)
- Orne’s (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.
- 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.
- Eventide and Farm 23 (see above) also have some great sweets to go!
- Harbor Treats (12 Bridge St.) has taken over the old Wannawaf spot and continues the tradition of offering sweets as well as morning coffee!
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.
Orne’s Candy Store
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.
- 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
- 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.
Ocean Point at sunset
Hendricks Head Beach at sunset
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 Marcel’s submarines for take-out.
- The Memorial Library lawn during the Thursday evening summer band concerts (7:30pm), with food from 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.
- Damariscotta & the Bristol Peninsula: Some of my very favorites include The River House, Ann’s Book Bistro, Bred in the Bone, the Contended Sole and Damariscotta River Grill.
- Wiscasset: My new favorite restaurant on the mid-coast is Water Street Kitchen. Worth the drive! Montsweag Restaurant is excellent. And I also hear great things about Back River Bistro though I still need to try it myself!
- Portland: I could write a whole book on this topic, but in the meantime, feel free to ask! Happy to share my favorites of the moment.