From bagels to cruffins to donuts to a hearty plate of eggs and corned beef, here are 6 places local chefs recommend you start your day in Portland, Maine.
The doors open at 4 am when the fishermen come in for their eggs and bacon before heading out to sea. A bit later, the line forms with a mix of loyal regulars, tourists, and locals nursing hangovers. This port-side diner began serving in 1991 and they continue to churn out comfort food 362 1/2 days a year.
Pro Tip: “Nothing could be finer than the vibe at Becky's Diner in the morning. Bump elbows with lobstermen and restaurant workers who are trying to recover from a rough night. The coffee is always hot and the eggs are cooked right.” (Chef Erik Desjarlais)
Pro Tip: “Have breakfast here for a Portland classic experience.” (Chef Chad Conley)
390 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04105
If you thought that great bagels only came from Montreal or New York, Portland is here to make sure you change your mind and Forage Market is one of the places earning national attention for their hand-rolled, wood-fired, sourdough bagels. They come in plain, sesame, poppy, everything, sea salt, or garlic and when they run out, that’s it, order a baguette. Get them with cream cheese or as a breakfast sandwich.
Pro Tip: “Their bagels are good enough to stand with the real deal from NYC, which I say as a somewhat amazed NYC native.” (Chef David Levi)
123 Washington Avenue
Portland, ME 04103
Chef Chad Conley wanted to make a unique bagel: one with a light crust, a soft inside, not too big, and perfect for sandwiches. Through much trial and error, his mission was accomplished. The bagels are a mixture of sourdough and traditional yeasts baked daily at 4:30 a.m. The decor of this café and take-away shop is like the set of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with vintage mint green and pale pink table tops and white tiled walls. Don’t miss the front shelves stocked with Jewish-themed candy, cookbooks, matzoh, tote bags, and kiddie onesies.
Chef’s Own Description: “Rose is a neighborhood bagel shop which takes its inspiration from the Jewish appetizing shops of the Lower East Side. Homemade boiled-and-baked bagels with nova lox and whipped cream cheese and other bagel classics share the menu with lunch items like matzo ball soup and pastrami on rye sandwiches.” (Chef Chad Conley)
Pro Tip: “Rose Foods for bagels! We love their bagels because they are light and crispy enough to actually enjoy eating a bagel sandwich. They’ve figured out the perfect way to not have the middle of the sandwich spill out the sides. We also love that they serve Parlor coffee. It’s the only place in town to get it.” (Restaurateurs Orenda and Peter Hale)
Pro Tip: “Get great hot pastrami on the Make It A Reuben! sandwich.” (Chef Thomas Takashi Cooke and restaurateur Elaine Alden)
Pro Tip: “A killer selection of bagel sandwiches. Try the potato latkes.” (Chef Jordan Rubin & Restaurateur Marisa Lewiecki)
428 Forest Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
Union in The Press Hotel
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you begin your morning at Union, it most likely will be one of the best meals of the day. Chef Josh Berry sources local ingredients when possible, right down to the bee pollen from their rooftop apiary. Start light with locally made Greek yogurt and berries or try the vegan warm chai-spiced quinoa with a caramelized brûlée banana on top. If you want a more hearty dish, opt for the hearty Maine Family Farms poached eggs, corned beef, and local beets served in a skillet. Sit by one of the large picture windows.
Chef’s Own Tip: “If you're looking for something a little more unique and special book our Chef's Table. You'll get to hang out with me and our team for a coursed meal that we make just for you. It's best with just 2-4 people. Otherwise a big tip is that we have one of the best bars for dining - it's spacious, you get the full view of restaurant, kitchen action, and the energy of Portland.” (Chef Josh Berry of Union)
Pro Tip: “Their sourcing is better than any other breakfast spot I know of, the quality of the preparations is high, the space is elegant and entirely pleasant, and the prices are surprisingly reasonable.” (Chef David Levi)
The Holy Donut
Made from scratch, they use Maine mashed potatoes in their donuts which makes them lighter in feel and taste. You can pick from different flavors like Maple Bacon, Allen’s Coffee Brandy, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Triple Berry Glaze, and Bacon Cheddar.
Pro Tip: “Try the Triple Berry Glaze and don’t be scared off the bright pink color.” (FED Guides)
Downtown Portland | 7 Exchange Street, Portland, ME 04101 | T: 207.775.7776
West End | 194 Park Avenue, Portland, ME 04101 | 207.874.7774
Bakers Chris and Amy Deutsch opened this corner bakery in the East End’s Munjoy Hill and named it after the Paris neighborhood, Belleville. The bakery case is filled with French-style pastries and Roman-style pizza. Go savory with an egg and cheese croissant or sweet with a pain au chocolat or cardamon bun. On weekends, look for their Cruffins, which are a hybrid of a croissant and a muffin.
Pro Tip: “One of short list of places we always go to in Portland.” (Bartender Andrew and restaurateur Briana Volk)
Pro Tip: “This is a small neighborhood pastry shop that makes some of the best croissants I've had in the states.” (Chef Greg Mitchell)
Pro Tip: “This the go to for French classic pastries. They make Roman-style pizza for lunch as well. If the Cruffin is available, do yourself a favor and get it! They sell out early but if it’s there, trust us you want it. Thursday-Saturday they started doing pizza nights. They don’t have much seating, but you can order a round pie for pickup and go eat it on the promenade overlooking the ocean. Grab a bottle of wine from Maine & Loire to round out a stellar evening picnic.” (Restaurateurs Orenda and Peter Hale)
Pro Tip: “A great spot that has lots of variations on laminated flakey pastries.” (Chef Thomas Takashi Cooke and restaurateur Elaine Alden)
1 North Street
Portland, ME 04106