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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at Mainetoday.com. You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the WCHS TV show “207” to talk about...music of course.

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Posted: August 4, 2016

Three Dollar Dewey’s in Portland is a reliable friend with a perfect Turkey Club

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Three Dollar Dewey's

Turkey Club and regular fries at Three Dollar Dewey’s in Portland. (Photo by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

One of the last lines of “The Wizard of Oz” is spoken by Dorothy upon her return from Oz, when the gang is gathered around her bed.

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard,” she says.

I mention this because it rang very true when I visited Three Dollar Dewey’s the other day for a solo lunch. In my quest for something quick and cheap, I set out with the initial urge to find somewhere that was also hip and new, but after several minutes of debate I started to feel a gravitational pull towards to a place that’s been near and dear to my heart since my mid-’90s arrival in Maine.

I’ve never had a bad experience or meal at Three Dollar Dewey’s (knock on wood), and last week’s lunch was no exception. The place was about three-quarters full when I walked in, a mix of locals and tourists. I grabbed a two-top and fought the reflexive urge to grab a bowl of popcorn (it’s free), so as to not spoil my appetite one iota.

I went through the motions of looking at the menu for a couple of minutes, despite knowing what I wanted before I even arrived. The Philly cheesesteak ($8.99), the hickory-smoked pulled pork sandwich ($8.99) and the grilled peppers and cheese char-grilled burger ($8.99) all spoke to me. However, those can all wait until my next visit, or the one after that. In the spirit of “why mess with perfection?” I ordered what I almost always do when I go there: the Dewey’s Turkey Club ($8.99). The club is made with fresh roasted turkey, served triple-decker-style on toasted white bread with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon and mayonnaise.

Did they reinvent the wheel with this thing? Well, no, but that’s what makes it so good –– the simplicity. This sandwich is reliable, satisfying and delectable. For $1.99, I got a side of fries, because that’s what one does when one is stressed about impending car repairs and decides to play the “emotional eating” card. Sitting here now writing this, I’m looking at the menu and thinking that the next time Frida (that’s what I call my car) is in the shop, beer-battered shrimp ($12.99, served with fries and coleslaw) might do the trick as might the buffalo chicken sandwich ($8.99).

I’m also thinking the next visit might have to happen after working hours so that a selection from Dewey’s massive beer list can wash down whatever magnificent food I land on. Dewey’s vibe is casual and, if the Red Sox are playing, it’s usually on one of the TVs. You can grab a table, booth or sit at the bar and have a time of it mingling with regulars who have called the place home for decades.

Three Dollar Dewey’s is comfortable, the food is affordable and there’s zero pretense. We all know that Portland is a hardcore foodie town with new places opening almost every week all with something different to offer. I’m not knocking this, it’s part of what put and keeps Portland on the map. But it’s also good to remember the places that have stood the test of time. Three Dollar Dewey’s is one of those places for me.

THREE DOLLAR DEWEY’S

WHERE: 241 Commercial St., Portland; 772-3310. threedollardeweys.com
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to last call seven days a week
WAIT: About 10 minutes
PARKING: On street
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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