I have a brand new city guide from my dear friends Cara and Lulu. If you’re not yet familiar with the Dorr sisters, meet your new favorite twins. They are both Maine natives and are always taking dreamy road trips around the New England coast. Just take a look at their Instagrams and you’ll wish you were along for the ride. I asked the Dorr sisters for their Portland travel guide, a favorite town of theirs filled with small town charm, great food and record shopping. If you’re looking for a weekend away, check out their tips to help plan your next road trip!
We love Portland, Maine. Plain and simple. Growing up in a small town nearby, Portland was our “big city.” It’s where we snuck off to after school to see indie movies, take in art, become coffee connoisseurs, stay out late seeing Saves the Day and experience new things. But we’d love Portland even if it wasn’t our home city. It’s a surprisingly diverse place, filled with amazing restaurants and shops and home to working fishing wharves. The smell of the ocean lingers in the air. “Western prom,” or promenade, has gorgeous harbor views. Although we no longer live in Maine, our hearts are still there, standing in Monument Square talking about our new favorite bands. So when Keiko asked us to suggest some of our favorite Portland places, we couldn’t resist. Check out some of our must-do’s below:
Portland is truly picturesque, but the Old Port brings the charm. With cobblestone streets, 19th century buildings and working fishing piers, this area is a haven for local artists, boutiques and some of the best restaurants on the east coast. Old Port businesses we love include stores such as Gus & Ruby Letterpress and K Colette and local foodie staples like The Holy Donut (donuts made from potatoes), Marcy’s Diner (blueberry pancakes as big as your head!), Duck Fat and Eventide Oyster Co. The Old Port is also a short distance to Munjoy Hill, rough around the edges when we were teenagers, now a cool-kid enclave with micro brews, vintage stores and coffee shops.
(742 Congress St)
Cute, cozy coffee shop in a converted 1960’s gas station. Right as you walk in, your senses are smacked with the most intoxicating coffee smell. Amazing coffee, which is roasted locally in Portland. Tandem Coffee has the best baked goods–well, second best behind Scratch–and breakfast sandwiches. You must try their SCONES!
For many years, the claim that Portland had the second highest number of restaurants per capita behind San Francisco was an established rumor/brag amongst local residents. To be honest, the claim could never be confirmed, but it says a lot about Portland and what it values (good food). Places like Empire Chinese Kitchen definitely keep the rumor alive. Opening in 2013, ECK specializes in Dim Sum, but with Maine soul. Two of our favorite dishes: the ingenious Empire Eggrolls appetizer (local beef pastrami, asparagus, cabbage, honey Dijon) and the mouth-watering Lobster Longevity Noodles (a whole lobster, house-made broad rice noodles).
(151 Park Street)
This record store is forever in our hearts—it’s the place that introduced us to The Smiths, the Buzzcocks and The Cure. Enterprise Records has been around since 1987, waaay before the return of vinyl. If you love music and collecting records, this little store will make you feel like John Cusack in High Fidelity.
(1 Monument Way)
Local bookstores are simply the best and this one is no exception. Named after one of the most famous Mainers, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Longfellow Books is a great place to wander into. Great, knowledgeable staff with a diverse section of both new and used books.
Scratch Baking Co.
(416 Preble St, South Portland, ME)
Right outside Portland (in South Portland) is one our favorite bakeries ever. For real. The baked goods menu changes daily, so you never know what to expect, which makes Scratch so magical. Sea salt shortbread, pistachio biscotti, super-duper cinnamon rolls. Plus, delicious salted bagels, pimento cheese spread and coffees from local Portland roasters. Last time we were there, we spotted Gabby Hoffmann. But usually, we can’t take our eyes off the treat case.
Portland flea-for-all has a great, eclectic selection of vintage goods that are reasonably priced. The space is divided into individual vendors and there is a mix of both craftsmen and vintage/antique dealers. This place has it all (clothing, records, books, furniture, tchotchkes, etc.).
Thanks for the recommendations, Cara & Lulu!