Posted: October 31, 2017
9 iconic Maine diners
Written by: Leslie Bridgers
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Diners, with their counter seating, all-day breakfasts and bottomless cups of coffee, are distinctly Northeastern things, and here in the northeasternmost part of the country, we’ve got our fair share of good ones. Here are nine of the most beloved that make worthy destinations for their eggs any style, mammoth pancackes and every kind of pie you can imagine.
Staff photo by Gordon Chibroski
390 Commercial St., Portland
This is a Portland institution, known for its long lines on weekend mornings and as popular stop on the campaign trail for presidential hopefuls looking to snag an electoral vote or two. Becky’s opened on Portland’s working waterfront in 1991 and opens daily at 4 a.m., catering to the unconventional hours of fishermen. It’s got all the breakfast staples, club sandwiches, soups and seafood dinners. Although it’s a destination for tourists, there are plenty of regulars that give this place its authentic local flavor.
Staff photo by Jill Brady
2265 Post Road, Wells
Though only open since 1983, this may be Maine’s best-known diner because of all the tourist traffic it sees from its location on Route 1 and several television appearances, including on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Breakfast foods just get things started here, though they're served all day. More celebrated items are seafood-related, including scallops, a hot lobster roll and an award-winning chowder. The steaks, cheddar chili fries and buffalo shrimp also top the list.
Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette
47 Oak St., Portland
It may be a while before Marcy’s is not best known for the debacle a couple years ago over its owner yelling at a crying toddler whose mother then wrote about it in The Washington Post. But because no press is bad press, it probably has only made the place more popular – much to the chagrin of loyal locals who love the downtown Portland diner’s huge portions, delicious hashbrowns and french toast encrusted in Captain Crunch. Remember to bring cash and be prepared to wait outside.
Staff photo by Gabe Souza
1885 Atlantic Highway, Waldoboro
Maine’s most iconic diner opened all the way back in 1927. It’s become such a sought-after destination that it even has its own gift shop with items featuring its slogan, “When I get hungry, I get Moody!” Started as a cabin rental business, Moody’s still operates a motel, so if you eat till you can’t move, you can see if there’s a bed available, though it will cost you more than the $1 a night it was 90 years ago. Moody’s may be best known for its dessert menu, including a dozen homemade pies, but there’s another five pages filled with seafood platters, gravy-topped dinners and daily specials, from baked beans to shepherd’s pie. Most breakfast dishes are served all day, but not “The Breakfast” (sausage gravy & biscuit, two eggs, cheddarworst and home fries), which is available from 5-11 a.m.
Staff photo by John Ewing
140 Marginal Way, Portland
Since opening in 1949, Miss Portland Diner has served breakfast from three locations in the city – one on Forest Avenue and two on Marginal Way – all from the original Worcester diner car, which got its 15 minutes of fame from a scene in the Mel Gibson movie “The Man Without a Face.” Although the diner serves up all the breakfast classics, as well as comfort food like pot roast, it also puts a modern spin on its omelet selections, such as the “Thai” with chicken apple sausage and sriracha, and the “Planet Fitness,” made with egg whites and veggies, perfect for right after your workout at the gym across the street.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy
3 Bridge St., Gardiner
Another Worcester diner that’s made an appearance on the Food Network, A1 is a classic, located right in downtown Gardiner with counter seating, a selection of cakes, pudding and pies (including those of the whoopie variety) and specials spelled out on a board. Despite its old-school appearance, this diner’s not afraid to get creative with its menu, offering items with Greek, Asian and Italian influences.
Staff photo by John Patriquin
18 Franklin St, Biddeford
This is the most upscale diner on the list, but that’s relative, as it’s still pretty down-home (the tuna melt is among the most raved-about items). The menu here isn’t as massive as the most diners, but still covers the basics – eggs, flapjacks, French toast, burgers and fries. Although the hipster vibe makes it seem more modern, this is believed to be the oldest diner in Maine, first opened in 1927. The current owners reopened the Shevenell Park landmark in 2014.
Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette
9 Q St., South Portland
Tucked away in South Portland’s Knightville neighborhood, with several other streets named for letters (though there’s a bit of a gap between “E” and “Q”), this retro spot isn’t just a place you come upon. But it’s got all the makings of a classic diner, from an other-era vibe to booths, breakfast combos and burgers. It’s the place to go when you want an old-school diner just a bit off the beaten path.
Staff photo by Brianna Soukup
101 Pleasant St., Brunswick
This Worcester diner car originally started flipping flapjacks in the town of Norway before being trucked to Brunswick in 1946. Counter seating and booths complete with jukeboxes maintain the old-time vibe, and the menu features breakfast combos named after famous singers from back in the day, including the Chubby Checker (two eggs, two pancakes, choice of bacon or sausage) and the Billie Holiday (veggie home fries topped with two eggs). You can get them, along with sandwich and seafood platters and ice cream floats, anytime from Thursday to Saturday, when the diner is open 24 hours.