In our newly released FED Portland guidebook, the Further Afield section highlights nearby areas worth visiting. Travel south just 25 minutes and you’ll find the small town of Biddeford, ME. Located along the Saco River, this former textile mill town is having its own emerging moment and has become Maine's youngest city, with an average age of 29. Here are a few of places to check out, recommended by local culinary pros.
EAT | Breakfast & Lunch
The Pollard Company out of Lowell, MA manufactured barrel-roofed diners in the 1920s. Only two remain and this is one of them. It has been here since 1927 and is now owned by two young chefs who have spiffed up the menu and elevated the old school diner fare. There are only 15 counter seats, no tables, no booths, and no place for waiting. Give them your name to be added to the waitlist and explore Biddford until seats are available.
Chef’s Own Description & Tips: “Palace is a classic American diner boiled down to its essentials. We focus on what's most important and try to do it the same day in and day out. Don't miss the Deluxe Sandwich for breakfast or the fried chicken sandwich for lunch.” (Chef Chad Conley of Palace Diner)
Pro Tip: “The Palace Diner is totally worth the drive to Biddeford. It's a dining counter that's been around forever, but was recently purchased and the menu updated. It's all still down-home diner food at diner prices, but it's fresh, well-thought out and delicious. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu here, but we especially love the tuna melt. It's killer.” (Bartender Andrew Volk & Restaurateur Briana Volk)
Pro Tip: “If it is possible for ideal forms of well-known diner staples to exist, things like pancakes, a breakfast sandwich, the tuna melt, or a burger, then you will find them at the Palace Diner.” (Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
18 Franklin Street, Biddeford, ME 04005
Wood-fired bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee drinks from Tandem Coffee Roasters. Because the bagels are wood-fired they have an exterior char, but don’t be afraid, their motto is: “Looks Burnt, Tastes Great!”
Pro Tip: “Rover Bagel began as a weekend pop-up in Salem, MA, but the owners decided to put down roots in Biddeford. Their Montreal-style bagels come in lots of great (but not silly) flavors and can be had with simple cream cheese, or as one of a half dozen, or so very tasty sandwiches.” (Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
111 Elm Street, Biddeford, ME 04005
DRINK | Coffee
Elements: Books, Coffee, Beer
It’s a bookstore with options for caffeine and alcohol. They roast their own beans for their coffee, sell Rose Foods bagels, and feature Portland craft beer. The menu also includes muffins, salads, and combo plates of meat, cheese, and fruit.
Pro Tip: “Elements has had as much impact on downtown Biddeford’s changing fortunes as anyone. The perfect blend of coffee shop, craft beer bar, and bookshop has made it a center of community on Main Street, with people meeting to socialize, study, or listen to the live music on weekends.” (Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
265 Main Street, Biddeford, ME 04005
Time & Tide Coffee
In 2018, Jon Phillips and Briana Campbell relocated from Brooklyn to Biddeford to open their coffee shop and roastery. They carefully source their beans from farmers and exporters and roast them at their offsite roaster.
Pro Tip: “Time and Tide is a third wave coffee shop which recently arrived at the bottom of Main Street, near the entrance to the North Dam Mill. They roast their own beans at a separate location in the mills, but in the shop they offer finely tuned coffee and tea drinks and a modern interior where it's a pleasure to spend an hour or so.” (Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
35 Main Street Suite 102, Biddeford, ME 04005
EAT | Ice Cream
Owners Jonathan Denton and Jacqui DeFranca create flavors through inspiration. And sometimes that means collaborations with local businesses like a pizza shop (baked cheddar ice cream with pepperoni toffee bits), a nearby restaurant (black sesame ice cream), a bagel shop (cream cheese ice cream with everything bagel seasoning sprinkled on top), a distillery (lime gimlet sherbet), and nearby Rabelais bookshop (brown bread ice cream based on a toasted bread recipe from a vintage cookbook).
Pro Tip: “It's no secret that Maine's best ice cream is in Biddeford and I'm partial to Sweetcream. They pasteurize all of the Maine milk they use in-house.” (Chef Greg Mitchell)
Pro Tip: “Making some of the every best ice cream in Maine with great ingredients and super flavors, like Spruce Tip Chip, Key Lime Pie, or Milk Chocolate (which I’m addicted to right now). Walk up to the window on the front of the Pepperell Mill Center or go inside to the counter where there is seating.” (Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
40 Main Street, Biddeford, ME 04005
DRINK | Wine
A wine bar and shop recently opened by Carson James and Erin Sheeha with a focus on selling organic, biodynamic, and sustainably produced wines.
Pro Tip: “We’ve been needing a good wine shop here in Biddeford, and we recently got Lorne, which is just a few steps up Main Street from Time & Tide and a few steps down from Sweetcream Dairy. The owner’s have winemaking experience and have launched a shop where one can purchase wine to go or sit and have a glass.”(Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
55 Main Street, Biddeford, ME 04005
BUY | Books
Don and Sam Lindgren run one of the most respected culinary bookshops in the country. They used to be in downtown Portland, but relocated to a 4,000-square-foot space in Biddeford and now only sell used and rare, out-of-print cookbooks, some of which date back to the 1530s.
Pro Tip: “Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren are really unique in their ability to combine the literature, art, and personalities that are part of our food culture. They are just a fascinating couple. (Chef Guy Hernandez and Wine Director Stella Hernandez)
Pro Tip: “Samantha was once a photo editor and pastry chef, and her husband Don has been in the book business for three decades. They originally opened their bookstore in Portland and moved the short distance to Biddeford. Their expertise on all things good is evident in their huge selection of food-related books.” (Chef/Artisan Erik Desjarlais)
Pro Tip: “This bookstore is one of the best in the country for books surrounding food and drink. We always leave with something wonderful and Don, the owner, has an incredible knowledge base to help you find exactly what you need. Don deals in the antiquarian book trade and always has amazing books and archives coming through his doors. We cannot visit for less than an hour; there's always something else to see here.” (Bartender Andrew and Briana Volk)
Note: By appointment or chance only, but never on Tuesdays.
2 Main Street, #18-214, Biddeford, ME 04005
EAT | Dinner
Executive chef Bowman Brown creates a sense of place with his use of local ingredients. He keep the menu focused on the seasons. When ramps and rhubarb appear in the spring, he makes a ramp soup with poached egg and aged pecorino and for dessert he bakes a rhubarb soufflé. The October menu features fried squash with spicy cod and a warm apple tart. In July, you’ll find lobster on the menu.
Pro Tip: “It’s hard to believe that one can find a restaurant as ambitious and yet comfortable as Elda here in Biddeford. But Bowman Brown’s dinner-only spot is offering food, drinks, and an experience good enough to catch the attention of both New York Times critics and locals alike.” (Samantha Hoyt Lindgren & Don Lindgren)
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