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20 Walker St., Kittery | 451-9511 | tulsiindianrestaurant.com | $$$
At Tulsi, attention has been paid to elegance in a dining room and to good wine, but most of all to complex sauces infused with Indian flavors and heat that make you remember why all those years ago it was so exciting to eat Indian food. Much of the menu, inspired by a broad swath of India’s geography, is intensely spicy, but the excellent servers will advise you if you must avoid it. Named by Travel & Leisure as “One of the Best Indian Restaurants in the U.S.” in April 2014.
22 Pleasant St., Brunswick | 725-9002 | tao-yuan.me.com | $$$
Uncommon food prepared expertly, with special attention to new and complementary flavors, textures and visuals. The results are surprising and enticing. A creative kitchen melds the best of Far East seasonings and food with local ingredients when possible, and seldom gets it wrong. Chef Cara Stadler was named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of America’s Best New Chefs, 2014.
47 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor | 633-1011 | portsofitaly.com | $$$$
Ports of Italy, on the second floor of a building across from the bustling waterfront, feels a world away — especially in the summer months. The menu is a large but not overwhelming mix of Italian entrees, insalate, pasti and antipasti; the pasta is homemade and excellent. A house specialty is porchetta, a thickly sliced roll of moist roast suckling pig studded with herbs. Owner Sante Calandri, a native of Perugia, Italy, is a welcoming and constant presence in the dining room.
31 Elm St., Camden | 207-236-9001 | $$$
The accolades have come from far and wide for this unassuming, yet wildly popular restaurant, where chef-owner Ravin Nakjaroen (who earned a James Beard award nomination this year), incorporates Maine ingredients into classic Bangkok-style cooking. Noodle and rice dishes, stir-fries and curries are all expertly prepared. The down-to-earth decor matches the homestyle cooking.
41 Caterpillar Hill Rd., Sargentville | 359-2486 | elelfrijoles.com | $$
A family-run, from-scratch, Mexican-inspired seasonal eatery with honest food, expertly prepared in all instances, in an atmosphere that verges on joyful. Add to that a commitment to wholesome fare made with the very best ingredients sourced with an eye to ecology and community. There’s a satisfying coherence of mission, setting and food. And it’s all proffered without pretension, irony or holier-than-thou hipness.
The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up