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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: June 25, 2014

Dining Guide: 5 places to find great barbecue in Maine

Written by: Susan Axelrod

For full listings and more restaurants, see the new searchable Restaurant & Bar Guide.

The dining room at Buck's Naked BBQ in Portland. Press Herald file photo

The dining room at Buck’s Naked BBQ in Portland. Press Herald file photo

Buck’s Naked BBQ

50 Wharf St., Portland| 899-0610 | | $$$
If you crave meat, Buck’s Naked BBQ Steakhouse offers it in all forms. With a clear understanding of Portland’s foodie sensibilities, Buck’s expands the barbecue experience to include international influences, and the menu offers a few interesting options for the vegetarian and fish-loving crowd. The atmosphere is fun, kid-friendly (in a non-obnoxious way), and the staff is hilarious. Two more locations: 568 Route 1, Freeport and 4 Turning Leaf Dr., Windham.

Salvage BBQ on Congress Street in Portland. Press Herald file photo

Salvage BBQ on Congress Street in Portland. Press Herald file photo

Salvage BBQ

191 Congress St., Portland | 553-2100 || $$$
At Salvage — so-named because of its location in the former Portland Architectural Salvage building — wood floors shine, the high ceiling is lined with minimalist light fixtures, retro chrome kitchen tables offer seating at the front, and family-style benches accommodate larger parties (or shared smaller parties) in the back. Festive string lights add fun, and there is a lounge area near the front windows. The Texas-style barbecue and sides — all top-notch — are delivered on paper-lined metal trays, adding to the authentic appeal.

The bar at Elsmere BBQ in South Portland. Press Herald file photo

The bar at Elsmere BBQ in South Portland. Press Herald file photo

Elsmere BBQ & Wood Grill

448 Cottage Rd., South Portland | 619-1948 | | $$$
Elsmere is not just a BBQ joint, it’s a neighborhood restaurant that’s keen on giving back to the community and sticking around for generations. Owners Adam Powers and Jeremy Rush work the line every night, are eager to be part of the South Portland family of restaurants and take a lot of pride in their product. The bar scene is cozy and pleasingly boisterous. Patrons come to watch the game, drink beer, but most of all, chow down on excellent BBQ. There will likely be a 30-minute wait on weekend nights.

Beale Street BBQ

215 Water St., Bath | 442-9514 | | $$$
Memphis-inspired in name, decor and barbecue style, Beale Street draws fans from Bath and well beyond. Elvis fans will have fun with the memorabilia at the bar, while lovers of serious barbecue will appreciate the smoky meat, slaw and traditional sides. But the menu offers other options, too, including crab cakes, jambalaya, baked haddock and Buffalo wings.

Mainely Meat BBQ

15 Knox Rd., Bar Harbor | 288-9200 | | $$$
Mainely Meat offers proof that good barbecue is not confined to southern Maine. Run by the same folks who brew beer and make sodas at the Atlantic Brewing Company right next door. the casual restaurant, with picnic table seating inside and out, is an easy choice for lunch after a brewery tour. Fans rave about the pulled pork and the ribs. A second location, Mainely Meat on Main, is at 193 Main St., Ellsworth.

Key to prices

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

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