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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 saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: October 21, 2014

Dining Guide: 5 under-the-radar restaurants to visit during Harvest on the Harbor

While a handful of Portland restaurants get all the food-press love, there are other, excellent places to dine. If you’re a visitor in town for Harvest on the Harbor, we suggest you consider these lesser-known local stars.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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

Bartender Jenny Williamson pours a glass of wine at Blue Spoon on Munjoy Hill. Press Herald file photo

Bartender Jenny Williamson pours a glass of wine at Blue Spoon on Munjoy Hill. Press Herald file photo

Blue Spoon

89 Congress St., Portland | 773-1116 | bluespoonme.com | $$$
Chef owner David Iovino has developed a loyal following at his intimate, Munjoy Hill bistro. Much of the menu, which changes frequently, is locally sourced and Iovino’s dishes sing with flavor. House-made charcuterie and the bistro burger get raves. 4:30-6 p.m. daily is Wine Time, with specially priced wines and small plates.

The Salt Exchange on Commercial Street. Press Herald file photo

The Salt Exchange on Commercial Street. Press Herald file photo

The Salt Exchange

245 Commercial St., Portland | 347-5687 | thesaltexchangerestaurant.com | $$$
This stylish downtown bistro offers compelling fare done in the haute American style of contemporary classics. At lunch the varied menu offers such dishes as a fish taco, chicken club, and excellent char-grilled burger. The dinner menu makes the best of local ingredients, well prepared. The drinks menu includes inventive cocktails and a special collection of American bourbons and whiskeys. The restaurant offers free parking at dinner in the adjacent parking lot, a great convenience in this heavily trafficked area.

East Ender on Middle Street. Press Herald file photo

East Ender on Middle Street. Press Herald file photo

East Ender

47 Middle St., Portland | 879-7669 | eastenderportland.com | $$$
Sharing a street with some of Portland’s restaurant superstars is this quintessential gastro-pub, with a lusty, varied menu of creatively prepared fare. Must-haves include the deviled eggs, the lobster poutine, trout fritters, the East Ender burger and a very good lobster salad sandwich. The drinks list is extensive, with local beers on tap and bottle. On Wednesdays, the restaurant offers half off all wines sold by the bottle.

Emilitsa in Portland's Arts District. Press Herald file photo

Emilitsa in Portland’s Arts District. Press Herald file photo

Emilitsa

547 Congress St., Portland | 221-0245 | emilitsa.com | $$$$
Check your expectations of Greek food at the door. Demos and John Regas have created a rustic, special-occasion dining experience for Portland food lovers. Mediterranean flavors appear in hyper-color at this small eatery, and if you close your eyes, you can almost feel the Greek sun on your face. Hours and tables are intentionally limited and intimate, so call ahead to avoid disappointment.

Outliers Eatery in the West End. Press Herald file photo

Outliers Eatery in the West End. Press Herald file photo

Outliers

231 York St., Portland | 747-4166 | outlierseatery.com | $$$$
Outliers Eatery is as good as Portland’s dining scene gets. The atmosphere balances modern austerity with welcoming charm; the location is neighborhood-y with a harbor view. Parking is easy, the staff is professional and charming, and the food is thoughtfully prepared with a balance of freestyle and control. The menu winks at diners with literary sensibilities, but never dips into obnoxiousness.

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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