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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: March 17, 2015

Dining Guide: Five outside-of-Portland restaurants worth the (short) trip

It’s easy to get stuck in a restaurant rut, visiting the same few places over and over again. And if you live in Portland, where there are so many outstanding dining choices it’s also easy to forget there are great options outside the city limits. Here are five of them.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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

Frog & Turtle

The Frog & Turtle gastropub in Westwood. Press Herald file photo

The Frog & Turtle gastropub in Westwood. Press Herald file photo

3 Bridge St., Westbrook | 207-591-4185 | thefrogandturtle.com | $$$
Chef James Tranchemontagne has built a loyal following at his quirky (in the best way) gastropub, where everyone always seems to be having a great time. There’s live music on Wednesdays, Fridays and the first Thursday of the month, which adds to the convivial vibe. The menu is a mix of standards and more sophisticated dishes: chicken wings, fried calamari, mussels, poutine, flatbreads, burgers, cheeses and house-made charcuterie, plus plenty of nightly specials.

Foreside Tavern

270 Route 1, Falmouth | 207-781-4255 | theforesidetavern.com | $$$
It’s a cliche to say “there’s something for everyone,” but it’s true at Foreside Tavern, operated by the same owners as Grace restaurant in Portland. The bar scene is lively, with plenty of TVs for sports fans and the leather chairs in the adjacent Fireside Room are a cozy place to settle in with a drink on a chilly night. The menu offers pub favorites, pasta, beef, duck and seafood dishes, as well as burgers and sandwiches. Many items are locally sourced. In the warmer months, the shady patio, complete with a play house for kids, is especially popular.

Bueno Loco

Beuno Loco in Falmouth. Press Herald file photo

Beuno Loco in Falmouth. Press Herald file photo

240 Route 1, Falmouth | 207-619-7057 |  buenoloco.net | $$$
You may be surprised to find exciting, thoughtfully prepared Mayan-inspired Mexican food in a strip mall on Route 1, but that’s exactly why Bueno Loco has a steady local following. It’s a big space, decorated in warm, bright colors, with plenty of seating for groups large and small and warm, friendly service. The excellent margaritas and other cocktails are mixed with fresh ingredients and there’s a good selection of beer on tap and in bottles. The menu includes the expected tacos and burritos, but also chipotle-rubbed pork chops with cojita mashed potatoes, chicken mole and a first-rate burger, made with Pineland Farms’ beef.

Bistro 233

233 Route 1, Yarmouth | 207-846-3633 | bistro233.com | $$$
New owners have spiffed up this longtime local favorite, just off of 295. Now you’ll find creative cocktails, a good selection of local beer on tap, a well-curated wine list (1/2 price bottles on Sundays and Mondays) and a menu of imaginative takes on comfort food. Tuck into a rich cottage pie, braised beef short ribs or seafood jambalaya; the menu also includes burgers, sandwiches, salads and an excellent French onion soup. Thursdays are prime rib night and Sunday’s special is a turkey dinner with all the fixings.

Gather

Gather in Yarmouth. Press Herald file photo

Gather in Yarmouth. Press Herald file photo

189 Main St., Yarmouth | 207-847-3250  | gathermaine.com | $$$
Gather offers gracious, yet casual dining in a historic circa 1860 former Masonic hall, a popular spot for local families. Decorated with farm implements and other rustic elements, the large space has a long table down the middle with smaller tables and booths along one side, a bar on the other. The kitchen is in full view on the former stage. On the menu you’ll find a mix of comfort food and trendy snacks: creative pizzas, braised local beef, buttermilk fried chicken with red eye gravy, deviled eggs, fried Brussels sprouts. Open for dinner and Sunday brunch.

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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