Phoenix Staff

Phoenix Staff

The 2017 Portland Cheap Eats Guide

Welcome to Portland, Maine. Food is good here. (We get it.)

Real talk, though. The praise heaped on the high end of city cuisine is totally well deserved. But sometimes, y’know, that’s not what we’re about. Here, we carved out space for some amazing meals Portlanders can get on a tight budget. If you’re someone with a busy lifestyle who juggles a love of food with an appreciation for “old Portland” aesthetics (and maybe class politics), we feel you. Here are some of our favorite meals you can get fast and on the cheap.

 Portland Maine Food

Two fish sandwiches at Susan's Fish & Chips (Mondays and Tuesdays) | $2.50 

We recognize Morrill's Corner is the seventh circle of hell, navigation-wise, but Susan's is the reigning queen of Portland cheap eats. They only run this special Mondays and Tuesdays, but the fish burger deal here is, by some measures, the best in town. We suspected they'd use tilapia for these (a/k/a the only crappy fish), but no, not even. Instead, they slap a couple of basic buns around some hefty slabs of lightly breaded cod (and occasionally pollock, they tell us), paint a thin coat of tartar sauce and a delicate sprig of iceberg lettuce, and dinner is served, my dudes. Eat these while hanging out in their spacious, high-personality keep and you might be tempted to order a couple more.

Susan's Fish & Chips, 1135 Forest Ave., Portland | 11 am-8 pm | 207-899-3529


 Portland Maine Food - Mexican Burrito at Wilds

Mexican Grilled Cheese at Wild Burritos | $3.50

Don’t be deterred by the slightly uninspired name, the Mexican grilled cheese is basically one-half of a loaded quesadilla and a full on guilty pleasure. After choosing your cheese, hot sauce, and protein (beef, chicken, steak, or pepperoni) you won’t have to wait long for this greasy monstrosity to arrive in front of you. It’s messy, but delicious, filling, and quite possibly the best dollar-per-calorie deal in town.

Wild Burritos, 581 Congress St., Portland | 11 am–6 pm | 207-761-1600


Portland Maine Food - Empire Kitchen

Sticky Rice Pocket at Empire Kitchen | $6

For a light lunch that’s a bit more sophisticated than the other options in this guide, head to Empire, hang out at the bar, and order their heftiest appetizer: the sticky rice pocket. It arrives in an adorable little basket, wrapped in a lotus leaf (the leaf is perfect for maintaining moisture and maximum stickiness). Unwrap the leaf (but don’t eat it!) and marvel at the spherical gift inside. Cooking sticky rice the right way that preserves its unique texture is actually not that easy to do, but the cooks at Empire seem to have perfected the ancient technique. The rice manages to hit that delicate balance of being perfectly soft, but sticky enough to cling to your chopsticks. Inside the rice ball awaits morsels of sweet and spicy Chinese sausage, adding fat and a whole lot of flavor.

Empire Kitchen, 575 Congress St., Portland | 11:30 am to 9:00 pm | http://portlandempire.com/kitchen/ 


 Portland Maine Food - Elrayo Burrito

Spicy Chorizo Egg Burrito at El Rayo (after 11 am) | $2

The breakfast burritos at El Rayo are the bomb. They are packed with eggs, pico de gallo, spicy sausage, avocado, and shoestring potatoes, but at $7 bucks each, they tend to be a once-in-a-while kind of morning indulgence. But here’s a suggestion. Eat a very light breakfast at home, and head to El Rayo right after 11 am for when these wholesome protein packs get discounted to just $2 bucks each! Drizzle some of El Rayo’s special hot sauce on these bad babies and you might just make them your go-to brunch. But be warned, others are thinking the same thing, because the burritos fly off the warmer once they’re marked down, so if you want one, your timing is crucial.

El Rayo, 26 Free St., Portland | 7 am–9 pm | http://elrayotaqueria.com/ 


 Portland Maine Food - baobao dumplings

Half-Priced Dumplings at Bao Bao Dumpling House

This one takes some light planning (or happenstance), but it’s worth it. Bao Bao’s “dumpling happy hour” means $5 and under orders of some of the best dough parcels the city has to offer—the thread-cut hake is a must-try.  

Bao Bao Dumpling House, 133 Spring St., Portland | Happy Hour Wed-Fri 2-4 pm | http://www.baobaodumplinghouse.com/


 

Pupusas de Queso y Loroco at Tu Casa | $2

Tu Casa keeps it real with one of the longest-standing cheap eats options in Portland — the pupusa. At around $2 and served with a vinegary slaw of cabbage and carrots, these thick corn tortillas stuffed with meat, red beans or cheese and herbs are a full meal in themselves.  

Tu Casa, 70 Washington Ave., Portland | 11 am–9 pm | http://www.tucasaportland.com/ 


Portland Maine Food - elcorazon foodtruck

Taquitos at El Corazon Food Truck | $4

The taquitos at El Corazon come in at just under $4 and are a perfect midday snack. They won our hearts, and have fueled many editing sessions here at the Phoenix (we're lucky to be so close to their food truck). Three rolled corn tortillas filled with either potato and cheese, chicken or shredded beef are showered in an onslaught of sour cream, guacamole, and cheese. Do it.

El Corazon Food Truck | Spring Street, Portland | 11:30 am to 2 pm | 207.200.4801  


Tuesday Night Dollar Tacos at Amigo's | $1

If you’re literally down to your last dollar after a long weekend, you can still get a taco at Amigo’s. They keep it simple too, just lettuce, tomato, cheese, and your choice of protein. Dollar tacos reign supreme every Tuesday night, which may or may not be a good idea depending on what leads you there.

Amigo's, 9 Dana St., Portland | 3 pm–1 am | 207-772-0772


7 Hours of Happiness Sausage at Tomaso's Canteen | $5 

Sangillo’s 2.0 Tomaso’s is not, but they do honor the time-old tradition of cheap eats and discount booze every Monday through Friday from 11 to 6. The standout deal is a $5 sausage sandwich (hot or sweet), which is worth stopping in for even if you’re on the wagon. The bread can barely contain all the delicious fillings. 

Tomaso's Canteen, 18 Hampshire St., Portland | 11 am to 1 am | https://tomasoscanteen.com/


Hand Slab at Slab | $6 ($3 during happy hour)

This inspired collaboration between restaurateur Jason Loring and Sicilian pizzamaker Stephen Lanzalotta is hardly overlooked. There’s a lot of highfalutin' foods on this menu that don't exactly belong on this list. But their staple menu item — the hand slab — definitely deserves to be. Its one pound of house tomato sauce, oozing cheese, and fluffy dough is unlike any other pizza experience in town. Enjoy one of these for dinner and you won't mind skipping breakfast. Hit them up during happy hour — Monday through Friday from 3-5 pm — and they're an unbelievable $3.

Slab, 25 Preble St., Portland | Mon-Thu 11 am-11 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am-midnight; Sun 11 am-7pm | 207-245-3088


Sandwiches at the Clock Tower Cafe | Under $5

The Clock Tower Cafe in the basement of City Hall is perhaps the best-kept secret in Portland. Milton Hammith runs a tight ship, serving up sandwiches, salads, and hot dishes under $5 for breakfast and lunch.

The Clock Tower Cafe, 389 Congress St., Portland 


Sauteed Mixed Vegetable Bowl at Local Sprouts Cooperative | $3.50 

There's no law that says all Cheap Eats must be bad for you. Local Sprouts offers a ton of food across the spectrum of diets and palates, but sometimes their sneaky side dish of warm cooked vegetables is exactly what you need. If you've been ravaged by the elements, have no access to a stove and are desperate for some vitamins, pop in here. 

Local Sprouts Cooperative, 653 Congress St., Portland | Mon 8 am-3 pm; Tues-Thu 8 am to 9 pm; Fri-Sat 8 am-10 pm; Sun 9 am-3 pm | 207-899-3529


Maple-Glazed Prosciutto Sandwich at OhNo Cafe | $5 

For around five bucks, you can pick up one of the best breakfast sandwiches Maine has to offer. The “Number One” at OhNo Cafe in the West End glistens with maple-glazed prosciutto, Vermont cheddar and a generous hit of Tabasco for satisfaction to the max.

OhNo Cafe, 87 Brackett St., Portland | Tue-Fri 6:30 am-8:30 pm; Sat 8 am-8 pm; Sun 8 am-3 pm | http://ohnocafe.com/ 


 

Breakfast Roll-Up - Punky’s - $4 

Punky’s is all about the roll-up, and the breakfast variety is filled with enough eggs, cheese, peppers, and bacon to feed a small family. It’ll set you back less than a five spot, though you may be tempted to take an impromptu nap afterward.

Punky's, 186 Brighton Ave., Portland | 6 am to 5 pm | 207-773-8885


9-piece Bucket of Chicken | Crown Fried Chicken | $11 

This Forest Avenue staple just sprouted up on St. John Street, making their delish chicken action accessible to peninsula-dwellers as well as cheap. Their vast menu has a bunch of good deals (that $5.50 beef gyro is a good one), but we suggest going to the source. Skip the mashed potatoes and cole slaw and get straight to the heart of the matter.

Crown Fried Chicken, 292 St. John St. and 408 Forest Ave, Portland | 207-747-4519


 

Small Meatball Sub - Pizza Villa - $5.75

Arguably the best meatball sub in Portland can be found at Pizza Villa, and at $5.75 for a surprisingly filling “small,” the price point can’t be beat. Take it to go, or hang around and take in the atmosphere at one of the city’s last holdouts of yesteryear.

Pizza Villa, 940 Congress St., Portland | 11 am–1 am | 207-774-1777


 

Slice of Breakfast Pizza at Sisters’ Gourmet Deli - $5

It’s rather difficult to find breakfast pizza in Portland that hasn’t been drying out underneath a heat lamp for a couple hours. At least the women at the Sister’s Gourmet Deli understand the importance of freshness. A fiver doesn’t get you the biggest slice in town, but you do get some primo ingredients that change every day like spinach, sausage, avocado, feta, peppers, bacon, ham, and green onions. But the core component of the meal, the egg, and cheese baked onto their signature sea-salt dough hits the spot every time. Those looking to start the day with more intense flavors might want to try their regular breakfast sandwich, which is served with roasted tomatoes and banana peppers for an inventive egg dish that works!

Sister’s Gourmet Deli, 15 Monument Sq., Portland | 7 am-8 pm | http://www.sistersgourmetdeli.com/


monument grill

Pork Belly Breakfast Sandwiches at Monument Grill | $5.50

Breakfast sandwiches come in some pretty standard varieties: bacon, ham, or sausage on either a croissant, bagel, or English muffin. But let’s be honest, they can get boring sometimes. For the price of an average one, you can buy one with bolder flavors at a place we consider a hidden-in-plain-sight gem: the Monument Grill. Their breakfast options cycle between three different special options everyday, and all are far from ordinary, with foods like crab cake, gruyere, spring greens, and goat cheese accompanying the egg. We recently got hooked on an English muffin sandwich featuring egg, crispy pork belly, and a spicy Cajun mayo. Opportunities to switch out breakfast meats for pork belly are rare, so take them while you can! The spot's casual (you can just eat on the square) and the service is speedy. If you want cheap eats without sacrificing your cultivated taste, check 'em out.

Monument Grill, 24 Monument Way, Portland | 7 am to 3 pm | 207-699-5577


 

bluerooster taoyuandog 

Specialty Dogs | Blue Rooster Food Co. | $6 

Blue Rooster serves up delicious locally made natural casing beef and pork hot dogs from Maine Family Farms, and each one is an adventure for under $6. Try the Pineapple Express, which brings bacon, mango, cilantro, and pineapple into the fold. None of them are ordinary dogs. 

Blue Rooster Food Co., 5 Dana St., Portland | 11 am to 8 pm | 207-747-4157


 

Ham Italian | Joe's Super Variety | $5 

Though it's now housed in the slicked-up condo called "the Hiawatha," Joe's Super Variety hasn't lost their mission, which is to supply West End denizens with food and sundries on the cheap. A good chunk of their menu could make this list, but the $5 ham italian, often pre-made and just chillin' there waiting for you, is clean and grease-free, but still a formidably gut-filling meal-bomb. 

Joe's Super Variety, 665 Congress St., Portland | Mon-Sun 6 am to 11 pm | 207-773-3656

 

8 Days A Week: Distant Clams, Tough Stories, and a Sprinkling of Wes Anderson

THURSDAY 20

 

ART BRINGETH TOGETHER | If you haven't driven by the cheerfully Lego-tastic sculpture adjacent the Portland Museum of Art along High Street, God bless you. It's the work of Ogunquit-based Jonathan Borofsky (who'd surely be annoyed I called his work Lego-tastic, but how do you describe art to the amorphous and indifferent masses?) The piece is a lovely meditation on the interconnectedness of society, and the Boston-raised Borofsky himself is a master of contemporary installation, his towering works permanently on public display in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Munich, and Los Angeles. Tonight, hear a talk about Borofsky's work and the piece he designed for Portland, said to connect the city to San Francisco, Vancouver, and Beijing, with independent curator Patterson Sims and the artist himself. | FREE | 6:30 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq. Portland | www.portlandmuseum.org

TELLING | Reliably entertaining is tonight's Sound Bites program, which collects hot personalities, amateur storytellers, and Moth StorySlam champions. Put on by the venerable Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and Lewiston's telling series The Corner, tonight's program consists of tales on the prompt of "Out of the Frying Pan, and Into the Fire," and features Portland writer Kari Wagner-Peck, Moth GrandSlam champion Erin Barker, Sound Bites returnee and Auburn resident Alia Abdulahi, Moth winner and counselor Kevin Gallagher, and Biddeford's Ryan Fecteau, the youngest openly gay representative in the state. | $9 | 7:30 pm | Frontier, 14 Maine St., Brunswick | www.explorefrontier.com

REPORTING IN | In December of 2016, the artistic director of upstart Portland theater troupe 60 Grit set out to collect stories of men and women in long-term recovery. Informed by personal experience and a faith in the healing power of storytelling and theater, the company set out to find actors to use the stories as source material to devise original theater on this difficult theme. Described as "part whimsy, part physical theater," the play, titled Unsinkable, runs for one weekend only at the Portland Ballet Studio on Forest Avenue. Tickets are $15, but tonight's preview is $10. | $10-15 | Thu-Sun 7:30 pm | Portland Ballet Studio, 517 Forest Ave., Portland | http://60grit.brownpapertickets.com/

FRIDAY 21

BODY OF WORK | The SPACE Gallery artist-in-residence, Keijaun Thomas, a femme-identifying artist who creates live performances and multimedia oscillations that, she says, function as social tools. In her own words, Thomas "makes work primarily about and for a black and brown audience," deploying symbols, histories and referents "that construct notions of Black identity within black personhood." Having shown work New York, L.A., Paris, Taipei, Saskatechewan, Miami, and many other places around the globe, Thomas performs her original work-in-progress work — a visceral piece involving nudity, spoken word, and music titled "My Last American Dollar" — tonight at 6. | FREE | 6 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org

COUNT YOUR VALVES | That's right, it's the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Now in its 52nd year (a shocking thing if you think about it), the annual summer fete doesn't seem to have suffered from the obvious elephant-in-the-room regarding the state's clam harvest. Launching tonight at 10 pm, you know what you're getting with this one. | FREE | 10 pm through the weekend | Yarmouth Clam Festival, 162 Main St. Yarmouth | www.clamfestival.com

PASSED OUT IN THE STORM | I'd be lying if I didn't say I spent my first few years as a teenager eagerly anticipating Portland appearances by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I'd also be lying if I didn't see many of Portland's now-upstanding citizens also waiting in line, wearing similarly ugly clothing. I'd even be lying if I said there wasn't a tattered cassette out there of a very youthful band I played in covering a song by Bosstones' singer Dicky Barrett's first band, the unfathomably crucial and utterly listenable '80s hardcore group Impact Unit. The jury may still be out if the Bosstones' brand of post-punk, frat-ready, ska-core aged well, but the times certainly did. For a band obsessed with drinking and devil-worship whose singer made do with a truly unlistenable voice, they were a remarkably positive band. (Dicky Barrett once snuck a 13-year-old me in to a sold out show — I've got nothing bad to say about him.) On what might very well be their last tour, see if those memories don't hold up. | FREE | 8 pm | Aura, 121 Center St., Portland | www.auramaine.com

 

YOUTH SAY | The ever-ambitious youth crew Kesho Wazo and their voracious art appetites have generated their own festival this weekend, kicking off tonight with a "multi-faith blessing" in Fox Field in Bayside's Kennedy Park, that may or may not dissolve into a dance party. They encourage all attendees to wear white and bring flags of countries represented by Mainers from around the globe. The three-day weekend festival continues with a kickball game Saturday and a community clean-up Sunday. | $10-20 donation | 6 pm | Fox Field at Kennedy Park, Fox & Anderson Sts., Portland | https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wazo-fest-tickets-35902871455

 

SATURDAY 22

PRINT YOUR LIFE OUT | The wonderful Portland-based art collective Pickwick Independent Press hosts a festival of their original works and others' today in Congress Square Park. If your living room (or bathroom or foyer) needs some sprucing, head over. | FREE | 10 am to 2 pm | Congress Square Park, Portland | https://www.pickwickindependentpress.com/

COSMIC VIBES ARE A PLUS | What's that? Another homegrown festival? Giddy up. The first annual Cosmic Bridge Festival smushes bands like Nuclear Bootz, the Bumbling Woohas, Lacuna, Burr, Safe/Word, and many others together for a hopefully fun day in the sun. A lot of these groups are a year or two old, and many of them make up the vanguard of Portland's indie-, post-, or whatever-rock scene. Live a little, friends! | FREE | 8:30 pm | Thomas Knight Park, 18 Ocean St., South Portland

 

OUT GO THE LIGHTS | Of course, tonight's major order of business is the return of snazzy-ass rock band Spoon, debatably one of the most popular groups in the world the last five years (to folks equipped with a particular wiring of radar). They play with the resurgent New Pornographers, the power-pop project of Neko Case and A.C. Newman, whose new album, Whiteout Conditions, is too good to consider arriving to the State Theatre late. In fact, you're gonna need to pregame for this around 4 pm, as the psych-rock musician Jeff Beam opens this one, a cosmic reward for throwing a Spoon afterparty two years ago that caught the attention of frontman Britt Daniel and made national news. | $32-37 | 8 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

SUNDAY 23

MANY PATHS | Oddly, the singer Chuck Mosely, a one-time member of Bad Brains and Faith No More, appears at Mathew's tonight, playing songs on an acoustic tour. If the shoe fits, wear it. | 7 pm | Mathew's Pub, 133 Free St., Portland

MAKESHIFT PICNIC | If the sun be roaring and your belly be dancing, head to Slab this afternoon as the Grateful Dead devotees of A Band Beyond Description, who've been summoning Jerry vibes since 2000, play an outdoor set. Doesn't hurt that the pizza's unfuckwithable, either. | 3 pm | Slab, 25 Preble St., Portland | www.slabportland.com

MONDAY 24

GATHER ROUND | Indie pop songwriter Chris Robley’s storytelling series, Verses Vs. Verses returns this week, with a showcase of the creative musings of three interesting locals. Fitting the new theme of “Fun House,” singer/songwriter Emilia Dahlin, songstress Hannah Daman, and poet Rachel Contreni Flynn will share what words and ideas they’ve linked together. | FREE | 5:30 pm | Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/

FOR THE BEES | Some of the toughest words that Spelling Bee competitors have had to spell out over the years include unattractive words like xanthosis, logorrhea, pococurante, and chiaroscurist. Yes, those are real words but don’t ask us what they mean, because we already forgot. Hopefully the words at Arcadia's Intoxicated Spelling Bee are bit more palatable because if not, the 15 people signed up for the challenge won’t be able to spit them out — especially all boozed up. But hey, isn’t that the fun of it? | FREE | 8 pm | Arcadia National Bar, 24 Preble St., Portland | http://arcadiaportland.com/

TUESDAY 25


LA VIDA LOCA |
For better or for worse, hot '90s pop hits will likely stay branded in the memory of most millennials and Gen Xers. Will we ever forget the words to such timeless odes to youth like “Wonderwall,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and even “...Baby One More Time”? Probably not. Stride confidently down memory lane when singer/songwriter Caroline Cotter resurrects nostalgic songs from the '90s with a little help from Monique Barrett, Connor Garvey, Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, Jed Bresette, Ashley Storrow, Dave Richardson, Michael Howard, William Joseph Jiordan, and Joel Thetford.
| FREE | 5:30 pm | Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/

STRANGER THINGS | Maybe your week needs a solid dose of weirdness. The Urban Farm’s got you covered with a cheap show featuring a solid lineup of big-thinkers adept at sounds waves in the fringe-genres. Guiding you through this night of kombucha-n-dance fueled introspection is the experimental psychedelic pop artist Count Vaseline, the three piece electronic brotherhood of Lyokha, and the oddly beguiling vocals of the Asthmatic, aka Sigrid Harmon. Come feel all the feels. | $10 | 7:30 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland

WEDNESDAY 26

WITH YOUR BEST SHOT | Here’s a rare chance to see one of the '80s boldest and most distinctive rock 'n' roll lovebirds perform their greatest hits live and in the flesh. Transport yourself back to the golden age of MTV when the powerhouse duo of Pat Benatar and her guitar wizard husband Neil Giraldo take the stage at the Maine State Pier during their “We Ride For Love” tour. | $25-80 | 6-9 pm | Maine State Pier, Portland | http://mainestatepier.boxoffice-tickets.com/

IRANIAN ACTION | For some reason, many Westerners are surprised to learn that Iran has snowy capped mountains, let alone skiers and snowboarders. It’s almost like the country is reduced to a desert wasteland stereotype in the minds of some ignorant Americans, despite featuring beautiful and varied environments. In reality, Iran is a superb spot for action sports; plenty of people skate, ski, and surf there. Broaden your horizons just a tiny bit with the Maine Surfers Union, as they watch and discuss an adrenaline-pumping series of mini-docs titled, We Ride In Iran. | FREE | 6:30 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://oxbowbeer.com/

UNITED ALLIES | Resisting oppression often comes with legal consequences. Explore the pros, costs, and risks associated with confrontation and protest, during this Tilted Guide to Being a Defendant book release and talk. The Portland CONFRONT Community Network and the Tilted Scales Collective will lay down the framework to “combat state repression and come out stronger as a result.” This learning experience couldn’t have come at a better time. | FREE | 7 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | https://www.fermentory.com/

COLORS GALORE | The next film in Bayside Bowl’s Summer Rooftop Series is a delightful one. Folks there are screening Wes Anderson’s latest movie (and instant classic) The Grand Budapest Hotel. Even if you don’t find the antics between legendary European hotel concierge Monsieur Gustave and his lobby boy Moustafa unpredictably amusing, you’ll be floored by the film’s colorful and meticulously thought out cinematography. Seriously, almost every frame of this film could double as a painting. | FREE | 8 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | https://www.baysidebowl.com/

THURSDAY 27

DOGGIE DAYS | This summer feels like it’s flying by; that’s not just us right? Take advantage of the warm air and plant yourself on Slab’s patio for an evening jam sesh with the Latin inspired band Primo Cubano. Next Thursday offers plenty of other cultural escapes from the daily grind including a Fleet Foxes concert on Thompson’s Point, and the continuation of the well received POV Summer movies series at the PMA. Hmmm, what else does Portland got going on? The Global Shapers Hub are hosting a conversation and SPACE Gallery, that we all should be having more often, to be honest: how do we empower young people to stay living and working in Maine? Apart from that, we’ll tell you where to get the best beer and oyster deals, and what’s up with the resurgence of Pecha Kucha shows lately. Catch the details between these pages in about 8 days.

Letter to the editor

Dear Portland Phoenix,

Zack Barowitz's article ("Conflict By Design: How a Power Struggle Between Mayor and City Manager Was the Plan All Along," in the June 29 issue) about the Charter's role in the ongoing struggles between the mayor and the city manager is interesting and informative. But it tells only half the story of the current mayor.

If Ethan Strimling had done what he said repeatedly during his campaign he was going to do as mayor, I'll bet we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Strimling said he was going to be "the chief listener" in order to bring the city together. He was going to avoid the divisions in the City Council his predecessor Michael Brennan brought about by having his own agenda and by not consulting the City Council before announcing his own initiatives.

Note that the Charter was already in effect and Manager Jon Jennings and his strong leadership style were already ensconced in City Hall. Note, too, that Strimling announced no major personal initiatives during his campaign.

That sounded like the perfect approach for the elected mayor to take under this Charter. Namely: 1) Seek to understand what Councilors want. (They are each little chieftains with their own constituencies and interests). 2) Seek to understand what the City Manager wants, especially since his name is Jon Jennings. 3) Then only initiate things that grow out of the identified overlap of Council/Manager interests. 4) Elsewhere seek consensus where discord looms.

But anyone who knew Ethan knew that his campaign pitch was just that, a salesman's pitch to get the job, after which — who knew? — except that Ethan would strive to use the job to establish himself as the center of City Hall, weak-mayor Charter or no weak-mayor Charter.

So in the few months since, he has established only that he is the most divisive force in City Hall, far beyond the minor fractiousness of his predecessor. He opposes votes by his fellow Councilors weeks after the votes have been made, instead of doing any consultative work before or during the process. He goes to the mat against the Manager even after legal opinions on the Charter side with the Manager.

Why is this a Charter problem? If our Mayor had done what he said during the campaign he was going to do, I bet we wouldn't be having this problem or this discussion.


Peter Monro, 32 May St., Portland 

Zack Barowitz responds:

No one would dispute that Mayor Strimling has on several occasions made his life in City Hall more difficult. Both he and Michael Brennan took the position for more than it actually is. However, it does not diminish the fact that the charter created a mayor without creating another branch of government. As a result, the position is at best a misnamed and misfitted City Council Speaker. Mr. Monro makes a fair point that Mayor Strimling may not have lived up to his campaign promises (or lack thereof), but his campaign was no less disingenuous than the campaign to pass the charter which misled the public in the first place. The lessons from all this? Political structures matter. Don't believe everything you hear from a campaign.

8 Days a Week: Illusionist Bros, Tarantula Bros, and Slightly Stoopid Bros

THURSDAY 29

LIFT YR PALMS | In these days of dread and distrust, we cherish the occasion to spin your partner round and round. Tonight at the State Street Church, an old fashioned contra-dance can serve as a vital reminder that your neighbors are real, and their hands are just as sweaty as yours.

7 pm | FREE | United Church of Christ, 143 State St., Portland | www.portlandintowncontradance.com

 

8Days filmscreening

Screenshot from "Reflection Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights". 

HISTORICAL RECOVERY | Much has been covered about the Black Power Movement from a male perspective, covering the work of activists like Malcolm X to Fred Hampton, but a new feature-length documentary by the Brooklyn-based Nevline Nnaji, a film director, dancer, and activist, offers a necessary new look. Nnaji's film Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights pierces the civil rights movement at its point of feminist mobilization, covering the oft-overshadowed work of black and other women of color during the '60s and '70s.

5:45 pm | FREE | Merrill Memorial Library, 215 Main St., Yarmouth | www.yarmouthlibrary.org

 

TFW UR TAX BASE IS HIGH BUT UR CITY IS BORING | Wokeness on the subject of gentrification is now a requisite trait of Portland citizenship. Tonight, join journalist and author Peter Moskowitz as he discusses his book How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood, covering how seemingly rote municipal decisions to sell off public assets, reduce housing regulation, and allow development spearheaded by private corporations has historically robbed cities of their culture, displaced marginalized communities, and increased inequality. It's a complicated issue. While certain types of development are of course good for cities, Moskowitz aims to articulate the difference in this free public discussion.

6 pm | FREE | Congress Square Park, corner of Congress and High Streets, Portland | http://congresssquarepark.org/

 

ANTAGONISM | Distinguished from their peers as a "punk rock" doom band (the genre's typical preoccupations far too deep down the rabbit hole to register politically), the Louisiana-based Thou have pioneered a manic, crusty, and decidedly shit-heavy aesthetic since their formation in 2005. More recently known for their multiple album collaborations with Providence-based heavy duo The Body, Thou's stop in Portland should be no less bleakly received. A chasmically dark show in the season of light, with Michigan-based grindcore act Cloud Rat, local harsh noise unit Nycterent, and others.

8 pm | $12-15 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org

 

FRIDAY 30

SLURPING SEASON | This summer, it's important not to forget the little things. And oysters are certainly little. Join a happy-hour shucking tonight at Rising Tide Brewing Company, where locally sourced bivalves from O'Oysters pair with belchworthy brews.

4-7 pm | Free | Rising Tide, 103 Fox St., Portland | http://www.risingtidebrewing.com/

 

DUST AND LIGHT | In August 2015, the magician David Blaine performed a stunt where he caught a bullet he fired from a shotgun in a small metal cup in his mouth. In 2003, he fasted for 44 days while held in a plexiglas case in public display, consuming only 4.5 liters of water per day. In 2009, he swam in open waters with dozens of great white sharks wearing a tuxedo. If all this impresses you, you're not alone. The world famous magician and illusionist and his bag of inexplicable tricks tours through Portland tonight, hitting the Merrill Auditorium.

8 pm | $38.50-88.50 | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | www.porttix.com

 

SATURDAY 1

 

BLOCK BY BLOCK | For years now, one of the prime subjects for Portland small talk has been the revitalization of Bayside. "Things are really changing over there!", the people exclaim. They're not wrong. Today, witness that first hand at the Inner Washington Block Party, where you can sample bites and sippies from a pretty broad range of cultural purveyors and foodsmiths in the area, including barbecue joint Terlingua, Japanese maestros Izakaya Minato, brewchamps Oxbow, forthcoming Vietnamese restaurant Cong Tu Bot, Portland classic Silly's, and many more. Beyond the food realm, meet the neighborhood's other highlights, like the baby lifestyle shop Starry Eyes, the masterful photography gallery PhoPa, and bike shop Portland Gear Hub.

12-6 pm | Free | 49-59 Washington Ave., Portland

 8days fiveoftheeyes PhotoBYLaurynSophia

Five Of The Eyes photographed by Lauryn Hottinger.

THE OUTSIDE WORLD | Last month's shocking death of 52-year-old rock singer Chris Cornell was a chilling lesson in grief and empathy. As many noted, the subtext of Cornell's death was that even those who have sustained a career of success and admiration are not immune. And whether you grew up listening to Soundgarden or Temple of the Dog, the fact that Cornell had one of the most incredible and passionate set of vocals in rock music was inarguable. Tonight, a set of Portland artists (from Five of the Eyes, the Very Reverend, John Hughes Radio, pay tribute to his life's work — no easy feat — at tonight's event, aptly titled "No One Sings Like You Anymore," at the Portland House of Music — a benefit for The Opportunity Alliance.

8:30 pm | $5-8 | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | www.portlandhouseofmusic.com

 

YOU'RE PROJECTING | Bayside Bowl may have powered up this spring, but they haven't forgotten their roots. Celebrating the close-to-forgotten art of the drive-in projectionist, the main stage of Bayside Bowl tonight becomes the hub of a "Drive-In Dance Party," a collision of psych, garage, punk, and rockabilly sounds from New York's The Electric Mess, Portland duo The Tarantula Brothers, and longtime punkers the Flipsides.

8 pm | Free | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | www.baysidebowl.com

 

FLEXION | As declarations of independence go, tonight's appearance by the Superhero Lady Armwrestlers of Portland is for my money amplitudes more powerful a statement than setting off fireworks. Donning decidedly "over the top" costumes and personae, these fierce and fulsome lady-folk aim to slay one another by way of the mighty bicep, with a ton of tough talk. A benefit for the Maine Tool Library.

8:30 pm | $10 | Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland | http://slapmaine.org/

 

SUNDAY 2

NOTICE ME NEO | Will the film legend and Fountain of Youth sipper (seriously does the dude even age?) Keanu Reeves ever notice our local songsmith Jeff Beam? Who knows. But in the meantime, Beam’s side project (which is really just for funsies) Keanu Keanu will be offering up some bright pop originals, and a few covers too at the Rising Tide Brewing Company. Crack open a craft beer; they’ll pair well with the tunes!

| 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm | FREE | Rising Tide Brewery, 103 Fox St., Portland | http://www.risingtidebrewing.com/

 

8Days SlightlyStoopid

SOUNDS OF SUMMER | The first big show on the Maine State Pier kicks off today with California’s reggae rockers Slightly Stoopid taking the stage alongside Iration, J Boog, and the Movement, for a night of sounds that might inspire you take up surfing or skateboarding. These eight multi-instrumentalists were inspired by the work of Sublime, 311, and No Doubt back in the day, and have been embracing that ocean sports punk aesthetic for almost 20 years. With eight albums and hundreds of shows under their belt, these rockers and their sunny blend of reggae-tinged rock are well poised to bring some Southern Californian culture to our shores. But please note, as much as their music may inspire you to light up a joint and vibe along on a nice high, security are enforcing a strict no smoking, clear bags-only policy. You’ve been warned!

| 3:30 pm | $35 | Maine State Pier, Portland | http://www.waterfrontconcerts.com/

 

FLEE THE REAPER | Do you want to abolish the notion of a “lazy Sunday afternoon” at least once in your life? Well, why not start the morning with the Thick Quad Squad running around Portland and capping it off with a coffee? Meet at CBD, introduce yourself to the crew, throw down some miles, and you’ll likely feel invigorated the rest of the day. Or maybe you’ll feel too exhausted to do anything else of substance, but in any case, this gathering sounds like a fulfilling way to spend a morning.  

| 8:30 am | FREE | Coffee By Design, 1 Diamond St., Portland | http://www.thickquadsquad.com/

 

MONDAY 3

GET FUNKED | If you need some sweet funky grooves in your life, the Portland House of Music delivers at least once a week with many a smooth operator. One of those being the Red Eye Flight Crew, a local funk/rock/pop collective continuing their summer residency tonight led by the crooning (and effortlessly talented) vocalist Gina Alibrio. Mondays don’t have to be boring!

| 9:30 pm | $5 | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | https://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/

 

TUESDAY 4

 

DEPLORABLE DAY | I can’t be the only one who feels a little weird about celebrating 4th of July this year right? It’s meant to be a celebration of our country and its values, but do we, as a collective, even have a firm grip on what they are anymore? With Trump as President damaging our international reputation on almost a daily basis, and some of his supporters cloaking their xenophobia and ethno-nationalism under the guise of patriotism and free speech, it’s admittedly tough to feel American pride in 2017. And believe me, it’s not easy to write those words; I want to love this country, but some of the rhetoric floating in the mainstream these days is making me rethink my commitment to this supposed bastion of justice and democracy. But I suppose even if you don’t think America is #1, it’s possible to put aside those icky feelings for a day, and celebrate a country that still does ensure a great deal of freedom. If that sounds like you, Portland offers many chances to get in the spirit. State Representative Herb Adams kicks off the holiday at 10 am at the Maine Historical Society with a spirited reading of the Declaration of Independence, the document that started it all. Throughout the afternoon the modern country band Country Roads will be doing their thang on deck at the Porthole Restaurant. The South Portland Historical Society is hosting a classic American muscle car show at 11 am along with a finger-lickin good barbecue. And then, what’s more American than baseball? The Portland Sea Dogs are playing the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at 6 pm, so grab a red snapper and kick back! The holiday ends, of course, with the big Star Spangled Fireworks show at 9:20 pm on the Eastern Promenade, which you’ve got to arrive early to in order to snag a prime spot. Expect the usual: big crowds, a loud orchestra, and way too many vendors serving up artery clogging food. If you’re not a fan of humans en masses, then you could always enjoy the controlled explosions on the water; Casco Bay Lines is offering a cheap cruise with great views of the fireworks show.

| ALL DAY | Portland, Maine

 

WEDNESDAY 5

 

ART WITH A MESSAGE | There’s a simple and reliable metric out there to ensure that a story about marginalized communities is worth your time. You just have to ask yourself: is the story told by someone in those communities? Because the best way to hear about the triumphs, strengths, and struggles of women of color in Maine is through their own speech and action. Let them convey their experiences in the ways that only they can. You’ll get that chance to listen when the Theater Ensemble of Color gather in Congress Square Park for an evening of originally devised performances dubbed Lived Experiences. For more information on the themes at play, check out Megan Grumbling’s preview on page 19.

| 6:00 pm | FREE | Congress Square Park, Congress St., Portland | http://congresssquarepark.org/

 

CALL SAUL | Often times legal battles make oddly compelling dramas. The film Abacus: Small Enough To Go To Jail certainly does, because it tells the true-life tale of a Chinese family facing criminal charges during the 2008 financial crisis. This underdog story will have you glued to the screen and thinking: who knew a documentary about a bank in Chinatown could be so compelling? Find out why.

| 6:30 pm | 8:00 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/

 

THURSDAY 6

 

FIRST PERSON FILMS | Speaking of interesting documentaries, next week marks the launch of a new film series at the Portland Public Library, all of which are shot from the first person point of view. It’s aptly called the Point Of View Film Series. Straightforward, we like it. Will this film technique immerse viewers into the narrative instantly? We’ll bring you all the details about these unique (and free!) screenings next week.

| 6:30 pm | FREE | Rine Auditorium, Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | https://www.portlandlibrary.com/ |

Three Art Shows You Have to See This Summer

If your love of Maine art goes deeper than First Friday hangout sessions, check these compelling art shows on view while they're hot.

1. Selvedge at Able Baker Contemporary

Curated by muralist and painter Tessa Greene O'Brien, Selvedge is a dynamic group exhibition of artists playing with the fundamental methods of making paintings, substituting new techniques and processes to the fundamental stapes of medium, support, and surface to create avenues that expand the history and tradition of the form. With works from Elizabeth Fram, Cassie Jones, Beth Kleene, Erica Licea-Kane, Susan Metrican, Maria Molteni, Tessa Greene O'Brien, Isabelle O'Donnell, and Martha Tuttle, this colorful and adventurous show at the fresh Able Baker looks like one of the most exciting contemporary art exhibits the city has seen in years. 

Through August 5 | Able Baker Contemporary | 29 Forest Ave., Portland | Thurs-Sat 1-5:30 pm | www.ablebakercontemporary.com

 

2. The Loved Ones, photography by Smith Galtney and Matthew Papa at SPEEDWELL Projects

At this new gallery on the edge of town, see a fine dual show between acclaimed Maine shooter Smith Galtney and New York's Matthew Papa, two gay, middle-aged, married men who met while studying at the International Center of Photography. With two distinct styles, The Loved Ones explores identity, family, desire and domesticity, as well as love and partnership during the time of AIDS. As you may recall, Galtney was commissioned by the Frannie Peabody Center in 2014 for a photo series called SeeingME: Profiles of Resilience, highlighting the diverse set of individuals representing the HIV/AIDS community in Maine.

July 1-Sep 1 | SPEEDWELL Projects | 630 Forest Ave., Porttland | Thurs-Sat 2-6 pm | https://www.speedwellprojects.com/ 

 

3. '+/-', multimedia installation by Alia Ali at SPACE Gallery

 

If you haven't already seen how Alia Ali transformed this dark showroom and venue, prepare to be wowed. The Yemeni-Bosnian-American multimedia artist speaks beautifully about the blur between cultural vocabulary in this dizzyingly interesting show. A child of linguists, Alia Ali's displayed works as well as the environmental detail she's rendered onto SPACE examines the in-between space between poetics and politics in ways deeper and richer than any modern cultural think piece. 

Through July 29 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | Wed-Sat noon-6 pm | www.space538.org 

  • Published in Art

Honoring the Pride Portland! Grand Marshals

Courtesy of Pride Portland!, we recognize the individuals serving as Grand Marshals of the 2017 Pride Parade. Each of them make up the Exploratory Committee of the Equality Community Center (511 Congress St.), which was formed in 2014 in an effort to expand services, assess community needs, and develop a larger and more comprehensive center for LGBTQIA people in Portland. Their expanded of the Center, including retail space, space for additional non-profits, increased programming, and housing — all with the organizational infrastructure necessary to maintain an expanded Center into the future.

MattDubois

Matt Dubois

Matt is a most well respected elder law attorney with a practice in Portland. He’s contributed to many LGBTQIA efforts, including serving as Board President of Equality Maine, as well as being a board member of The AIDS Lodging House, and SAGE Maine.

edgardner

Ed Gardner

As a well-known philanthropist and local real estate professional, Ed has contributed greatly on both the local and state levels. He’s also been a front-runner on preservation efforts, most recently serving as President of Greater Portland Landmarks and President of the Maine Association of Realtors. As the owner of 511 Congress Street and Ocean Gate Plaza, his generosity has provided the Equality Community Center with its current home.

DaleMcCormick

Dale McCormick

Dale has created a remarkable history of service and political activism in Maine. She helped found and was the first President of the Maine Lesbian Gay Political Alliance, which is now EqualityMaine. Dale was the first openly gay member of the Maine State Legislature and served three terms in the Maine Senate; was Maine's first female constitutional officer when elected Maine State Treasurer; served eight years as the Director of the Maine State Housing Authority; served Augusta as a City Councilor; and was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. Dale was the first woman in the U.S. to complete the carpentry apprenticeship with the Carpenters Union and  in 1984 she founded Women Unlimited, a program to train women for trade and technical jobs and has written two books on carpentry. She is the mother of three wonderful girls. In 2017, Dale joined forces with the Exploratory Committee for the Funding of an Equality Center.

BetsySmith

Betsy Smith

Betsy Smith is an organizational leader, having served as executive director of two non-profits for nearly 20 years. She was executive director of EqualityMaine during the multi-year effort to win the freedom to marry, resulting in Maine being the only state to win marriage equality without legislative or court approvalDuring Betsy’s tenure at EqualityMaine, our community also won statewide non-discrimination protections, numerous rights and benefits for domestic partners, and anti-bullying protections for LGBT youth.

RichWaitzkin

Rich Waitzkin

Rich has been an educator and social worker practicing in southern Maine for 40 years. Prior to the establishment of The AIDS Project, known now as The Frannie Peabody Center, Rich was on the frontlines doing initial HIV testing, and was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on AIDS. As a social worker he’s implemented hospice and cancer support services, and consulted to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

BarbaraWood

Barb Wood

Barb has been an active and outstanding leader in the Portland community for more than 30 years. She was one of the founding members The Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance before it became known as EqualityMaine. Additionally, she was the first openly LGBTQ official in the state of Maine when she was elected to the Portland City Council.

8 Days A Week: Grief Chats, Hip-Hop Festivals, and Memories of 'My So-Called Life'

THURSDAY 25

 

LISTENING TIME | The world is on fire, but your work is most needed in your own community. Facing systematic defunding as part of the Trump administration's proposed American Health Care Act, Planned Parenthood is on the receiving end of countless creative fundraisers these days. This one, at the quietly-awesome show space Oxbow Blending and Bottling, collects the power of storytelling, where Portland folks tell personal narratives of care and treatment they've received from the health organization, and of reproductive health care in general. The Planned Parenthood Story Slam starts at 6 pm.

| By donation | 6 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://plannedparenthoodevents.ngpvanhost.com/ngpvanforms/21213

 

DEATH BY DESIGN | Grief eventually hits us all, but for those haunted by it from a young age, this inspired informal setting at the Urban Farm Fermentory could offer helpful comfort and community, and the opportunity to talk through some shit that the everyday world rarely makes time for. Hosted by Gina Colombatto, an experienced facilitator on the topic of death (and host of the radio show DeadDogDinah), this experimental "Death Cafe" is a fine idea.

| Free | 5:30-7:30 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/

 

SMOKED | Takes some real ear-to-the-ground folks to make up a show this good. A product of Chris Gervais's weekly Are You Kidding Me? Tapes Thursday night concert series (which we covered last week), we'd be shocked if there were more than a couple dozen folks at this out-there evening of sounds—conjured up by blown-out overlords 'Cuse Me, radical skronkists Diva Cup, and resident shredder Tom Hamill (of Burr) — but everyone else in town besides those couple dozen will be quietly suffering.

| FREE | 9 pm | Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland

 

FRIDAY 26

 

SAX GHOST | Legend ran away with the Boston blues-rock band Morphine, whose moody sax-driven sound cut through the alt-rock squee to find a massive cult audience in the '90s. Of course, bandleader and bassist Mark Sandman passed away of a heart attack in 1999, halting the band and sending the Boston community into shock, but the surviving members reunited in 2009, and have been carrying the banner ever since. They play with Will Bradford of the adventurous Portland-based pop-project SeepeopleS, and Pretty Sad, a winning duo of emo-rock songwriter Dustin Saucier and Renee Coolbrith, she of the voice.

| $12 | 8:30 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://portlandempire.com/

 

THIS DUDE DID THIS | With limited time left on this planet (technically true no matter your political perspective), it's crucial to appreciate the earth while you can. Join Barney Scout Mann as he shares stories, video, and slides from the Pacific Coast Trail, a 2,650-mile trek from Mexico to the Canadian border, all while sippin' on your favorite pils.

| FREE | 4 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://oxbowbeer.com/

 

ROLL HARD | Bayside Bowl's all revamped, and if you're smart you whipped up your bowling game over the winter. Exercise both virtues tonight as the multifarious pop group Forget, Forget plays with Dan Capaldi's long-time rock project Sea Level and Akela Moon, a supergroup playing soul, funk, and Afrobeat-inspired tunes.

| FREE | 8 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | https://www.baysidebowl.com/

 

SATURDAY 27

 

FIRST CRUSHES | If you had a copy of that My So Called Life soundtrack along with everyone else in the '90s, let's hang the eff out. Track two, of course — a prime spot — was Buffalo Tom's "Soda Jerk," a fine song on a soundtrack full of fine songs. The Boston-based slacker-rock group hovered around mainstream success awhile before the bottom fell out (of the industry, not really the band). They've always produced albums at a leisurely pace, and 2011's Skins was still a fine piece of Yankee grunge music. They're celebrating the 25th anniversary of Let Me Come Over, their landmark album, at Port City Music Hall.

| $25-28 | 7 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com/

 

EAT THAT | If the sun be shining, learn the merits of urban foraging today in a wandeing lesson by ReWild Maine, which teaches you to identify and use wild, edible, and medicinal plants growing in urban or suburban settings. We all need better post-apocalyptic skills.

| FREE | 1-4 pm | Eastern Cemetery, 224 Congress St., Portland | https://www.rewildmaine.org/ 

 

RHYMERS UNION | The Boston-based emcee Akrobatik burst onto the hip-hop scene by way of his singles nearly 20 years ago (this writer remembers not being able to keep "Say Yes Say Word" 12-inches on the shelves of the record store he worked at in the late '90s). Subsequent inspired collaborations with the lefty rapper Mr. Lif (as the Perceptionists) cemented him as one of cult favorites in the game, over which he's been a flagship artist on Def Jux and Fat Beats. Akrobatik's the prime draw of on a sprawling night of hip-hop artists at Oxbow (which we're aware we're hyping for the third consecutive day, but chill). Titled "Hip Hops 3," and hosted by local rapper Ben Shorr and DJ Myth, you can expect "Rap Night" veteran Ill By Instinct, P. Dank artist Lady Essence, Dray Jr., Busybars, ill Murray, and more on the mic. | $10 adv, $15 day of | 7:30 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://buytickets.at/hiphops/92522

 

GONE COUNTRY | Songwriter Joel Thetford lived in the Maine woods for more than half a decade, a time over which the Texas-raised songwriter got swarms of Maine devotees to his honest, direct style of lightly indie-fied country songs. He celebrates the release of his new EP, The Outer Bank, with a Bissell Brothers-produced show at Empire tonight. The former bull-rider plays with Jake Hill & Deep Creek, New Hampshire's Sarah Blacker, and Jim Betts & the Beach People—all good songs to sip beer to.

| $8 | 8 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://portlandempire.com/

 

FATAL FLOG | Anchored in Ireland, Detroit, and Los Angeles, the group Flogging Molly have been playing their Celtic-inspired songs with a punk panache since the late '90s. They weren't the first band I'd have picked as a teenager to be headlining the biggest venue in my home town, but I don't think anyone gets that right. Their new album, Life is Good, is as direct a statement as anything that punk kids grow up to be normal, mainstream men and women, and that's okay. (It also proves that terrible band names can make sound investments if people find them fun to say.) With Irish-influenced country songwriter Jake Smith, aka The White Buffalo, and Dylan Walshe.

| $38 | 8 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com/

 

STAY GOOPY | One of the most trusted of Portland's constellation of dance parties, "Slime" returns to Flask Lounge tonight, courtesy of DJs Barfhorse and Laura Vanilla, who spin freak-forward electro, R&B, house, and whatever else makes 'em pop that night.

| FREE | 9 pm | Flask Lounge, 117 Spring St., Portland | http://flasklounge.com/

 

SUNDAY 28

 

CHILL OR BE CHILLED | Some of us here at the Phoenix like to waste away a lazy Sunday afternoon occupying space at a local coffee shop until we’ve developed a caffeine headache. We recommend you do the same, but maybe, pace yourself with the espresso. This Sunday’s proves to be a fine day to get mellow at a cafe, as the alternative-folk band Hunter descends on the Arabica coffee shop. Time to settle in, sip a latte, and get lost in this dynamic four piece’s effortlessly chill vibes.

| FREE | 11 am | Arabica, 9 Commercial St., Portland | https://www.arabicacoffee.me/  

AVENGERS (AND BASEBALL FANS) ASSEMBLE | For better for worse, narratives of superhumans saving the world have deeply entrenched themselves in our culture. There have been at least 67 big budget superhero movies just in the past decade! But let’s not kid ourselves, as much as we love to bemoan the tired nature of the “the hero’s journey,” we’ve probably seen (and loved) most of those films. Mingle with others that are unfazed at the prospect of Marvel and DC imprisoning our attention and milking us of our dollars for decades to come, during “Superhero Day.” Dust off your superhero costume, pack your favorite comic books, and nerd out before the big Portland Seadogs game against Trenton Thunder. A faux Ironman will be there for some photo ops because we know the real Tony Stark would never be on board with pleasing a crowd of paparazzi.

| $14 | 1 pm | Hadlock Field, 271 Park Ave., Portland | http://www.milb.com/

 

SCREW PHYSICS | Those thirsty for an off-grain dance night might find something they like in tonight's "Deep Sea Reserve," a night of beats and dancing, with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior program in honor of Memorial Day.

| $15-25 | 9 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St, Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com

 

 

MONDAY 29

YOUNG AND WISE | Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant (and Mainer) Travis Mills, a celebrated military man who lost his legs on assignment in Afghanistan in 2012, is the beneficiary and namesake of an annual 5K in Augusta called Miles for Mills. Proceeds benefit the Travis Mills Foundation, which raises funds for combat-wounded veterans.

| $20 | 8 am | 50 Front., Augusta | https://www.runreg.com/miles-for-mills 

 

TUESDAY 30

 

YOUNG AND WISE | Are the Orwells the best new live band in America right now? Surely that must be hyperbole, the number one tool in a music writer's handbook? We’ll leave it up to you, but note that several music mags across the country are lauding the garage-punk-rock band’s new album Terrible Human Beings as mandatory listening for anyone that wants to hold hope for the future of modern rock. They fuse strong influences from the past (think early Strokes and Iggy Pop) with a modern flair reliant on back-breaking intensity, youthful spirit, and a sprinkle of calculated sloppiness. The Walters from Chicago are set to open.

| $21 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

WEDNESDAY 31

LET’S REVISIT | Full disclaimer: I actually haven’t seen Netflix’s new and contentious young adult drama 13 Reasons Why, but many who have are calling for a broader, more nuanced discussion of its often misconstrued themes of tragedy, mental illness, and suicide. If those directly affected (or deeply knowledgeable) on those heavy subjects are decrying the TV series as problematic, then perhaps we should hear what they have to say. The discussion will be led by Meg Rooks, a librarian, Devon Mulligan from the Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, Jenna Rodrigues from the Young Adult Abuse Prevention Program of Family Crisis Services, and Greg Marley from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

| FREE | 4 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | https://www.portlandlibrary.com

 

DEAD HEADS UNITE | If you’re one of those music heads yearning for a show that conjures the magic of the early days of psychedelic rock, a la the Grateful Dead, then you’re in luck. All summer long, every Wednesday, the Portland House of Music is offering a double dose of dead, through the musical resurrection skills of The Maine Dead Project and the Working Dead.

| $5 | 5:30 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | https://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/

 

SIMPLE GIFTS | They say it’s hard to get young people engaged with classical orchestra music, but if any group’s going to do it, it’s going to be Palaver Strings. This Boston team of veteran musicians is “dedicated to the collaborative interpretation of classical masterworks,” and reports fresh young faces in their crowds! With a musical mission rooted in healing and promoting social issues, perhaps it’s time to pit their talents against your easily distracted attention span.

| $14 | 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

THURSDAY 1

LOOKING AHEAD | This first week of June brings with it an onslaught of curious cultural offerings. Pick up these pages next week for detailed previews on events that will easily make you laugh, cry, shout in glee, and think deep thoughts (but not all at once). What’s on our mind? Well next week the Costume Society of America will screen a film at the PMA called Suited; which shakes heteronormativity to its outdated core, Bella’s Bartok will showcase the darker side of Eastern European music with a show at the Portland House of Music; Portland’s favorite coffee shop chain will throw a party; two-time Grammy winner Laurence Juber plans a tour stop at One Longfellow Square; Spencer Albee will kick of the album release party for his hotly anticipated new album Relentlessly Yours; and the first First Friday Art Walk of the summer will (naturally) be a bit more politically charged. Good stuff; see you next week.

Letters to the Editor

This letter is concerning the upcoming May 5th protest of the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife’s lack of law enforcement at DEW Haven in Mt Vernon, Maine. Julie Miner shot Baghwa the lion in (2005?) because Bob Miner left a gate unlatched and attacked Bob, so they say. The Miners have put out at least three different versions of the event and the authorities were never notified, as required by law. The Miners hid this from The IF&W and did not disclose the attack and death of the animal. The IF&W are required to regularly inspect DEW Haven. They did not do their job and investigate where this lion was upon inspection and not finding him. They did not ask happened to him, was he sold? Did he die? If so how? The IF&W did not enforce the laws and hold DEW Haven responsible for, again, being dis-honest with officials and not disclosing an attack and death of an animal, or hold them responsible for the human lives they endangered due to their negligence when he “escaped”. The lion was photographed being skinned by three widely known Maine trappers. When asked, it was told that this lion came locally from a backyard zoo menagerie in Maine.  The Maine Warden Services has this photo. They say an open investigation is under way but the statute of limitations has run out on Baghwa. The IF&W have shown they do not care about the animals they are required to oversee. The IF&W no longer enforces any laws at DEW Haven at all. DEW Haven was allowed to get away with this with no legal consequences, and gained profit from having the animal skinned and sold. The only redemption Baghwa has, and the only way the public will know his true tragic story, is to protest in front of IF&W and show them there is no statute of limitations on murder.

 
-Monica Hooper
 
To the Editor:
 
On Friday May 5th at 11:30 am, I and others will be demonstrating peacefully outside of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in Augusta.  We are simply fed up with the excuses, delays, lack of enforcement of laws, and overall lackluster oversight of DEW Haven, a backyard zoo in Mount Vernon.  For example, in June of 2014 DEW Haven used days old tiger cubs for monetary cub petting.  It was publicized by the press locally and nationally.  It was also quite illegal.  However, despite the obvious publicity, Maine IF&W did not act until someone called and complained.  Then DEW Haven and its owners were simply called and told to stop!   No violation and no fine!  This was after DEW already made quite a bit of money off of these newborn cubs.  
In a documentary the owners of DEW Haven, Bob and Julie Miner, discuss how Bob left a gate unlatched and Baghwa the male lion attacked Bob.  Julie ended up shooting the lion and three different versions of that story have been released since then.  Maine IF&W was never even notified and now they say the statute of limitations has run out.  Unacceptable!  An innocent lion was shot by its caretaker and the rules were not followed.  We have a petition regarding Baghwa the lion and we will be handing it in after the protest.   Please join us as we stand up for the voiceless and ask Maine IF&W to do its job investigating complaints thoroughly and protecting captive wildlife.  Maine IF&W is accountable to all of the people across the nation and the globe that have donated to DEW Haven believing the zoo to be a sanctuary for animals.  
 
-Kristina Snyder
 
To the editor:
 
I was only 34 years old when a brain tumor was discovered. After having surgery to remove it, doctors told me that I need to have a MRI every 6 months to monitor my health and to make sure the tumor doesn't grow back. I have health insurance through my work but I can’t have an MRI covered unless I meet my deductible each year. I should not have to say no to my follow-up care because I can’t afford the out-of-pocket cost of $1500 for a MRI every time.

Who prepares to have a brain tumor at 34? Who prepares to have one at all? The healthcare situation in this country is not sufficient. There needs to be safety nets for people who are struggling to keep their head above water. I am thankful that my friends created a GoFundMe page to help cover my living expenses while I was out of work. I should not have to rely on the kindness of my friends or strangers to receive the care I need. I should not have to go into debt to stay healthy. Healthcare companies have the responsibility to care for the people in this county. It is important that we expand health care in this country, and not roll it back. More people need access and more people need to be covered.

Kathy Smith

The 2017 Portland Phoenix Editors' Picks

Though our standard Top 100 are set in stone, Phoenix editors are opinionated enough to have our own personal picks for the standouts of the city. You're welcome.

feature editorspicks Figgys

Has comfort food ever looked prettier? Photo Courtesy of Figgy's. 


Best Guilty Pleasure: Figgy’s Takeout & Catering

There’s a sandwich at Figgy’s that seldom fails to beat down my rational self to make room for more carnal desires. Even if I’m just mildly hungry, I can’t go to Yordprom, the building's attached coffee shop, without imagining its downright deliciousness. Healthy? Hardly. But hey, something’s gotta win guilty pleasure, and this year it goes to this carb-overloaded “dinner in a sandwich”: the Ay Ay Ron. It consists of a thick boneless slab of Southern-style fried chicken nestled between two buttery biscuits and coleslaw. But here’s where it gets weird (and awesome). On top of all that, there’s a generous serving of mashed potatoes and gravy. Hallelujah. The Ay Ay Ron pushes the boundaries of what a sandwich even means, and sentences those who ask to a food-coma post consumption. But it's always 100 percent worth it.

Figgy’s Takeout and Catering | 722B Congress St., Portland | http://figgystakeoutandcatering.com/

 

feature editorspicks Ameera

Ameera Bread's falafel and vegetables in sammoun bread, which is pretty much the most effective shape for a sandwich. Photo courtesy of Ahmed Abbas. 

Best Public Market House Vendor: Ameera Bread

Someone remind me, what’s up with the second floor of the Portland Public Market House? What’s there again? The only hearty option up there is Kamasouptra (and I guess Daily Greens if you load up on protein), but those options are once-a-weekers in my book. If I’m thinking lunch, I’m hardly ever thinking about a smoothie, a salad, or sticky rice with blueberries (sorry other vendors). I’m usually always dead set on going to Ameera Bread. Tucked in the far left corner of the second floor of the Market House is this simply wonderful Middle Eastern sandwich spot. Ameera’s got a bigger main location on outer Forest Avenue, but the kiosk at the Market House is typically manned by a single dude. But boy can he crank out falafel wraps and shwarma sandwiches like nobody’s business (and now serves Mongolian Stir Fry!). Maybe it’s because I’m not typically exposed to halal food often (can we get just one food cart, please?) like people in bigger cities, but I’ve been on a lamb gyro kick lately. Thinly sliced bits of slow-cooked spiced lamb inside naan bread (or sammoun bread) with lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce is addicting. It’s also just fun to eat; I dig the shape of the sammoun bread. Ameera’s definitely the best food vendor to move into the Market House. Try their hummus!

Ameera Bread | 845 Forest Ave., 28 Monument Way, Portland | http://www.ameerabreadllc.com/

 

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Even this small sample size of Rybus' six latest shots illustrate how captivating and stylized her photojournalism can be. Screenshot from https://www.instagram.com/gretarybus/.  

Best Instagram Account: Greta Rybus (@gretarybus)

I follow well over 2,000 people on Instagram, but I can pick out the work of Greta Rybus instantly on my feed. I know outstanding photographs when I see them, and each one of her photographs could easily be on the cover of a bestselling book. Rybus, a photojournalist from Idaho now based in Portland, is something of a globetrotter, which make her photos instantly more interesting than other local accounts. She’s shot stunning portraits, landscapes, and slice-of-life shots in Senegal, Norway, Panama, Hawaii, and Washington D.C., to name a few. But it’s really the way she purposefully uses natural light, frames, and edits her photos that make them so memorable and interesting. Her subjects tend to be one of either three things: people, landscapes, and textured, atmospheric scenes. From Norwegian fishermen fighting climate change to women rallying at the Women’s March on Washington, a true story’s hidden in each photo and invites different interpretations on the mood. Some can strike you as melancholic or ominous while others are joyous and breathtaking. The raw aesthetics of each photo reflect this balance; shots typically feature objects in bright or dark colors in crisp focus against a bright white light background. This yin and yang dynamic falls in line with Rybus’s artist statement: I'm interested in documenting the full spectrum of the human experience: the struggle and joy, the light and darkness. Put this women’s thoughtful and eye-pleasing exploration of the beautiful mess that is humanity on your social media feed, pronto.

http://www.gretarybus.com/ | @gretarybus

 

features floatharder

"Where is my mind," is a question you'll undoubtedly ask yourself in the tank. Photo courtesy of Float Harder. 

Best Way to Escape the World: Float Harder

Do you love Portland so much that sometimes you need some time away from it? There’s literally no better way to escape from the buzzing pulse of humanity and its bullshit than by completely eliminating your sensory input altogether. Are you ready to be alone with your thoughts? If so, the lab at Float Harder can set you up on a date with a sensory deprivation tank. Climb into the capsule filled with body temperature water and epsom salt and float in pitch blackness (or neon blue light). Once inside, time slows and the silence envelopes you (or you can listen to music if you prefer). Where your body ends and the air and water begins becomes a legitimate challenge to discern. Perception, out the window. As long as you’re comfortable with your own stream of consciousness, and slightly forgetting up from down, floating is a wonderful experience. At it’s simplest function it’s meditative, soothing, and slightly psychedelic. At it’s most effective, a float session can ameliorate depression, muscle pain, and addiction issues.

Float Harder Relaxation Center | 500 Washington Ave., Portland | http://www.floatharder.com/  

 

Best Way to Spend Your Quarters: Pinball at Coast City Comics and Arcadia National Bar

The way I see it, quarters in downtown Portland get spent in a number of finite ways: laundry, the parking meter, the tip jar, and getting that one persistent old soul to stop asking you for 11 cents. But what if the depths of pinball machines were a better home for your quarters? Break up your work shift by spending your break playing some games; it’s oddly stress-relieving and nostalgia-summoning. Portland’s got two fun and super casual spots to get this childish in public: Coast City Comics, and Arcadia National Bar. From the Lord of the Rings, and the Simpsons, to Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Medieval Madness, these 15-minute pinball distractions remind you that deep down, you’re still into the same silly shit you enjoyed 10 years ago. Visit these oases of video game and geek culture and use your dirty quarters like tokens to thought-journey back in time.

Coast City Comics | 634 Congress St., Portland | http://coastcitycomics.com/ | Arcadia National Bar | 24 Preble St., Portland | http://arcadiaportland.com/

 

features bestpodcast

Neil Sattin's having the conversations we need to hear on his podcast Relationship Alive!, which is a winner in our minds. Photo Courtesy of Neil Sattin. 

Best Local Podcast: Relationship Alive!

It's a fine line between a "local" podcast and one that's produced locally. The brilliant Relationship Alive, an honest and vulnerable project by Portland's Neil Sattin, doesn't take much of a local view. But the subjects he speaks with, national experts covering intimacy, trauma, sex, honesty, safety, and overcoming obstacles that hamper partners from necessary growth, produce vital conversations that anyone trying to practice love in this tiny, tense little city would be obliged to hear. A therapist and healing practitioner with a knack for getting people to open up, Sattin brings light to subjects many of us didn't grow up learning here in New England (where we typically keep our feelings close to the vest).

Relationship Alive! | http://www.neilsattin.com/relationshipalive/

 

Best Bar to Read At: LFK

This comes with a caveat, since it can get noisy and distracting enough in this dark bar that this is a moot point. But the folks at this converted bookstore (remember that?) still honor its literary past, even toying around with the idea of a rumored discount a couple years back for solo patrons with book in hand. But even if you don't score 10 percent off your Hamm's, it's a lovely, semi-social evening to spend an hour or so under the big Longfellow painting reading Rupi Kaur or The New Yorker or the new Elizabeth Strout novel or whatever it is you're into. It's just like reading at home, except with a tacked-on wild card, because you never know what other extroverted introverts you'll run into when you're done.

LFK | 188A State St., Portland | https://www.lfkportland.me/

 

features deeringoaks

A map from 1879 of the best place to smoke weed in Portland. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia. 

Best Place to Smoke Weed: The Stone Arch Bridge

Since we’ve printed these words, this title may very well be up for grabs again, but I'll take my chances. Do people in Portland ever really care about seeing or smelling someone smoking weed? Even before legalization, I caught wafts of skunkiness downtown almost daily. But it’s still technically illegal to consume on the street, so some of us prefer to remain stealthy. My favorite spot to spark up is not coincidentally the most cliche one: the old stone bridge in Deering Oaks Park. (Fun fact, it was built in 1909! History, cool!) Hear me out; while consuming what’s technically a drug underneath a bridge in the city’s largest parks sounds scummy and unoriginal, it’s actually quite a pleasant experience. There are nice stones to sit on. No one bothers you down there. The park is beautiful. And while you get lit you can observe the surrounding turf war between the ducks, the seagulls, and the geese. But anyway, go green in your own spot and don’t ruin mine.

Deering Oaks Park, Portland | http://www.deeringoaks.org/

  • Published in News

The 100 Best Of Portland Winners

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT 

Best Art Gallery: Portland Museum of Art

 

It was a year of fineness for Maine’s premier art institution. It began with a powerful six-month dedication to Maine artist and educator Duncan Hewitt and his enigmatic sculptures, showing there is always room for local art on the largest of Maine stages. Add in deep studies of WWI-era painter Georges Braque, “Women Modernists in New York” like Georgia O’Keeffe and Helen Torr, and a fully remodeled cinema in the lower-level, and it’s plain to see why Executive Director Mark Bessire and company aren’t giving this category up soon.

Portland Museum of Art | 7 Congress Sq., Portland | www.portlandmuseum.org | 207.775.6148

Best Hip-Hop Venue: Port City Music Hall

Asylum bit the dust and its replacement venue Aura is still in its infancy, so 2017 is the time for Port City Music Hall to shine as the best venue for hip-hop frenzies. This win’s a little surprising, because it’s not a dedicated venue for local rappers like Flask is, and its small (dare we say elegant?) space doesn’t attract bigger names in the industry like B.O.B. or Waka Flocka. So we can only presume that Port City takes the cake for offering crisp, booming sound quality, decent drink prices, a cozier listening experience, and at least one big hip-hop show a month. Quality over quantity? The reggae tinged rapper Zion I will perform here soon, as well as local legends Shane Reis and Spose.

Port City Music Hall | 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

Best Karaoke Venue: Old Port Tavern

 

No one else in town seems to understand karaoke. It’s a vital part of the nightlife experience, but the urge to partake can hit at literally any time, like a sudden craving for a hot fudge sundae. There’s no predicting when it'll come. Smartly, OPT has the bases covered, hosting karaoke three nights a week (and something loud enough to sing and dance along to the other four). And you can tell they’re just as proud of you singing your ass off up there as the folks you came with, because they've arranged the outdoor speakers so that they blast your voice onto the cobblestones of the Old Port, echoing through those mysterious Portland nights.

Old Port Tavern | 11 Moulton St., Portland | www.oldporttavern.com | 207.774.0444

 

Best Maine Author + Best Maine Playwright: Monica Wood

 

Last year saw more accolades for local scribe Monica Wood, with her latest novel, The One-in-a-Million Boy, published to gleaming reviews after she resurrected it from the dustbin at the urging of her husband. She celebrated its launch with a reading at Portland Stage, where her first play, Papermaker, premiered in 2015 to become the most successful play in the theater's 30-year history. We can only hope Wood is at work on a new story -- and we’ll take it in whatever medium she offers.

Monica Wood | monicawood.com

 

Best Maine Comedian: Connor McGrath

 

We have a confession to make. We did the same thing here as we did in Best Author, which was to remove the stranglehold that internationally-famous Stephen King had on the category. Maine/L.A. comedian Bob Marley isn’t quite so popular, of course. And while Marley is certainly active, he doesn’t need this recognition. Besides, Connor McGrath came very close to beating him anyway. So fuck it, we decided. Connor wins. The Portland stand-up artist has done more to advance the scene here, co-hosting the “Worst Day of the Week” series every Monday night at Blue and the Up A Creek monthly show at Banded Horn in Biddeford, plus gigging at Lincolns, Andy’s Old Port Pub, Empire, Bull Feeney’s, and more. A hearty salute to this unpredictable funnyman with an incomparable style.

Connor McGrath | https://www.facebook.com/HAusticspectrum/

 

Best Maine Filmmaker: Peter and Thomas Campbell/8mufnz

 

You’ll understand if you were lucky enough to catch 2014’s Crá Croí, the Campbell Brothers’ odd and original film about a man who is visited by a mysterious dancing Irishman every time he falls asleep. Or last year’s Killer Spacemen From Outer Planet X, a 1950s-style low-budget horror film. The duo’s been making irreverent, confident films together for nearly 10 years (that we know of, anyway), though as writers, directors, actors, producers, and musical composers for all their films, we’re sure this creative partnership was forged young.

8mufnz Films | 8mufnz.com

Best Maine Poet: Richard Blanco

 

It’s true that Richard Blanco is an international star. Before becoming a household name when President Obama selected him to read at his second inauguration, Blanco's story was full and rich. He was conceived in Cuba and emigrated with his family to Spain as an infant before moving to New York City, Miami, Washington D.C., and finally, in 2004, Bethel, Maine. And while most of the country doesn’t necessarily read him as a Maine poet, his choice to come here was a conscious one, and his presence here, including his capacities as an educator in Northern parts of the state, is strong enough for Mainers to call him their own.  

Richard Blanco | http://richard-blanco.com

 

Best Non-Gallery Art Space: Gallery 49 at Oxbow Blending & Bottling

With most of the Portland art world consolidated in the Old Port or the West End, it’s been nice to have this dark, cavernous hangout step up its exhibition game the last couple years, showing sculptors like Richard Keen and Sam Gilbert, mural painters like Tessa Green O’Brien, and colorful designers like Andrew Scripter and Jimmy Viera. Curated by the muralist and assemblage artist Will Sears, this place nabbed an aesthetic far quicker than most boutique galleries do. We raise a glass.

Gallery 49 at Oxbow Blending & Bottling | 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://oxbowbeer.com/tasting-rooms/portland-blending-bottling/gallery-49/

Best Open Mic: Out of the Blue (Blue)

It’s a simple gambit. Take one of the finest, comfiest rooms in the city, a room that’s exceptionally hard to leave, and throw an open mic. Each artist performing gets 10 minutes to play their material before an unknown guest judge, who picks a winner based on playing ability, songwriting, vocal performance, audience reaction, and stage presence (not to be overlooked). It works. According to our readers, that was the most successful, beloved open mic model in the state when Blue had it going a bit ago. Will it return? Who knows.

Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcityblue.com/ 

Best Photographer: Molly Haley

Maybe the most distinct, unfakeable element to Molly Haley’s photography is her level of access. She’s a committed, respectful traveler with a knack for building trust and comfort in her subjects. Simply put, it’s easy to look natural around Haley, maybe even to glow a little. An incredible listener and a Telling Room facilitator for many years, Haley’s work documenting New Mainers for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, or the students in Portland Adult Education has helped bring focus, visibility, and grace to Maine’s changing demographics.

Molly Haley | http://mollyhaley.com

Best Rock Venue: State Theatre

No surprises here. Portland just doesn’t have a bigger live music venue in town that doesn’t squander style, accessibility and character. We love the crimson red wall furnishing and old-timey aesthetic. To us, atmosphere matters. But apparently size does too. If we didn’t have a big venue like the State Theatre, far fewer rock juggernauts would consider touring through Portland. (That’s just a hunch.) Big acts to look forward to this summer include Pixies, Twiddle, Ryan Adams, the Punch Brothers, Mastodon, Flogging Molly, John Mulaney, Spoon, and Tegan and Sara.

State Theatre | 609 Congress St., Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com/

 

Best Street Performance Artist: Maine Marimba Ensemble

 

At their peak, the half dozen or so musicians of the Maine Marimba Ensemble can be found filling the streets with sound during First Friday Art Walks or other festivals. To see them is to be mesmerized. They’re that rare band that plays complex polyrhythmic arrangements that musicians will nerd out about, but are also instantly adored by kids. These dudes -- namely Jacob Wolff, Chris Fletcher, Elliott Heeschen, Kevin Caron, Matt Wasowski, Peter Himmer, Rob Cimitile, and Zebulon Kelley -- have learned how to put on a hell of a show from their time spent in other bands, which is why we were lucky to snag them for our BEST OF PORTLAND party celebrating this very issue.

Maine Marimba Ensemble | www.mainemarimbaensemble.com 

 

Best Tattoo Artist: Phuc Tran, Tsunami Tattoo

 

To be fully transparent here, Tsunami Tattoo founder and artist Phuc Tran “beat” fellow artist Cyndi Lou by one vote. One. We couldn’t invent a tighter race, and you wouldn’t believe us if we tried. We include that information here because we know they’re a team, and while they both have signature, inimitable styles, this award is proof that the world they’ve created over at Tsunami is a magical one indeed.

Tsunami Tattoo | 21 Pleasant St., Portland | http://www.tsunamitattoo.com

 

 

Best Theater Organization: Portland Stage

 

With greater outreach programs, kids' workshops, and a robust plan to get young folks in the door, Portland Stage is indeed changing with the times (even dropping the clunky “company” from their name). This past year featured standouts like the Barbra Streisand-obsessed Buyer & Cellar (any chance to watch Maine actor Dustin Tucker work is a delight) and String Around My Finger, an original and moving play about loss from Massachusetts playwright Brenda Withers. They’re taking more chances over there, and they’re still the axis around which the Maine theater scene revolves.

Portland Stage | 25A Forest Ave., Portland | https://www.portlandstage.org/

 

Best Visual Artist: Maia Snow

 

Born in Russia, the painter and MECA graduate Maia Snow has been making ecstatic, richly colorful abstract oil paintings in Portland for several years now. Over this last one, she’s made work has been on large canvases nearly the length and width of her height, each of them a triumph that combines personal and cultural symbology, intuition, youthful intrigue, and the tension of detail and ambiguity. She’s a star, and at this rate, she’ll soon be one of the most recognizable painters in Maine.

Maia Snow | www.maiasnow.com

 


 

CITY LIFE 

 

Best Bartender: Michelle at the Snug

 

If Michelle didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent her. The long-running Snug bartender has seen us through some of our most celebratory moments and darkest hours, always there with a beer, a loud smooch, or a snarky comment to put things in perspective. If a major motion picture film were to be made about Portland over the last decade, getting this character right would be a priority. But on the other hand, even if they spent half their budget (Jennifer Garner? Jessica Biel?), we doubt they could pull off the quirks of Michelle’s personality. She’s a singular force, and we’ve lucky to have her. (Moments before we went to press with this issue, news broke that Michelle has in fact left the Snug. We're still wrapping our heads around it.)

The Snug | 223 Congress St., Portland | thesnugpub.com

 

Best Blog + Best Twitter Personality: Black Girl in Maine (Shay Stewart-Bouley)

 

It’s true that Shay Stewart-Bouley is one of our columnists (though she hadn’t been from late 2014 to earlier this year). Regardless, there’s no more deserving a writer and activist we can think of for this award, as her powerful, brave treatises on racial justice and dismantling systemic oppression here in the state has poured light on a topic many desperately want to leave in the dark. We applaud Shay for her vulnerability, her accountability, her wit and her charm, and for offering leadership for POC in Maine through this long, slow, and necessary process of rooting out white supremacy.

Black Girl in Maine, by Shay Stewart-Bouley | http://blackgirlinmaine.com/ | @blackgirlinmain

 

 

Best Dance Club: Bubba’s Sulky Lounge

The key to having a best dance club is building an environmental feature that’s more ridiculous than anyone could possibly look like while they’re dancing. That’s what Bubba’s has with it’s extravagant, Life Saver-colored dance floor, not to mention all the weird-ass taxidermy and nativity sets going on throughout this Parkside palace. DJ Jon has kept this place warm every weekend for the last 15 years, and everyone’s had a Top-5 Portland night here somewhere in their backstory. Praise be to Bubba.

Bubba’s Sulky Lounge | 92 Portland Ave., Portland | https://www.bubbassulkylounge.com

 

Best Date Spot: Bramhall Pub


We’ve seen so many Tinder meets, swinger hangs, and smooth-as-fire dates at Bramhall that we’re kind of shocked they haven’t built another room yet. We’re happy they made over their food menu, but it’s the drinks, the warm ochre hue, and the atmosphere that keeps this place magical. It's a no-brainer hangout spot in the winter, but this dark dungeon-y bar is special enough to meet make-out partners in the summer months, too.

Bramhall Pub | 769 Congress Ave., Portland | http://www.bramhallme.com/

 

feature riverside

Best Golf Course: Riverside Golf Course

We may never have played a game of golf in our lives. But if we ever decide to take it up, we’ll probably visit this 18-hole course before any others. It's won our contest many times! Plus Riverside is city-owned, extremely well-maintained, and seem receptive to newcomers. Isn’t golf supposed to be the best sport to be bad at? We like that the grass here is also really green, which is something we’re sure bigtime golf nerds admire.

Riverside Golf Course, 1158 Riverside St., Portland | http://www.portlandmaine.gov/riverside/riverside.asp

feature planetfitness

Best Gym: Planet Fitness

Even if the idea of a gym exists in your mind the same way Narnia does (a mythical fantasy land you’ve never set foot in), this win shouldn’t be a shocker. Everyone knows Planet Fitness. Factoring in their cheap monthly price model, friendly staff, four locations in southern Maine, and an insane amount of equipment, and this victory seems obvious. Assuming they stay in business, we're sure Planet Fitness has a shot at being our winner for years to come. Sometimes big corporations are actually better. Or at least decidedly not evil.  

Planet Fitness, 145 Marginal Way, Portland | http://www.planetfitness.com/

 columns angusking 041416

Best Maine Politician: Angus King

We're sure if this Best Of poll were accessible to voters in the entire state of Maine, this result here would likely play out differently. But here in Portland, people seem to love our Senator Angus King. Our other congressional representatives, most notably Congressman Bruce Poliquin and Senator Susan Collins, have stretched their flimsy definition of moderate to meaningless lengths, made themselves rather scarce, and haven’t inspired much confidence with Portland voters. But King, with a 67 percent approval rating, fortunately stands more firm on issues, and is more accessible to his constituents. Most recently he’s been opposed to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and the bombing of Syria, and has advocated frequently for environmental sustainability and treating climate change challenges seriously. Portland’s happy about those positions.

Senator Angus King | 383 US-1 Suite 1C, Scarborough | https://www.king.senate.gov/

Best Mechanic: 3G’s Tire and Auto Service

Going to get your vehicle fixed or tuned up is never a fun occasion. But at least the smart technicians here try their best to make the process as quick-n-painless as possible. And, more importantly, they won’t rip you off. These guys know their stuff, and have pulled yuppies who hardly know how to change their oil out of nightmarishly stressful auto repair situations. Talk about unsung heroes! Someone’s got to make sure cars on the road are both safe, functional, and affordable! Portland’s glad to have 3G’s.

3G’s Tire and Auto Service, 200 Veranda St, Portland |http://www.3gstire.com/

feature wellnessconnectionofmaine

Best MMJ Caregiver: Wellness Connection of Maine

Although recreational cannabis is legal in Maine, it’s still very important to have certified medicinal shops with a professionally trained staff. Patients who rely on accurate dosing, specifically curated products, and informed advice on using cannabis against ailments are well served by the high-quality dispensary located stealthily behind the West End restaurant Local 188. You name it and they’ve got the product, from flowers, salves, tinctures, edibles, beverages, honey, and capsules.

Wellness Connection of Maine, 685 Congress St., Portland | http://www.mainewellness.org/

 

Best Marijuana Edible: Pot and Pan Kitchen

Here at The Phoenix, we love Pot and Pan Kitchen. Why? Well simply put, they make edibles for their patients and caregivers that so far from your gross dorm room brownies, that it's not even funny. Seriously, these delights are so lip-smacking good, you might forget you're eating an edible...well, at least for 30 minutes or so. Because to say that these marijuana treats (everything from cakes, cupcakes, gummies, cookies, and whoopie pies, to name a few) work is an understatement. With accurate dosing and high-quality cannabis tinctures and concentrates present in just about everything, these edibles don't just bring you to where you need to be, but they ignite your taste buds and cure your sweet tooth along the way.

Pot and Pan Kitchen | https://www.facebook.com/potandpankitchen/

 

Best MMJ Flower Strain: Pineapple Chunk

 

We know that pineapple is said to induce birth in pregnant women, but we know precious little about Pineapple Chunk, the marijuana flower strain our readers voted as the best available in Maine's newly liberated weed landscape. A cursory Google search reveals it's an indica-leaning hybrid flower that's good on stress, with the only downside being that it's a little specifically heavy on the dry mouth. It's also supposed to taste like, according to one intrepid toker, "tangy skunk, earthy cheese, and sweet pineapple." Everyone's different! Whatever. We're just happy this shit is decriminalized.

features oldportbilliards

 

Best Pick-Up Spot: Amigo’s

 

If Amigo’s is your pick-up spot of choice, then hey, you’ve got a type. But strong-ass drinks, the best nachos in town, loud rock ‘n’ roll and a nihilistic patio is enough to put anyone in the mood (well, not anyone, but the right folks), and as the years go by, Amigo’s has notched a certain level of authenticity that other bars can’t touch. And authenticity is a hell of a turn-on.

Amigo’s | 9 Dana St., Portland | 207.772.0772

 

 

Best Place to Bring the Kids: Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine

 

The real world is full of dread and responsibility, plus the ever-present specter of Donald Trump. The best thing you can do for your kids is to bring them to a fairytale land where these things don’t exist, and the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is your golden ticket. With science installations, weird fascinations, rooms for romping, and one of the most artfully produced kids theaters’ anywhere (seriously, sign your kid up), this place is a treasure.

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine | 142 Free St., Portland | http://www.kitetails.org/

 

Best Place to Play Pool: Old Port Billiards

For some reason, when we think of a pool hall, what comes to mind is someplace dark and damp, filled with grizzled old white dudes who smell like cigarettes calling pockets underneath a neon Bud Light sign. Thankfully, Old Port Billiards is nothing like that, or else we wouldn’t be caught dead there. It’s spacious, with six pool tables and five dart boards. Inside, there’s no mustiness. In fact, this place, with its nice carpeting, lighting, and big windows proves that shooting pool can be quite a classy affair! Think old-school New York-styled pool halls and you're on the right track.  

Old Port Billiards, 11 Moulton St., Portland | http://oldporttavern.com/old-port-tavern-billiards/billiards-home-page/

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Best Soil/Grow Shop: Garbage to Garden

My oh my, how Garbage to Garden has grown. We remember their humble beginnings several years ago when the whole operation was run by a handful of people who wanted to offer Portland’s first trash-to-compost service, but didn’t quite yet have the technical means. Now it seems we see their green trucks everywhere! This services makes it remarkably simple to make at least one aspect of your life environmentally sustainable: organic waste. Just chuck your food scraps in their special bucket and leave it outside with your trash and recycling. They’ll pick it up and, if you opt in, leave you with compost ready for your garden. Sign up for Garbage to Garden and marvel at how much stink and stuff you’ve eliminated from your weekly trash output.

Garbage to Garden, 57 Industrial Way, Portland | https://garbagetogarden.org/

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Best TV/Radio Personality: Blake & Eva (Blake & Eva Show - Coast 93.1)

Blake Hayes and Eva Matteson are a package deal. While both of these radio hosts are entertaining enough individually, it’s when they banter back and forth that their funniest moments shine through the dreary monotony of a listener’s morning routine. They build their humor off of each other, and share engaging (albeit ridiculous) personal stories. Portland appreciates it. Many of my friends, who commute into town like me, have made these two jokesters an integral part of their entertainment cycle.

Blake and Eva from Coast 93.1 | http://coast931.com/

 

Best Yoga Studio: Greener Postures

 

Some say yoga is best practiced with a clear mind, a clean digestive system, and an empty schedule. Possible, but most of us have those kind of days about three times a year, and I don’t think we’re spending them inside, stretching. Sometimes, you just have to do yoga when you're tired, stressed or down and out, and Greener Postures makes it easy. Since its founders formed this women-owned-and-operated power vinyasa studio seven years ago, they’ve kept Greener Postures a necessity for folks on both sides of the bridge, a place that hundreds swear by as the yoga spot they feel most comfortable.

Greener Postures | 740 Broadway St., South Portland | 65 Gray Rd, West Falmouth | www.greenerposturesyoga.com

 

Best-Kept Secret - Names of New Yorkers Buying Property in Portland


Yeah, we’d like to chat with these folks too.

 


 FOOD AND DRINK 

 

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Best Asian Restaurant: Empire Chinese Kitchen

Portland’s restaurant scene has introduced several new players serving up Asian fare, but longtime favorite Empire has won the most votes. Dishes here are reliably delicious. Some come with a Western twist like Lobster Longevity Noodle, the Kale Noodle, the Chicken and Salt Cod Rice and the BBQ Brioche Buns, which keep things fresh and interesting. When Portlanders want to settle in for some inspired dim sun, they’re usually squeezing in here. Long live the reign of this yummy Empire!

Empire Chinese Kitchen, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://portlandempire.com/kitchen/

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Best Bagel Shop: Scratch Baking Co.

Bagels are literally everywhere in Portland. But something about the ones at Scratch, made in stone ovens with Aurora Mills flours and Maine sea salt, make them truly special. It could be the high quality ingredients we just mentioned. It could be something in their water (apparently water quality affects bagel flavor and texture, look it up). Or it could be their special dough fermentation process. Whatever it is, these bagels are clearly a cut above the rest and feature that “bouncy” consistency that made New York bagels so famous.

Scratch Baking Co. | 416 Preble St., Portland | https://www.scratchbakingco.com/

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Best Bakery: Standard Baking Company

This year, Standard Baking beat out the Holy Donut, restoring its status as our readers' Best Bakery as it was for so many years (before Holy Donut burst onto the scene). It must be something to do with their impressive variety of offerings, including croissants so buttery and flaky, you’d think you’re in Paris. Every day, the small but passionate team of bakers at Standard handcrafts hundreds of morning delights, like pain au chocolat, brioche, scones, brownies, morning buns, madeleines, and much more.

Standard Baking Company | 75 Commercial St., Portland |  http://standardbakingco.com/

Best Bar: The Great Lost Bear

The Great Lost Bear has consistently been a runner-up in many categories of this contest (Best Wings, Best Beer Selection, Best Burger) which speaks to how well-loved they are. They draw far more patrons than just the college students in the area. Portland’s home to countless watering holes, but the Great Lost Bear wins Best Bar this year because of its charming interior (decked wall-to-wall with art, memorabilia, and bizarre Americana), its convenient location just off the peninsula, its immensely satisfying comfort food, and of course, a bar with ample seating and well over 70 taps.

The Great Lost Bear | 540 Forest Ave., Portland | http://www.greatlostbear.com/

Best Barbecue: Salvage BBQ

After extensive research at barbecue joints in the Carolinas, Texas, and elsewhere, Jay Villani and co. of the Local 188/Sonny’s group launched this massive, low-maintenance, family-style barbecue joint and sports bar at the foot of the West End several years ago. Barbecue lovers in the city never looked back. Several other fine options have popped up since, but Salvage still sets the bar. Perfect for watching a Sox game, playing some trivia, or splitting the Cow & Pig tray with a friend you don’t mind fighting with about whose had the most bites.

Salvage BBQ | 919 Congress St., Portland | www.salvagebbq.com

 

Best Beer Selection: Novare Res Bier Cafe

Tucked away from the main streets is Portland’s “temple of beer,” AKA Novare Res. This win surprises no one, because nobody can compete with their arsenal of libations. With over 400 rotating domestic and international brews, it’s only appropriate that our readers crown Novare Res with the honor of having the best beer selection. Their selection is so staggering, it can actually be quite intimidating! Thankfully, the staff inspire confidence with their on-point suggestions. Have they tried every brew? Of course not! But they sure act like it, and get genuinely excited about beer culture.

Novare Res Bier Cafe, 4 Canal Plaza, Portland |  https://www.facebook.com/pg/NovareResBierCafe/reviews/

 

Best Brewery + Best Maine Beer: Allagash Brewing Company

While dozens of other breweries have shone through the yeasty haze, Allagash remains the pride of Maine beer fans’ drinking life. Yes, that’s largely on the strength of its damn-near-perfect Belgian wheat beer Allagash White, but the Curieux, Saison, Dubbel and Black are each game-changers as well. Their Industrial Way tasting room is notorious for their hospitality and generous samples, and you’re more than welcome to drop in or book a tour from 11 am to 6 pm, seven days a week.

Allagash Brewing Company | 50 Industrial Way, Portland | http://www.allagash.com

 

Best Brunch: Hot Suppa

Surprise, surprise. Hot Suppa is the perennial favorite for this award. It’s not just due to the law of supply and demand of seats in their smallish confines, but because of the jaw-dropping pleasures to be had tearing into this magnificent brunch. For example: No one tempted this writer to eat corned beef hash before Hot Suppa, which only made it more difficult to choose between that and all their other heavenly, Southern-ly spicy egg options. As testified by the parade of zombified brunch-goers spilling out onto Congress Street as they wait literally hours for seats, Hot Suppa is the spot.

Hot Suppa | 703 Congress St., Portland | http://hotsuppa.com/

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Best Burger: Nosh

If a restaurant’s going to serve something as ubiquitous to the lunch experience as an American hamburger, they’ve got to make them creative enough to etch them in Portland’s collective memory. Nosh does just that. They serve burgers that entice the curiosity of newcomers and secure the delight of regulars that want their stomach to take a beating. Forget the traditional sesame bun, some of these burgers are squished between far more interesting (and heavy) foods like fried mac-n-cheese patties, Slab pizzas, or glazed donuts. Crazy enough to work? You bet.

Nosh | 551 Congress St., Portland | http://noshkitchenbar.com/

Best Chef: Masa Miyake, Miyake

We’ve never worked for Masa, but we know a lot of friends who have, and here’s what we know. The dude cares, quite deeply, about the product and experience he’s putting out there. And it shows, as his Miyake restaurant in the Old Port and "Japanese pub" Pai Men Miyake in Longfellow Square are some of the most cherished spots in town. But he also cares about the Miyake family, meaning the crew of workers, servers, ramen artists and sushi-rollers he employs take great pride in what they do. And that's the sort of chef we appreciate around here.

Miyake | 468 Fore St., Portland | Pai Men Miyake, 188 State St., Portland | www.miyakerestaurants.com

 

Best Chowder: Gilbert’s Chowder House

We New Englanders are adept at judging seafood/clam chowder. So much so, we can tell a good chowder without even tasting it. We just do the “spoon test.” A chowder done right — made heartily with potatoes, chunks of haddock and scallops, and finished with bacon and heavy cream — should easily hold the weight of a spoon upright. The bowls of goodness served at Gilbert’s pass the spoon test. They’re a far cry away from watery chowders devoid of soul, flavor, and substantial pieces of marine creatures.

Gilbert’s Chowder House | 92 Commercial St., Portland |http://www.gilbertschowderhouse.com/

 

Best Cocktails: Sonny’s

Sonny’s, Portland has loved you ever since J.C. slung his first Jaycito. Now, you’ve got the most sought-after cocktails in the Old Port, a blurry space where the city’s artists can mingle alongside the powdered sons and daughters of bankers, lawyers, and financiers. And the cocktail menu, adventurous as it is, has us all covered.

Sonny’s | 83 Exchange St., Portland | 207.772.7774  

 

Best Coffee Shop/Teahouse: Coffee By Design

Now that the airy Diamond Street location is open and bustling, we can’t imagine CBD ever losing this award. Sure, there are other fine coffee spots in town and we can’t slight them, but CBD packs a ton of local involvement, grant-giving, and community stakeholding (did you know they were a B-Corp?) into their work, and they have since Alan and Mary Allen launched it in 1994. “America Runs on Dunkin’” is another coffee shop’s claim, but we think that’s a little hyperbolic. But Portland really does run on Coffee By Design.

Coffee By Design | 1 Diamond St., 43 Washington Ave., 67 India St., 620 Congress St., Portland | http://www.coffeebydesign.com/

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Best Cookie/Cupcake: Two Fat Cats

We must confess that someone in our office developed a slight obsession with this bakery’s pumpkin and maple marshmallow buttercream whoopie pie last autumn. It was their signature comfort food last year! Later they’d discover that essentially everything else offered at Two Fats Cats is just as addicting. They’ve got pies, cupcakes, lemon shortbread, and chocolate cakes that activate surges of endorphins in the brains of consumers. It’s no wonder those two cats are so fat.

Two Fat Cats | 47 India St., Portland | http://twofatcatsbakery.com/

 

Best Delivery Food + Best Pizza: OTTO Pizza

OTTO the conqueror has taken over this city and changed its pizza tastes for good. There are few finer consolations to grinding through a winter snowstorm than to get a large pie from your nearest OTTO and snarf it with a loved one over Netflix on your couch. Also to their credit, they’ve given each of their Portland locations a distinct warm and folksy vibe, so even if that mashed potato/bacon/scallion pie ever got boring (it doesn’t), we’d still keep coming back just for the hang.

OTTO PIzza | 576 Congress St.; 225 Congress St., 250 Read St., Portland | 125 John Roberts Rd., 159 Cottage Rd., South Portland | www.ottoportland.com

 

Best Dessert: The Bar of Chocolate

Hidden in plain sight in the deepest part of the Old Port, industry folks are eternally grateful for the Bar of Chocolate. From the cordial, friendly service to the fine selection of wines, they’ve offered us a unique place to hang that’s seemingly immune to the tourist hubbub elsewhere in the area. Owner Sarah Martin made the bold, wise decision to keep the Bar of Chocolate open after neighbors the Wine Bar closed in 2014, and the rewards for the city have been sweet indeed.

Bar of Chocolate | 38 Wharf St., Portland | 207.773.6667 

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Best Diner: Becky’s Diner

After 23 years in the business, Becky’s Diner is a Portland fixture, drawing both hungry tourists and local regulars to its seaside spot on Hobson’s Wharf. This place serves up no-nonsense American fare including their famous muffins, lobster omelette, and Maine crab and swiss melt. We love how diners can add lobster to almost anything! If you can patiently endure the typically long wait time (we recommend walking down the wharf and observing the local fishermen at work), satisfying, but familiar delights await you.

Becky’s Diner | 390 Commercial St, Portland | http://www.beckysdiner.com/

 

Best Dive Bar: Ruski’s Tavern

While other, snazzier bars and stores are cropping up in the deep West End, Ruski’s Tavern remains the neighborhood’s beating heart. They serve up unbeatable chicken-fried steak platters, terrific burgers, way-better-than-necessary french fries, and hit-the-spot breakfasts that feel like rewards for waking up in a snowstorm come winter. And the whiskey, oh the whiskey. If this place ever shuts its doors, you know Portland’s truly gone.

Ruski’s Tavern | 212 Danforth St., Portland | 207.774.7607

 

Best Food Truck: El Corazon

Tacos are best when they’re grab ‘n’ go, and El Corazon has got the most grabbable going. A lunch of three of their Baja Fish Tacos, as you mow them down under the sun in the parking lot behind Brian Boru, is pretty much the most Portland way to experience the noon hour. And isn't that the true work of the food truck? Making a product so good that it democratizes the lunch break so that the white-collars mingle with the punks and tourists and everyone knows each other’s name? Setting up outside Union and Temple Streets, El Corazon has set itself up as the beating heart of the city. They might be right.

El Corazon Food Truck | Union & Temple Sts., Portland | http://www.elcorazonfoodtruck.com/

 

Best Gluten-Free Options: Bam Bam Bakery

It’s all about approach. While a lot of gluten-free bakers focus on making “alternatives” to standard baked goods, Bevin McNulty set out to make Bam Bam Bakery a spectacle all its own. No implicit shame, no otherness — the sweet-tooth options here are glorious and extravagant, like gems straight off the game board in Candyland. Their Snickers bar is a meal unto itself, and for those of us who tend toward the savory, we’re grateful they’ve added breads, pizzas, and hand pies as well.

Bam Bam Bakery | 267 Commercial St., Portland | http://bambambakery.com

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Best Ice-Cream Parlor: Gelato Fiasco

Underneath Gelato Fiasco’s shiny display case sit heaps of brightly colored gelato and sorbetto in flavors so widely creative and tantalizing, choosing just one becomes a daunting task. From blood orange, and cookie therapy, to maple pear, and hot honey vanilla, the selection is impressive and displayed in eye-pleasing waves that almost beckon you to try them all. And with a nice staff offering free samples, you almost can. In fact we recommend you do it. And do it soon before the real fiasco begins: throngs of tourists packing this highly buzzed about spot.

Gelato Fiasco | 425 Fore St, Portland |http://www.gelatofiasco.com/

Best International Market: Veranda Asian Market

Most local chefs know that the key to their ingenuity is knowing what to look for in international markets, and Veranda, with its aisles overflowing with unique tastes from the world over, is a primary destination. Of course, savvy stay-at-home cooks know all this too, even if they’re not saying so. But even if you’re dropping in for some frozen dumplings and bizarre candy, Veranda’s worth a look.

Veranda Asian Market | 695 Forest Ave., Portland | http://verandaasianmarket.com/

 

Best International Restaurant: Veranda Noodle Bar

All you need during the winter is one bowl of this perfectly steamy noodle soup (three or four stars, please), and whatever congestive foods you might have consumed earlier that week will be magically blanched from your system. At least, that’s how restorative and fortifying it feels to eat at Veranda Noodle Bar, again voted the best international restaurant in town. Start with the Phở, and work your way through the whole damn menu.

Veranda Noodle Bar | 245 Commercial St., 14 Veranda St., Portland | http://verandanoodlebar.com/

 

Best Irish Pub: Bull Feeney’s

You know what, lads and lassies? Portland needs a place like Bull Feeney's! Two beer-sticky floors, a wealth of fine taps, fine Irish songwriters, gut-busting comedians, and TVs where you need them. It's dark in there, but there's a slice of realness that counters the tourist-forward vibes of the rest of the Old Port. (It's also a great respite during the chaos of the Old Port Fest.) Also, no small feat, we trust them when on those days we're ready to drink seriously. We also commend Bull Feeney’s for cooking mean steaks, embracing rowdiness, and snatching enough votes away from the other Irish bars in the city. Maybe it all came down to their Irish Stew...

Bull Feeney’s | 375 Fore St., Portland | http://www.bullfeeneys.com/

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Best Italian Restaurant: Paciarino

To truly appreciate an authentic Italian meal, we recommend slowing down the pace. Be patient, your pasta will arrive. And when it does, don’t defile the experience with the gluttonous, carb-crazed attitude you’d might unleash at home on the couch. Instead, look at it and say “Ciao Bella!” You’re in an austere, but noticeably fancy restaurant that calls for some cultural refinement. Paciarino’s atmosphere and menu urges you to savor every sensation and consider the weight of culture behind its savory flavors. Sip the wine. Try to imagine where the grapes in it came from. As you go for the appetizer remark on how people have been dipping crusty bread into oil and herbs for thousands of years and nobody’s gotten tired of it — in fact that marriage is will probably go down in culinary history’s greatest hits. Eat slower and the rustic flavors present in the restaurant’s mouth-watering ravioli, lasagna, and tagliolini dishes, will stay on your palate longer, and reveal the simple magic of soul-nourishing Italian cuisine.

Paciarino | 470 Fore St, Portland | http://www.paciarino.com/

 

Best Late Night Restaurant + Best Waitstaff/Service: Boda

It helps that their kitchen is lightning fast, but the service over at this always-packed Thai restaurant is delivered with just the right pinch of grace, wit, and familiarity. It’s hard to believe there were minor trickles of outrage when Boda first opened and disallowed takeout, but the city has definitely caught up now. (Besides, you can’t pack those quail eggs in a box, dude.) Boda’s the best meal you can get at midnight, and arguably the same can be said at dusk, too. They’re no strangers to these awards, and we hope they never leave.

Boda | 671 Congress St., Portland | 207.347.7557

 

Best Latin American Restaurant: Taco Trio

Whatever gods stepped in to return Taco Trio, and its owner Manuel Pena, back to full health after a three-month hiatus this winter, let us praise them. We hope for many more years from the finest Mexican restaurant in Greater Portland, and while the short-lived Forest Avenue location is no more, their cantina in Knightville, with its massive burritos, traditional Yucatan desserts, and refreshing horchatas, has more than enough to keep Mainers full.

Taco Trio | 119 Ocean St., South Portland | http://taco-trio.com

Best Lobster Roll + Best Patio/Outdoor Bar: Portland Lobster Company

Of all the weird-looking marine creatures out there, society and culture have anointed the lobster, a brown ocean bug filled with goop and sweet red meat, to the status of delicacy. We dine on the crustacean fairly cheaply here in Maine, where the waters are (still) a hotspot for finding the damn things. Maine’s also home to people that are really good at catching them, boiling them, and stuffing them between buttery pieces of bread. (Can we all agree that the lobster roll is the easiest, laziest, and tastiest way to eat lobster?) And while many in Maine make the lobster roll, according to our readers, no one does it better than the Portland Lobster Company. While you tear into New England’s favorite crustacean and gaze out to a beautiful yet melancholic view, ponder a disturbing thought: the ocean is dying. Ocean acidification exacerbated by climate change is severely endangering many marine species, and our children may see a world where lobster is only reserved for the super rich. We apologize for getting distracted; right now, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying affordable seafood, and the wonderful view of Portland’s working waterfront. For now, anyway…

Portland Lobster Company | 180 Commercial St., Portland | http://www.portlandlobstercompany.com/

 

Best Neighborhood Store: Rosemont Market


Rosemont doesn’t have everything. But they have enough to keep your kitchen, and thus your life, feeling full. It’s the produce that keeps them essential, though the meats and fish (Brighton location only) make them invaluable during the summer months, when there just may be a barbecue or cookout every other night.
Rosemont Market | 580 Brighton Ave., 88 Congress St., 5 Commercial St., 40 Pine St., 1350 Riverside St., Portland | 96 Main St., Yarmouth | http://rosemontmarket.com/

 

Best New Restaurant: Woodford Food & Beverage

Woodford Food & Beverage was just so impressive out of the gate that we knew they’d be a fixture. Those mussels! Those fries! More than a year in, they look like they’ve never left. But on the inside, they’re constantly tweaking their menu to better accommodate the many diverse tastes of their neighbors at this pivotal Portland intersection. With a low-key atmosphere and several incredible dishes (not to mention a knockout burger), Woodford F&B cleared the tough Portland foodie standards with ease.

Woodford Food & Beverage | 660 Forest Ave., Portland | http://www.woodfordfb.com/

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Best Sandwich/Wrap: Po’ Boys & Pickles

Sometimes what’s most delicious is a sloppy onslaught of carbs and animal proteins. They may get messy, but we crave these sandwiches overflowing with fried oyster and shrimp, or creole sausage and slow cooked roast beef, drenched with greasy goodness. There’s BBQ pulled pork too, and you’re damn right you can have an extra sauce. This sensual food experience is packed with big New Orleans flavor, that’s almost a rarity this far north of the swamps. Chasing the spice and stuff-your-face pleasures of Po’ Boys & Pickles may be the only reason you ever need to venture to the nightmare that is outer Forest Avenue.

Po’ Boys & Pickles | 1124 Forest Ave., Portland | http://www.poboysandpickles.com/

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Best Seafood Restaurant: Eventide Oyster Co.

Portland’s a seafood mecca and competition was stiff for this one. But hey, if you offer exceptional seafood like Eventide Oyster Co. does, word gets around. Writers from all around the country are basically contractually bound to slap this on their Portland travel listicle. And once you nab a James Beard Award nomination, even people that haven’t visited Eventide begin to talk about how amazing it is. Offering a menu with raw, cold, and hot options like oysters on the half shell, cured salmon, and lobster stew, Eventide always proves to be a worthwhile splurge.

Eventide Oyster Co. | 86 Middle St., Portland | http://www.eventideoysterco.com/

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Best Soup: Kamasouptra

Is it possible to have a bad experience at Kamasouptra? We don’t think so. Think about it. You always know exactly what to expect from its seasonally rotating menu of hearty soups. And have you noticed when you want a soup, you really want a soup, and nothing else quite satisfies you until you wrap your hands around a bowl. Also, a warm roll of bread never disappoints! Their locally sourced list of hot veggie smoothies includes these favorites: maple butternut squash, white bean and kale, sweet potato corn chowder, and curried root vegetable and lentil. Now that summer’s almost on our doorstep, we think it’s time to appreciate the positive impact these soups for the soul have had on what was more or less a miserable winter.

Kamasouptra | Portland Public Market House | http://kamasouptra.com/

Best Splurge: Fore Street

Do restaurants that hide the price on their menu and require reservations intimidate people earning a modest income? They shouldn’t. Life’s nasty, brutish, and short, so why not treat yourself to a three-course meal of superb quality. We may just be thinking like Epicureans but is a life spent worrying about the future even a life worth living? Focus on the present. Live in the moment! That’s what the new-age people and the hipsters have finally agreed on, right? Focus on amazing food and don’t sweat the bill at the end. If the thought of spending two to three times as much as you normally would on dinner seems too ostentatious and/or stressful to you, just remind yourself that you're just a speck of matter on a wet rock floating in an expanding void and everything’s just a social construct. Follow your heart to Fore Street, and dine like royalty.

Fore Street | 288 Fore St., Portland | http://www.forestreet.biz/

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Best Sports Bar + Best Wings: Binga’s Stadium

Binga’s Stadium has so many places where you can watch the big game. You know, the one with the ball and the players and the goal base. Kick back, order some wings, and watch one group of players try to score points while also stopping the other group of players from scoring. Cheer on with other fans as your team’s number becomes higher than the other team's final number. Sports are fun! Wing-eating is just the right accompaniment for this activity. You can tell a lot about a person by their heat tolerance and how they take their wings at Binga’s. The sports bar has almost as many sauces as there are personalities of humans! We’ve found that people that order BBQ-sauced wings with no heat tend to be boring, while the honey-mustard means a person’s stuck in their ways. Thai Chillis sauce signifies a hint of a party animal, and Buffalo Bacon sauce suggests loyalty. People that order the Hot Mango or the Spicy Redneck sauce tend to be risk takers, while those that choose the Chernobyl have gone off the deep end. And the people that smother their wings in peanut butter and jelly (yes, that’s an option)? Well, they’re not to be trusted.

Binga’s Sports Bar | 77 Free St, Portland |http://www.bingasstadium.com /   

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Best Steak: The Grill Room

Grilling up quality cuts of meat like spice-rubbed skirt steak, horseradish rib-eye, spicy broccoli sirloin and lobster brandy filet mignon the cooks and chefs at the Grill Room have created a carnivore’s paradise. Order a steak medium-rare, because it’s been awhile since you’ve felt blood between your teeth, and make sure to pair it with one of the numerous zesty sauce options. And to think that we humans have been blessed with the “urban steakhouse,” for only a tiny fraction of our existence. Aren’t we lucky to have copious amounts of expertly cooked animal flesh at our disposal without ever having to pick up a spear or light a fire?

The Grill Room | 84 Exchange St., Portland | http://www.thegrillroomandbar.com/

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Best Sushi: Yosaku

According to our readers, nobody serves up higher quality, tastier sushi in Portland than Yosaku. Try these edible works of art for yourself, and realize there’s nobody playing a stronger hand in the game of raw fish. But listen, before you go, take heed; don’t be that typical Westerner that restricts themselves to the California or Philly roll and then brag later about how refined your palate is. Be mildly adventurous. Use the chopsticks. Never mix the wasabi and soy sauce. And order the sea urchin and shut up!

Yosaku | 1 Danforth St., Portland | https://yosakumaine.com/

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Best Tasting Room: Bissell Brothers Brewing Company

First, they exploded onto the scene with their Substance Ale, which essentially took over Portland with a tsunami of suds. Since then the brewers over at Bissell Brothers have concocted over 14 other brews, each with a badass name and their own unique, powerful flavors. These guys are passionate about beer, and you can almost taste it. The only place you’re going to be able to easily sample energetic beers like the Baby Genius, the Angle With Filthy Souls, and Evermore is at this new, up and coming tasting room. No joke, it’s where the cool kids hang out and geek out over artisanal brew.

Bissell Brothers Brewing Company | 4 Thompson’s Point, Portland | http://www.bissellbrothers.com/

Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Green Elephant

We’ve asked this before, but unfortunately, in this meat-obsessed society, it’s worth printing again. Who needs chicken and pork when you have the Green Elephant? Seriously, even hardcore carnivores would hardly notice these stir frys and noodle dishes are vegetarian because they floor you with full-bodied flavor, hints of coconut, and downright heartiness. The spices once traded on the Silk Road a thousand years ago still carry an immense amount of culinary gravitas today. As do the food traditions from China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand. Honestly, how bland would the food world be without those influences?

The Green Elephant | 608 Congress St., Portland | http://greenelephantmaine.com/

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Best Wine List: MJ’s Wine Bar

You could take a trip around the world through wine at this stylish and totally not snobby/pretentious wine bar. And with most starting at just $5 a glass, you probably should. But if you’re just using wine to impress a date, and simply want to be seen in one of Portland’s hippest spots, then you could just low key order a beer; they’ve got plenty of bottles of that too.

MJ’s Wine Bar | 1 City Center, Portland | http://www.onecitywines.com/


SHOPPING

Best Arts & Crafts Supplies: Artist & Craftsman Supply

There are evil corporations, and then there are good companies. Artist & Craftsman Supply is most certainly the latter. Since the last time The Phoenix ran the Best Of Portland, this fine art supply store has become 100 percent employee-owned. And they didn’t even use the dark forces to do it. These are hardworking people who know what it is to be an artist in need of a particular item to bring the imagined into the real, and they act like it. Go get your paint.

Artist & Craftsman Supply | 540 Deering Ave, Portland | http://www.artistcraftsman.com/

Best Bank/Credit Union: Bangor Savings Bank

Speaking of businesses that haven’t fallen into the greed trap, Bangor Savings is one of those banks where you and the teller are both people, with names, backgrounds, and anecdotes to laugh about while you conduct your business. If you wouldn’t mind a cup of coffee either, don’t worry, you don’t have to bring your own. If you’re not with them already, we suggest a switch. You’ll thank yourself.

Bangor Savings Bank | 180 Middle St, Portland | http://www.bangor.com/

 

Best Bookstore: Longfellow Books

Here’s the news from this comfortable, friendly, expert-staffed bookstore: Every First Friday, these bibliophiles host a Community Night, a simple gathering of all of us who feel that the policies of the current administration go against this country’s true principles. This is from their explanation: “We refuse to silently allow policies to be put in place that marginalize segments of our society for the sake of a nationalistic foreign and domestic policy.” Do you think the big and nonsensical bookstores have that kind of calm courage? Longfellow Books does.

Longfellow Books | 1 Monument Way, Portland | http://www.longfellowbooks.com/

 

Best CD/Record Store: Bull Moose

What can you say about Bull Moose? Walk in, and you’re swimming in a sea of music, movies, toys, books, games, all the stuff you love that says so much about your character. If you don’t like someone’s stuff, you’re not about to embark on a long or meaningful relationship. Bull Moose understands this, and wants to make sure that you own the exact, unique accoutrements that will say, “This is who I am. No apologies.”

Bull Moose | 151 Middle St., Portland | http://www.bullmoose.com/

 

Best Clothing (Men): Portland Dry Goods

Let’s face it, Portland is a fashion-forward community. Just by people-watching on Congress Street on a summer’s day, you can determine what the season’s top clothing trends are. It’s one aspect of New York City that we don’t really mind seeping up into Maine. And if you’re flush, Portland Dry Goods will provide men’s clothing that puts you, as a mindful guy, right in it. With flair. Go check them out.

Portland Dry Goods | 235 Commercial St, Portland | https://portlanddrygoods.com/

 

Best Clothing (Women) + Best Thrift/Consignment Shop: Material Objects

For the ladies, including others who identify as female or feminine, Material Objects is the Portland staple for vintage and contemporary clothing. (Of course, they have men's stuff too.) The selection is ever-changing, hand picked, and more than fairly priced. This is the kind of place where you go in just to look, and find something that becomes your favorite article of clothing for years to come. Sneak in and poke around; success is virtually guaranteed.

Material Objects | 500 Congress St #1, Portland | https://www.facebook.com/materialobjectsme/

 

Best Erotic Gifts: Nomia

Sex. They say it sells. And many establishments sell it in a crass, pandering manner. Nomia, however, is the opposite. They offer, instead of pushing. They educate, instead of perpetuating ignorance. They support, instead of abandoning. Everybody has their own individual, unique desires, and the women at Nomia work hard to help you discover and enhance yours. Bring your partner. Say it’s a lark. Open a conversation. “Honey, you know what I always kind of thought about?” You’ll be in the right place.

Nomia | 24 Exchange St #215, Portland | http://www.nomiaboutique.com/

 

Best Furniture Store + Best Vintage/Antiques Store: Portland Flea-for-All

There are two kinds of shopping: The kind where you know what you need and where to get it and don’t have time for too many distractions, and the kind you do at a place like Portland Flea-for-All. That is, the kind where you’re not looking for a particular furniture item, but shopping for shopping’s sake, hoping you’ll find something great. Here, you most likely will. They have all the appeal of the kind of flea market you drive down the road looking for the sign for, in a downtown location. Grab a few bucks and stop by. That end table or settee will just jump into the back of your SUV.

Portland Flea-for-All | 585 Congress St, Portland | http://portlandfleaforall.com/

 

Best Haircut: O2 Salon

Nobody wants to appear vain. Many of us can be heard saying, “I don’t care how I look. I basically just roll out of bed.” But the truth is, we want to look appealing to each other, and, deeper truth, each of us puts work toward that goal. To the extent that caring for your hair and hairstyle is a part of that work, don’t spend too much time researching salons. O2’s motto is ‘We love hair,” and they prove it with every cut and color. You will feel just plain hot.

O2 Salon | 605 Congress St, Portland | http://www.o2salonmaine.com/

 

Best Head Shop: The Blazin’ Ace

People have been known to drive for hours with Portland as their destination, with the sole purpose for their trip being to visit the Blazin’ Ace. You don’t develop that kind of devoted following without an amazing inventory, fair prices, knowledgeable and friendly and helpful staff, and chill-as-the-night-breeze atmosphere, all of which these guys have managed to develop. Glass from them is especially recommended.

The Blazin’ Ace | 432 Fore St, Portland | http://www.blazinace.com/

 

Best Jewelry Store: D. Cole Jewelers

Try walking into a national-chain jewelry store with a hasty 3 a.m. sketch and saying, “I dreamt I saw this around my lover’s neck last night. I have to have it.” They’ll probably cast a furtive glance toward the security guy before putting on a vapid expression and very nicely telling you to go to hell. You don’t want that. You want D. Cole’s ability to say, “Yes, we’ll email you a few drawings by the end of the day,” along with the tasteful beauty of their regular selection.

D. Cole Jewelers | 10 Exchange St, Portland | https://www.dcolejewelers.com/

 

Best Musical Instrument Store: Buckdancer’s Choice

Guitar guys. Buckdancer’s Choice is where you find them. These dudes have been around forever, and they’ll set you up, if you’re willing to put in the time, dedication, work, and love, with an instrument that suits you. Because a guitar (or bass, or mandolin, or ukelele) is not just something you own. It is a way of life. Like the man says, you’ve got to know what key you’re playing in. Start here.

Buckdancer’s Choice | 248 St. John St, Portland | http://www.buckdancers.com/

 

Best Pet Supply Store: Planet Dog

Planet Dog is the Portland hub for dog lovers, end of story. From their Halloween doggie costume contest to their frequent adoption events sponsored by local shelters, to their retail floor that is reminiscent of an F.A.O. Schwarz for dogs, among many other well-engineered cogs in a canine-devoted wheel, they are your destination when you have your pet in mind (or in the back seat). And the people? They share your affinity for the illustrious four-legged, and they love it when you stop in.

Planet Dog | 211 Marginal Way, Portland | http://www.planetdog.com/Company-Store

 

Best Place to Get Pampered: Soakology

You’re trudging, nearly unconscious from stress and exhaustion, through an endless desert. Each step is more soul-crushing than the last. What’s that up ahead? Another of your addled brain’s mirages? No, it’s an oasis. It’s Soakology. Hallelujah! Go in and partake of the limb massages, foot soaks, aromatherapy, teas both exotic and ordinary, and the calming, nigh-life-saving atmosphere created by these purveyors of the chill. That last hundred miles of Sahara? You got this.

Soakology | 511 Congress St, Portland | http://www.soakology.com/

  

Best Shoe Store: Fleet Feet

For running and walking, Fleet Feet espouses a philosophy of complete fitness. Mark that word. This company’s ‘Complete Fit’ refers to both the proper fit of your shoes, and the kind of fit you will be, if you join their educational programs and sponsored races, going out on your own all the while and keeping your body in motion. Buy your shoes here, and worries about blisters, pinching and premature deterioration of your footwear will all be a thing of the past.

Fleet Feet | 309 Marginal Way, Portland | http://www.fleetfeetmainerunning.com/

 

Best Sporting/Outdoor Goods Store: L.L.Bean

From the time Leon Leonwood Bean invented his waterproof boot to prevent his hunting trips from being invaded by wet socks, L.L. Bean has been the top source (ask any Mainer) for outdoor gear, nationwide, bar none. As time has gone on, they have only improved. Whatever your pursuit, they have clothes to fit. And in case you need a few pointers on your hunting, fishing, kayaking, hiking, camping or any other ‘ing’ you can do outside, take a look at their classes and clinics. This store is the whole kit and caboodle.

L.L. Bean | 95 Main St, Freeport | https://www.llbean.com/

 

Best Wine/Beer/Liquor Store: RSVP

If alcohol is a part of your life, you’ll always want to try kinds you haven’t had before. Even longtime favorites fall by the wayside eventually, in favor of something that suits a more mature you. Maybe that’s what you’re in the market for. Or maybe you just got a rec from a friend, and you happen to be in the Woodford’s Corner area. You know where you’re going to end up: RSVP Discount Beverage. Because no matter what it is, it’s not a matter of whether they have it. It’s just a matter of where in the store it is.

RSVP | 887 Forest Ave, Portland | https://www.rsvpdiscountbeverage.com/

 

 

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