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.
Lil’s, Anju, MEat, and the artisan boutique Folk (among others) share a former bank in Foreside.
On summer and fall mornings, the porch at unassuming Beach Pea is prime real estate.
Menus at The Black Birch draw on what’s in season (fall means wild rice and delicata squash).
Chickens to rabbits to pigs to cows, MEat buys whole animals from local farmers.
Entrées at the gastropubby Black Birch go for sophisticated and hearty.
Sixty years in, Landgarten says, Bob’s is busier than ever. (Go now, while it’s locals’ season.)
Everything on the Lil’s pastry counter is house-made and drool-inducing.
Deviled eggs with popcorn, chorizo, and toasted marshmallow: bar food elevated at The Black Birch.
Grab a bar stool at Anju and scan the sake menu, including Kittery’s own Blue Current sake.
Let Jarrod Spangler, who opened Maine Meat (MEat) in 2014, suggest your new favorite cut.
Anju’s knockout ramen broth starts with bones from MEat next door.
Recipes at Bob’s are unchanged from 1956 — right down to the tartar.
Landgarten’s go-to for out-of-towners? “Before any of my places, we go to The Black Birch.”
A heaping combo basket from Bob’s proves the more Kittery changes, the more it stays the same.