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About The Author


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 On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: June 11, 2014

Dining Guide: 5 Portland restaurants known for great cocktails

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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

Boda on Congress Street. Press Herald file photo

Boda on Congress Street. Photo: The Golden Dish


671 Congress St., Portland| 347-7557  | | $$
This “very Thai” restaurant offers Thai home-style entrees, Thai street vendor-inspired tapas, beer and wine, and unique cocktails such as the Thai Basil Tom Collins and the Thai Tea Margarita in a warm, casual atmosphere, with an open-air dining room in the summer. Regulars love the Miang Kum Som-oh pummelo fruit salad served on betel leaves and the seasoned Kanom-krok quail eggs. Food is served until 1 a.m.

Central Provisions

Central Provisions. Press Herald file photo

Central Provisions

414 Fore St., Portland | 805-1085  | | $$$
In the heart of the Old Port, this extraordinary dining establishment presents a menu of international small plates offering fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Standouts include local oysters; foie gras; tuna tartare with housemade sesame crackers; fried Maine oysters with kimchee, cilantro aioli and scallion; crispy chicken with spaetzle; salt-cod crostini; rabbit spaghetti with foie gras butter; and a special suckling pig with an apple vinaigrette, marcona almonds and sea salt. The cocktail program is just as exciting, focusing on “pre-Prohibition” drinks and punches.


The bar is in the center of the action at Grace. Press Herald file photo


15 Chestnut St., Portland | 828-4422  | | $$$$
Multi-level dining and an open kitchen in the former sanctuary of an historic church offer inspiring views and modern American cuisine. Inspired by the ecclesiastical ambiance, the drinks with names like Holier Than Thou, Redemption, and The Saint — just to name a few, are served at the 35-seat circular bar in the center of the restaurant, quite possibly the prettiest place in the city to enjoy a cocktail. A bar menu is also available.


Diners enjoying the good weather outside LFK in Longfellow Square. Press Herald file photo


188 State St., Portland | 899-3277 | $$$
The atmosphere at this gastropub is laid-back and open; the unfussy, reasonably priced food is excellent. It’s contemporary, comfort-style fare. Look for Portland’s creative types in the mix, but visitors and even children (in the earlier hours) will feel like they belong. The specialty cocktails will please those who don’t need their liquor sweet or highly disguised.


The bar at Sonny’s. Press Herald file photo


83 Exchange St., Portland | 772-7774 | | $$$
Sonny’s serves flavorful, well-prepared Latin-fusion cuisine in a funky, comfortable space that’s as popular with those seeking well-mixed cocktails and inventive bar snacks as lunch or dinner. The bar specializes in infusions, displayed in large glass jars and after 8 p.m., the lights dim and the joint gets jumping with night-owls settling in for the evening.

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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