Here’s what’s new this summer on Maine’s outdoor dining scene (2024)

If you like to eat, this is a very good time to be an outsider in Maine.

With a jump-start provided by the pandemic, Maine’s outdoor dining scene grows and changes every year. Not only do new restaurants open up with patios and decks as standard equipment, but others are using sidewalk or street spaces.There are so many options that you can make your al fresco dining selection based on the view, the kind of food you’re craving or the atmosphere.

Now that we’re officially into summer, here are some ideas for exploring southern Maine’s outdoor dining scene.


Several new restaurants have opened or are opening and offering outdoor dining right away. One is Ocotillo, a brunch spot on Danforth Street in Portland’s West End neighborhood that opened in early April. Run by the same owners as Terlingua, the place serves dishes inspired by Texas and Mexico and can seat about 30 people on a partially-covered back patio. Terlingua on Washington Avenue in Portland also has lots of outdoor seating, including a massive private backyard.

The breakfast and lunch spot Bake Maine in Wells opened in May and has a 40-seat patio in a garden space, with umbrellas and tables. It’s run by the owners of Bake Maine Pottery Cafe in Portland. Backwoods Burger Shack on Gray Road in Gorham is slated to open in early or mid-June, serving specialty burgers from a small building, with all its seating outside on picnic tables.


Here’s what’s new this summer on Maine’s outdoor dining scene (1)

Outdoor seating at Terlingua. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer


If you want to search out places with outdoor dining by cuisine, seafood is a good place to start. A new restaurant called Thames Landing is slated to open in July or August on Thames Street in the Old Port, in the former Helm Oyster bar space. The eatery will have a 32-seat patio and will offer lobster rolls, fish and chips and chowder, as well as burgers and other fare.

The Clam Baron Commercial Street along the Fore River in Portland has reopened for the season, with tons of outdoor seating, including umbrella-covered spaces. The spot also hosts weekly cribbage games. Longtime food truck favorite Mr. Tuna opened its new Middle Street sushi restaurant in Portland’s Old Port recently, with picnic tables for about 20 people. The outdoor area is for take-out service only.


Some other new eateries with outdoor seating that have opened this year includeMagissa, a Greek restaurant in Portland’s East Bayside where Baharat used to be, and Mediterranean eatery Paella Seafood, which moved into the Forest Avenue space that most recently housed Pizzaiolo.Noble Barbecue is planning to move this summer from outer Forest Avenue in Portland to the former Elsmere BBQ spot in the Deering Center neighborhood. The location has deck seating for about 60.



The popular food truck park Congdon’s After Dark in Wells is open for the season and has added a couple of new (to them) trucks. One is Fred’s Fried Dough, which features vegan and preservative-free dough, and travels to spots around southern Maine, including Portland and Westbrook. The other is the Terra Firma Food Truck, using organic lamb and chicken raised at the Terra Firma farm in the York County town of Acton. The food truck park, located next door to Congdon’s Doughnuts on Route 1, also has more picnic tables this year, for about 75 overall. There will be live music Thursday through Sunday.

A new food truck park is slated to open on June 7 in Freeport. Athena’s Cantina Food Park, at 491 Route 1, will feature multiple trucks plus live music and movie nights. At the opening, you can expect to seeAthena’s Cantina, Bowllicious, Cruzin’ Slice, High Roller Lobster Co. and Meet on the Street.

Here’s what’s new this summer on Maine’s outdoor dining scene (3)

Dane Giallongo and his father, Scott, at Terra Firma food truck in Portland last year. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A couple of the new food trucks roaming the Portland area this year include Vintage Dogs, featuring hot dogs from different parts of the country, and Pie-Oh-My, a converted ambulance serving pie at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth.

A new food cart called Gunnar’s Icelandic Hot Dogs is scheduled to start up in June near Congress Square Park in Portland, selling locally produced, traditional Icelandic hot dogs. According to the online “Guide To Iceland,” hot dogs there are made of lamb, beef and pork and are often topped with fried onions, a local sweet and spicy brown mustard, or a mayonnaise-based remoulade.


What better place to eat outdoors than on a Maine island? Or a Maine beach, for that matter? Byers & Sons Long Island Bakehouse, on Long Island in Casco Bay, has a bayside dining area next to the public beach. The place serves pies, cookies, muffins, doughnuts and ice cream and even has beer that you can sip on the deck while you’re waiting for the ferry back to Portland. The Diamond’s Edge Restaurant, on Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay, has outdoor seating on a lawn under shady trees at water’s edge. There’s a marina right there, too, so you can bring your own boat. Or just take the ferry.



Here’s two interesting twists on the idea of rooftop decks, what they can be and what you can see.Luna Rooftop Bar is on the sixth – and highest – floor of the Canopy by Hilton hotel, overlooking the historic brick buildings on Commercial Street and the water and boats in Portland Harbor. The rooftop deck is covered, and there are fire pits and heaters for colder nights.

For a view of Portland you probably won’t find on a calendar or a postcard, try the rooftop bar at Bayside Bowl on Alder Street. The venue is about 30 feet high with views of downtown, Munjoy Hill, Deering Oaks, the Back Cove, and fireworks at Hadlock Field after some Portland Sea Dogs baseball games. There’s a converted Airstream trailer on the roof that serves tacos and other dishes and a full bar. It’s open weather-permitting.

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On a clear day, you can see a lot of Portland from the rooftop dining/bar area of Bayside Bowl. Photo courtesy of Bayside Bowl


Continuing a trend that took off during the pandemic, the city of Portland allows restaurants to have “parklets,” or dining spaces in blocked off parking spaces on the street. So there’s less parking, but more eating.

One great place to find lots of parklets is the Old Port. Consider these places with parklet permits this year: Honey Paw/Eventide and Duckfaton Middle Street; Rosie’s, Mami and Dock Foreon Fore Street; Cheese Louise and Hunt & Alpine on Market Street; and High Roller Lobster Co. and Papi on Exchange Street. Makes for a lively street scene.

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