Ever wonder what the life of a “foodie” is really like? I’ll be honest: it’s probably not that much different from yours. Except a lot of times I have ideas for posts rattling around in my head, and my list of restaurants to try is a few miles long. My friends are usually my partners in crime for trying new places, so they deserve some credit too. But mostly, if there’s an opportunity to go out to eat, I’m going to take it. Here are the places I’ve been frequenting this fall!
I truly love living in the West End. On a crisp fall day, it’s impossibly easy to walk down the street and go somewhere. Sometimes it’s brunch at Caiola’s or a hot cider at Aurora Provisions, or a smoothie from the new(ish) Farm Truck Juice. When I’m not out eating, I’m usually baking on the weekends, but I’m a poor planner. So this will end with me checking local spots like Rosemont and Fresh Approach to look for things like vegetable oil because I’m too lazy to go all the way to Hanaford for one item. Turns out Farm Truck Juice is really just a few short blocks away from where I live, and before buying a smoothie recently, I’d never been there. On a lazy Sunday, a Revive smoothie made with beets, apple juice, organic yogurt, blueberries and blackberries was the perfect companion on a seasonably warm day. I’m not sure which was more vibrant: my smoothie or the gorgeous foliage surrounding me!
Not sure if your Sundays are anything like mine, but it’s a good day when it involves some kind of brunch or breakfast. My boyfriend plays for Casco Bay Sports on a softball team, so after the games, we’ll almost always find ourselves at Samuel’s. Yes, it’s divey, but that’s what I love about it! Not to mention, half price pizzas on Sunday starting at 2 pm. He gets to watch the game(s) and drink beers with his friends, while I finally get to order the pizzas that he can’t stand but I adore (spinach, mushroom, and onion, I’m looking at you). Not only are these pizzas half price, but they are fantastic! I’m all for specialty pizzas like Slab or Otto, but sometimes, I just want a pizza that tastes the way a pizza is assumed to taste. And if pizza isn’t your thing, Samuel’s has a multitude of specials and meals that everyone will love.
Mash Tun is one of those places I had walked past in the Old Port, but never walked into. After a particularly uninspiring meal at the new Mark’s Sports Bar, my boyfriend and I were in need of sustenance, and fast. Enter the $6 burger on the menu at Mash Tun. It’s not much to look at from the outside, but when you walk inside, it’s like being enveloped in warmth. Every beer they serve is local, but it doesn’t stop there. Their menu is filled with local food. Their burger is one of the simplest I’ve tried yet in Portland, and that may be why I loved it so much. It’s a burger patty, pickled onions, and tomato on a hamburger bun. That’s it. Anything else would have taken away from the flavor, making its simplicity pure goodness. Pair it with one of the many local beers available (check out their chalkboard in the back if you think I’m kidding) or one of three different kinds of Mules available: Moscow, Mexico and a Montana.
UPDATE: Rossobianco closed, and reopened in February 2017 as Trattoria Fanny.
I may not love the hyper-localized appeal of Vinland, but it doesn’t change how great a chef David Levi really is. His newest venture as co-owner of Rossobianco is an Italian restaurant that Portland actually needed. Since opening, Rossobianco has served amazing pasta, that reminds me lovingly of studying abroad in Italy. Simple ingredients that are locally sourced. Pasta that makes you stop and just taste the flavors that are swirling around in your mouth is truly a remarkable thing. Yes, Portland has other places to get pasta, but this is just one more spot that must be tried, especially their tagliatelle pasta in Bolognese sauce. I’ll be back many more times to this hip, new West End hot spot.
My boyfriend and I recently celebrated our 3 year anniversary, thanks Tinder! I’ve been all over town at all the well known restaurants, but this was the first time I made it into Emilitsa. From the moment I walked in, it felt homey, cozy and welcoming. Granted, we were the youngest people in the restaurant, but it didn’t matter. Never in my life have I tasted duck breast that was so tender and succulent. If you’re looking for an anniversary spot or just for a dinner that’s going to blow your mind, culinary prowess awaits you at Emilitsa.
Happy Hour/Late Night Bites
Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to find me out almost every night of the week in the Old Port, enjoying some kind of late night menu to go with my impending hangover. These days, my friends have grown up a bit, and a night out on the town can be few and far between. But when we do make it out, Boda’s late night menu is a great stop before the impending walk home. After a night of drinking, their mussels with sticky rice and curry sauce just makes everything better. If you’re not a seafood fan, their $10 pad thai is also an excellent choice. Just don’t be surprised if you keep coming back, because it’s a great spot when you’re looking for something to eat at the end of the night.
Love tacos? Sure you do! Love happy hour and tacos? One of the best places in Portland for both is Taco Escobarr. Chances are, you’ve walked past the line out the door and decided you couldn’t handle the wait. However, this is one of those rare places where the wait is actually worth it. If you find yourself in Portland on Friday night after a long work week, do yourself a favor and try their $5 house margarita from 4-7 pm Monday-Friday. Or if you’re feeling fancy, their specialty margaritas end up being only $7.
My favorites: the Strawberry Jalapeño margarita and the Blood Orange Margarita. Be warned, the Strawberry one is hot, so I hope you like heat! Inevitably, you’re going to need some food to go along with all the margaritas, and Taco Escobarr does not disappoint on this front. Of course the tacos are baller (they better be, since taco is in the name of the restaurant) but my new favorite sandwich has to be their Chorizo Torta. It’s a lot of food, but the chorizo is paired perfectly with guacamole, cabbage, a fried egg and queso, all on spanish style bread. Talk about yum!