Portland is one of our favorite spots for a weekend trip. It’s only a short drive from Boston and has world-class eateries, breweries, and much more. Although the summer is primetime to visit, you can always have a good time no matter what time of year. Today, we are going to walk you through an ideal date night in this charming New England city.
Portland is known for its robust beer scene. Not only are there a ton of breweries, but there are a lot of high-quality ones at that. One of the best areas to go brewery hopping is just outside of downtown Portland. It’s an industrial park turned brewery park. Here you can find one of Portland’s oldest breweries, and also one of the forefathers of the craft beer scene in the U.S., Allagash. Known for Allagash White, they were one of the first to put an American twist on the Belgian classic. Across the street there is Defintive Brewing, our personal favorite in Portland. No matter what style of beer they are brewing, you know it’s going to be good. They have jumped on the fruited sour/slushie-style sour train and are doing some unique blends. Stout-wise they constantly have a few on tap that taste more like a cold brew coffee than a beer. Double Stuffed is their take on an Oreo stout, and it truly tastes like drinking a liquid Oreo.
Across from Defintive is an industrial building housing three more breweries, all of which are better than average. Battery Steele’s IPA game is on point with their flagship, Flume– and you never know what other derivatives of it they will have on tap. Austin Street is another spot that has grown out of the industrial park and has opened a large standalone brewery closer to downtown. But they still maintain their O.G. location where you can find their “Maine take” on a New England IPA. Their IPAs are very fruit forward but with a nuttiness you don’t find with other beers in the area. Last, but not least is Foundation. Their sour series features everything you want in classic sours. They are not overly tart, but have a ton of whichever fruit is in the beer you’re drinking. Their IPAs and imperial stouts are also crowd pleasers.
After brewery hopping, the next priority is getting some dank food. Fore Street is our go-to spot in Portland. All of the ingredients are locally-sourced and incredibly fresh. When you walk in, your eyes are immediately drawn to the kitchen, which is an open concept with prep tables in the middle of the restaurant, and the grills and wood-fired oven out on display. They feature an extensive veggie list which you shouldn’t sleep on. The garlic mashed potatoes are goals. They are creamy, yet light and fluffy, and the top of them is been browned forming a slight crust. Fore Street has a little something for everyone. The wood-grilled hanger steak is as juicy as they come, but the real star of the show here are the local mushrooms. These mushrooms come served in a thick red wine sauce.
Being in Portland, you know that the seafood is going to be fresh. And we think there’s no better place to have it than Fore Street, or maybe their sister restaurant, Street & Co. The wood-fired calamari is a can’t miss and a fresh twist on this New England classic. The cream sauce it is served with is rich and garlicky. They also have an extensive list of chilled seafood, which is seasonal depending on the catches. The scallops tartar is a unique take on scallops where each bite is like a little ball of scallop exploding in your mouth.
Bar of Chocolate is the ultimate cocktail bar if you have a sweet tooth. They have an extensive cocktail list with different takes on dessert cocktails. On top of all that, the owner bakes all the cakes fresh same-day. The German chocolate cake martini is an espresso martini on steroids. It’s rich and decadent, like taking a chocolate cake and putting it in a blender. Also, the peanut butter vodka is made in-house so we had to try their peanut butter martini. It is truly impressive how spot-on each drink tastes. When it comes to the cake, we went with our waitresses’ recommendations and tried the carrot cake and German chocolate cake. These were out-of-this-world. Both were extremely moist, and the carrot cake was sweet and loaded with frosting. The German chocolate cake paired perfectly with our German chocolate martini. It was a chocolate pairing made in heaven.
Fair warning you might have to wait for a table here, but let us tell you, it’s more than worth it.