Best of Maine 2018

Thousands of Down East readers took our annual poll to tell us what they love most in Maine — from landmarks to lobster shacks to libraries. Then we chimed in with a few picks of our own. So how’d your favorites do?

By Kathleen Fleury • Will Grunewald • Brian Kevin • Joe Ricchio • Sarah Stebbins • Virginia M. Wright

Travel & Play

Bike riding

Photograph Courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Maine

Family hike

Photograph by Sarah Stebbins


PWM is your fave airport for the zillionth year; Common Ground coming up big.

Portland International Jetport
1001 Westbrook St., Portland. 207-774-7301.

The Brunswick Inn
165 Park Row, Brunswick. 207-729-4914.

Boat Cruise/Excursion
Hardy Boat
129 Rte. 32, New Harbor. 207-677-2026.

Common Ground Country Fair
294 Crosby Brook Rd., Unity. 207-568-4142.

Golf Course
Boothbay Harbor Country Club
50 Sugar Maple Ln., Boothbay. 207-633-3673.

Boothbay Harbor

Historic House/Landmark
Portland Head Light
12 Captain Strout Cir., Cape Elizabeth.

Historical Society
Pejepscot Historical Society
159 Park Row, Brunswick. 207-729-6606.

Land Trust
Boothbay Region Land Trust
60 Samoset Rd., Boothbay Harbor. 207-633-4818.

Spruce Point Inn
88 Grandview Ave., Boothbay Harbor. 207-633-4152.

The Dolphin
515 Basin Point Rd., Harpswell. 207-833-5343.

State Park
Baxter State Park

Ski Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort
Carrabassett Valley. 800-843-5623.

Bike riding

Photograph by Sarah Weafer

Home & Style

Swanville greenhouse

Carol Yee and Little Bit in their Swanville greenhouse. Photograph by Benjamin Williamson.

Specialty Nursery

Carol’s Collectible

411 Nickerson Rd., Swanville. 207-323-2783.

“My interest is propagating and collecting weird things,” says Carol Yee, proprietor of Carol’s Collectibles. “The weirder the better.” Don’t worry, she isn’t running The Little Shop of Horrors. Yee offers hard-to-find varieties of familiar plants, such as Allegheny spurge, a pachysandra with purple and white-marbled leaves; Panda Face, an Asian wild ginger with black-and-white flowers; and Humpback Whale, a blue-green hosta that forms a mound up to 8 feet wide. Her greatest passion is uncommon rhododendrons with brilliant flowers (and cool names) like Cherry Cheesecake, Rangoon, and Miyama Gold Prinz. I love the greenhouse, where dwell Yee’s “pets” — her personal collection of exotic orchids. —V.M.W.

The Old House Parts Company

Everything old is . . . you know the rest. Photograph by Michael D. Wilson.

Fitz & Bennett Home

Photograph by Meredith Perdue


You love that classic maine style and can’t choose just one nursery.

Bargain Store
17 locations across Maine.

5 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor. 207-633-7262.
14 Main St., Camden. 207-236-2223.
128 Main St., Freeport. 207-869-9000.
56 Main St., Bar Harbor. 207-288-3161.
49 Exchange St., Portland. 207-773-4100.
158 Main St., Damariscotta. 207-563-3207.

Women of Substance
508 Main St., Damariscotta. 207-563-6809.

Car Dealer
Lee Auto Malls
18 locations across Maine.

Gift Store
Daytrip Society
4 Dock Sq., Kennebunkport. 207-967-4440

Gym/Fitness Center
16 Edison Dr., Augusta. 207-213-4815.

Maine-Made Thing
Sea Bags
25 Custom House Whf., Portland. 207-780-0744.
6 Bow St., Freeport. 207-939-3679.
6 Main St., Camden. 207-939-5020.

Place to Buy Clothing
Freeport Village Sta., Freeport. 207-552-7772.
534 Stillwater Ave., Bangor. 207-942-0146.
150 High St., Ellsworth. 207-667-7753.

Shoe Store
Lamey Wellehan
6 locations across Maine.

Nine Stones
185 Fore St., Portland. 207-772-8480.

Sporting Goods/Outdoor Store
Freeport Village Sta., Freeport. 207-552-7772.
534 Stillwater Ave., Bangor. 207-942-0146.
150 High St., Ellsworth. 207-667-7753.

Toy Store
Island Treasure Toys
805 Rte. 1, Yarmouth. 207-846-6565.
20 Bow St., Freeport. 207-865-7007.
70 Front St., Bath. 207-442-7600.

Knickerbocker Group
3 Builders Sq., Boothbay.
1 Pleasant St., Portland.

Builder/General Contractor
Knickerbocker Group
3 Builders Sq., Boothbay.
1 Pleasant St., Portland.

Furniture Store
280 Rte. 1, Waldoboro. 207-832-6363.

Home Improvement Store
11 locations across Maine.

TIE: Moose Crossing
3033 Atlantic Hwy., Waldoboro. 207-832-4282.

TIE: Skillins
201 Gray Rd., Cumberland. 207-829-5619.
422 Bath Rd., Brunswick. 207-442-8111.
89 Foreside Rd., Falmouth. 207-781-3860.

Arts & Media

The Ghost of Paul Revere

Three if by banjo: The Ghost of Paul Revere. Photograph by Matt Cosby.

Breakout Year

The Ghost of Paul Revere

When I first spotted The Ghost of Paul Revere’s 2012 EP North in our review bin years ago, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Great, more Portland kids with waxed mustaches and banjos yelling ‘Hey! Ho!’” But this judgment was hasty. The all-strings three-piece turns out tunes that are hooky, foot-stompy, and, yeah, a tad sentimental, but light on the pop-y wordless yawping that characterizes rustic-rock acts like Mumford and Sons (and leaves me cold). And they’re winning over audiences. In the last year, The Ghost of Paul Revere dropped a well-received third album, debuted at big-name festivals like San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and played on late night’s Conan. This year, they’re barnstorming: the troupe lands back in Maine this month after a 20-state tour launched in April.


Dahlov Ipcar: Blue Moons & Menageries

Valley of Tishnar, 1966; oil on canvas; 23 x 35 inches.

Summer Exhibit

Dahlov Ipcar: Blue Moons & Menageries

The Maine art world lost a giant last year when painter, illustrator, and sculptor Dahlov Ipcar passed away at 99. Her phantasmal animals, rendered with and within elaborate geometrical patterns, are familiar to anyone who’s read her classic children’s books. But Dahlov Ipcar: Blue Moons & Menageries, at Bates College, feels fresh as can be, filled with pieces sourced from private collections and never before exhibited. That’s saying something when you’re talking about an artist who’s shown widely ever since her breakout Museum of Modern Art exhibition 79 years ago. Don’t miss this unique retrospective of a Maine master.



Where to read books, see art, hear songs, and get a decent education.

Band or Performing Artist
Daponte String Quartet
Damariscotta. 207-529-455.

Concert/Theater Venue
Merrill Auditorium
20 Myrtle St., Portland. 207-842-0800.

Littlefield Gallery
145 Main St., Winter Harbor. 207-963-6005.

Curtis Memorial Library
23 Pleasant St., Brunswick. 207-725-5242.

Movie Theater
Lincoln Theater
2 Theater St., Damariscotta. 207-563-3424.

Portland Museum of Art
7 Congress Sq., Portland. 207-775-6148.

Theater Group
The Public Theatre
31 Maple St., Lewiston. 207-782-3200.

Visual Artist
Tad Beck

College or University
Bowdoin College
255 Maine St., Brunswick. 207-725-3000.

Coastal Kids
12 Jackie’s Trl., Damariscotta. 207-563-5335.

Private School, Elementary
Waynflete School
360 Spring St., Portland. 207-774-5721.

Private School, Secondary
Maine Girls’ Academy
(which closed unexpectedly this month)
631 Stevens Ave., Portland. 207-797-3802.

Keith Carson, WCSH6

Portland Press Herald

Radio Station
Maine Public Radio
89.7 WMED Calais
90.1 WMEA Portland
90.5 WMEP Camden
90.9 WMEH Bangor
91.3 WMEW Waterville
106.1 WMEM Presque Isle
106.5 WMEF Fort Kent

TV Show
207, WCSH6

Stephen King

family gallery

Courtesy of CMCA

Food & Drink


New Restaurant


58 Pine St., Portland. 207-772-1110.

I get asked a lot, “What’s your favorite place to eat right now?” It’s not always easy to answer, but since Chaval opened last summer, it is. Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez’s West End brasserie tops my list because it has something for everybody without feeling spread too thin. Tapas and cured meats (like the irresistibly luscious Iberico de Bellota ham) make fun and light bar snacks. In the dining room, it’s all about plates that are informal and comforting and perfectly executed: steak frites, sautéed chorizo with wild mushrooms, coq au vin served family-style. The Sunday brunch is excellent, in part because Lopez is a baked-goods prodigy. To top it all off, there’s a knockout burger, which you can find me eating a few nights a week while avoiding the crowds downtown.


The Parlor Ice Cream Co.

Photograph by Zac Wolf


Photograph by Cre8iv Company


Your picks, from chic cocktail bars to good old-fashioned seafood shacks.

Cara Stadler

Courtesy of Cara Stadler

Chefs must be age 30 or younger and display an impressive talent, likely to make a significant impact on the industry for years to come.

— Requirements for a James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, for which 30-year-old Cara Stadler has been nominated five times.

Apple Orchard
Biscay Orchards
23 Reny Rd., Damariscotta. 207-563-3026.

Standard Baking Company
75 Commercial St., Portland. 207-773-2112.

Beer Bar
Novare Res Bier Café
4 Canal Plz., Portland. 207-761-2437.

Crissy’s Breakfast & Coffee Bar
212 Main St., Damariscotta. 207-563-6400.

Allagash Brewing Company
50 Industrial Way, Portland. 800-330-5385.

Nosh Kitchen Bar
551 Congress St.,
Portland. 207-553-2227.

Candy Shop
Wilbur’s of Maine
174 Lower Main St., Freeport. 207-865-4071.
13 Bow St., Freeport. 207-865-6129.
143 Main St., Brunswick. 207-729-4462.

Pineland Farms
15 Farm View Dr., New Gloucester. 207-688-4539.

Cara Stadler
Tao Yuan Restaurant, 22 Pleasant St., Brunswick. 207-725-9002.
BaoBao Dumpling House, 133 Spring St., Portland. 207-772-8400.
Lio, 3 Spring St., Portland. 207-808-7133.

Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections
174 Lower Main St., Freeport. 207-865-4071.
13 Bow St., Freeport. 207-865-6129.
143 Main St., Brunswick. 207-729-4462.

Ricker Hill Orchards
11 Ricker Hill Rd., Turner. 207-225-6165.

Cocktail Bar
Blyth & Burrows
26 Exchange St., Portland. 207-613-9070.

Coffee Roaster
Rock City
252 Main St., Rockland. 207-594-5688.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Crystal Spring Farm
277 Pleasant Hill Rd., Brunswick. 207-729-1112.

Split Rock Distilling
16 Osprey Point Rd., Newcastle. 207-563-2669.

Moody’s Diner
1885 Atlantic Hwy., Waldoboro. 207-832-7785.

Holy Donut
7 Exchange St., Portland. 207-775-7776.
194 Park Ave., Portland. 207-874-7774.
398 Rte. 1, Scarborough. 207-303-0137.

Farmers’ Market
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market
277 Pleasant Hill Rd., Brunswick. 207-729-7694.

Food Co-op
Rising Tide
323 Main St., Damariscotta. 207-563-5556.

Ice Cream
Gelato Fiasco
74 Maine St., Brunswick. 207-607-4262.
425 Fore St., Portland. 207-699-4314.

Lobster Pound
Young’s Lobster Pound
4 Mitchell St., Belfast. 207-338-1160.

Lobster Roll
Red’s Eats
41 Water St., Wiscasset. 207-882-6128.

New Restaurant
The Harbor Room
2477 Bristol Rd., New Harbor. 207-677-0178.

Oyster Variety
TIE: Pemaquids
Pemaquid Oyster Co., 1957 Friendship Rd., Waldoboro. 207-832-6067.
TIE: Glidden Points
Glidden Point Oyster Farms, 637 River Rd., Edgecomb. 207-315-7066.

OTTO Pizza
6 locations in Portland, South Portland, and Yarmouth.

Seafood Market
Harbor Fish Market
9 Custom House Whf., Portland. 207-775-0251.

367 Youngtown Rd., Lincolnville. 207-763-4478.
4 Thompson’s Point, Portland. 207-536-7700

Tall Trees Snack Shop

Courtesy of Tall Trees Snack Shop

Food Instagram

Tall Trees Snack Shop

We last praised Tall Trees Snack Shop in 2015, calling out the yummy, rustic baked goods that treat mavens Marcy Taubes and Sarah Trainer sold at their pop-up stand. Tall Trees still pops (catch the this summer at Oyster River Winegrowers' fun, semi-monthly pizza nights in Warren), and Taubes maintains the @talltresssnackshop Instagram feed, where it turns out that ogling the midcoast farmer's homespun kitchen creations is as satisfying as eating them. Farm-fresh salads and pastas, bubbly-crust pizzas, so many luscious tarts and desserts — Taubes frosts cakes and laces pies like Van Gogh at the canvas, and she's a great photographer to boot. Her Insta feed makes me say "whoa" out loud at least twice a week and eat way more pie than I probably would otherwise.