On a recent road trip, the primary goal of which was to travel to both Mexico and Sweden in one day – the Maine towns, that is – a friend and I found ourselves looking for lunch options in Bethel. Almost every place we found was open only for dinner, and we were on the verge of getting hangry when a resident took pity on us and told us about The Suds Pub, a hidden treasure on Main Street which we might otherwise never have discovered.
Despite the fact that The Suds Pub is located at basement level, underneath Bethel’s charming Sudbury Inn, it has pretty good natural lighting, thanks to a large skylight. The pub is surprisingly large, with plenty of seats at tables or at the unusual bar, featuring normal-height chairs and a sunken area where the bartender stands. The overall vibe is one of a ski chalet – fitting, considering its proximity to Sunday River Resort – thanks to lots of wooden paneling and décor such as skis, snowboards and ski posters. There were even a few old wooden skis.
The Suds Pub is Bethel’s premier site for live music and has a stage for performers. It runs an open mic night on Thursdays beginning at 9 p.m. and has acoustic performances on weekend evenings. The kitchen is open late (and offers takeout), serving food until 9:30 p.m. midweek and 10 on weekends. When there’s not a musician performing, music is played at a reasonable volume that still allows for conversation.
Our visit got off to a good start, with a super-friendly and attentive bartender who also waited on the folks at regular tables. My friend ordered the $8.50 spinach salad, which came with mushrooms, hard-boiled egg, bacon and the perfect amount of honey Dijon salad dressing. I had the $10 steak sandwich, which contained onions green peppers, and cheddar Jack cheese, along with a glass of white wine for $10.50. Both items were pretty traditional in terms of ingredients, but were generously portioned and tasted fantastic.
The seasonal beer menu features 29 beers on tap for $5 or $6, many of them from New England; the wine menu offers five house wines at $6 a glass, plus five whites ranging from $7 to $10.50, five reds ranging from $7 to $8 and a prosecco for $8 a glass. There was no cocktail menu (sniff), but there is a full bar with the usual hard liquor suspects.
The rest of the food menu deserves a mention as well, with more than 10 appetizer options ($4.50 to $18), three soups ($7 to $9), six burgers ($10 to $14, including a bison burger, a veggie burger and bunless options), four salads (including mini options beginning at $6), eight sandwiches ($9 to $15), nine entrees ($7 to $25), 10 pizzas ($7 to $22) and six $7 desserts. There are also two $6 kids meal options for children 12 and under.
The Suds Pub is the kind of place where everyone feels welcome and can spend a relaxing time enjoying good conversation and even better food over a drink or two. If you’re passing through Bethel, it’s definitely worth a stop.
WHERE: 151 Main St. (downstairs at the Sudbury Inn), Bethel
PHONE: (207) 824-6558
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to closing, daily. Kitchen serves food until 9:30 p.m. midweek and until 10 p.m. on weekends.
AMENITIES: Ski chalet décor and a wide variety of delicious pub food and beers on tap.
BOTTOM LINE: Great place to come with a large group, to hear live music and/or to have some really great pub food in a laid-back environment.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No