The sparsely populated, North Eastern state of Maine boasts a selection of small yet beautifully scenic cities, of which Bangor is one. As the largest market town in the region, Bangor has grown into a cultural hub and is a fantastic foodie hotspot. Its restaurant scene is now buzzing, with nearly every global cuisine represented. For the best places to dine whilst in town, check out our guide featuring 10 of the best.
Bakery, Vegan, Soup, Fast Food, American, Vegetarian
No surprises for guessing the star of the show at Bagel Central, but guests will find much more than the name would suggest at this quirky little bakery. Firstly, there is a pumpkin patch for visitors to choose their own organic squash or perfectly ripe pumpkin to take home. Secondly, Bagel Central offers an array of desserts and sweet treats to whet the appetite. It is true, however, that the most impressive aspect of the whole operation is the bagel selection. There are as many as 28 different varieties, with gluten-free and vegetarian options on offer. Add to this the comprehensive selection of toppings and it would seem that the capacity for fine tuning is almost limitless, bringing back mealtime fun.
Just outside of Bangor, Brewster’s Fine Food and Drink allows diners to sample terrific American food in a stylish yet informal restaurant environment. The menu boasts classic snacks for excellent value, as well as craft beers and elegant cocktails. A particularly popular local choice are the Buffalo chicken wings paired with a spicy sauce, but the Mexican nachos loaded with chili, the Rooster’s meatball sub and the Brewster’s spinach salad with a warm maple dressing have all become firm favorites. Pop in for brunch to enjoy a true taste of American fare and zealous hospitality. Begin with thick French toast before taking on the ultimate breakfast challenge, the 12oz rib eye steak with eggs, hash browns and toast.
When is a restaurant not a restaurant? When it is on wheels. Cielos Mexican Grill Truck is a first for Bangor; a premier Mexican restaurant condensed into the back of a truck. The truck itself – which relocates daily to different sites within Bangor and is affectionately known as Mathilda – prepares Mexican food so authentically fresh that it has voracious Tex-Mex devotees queuing for miles. Diners choose their ‘shell’ – either a burrito, taco or salad bowl – and fill it accordingly with combinations of meat, beans and rice. A relatively new addition to the Bangor dining scene, Cielos has tapped into the desire to enjoy great food at the drop of a hat and is swiftly growing in popularity.
American truck stops, complete with hearty dining spaces, embody the history of America and in so doing have become iconic. Family-run Dysarts is no exception, promising a return to tradition and a broad welcome for the weary traveler. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Dysarts offers a true slice of America, whether in the form of homemade corn beef hash that greets you in the early hours of the morning or more literally, with a slice of ice cream pie alongside your coffee. Stop for lunch to enjoy American comfort food classics given a distinct Maine twist, such as a chicken pot pie with flaky pastry crust or a thick cut of meatloaf smothered in beef gravy.
This tiny bakery is operated by two Franciscan monks and regarded as a favourite local Bangor institution. Due to the traditional lifestyle of its owners, the Friar’s Bakehouse is both sparse and simply decorated, contributing to the unusual charm of the space and allowing the food to take centre stage. Every morning, the two friars prepare freshly baked goods in time for breakfast, before making and serving sandwiches and soup for lunch. Local favourites include the whoopee pies and soft blueberry muffins, both of which are perfect for a quick, indulgent sugar fix. This truly fantastic and eccentric bakery offers both quirkiness and quality in equal measure, ensuring it is not one to be missed.
Inspired by the mystery and intrigue of Ho Chi Minh City, Little Vietnam is a bundle of South East Asian delight nestled within the heart of New England. Family-owned and -operated, the menu is adapted from recipes that have been passed down through the generations, with the restaurant preparing its own immensely popular brand of pho– a Vietnamese noodle specialty. Little Vietnam also boasts a well-stocked bar where guests can either enjoy a variety of drinks before the meal or pause for thought with some light snacks when looking for something a little more low-key.
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Massimo’s Cucina Italiana has been a Bangor staple for many years. Run by Massimo and Anne Marie Ranni, the restaurant has chosen to reject the stereotypical hallmarks of Italian decor in favor of a more chic, stylish interior design. The cuisine, however, remains steadfastly traditional, with delicious Italian salads to start, classic pasta dishes such as the ever popular penne puttanesca and succulent steaks wooing customers time and again. For something a little different, try chicken breast stuffed with ricotta, spinach and almonds or the sautéed fillet of white fish with a lemon and caper sauce, finished off with a true Italian classic – a creamy wedge of decadent tiramisu.
The famous Maine lobster sits pride of place at McLaughlin Seafood, Inc. Whilst predominantly a take-out institution, the range of sizzling fried clams, delicate scallops, homemade chowders and, of course, the baked, grilled or steamed lobster, is well worth the journey. In addition to the vast range of traditional seafood already available, McLaughlin now offers a unique selection of smoked seafood, crisp wines and complimentary cheeses to provide an all-encompassing, high quality culinary experience. Join McLaughlin’s at the Marina for a special dinner and wine pairing, enjoying the tranquility of the hidden location and allowing the sumptuous seafood or succulent steak to speak for itself.
If you are a fan of beer (as many of us are), visiting Nocturnem Draft Haus should be high on your to-do list. As well as offering a promising selection of American and European dishes, the team at Nocturnem insist you leave plenty of room for a drink or three. The owner, Gene Beck, is inspired by his French and German heritage when assembling the carefully crafted drinks menus. His domestic and imported range of draft and bottled beers is constantly evolving, with recent creations and improved flavors challenging old favorites – only the very best beers find a permanent home on the Draft Haus menu.
The Fiddlehead Restaurant in downtown Bangor uses the very best ingredients to style a gastronomic journey for its guests. With the Fiddlehead Farm Greenhouse and Gardens project now up and running, the plan to create a menu using organic farm to table fare is fast becoming a reality. The menu takes a grown-up approach to comfort food classics, incorporating unusual elements and experimenting with new dimensions of flavor. Begin with a tofu and leek skewer before enjoying a succulent chicken breast, roasted with bacon and savoy cabbage, or a bouillabaisse finished with a red pepper rouille. The Fiddlehead also has an extensive wine selection, which guests are encouraged to try at length, encouraging exposure of independent producers.