Where-to-Eat Town: Kittery

Despite the sophistication of Anju’s Asian noodle dishes, the atmosphere is family friendly.
 Photographed by Sara Forrest

In 180 paces (we counted), you can traverse the nucleus of Kittery’s snug Foreside district, passing eight restaurants, a whole-animal butcher, an import market of Euro delicacies, a dim craft-cocktail bar, and a coffee shop with the best vibe (and crullers) for 50 miles in any direction. None of it was there in 1986, when Michael Landgarten took over Bob’s Clam Hut on Route 1. The pioneering restaurateur (he also owns that coffee shop, Lil’s Café, along with Robert’s Maine Grill) spent the next 25 years watching Kittery bob on the tides of shipyard layoffs and proliferating outlet stores, but it long lacked a civic and gastronomic heart. Today, he says, “Foreside is that little nub that makes for a true center.” The nub has knockout grub, from embellished comfort food at The Black Birch to fragrant, complex ramen bowls at Anju Noodle Bar. And Kittery’s epicurean uprising isn’t limited to Foreside. “The identity of Kittery used to be ‘We’re not Portsmouth,’ ” Landgarten says, “but now we’re our own thing. We’re a force.” And if you’re eating your way across town, a tour de force.

A father and son walking beneath the sign for artisan boutique Folk on the streets in Foreside.
Lil’s, Anju, MEat, and the artisan boutique Folk (among others) share a former bank in Foreside.
Exterior of Beach Pea Baking Co in Kittery
On summer and fall mornings, the porch at unassuming Beach Pea is prime real estate.
Plated food from The Black Birch restaurant.
Menus at The Black Birch draw on what’s in season (fall means wild rice and delicata squash).
MEat eatery street signage
Chickens to rabbits to pigs to cows, MEat buys whole animals from local farmers.
A fresh bread display at Beach Pea Baking Co.
Rustic breads draw crowds at Beach Pea Baking Co. on Route 1.
A gastropub entree on a white plate at Black Birch
Entrées at the gastropubby Black Birch go for sophisticated and hearty.
Street signage from Bob's Clam Shack
Sixty years in, Landgarten says, Bob’s is busier than ever. (Go now, while it’s locals’ season.)
A woman smiling and holding a pastry at Lil’s
Everything on the Lil’s pastry counter is house-made and drool-inducing.
Deviled eggs with popcorn, chorizo, and toasted marshmallow plated on a white rectangular plate from the Black Birch
Deviled eggs with popcorn, chorizo, and toasted marshmallow: bar food elevated at The Black Birch.
The dining room at Anju
Grab a bar stool at Anju and scan the sake menu, including Kittery’s own Blue Current sake.
Jarrod Spangler, who opened Maine Meat
Let Jarrod Spangler, who opened Maine Meat (MEat) in 2014, suggest your new favorite cut.
ramen broth bowl from Anju's
Anju’s knockout ramen broth starts with bones from MEat next door.
Fried seafood and coleslaw from Bob’s Clam Shack
Recipes at Bob’s are unchanged from 1956 — right down to the tartar.
Black Birch open kitchen
Landgarten’s go-to for out-of-towners? “Before any of my places, we go to The Black Birch.”
An employee serving fried seafood at Bob’s
A heaping combo basket from Bob’s proves the more Kittery changes, the more it stays the same.

See more Maine Food!