Friday Five: Portland, Maine

2016 is going to bring a lot of exciting changes to the blog. While I like the current layout with big square pictures on the front page, I’ve noticed that one feature I’ve been excited about has suffered as a result: city guides. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be redesigning Misadventures again and making sure that the city guides I publish are accessible and dynamic. To kick that off, I’m publishing this post on Portland in conjunction with a revamped city guide on one of my favorite places in Maine.

Portland wins in a lot of regards. It’s often ranked in indexes of best cities for foodies or best places to raise a family, and all of this is deserved. Having a car on campus this past semester, I’ve taken advantage of what the city has to offer and moved beyond Duckfat and Flatbread to better places.

1.) Bao Bao– Run by James Beard Award winning chef Cara Stadler (who also does Tao in Brunswick), Bao Bao serves up a flavorful selection of dumplings in an intimate atmosphere. I met a friend who lives in Portland here one night for dinner and we split the Beef and Yellow Curry, Shao Mai, and Lamb, Black Bean Chili and Peanut dumplings. Though I don’t know much about Chinese food, I can say that these dumplings are made well and are the kind of food that make you feel full and nourished. Plus, the food is really cheap and one of the best restaurants for value in the city. 133 Spring Street, $

2.) ArabicaArabica’s Free Street location ranks as one of my top five coffee shops ever, alongside Red Barn, Coastal, Cicileo, and Small World. Big, open windows, jazzy music, and great coffee mean that one hour reading a book here can turn into four. Their espresso is bold and blends well with milk, or chocolate syrup if you’re more inclined to sweet drinks. 2 Free Street, $

For some of the best coffee beans in Maine, I head to Tandem. I’ve only been to their Anderson Street location where they roast, though they have another on Congress. Their menu is limited to a few espresso drinks and their malt iced coffee, which I recommend, but they make everything well. Sometimes I feel like it’s too hip for me, so I prefer Arabica for the atmosphere, but the beans and drinks still merit a visit. 122 Anderson Street, $

3.) AllagashThough a bit of a hike outside Portland’s downtown, Allagash is one of the city’s many craft breweries and one of the best. Tastings and tours are free, and when I went back in September there was a large crowd and lots of energy: people drinking their flights of beer at the bar, others playing cornhole outside, and people being generally loud and ebullient. 50 Industrial Way

4.) Fore StreetFor more upscale dining in this foodie city, head to Fore Street. Inside, this restaurant is warm and homey, evocative of my aunt and uncle’s New Hampshire kitchen which also aways has great food inside. Though it’s been a while since I’ve eaten there, Fore Street stands out for its variety of Maine flavors and cozy, rustic vibe. 288 Fore Street, $$$

5.) First FridayOne of my first introductions to Portland was during a visit on First Friday, and I still think this is one of the best ways to get to know the city. The first Friday of every month, art galleries open their doors, the Portland Museum of Art has free admission, and students exhibit their work at the Maine College of Art. The streets are busy with people milling about, and it’s a good excuse to get out into the city.

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