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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: November 24, 2014

Harmon’s Lunch in Falmouth: Serving up hamburgers, hot dogs & fries since 1960

Written by: Ray Routhier
Lunchtime regulars, both young and old, enjoy their orders in the retro interior of Harmon’s Lunch. Gordon Chibroski/staff photographer

Lunchtime regulars, both young and old, enjoy their orders in the retro interior of Harmon’s Lunch. Gordon Chibroski/staff photographer

Life is complicated. Lunch should be simple.

When you grow tired of places with five-page lunch menus, you might want to head to Harmon’s Lunch on Gray Road in Falmouth.

The first thing you notice about Harmon’s is that it’s easy on the eyes. It’s just a little white cottage close to the road, with the words “Harmons” and “Hamburgers” painted on either side of the door.


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Inside, the decor is also fairly simple: milk bottles. Shelves of old-fashioned milk bottles from various dairies ring the little dining room. The dining room is open to the grill area, so you get a clear view of your lunch being made.

Then there’s the simplified food menu: hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, french fries and onion rings. That’s it, until dessert.

The only major choice is whether to have a double or a single hamburger or a cheeseburger. For those of us who often suffer from menu anxiety, this is a nice change.

The loaded (mustard, red relish and fried onions) double cheeseburger and large onion rings. Gordon Chibroski/staff photographer

The loaded (mustard, red relish and fried onions) double cheeseburger and large onion rings. Gordon Chibroski/staff photographer

When I went to Harmon’s on a recent Tuesday for lunch, I just let my instincts take over. It said “hamburgers” on the outside, so I knew I wanted some variation of a hamburger. I chose a double cheeseburger ($5.25) and a half order of batter-dipped onion rings ($2). A single cheeseburger ($2.75) would have been a little small for my burger craving, but the double was perfect.

The beef was tender and fell apart a little, like a burger you’ve made yourself would. It definitely did not have the rubbery texture you get at fast food places.

The bun was particularly good too. It was very soft and I think it had been steamed.

The onion rings, as advertised, were batter-dipped and golden fried, and not too greasy. A half order was plenty for one person. Not that I needed it, but I decided to try one of Harmon’s “old-fashioned frappes” ($4), to go. I got coffee flavor, and I could really taste the coffee. It was also good and thick, which surprised me, because they also sell a “thick” frappe for $4.50. A sign said Harmon’s gets its ice cream from Toots Ice Cream in North Yarmouth.

Some of the enticing ice cream flavors I saw advertised at Harmon’s included grape nut, orange Creamsicle, banana, and peach. One important thing to know is that Harmon’s, in keeping with the simplicity theme, doesn’t take credit or debit cards. A message on the menu board reads: “We made a deal with the bank: They won’t sell any burgers and we won’t extend any credit. Cash only.”

The exterior of Harmon’s Lunch. Gordon Chibroski/staff photographer

The exterior of Harmon’s Lunch. Gordon Chibroski/staff photographer

You don’t need much cash either. People with reasonable appetites can get a cheeseburger and fries for just over $5. A single hamburger or a grilled hot dog are $2.50, each. A family of four could probably have lunch for the price of two adult lunches somewhere else.

The other thing that makes Harmon’s a simple choice is its location. It’s not in a strip mall next to six other eateries. It’s on a stretch of routes 100 and 26 between Portland and Gray by way of West Falmouth.

So people either make a special trip to go there, or they drive by on the way to some place and find themselves drawn in by the exterior’s nostalgic charms.

On the Tuesday I went, the place was full by noon.

Apparently simplicity is in.

HARMON’S LUNCH

WHERE: 144 Gray Road (routes 100 and 26), Falmouth
HOURS: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
WAIT: About five to 10 minutes.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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