Where to Eat In and Around Acadia National Park On Any Budget

From popovers to lobster rolls to French-inspired entrées, here’s where to dine on Mount Desert Island.

Havana Parrilla, an open-air bar and grill in Bar Harbor, Maine, near Acadia National Park
Havana Parrilla, an open-air bar and grill in Bar Harbor. Photo by Tara Rice
By Will Grunewald
From our June 2024 issue

In many of Maine’s most spectacular natural spaces — Baxter State Park, the Allagash, Katahdin Woods and Waters, the White Mountains — you can count on one hand the number of solid nearby spots for a bite, if there are any to count at all. One of Acadia’s distinctive charms is that mixed in amid all its innate beauty are a handful of thriving little towns, home to thriving restaurant scenes. Bar Harbor has always been the epicenter of eating and drinking for Acadia visitors, but Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor have plenty to offer too. Such is the depth and breadth of the island’s culinary lineup that there’s a kitchen for just about every taste and price point. 

Certain quintessential gustatory experiences inevitably cost what they cost — good luck finding a discount lobster roll, for instance. But if you’re going to have one anyway, there’s no finer setting than Abel’s Lobster, under tall pines on the shore of Somes Sound (13 Abels Ln., Mount Desert; 207-276-8221). Popovers, those specialty Maine pastries that toe the line between muffin and soufflé, are another thing that can feel like a necessity on an Acadia trip. Presently, with the Asticou Inn closed for renovations, only one classic popover purveyor, Jordan Pond House, is up and running (2928 Park Loop Rd., Seal Harbor; 207-813-4342). Considering the setting, though, the popovers are kind of a steal — $14 fetches two, served with butter and strawberry jam, plus tea or coffee, and a postcard vantage of the twin Bubbles peaks across the pond. 

In Bar Harbor, too, there are a few tricks to having an experience that feels exceedingly civilized but in fact comes on the relative cheap. One is to snag an Adirondack chair at the Terrace Grill, part of the ritzy Bar Harbor Inn, and enjoy a drink and maybe an appetizer while soaking in a harbor vista for which a lot of people are paying a steep nightly rate (1 Newport Dr., Bar Harbor; 844-814-1668). Another is to stop by the garden at the Ivy Manor Inn, fronting Main Street, where the little outdoor bar offers live music every afternoon (194 Main St., Bar Harbor; 207-288-2138). Against the backdrop of the stately Tudor-style inn, the scene is cozily clubby — a little exclusive feeling — all for the base price of a can of beer.

Plus, there’s never anything wrong with grabbing takeout from, say, Rosalie’s Pizza and wandering a couple of blocks over to Agamont Park for a picnic (46 Cottage St., Bar Harbor; 207-288-5666). The $20 extra-large pie feeds a small army, and you can’t put a price on the view. 

To actually spend big on food and drink in Acadia, you’ll find no shortage of options. One new venue of particular note: Brasserie Le Brun, in Bar Harbor, from restaurateur Michael Boland (74 Cottage St., Bar Harbor; 207-801-9040). Boland is well reputed for Havana, the Latin-inflected New American restaurant he opened in Bar Harbor 25 years ago, helping put the area on a fresh culinary trajectory. Most entrées at this latest, French-inspired endeavor run upward of $40 a plate. A short stroll away, there’s also a way to get a taste for Boland’s creativity without breaking the bank, at Havana Parrilla, a sort of sidecar concept to Havana that serves up shareable platters of grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables (318 Main St., Bar Harbor; 207-288-2822). And that’s sort of Acadia dining in a nutshell: go upscale or go casual, and you should wind up eating something pretty darn good either way.

Acadia National Park is Maine’s crown jewel and, like so many rare and wonderful things, it can come with a hefty price tag. But you still don’t need to spend big in order to enjoy a big adventure. From lodging to restaurants to activities to timing, order our June 2024 issue to learn how to have a gem of an experience on any budget.

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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