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Some of them are famous, having been featured on TV shows like Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Others are known only to the locals who regularly occupy their stools and booths, seeking pie, coffee and the comfort of familiarity. In Maine’s increasingly cutting-edge culinary landscape, diners are old-school stalwarts, turning out hearty breakfasts, chowders and meatloaf for legions of fans.
A few weeks ago, we asked readers to recommend their go-to Maine diners. Based on those responses, and our own research, we compiled a guide to great stops for comfort food from Wells to Ellsworth. If we’ve missed your favorite, please let us know in the comments.
12 S. Main St., Andover | 207-392-2253
Everything is homemade here, right down to the English muffins and the ketchup. Owners Melissa and Walter Smith use local ingredients whenever possible and in the summer, add weekend dinners to the year ’round breakfast and lunch schedule.
530 Coldbrook Rd. | 207-942-4878
There may be some who question whether Dysart’s is a diner or a truckstop. Let’s just think of it as a very large diner, because in look, vibe and menu, that’s what it is. It’s open 24/7 and serves breakfast any time. The signature dish is Dysart’s famous chicken pot pie, “baked in a buttery, flaky crust.”
957 Union St. | 207-842-3430
Festooned with 50s kitsch and serving up huge portions of American classics, this is a diner that would make Fonzie feel right at home. So would throwback dishes like American Chop Suey and the menu items that come on pink cafeteria trays.
18 Franklin St. | 207-284-0015
Maine’s oldest diner was recently taken over by chef Chad Conley, a veteran of top Maine restaurants who has no plans to significantly change things at the Palace. Yes, the banana bread is made with brown butter and there’s pork belly in a version of the BLT, but the menu honors the diner’s long history.
257 Main St. | 207-647-04009
Bright colors, vintage decor and an old Wurlitzer playing Buddy Holly and Elvis add to the appeal of this local favorite.
101 Pleasant St. | 207-721-1134
The little red diner car has been a beacon for travelers along Route One since World War II. Not much has changed: each table still has a jukebox and the breakfasts are still legendary. As are the lobster rolls.
151 High St. | 207-644-2495
Look past the strip mall location to find a little bit of authentic Americana in downeast Maine. And you’ve got to love a diner that still has creamed chipped beef on toast on its menu.
3 Bridge St. | 207-582-4804
One of Maine’s best-known diners looks the part, but the menu goes off the reservation into dishes with European and Asian influences. Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” especially liked the mojito-glazed duck.
27 Oak St.| 207-774-9713
Fans rave about this urban diner in the heart of Portland’s Arts District. Not much has changed since it opened in 1941; it offers old-fashioned comfort in the midst of the food-crazed city.
140 Marginal Way | 207-210-6673
A piece of Portland history, the diner was moved from its original location in 1964 and donated to the city in 2004. Thanks to Mainer Tom Manning, the circa 1949 Worcester diner car has been fully restored and continues to serve up diner classics to locals and visitors.
171 Ocean St. | 207-799-7199
The atmosphere here is straight out of a Woolworth’s luncheonette, circa 1955, with low stools that are comfy for anyone. The owner/chef is known for delighting children by making pancakes in any shape they could ask for, as well as doing tricks and jokes.
9 Q St. | 207-767-0299
Popular with families, Q Street has a stack of games, puzzles and coloring books to keep kids occupied and plenty of room to spread out. Fans rave about the perfectly cooked eggs.
11885 Atlantic Highway | 207-832-7785
A beacon of comfort food for Route One travelers since 1927, Moody’s is a Maine treasure. Locals and tourists flock to its counter and booths for homemade, reasonably priced food, including the renowned chowders, roast turkey dinner and of course, pie.
1495 Atlantic Ave. (Route 1) | 207-832-6144
Moody’s may get all the accolades, but just up the road is tiny Deb’s, locally beloved for biscuits, mac and cheese and fried chicken. Deb does all of the work herself, so service may not always be quick, but fans say it’s worth the wait.
972 Benton Ave. | 207-660-6478
Bonnie’s is the sort of place where locals fill their own coffee cups and everyone seems to know each other. A landmark for more than 40 years, it’s also a favorite of Colby College students. Breads, muffins and doughnuts are all made in-house and the baked oatmeal is a specialty.
2265 Post Rd. | 207-646-4441
It’s all about the seafood at this Southern Maine icon, where the chowder and the lobster pie have both won national acclaim. But there’s plenty of classic diner food here too, and the pancakes are also legendary.