At this time of year, restaurants along Maine’s magnificent coastline get most of the attention, and deservedly so. But the many rivers and lakes in our beautiful state offer their own charms, and opportunities for waterside dining.
100 Main St., Saco | 207-571-9562| therunofthemill.com | $$$
Where textile machinery once whirred and clanked, happy patrons now raise glasses of beer brewed just below this spacious pub. Run of the Mill is housed in one of the 19th century brick buildings on Factory Island in the Saco River, which like the old mills, has been cleaned up and given new life. The 14-barrel brewery turns out 23 different varieties of beer — all only available at the pub. A deck overlooking the river, large enough to hold 100 people, is especially popular in the summer.
302 Roosevelt Trail, Naples| 207-693-3759 | rickscafenaples.com | $$$
Now in its 30th year as the entertainment hub of Naples, Rick’s is housed in an old casino building on the causeway, with the waters of Long Lake on either side. The second floor deck and patio are the place to be on a summer day or evening for drinks, a snack or a full meal. The extensive menu lists sandwiches, burgers, Mexican specialties and seafood — including a full lobster dinner. With a full view of the lake and mountains in the background, the sunsets at Rick’s Cafe are breathtaking.
22 Mill St., Freedom | 207-382-3333 | No website | $$$$
Chef Erin French is cooking “traditional, comforting food” in a remote location well worth the 90-minute drive from Portland. The restaurant fills the ground floor of The Mill at Freedom Falls, an impeccably restored former gristmill on Sandy Stream, recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. While the chef’s nightly menu changes mean you can’t set your heart on her deeply satisfying skillet of thyme-infused mussels brightened with lime juice and butter, or parsnip cake with hazelnuts, mascarpone and salted caramel, you can be certain that your own adventure awaits. BYOB (Shop selling wine and beer on premise.)
Fire Road 20, Milllinocket | 888-766-7238 | neoc.com/river-drivers-restaurant | $$$
The restaurant at the New England Outdoor Center offers a spectacular view of Mt. Katahdin across Millinocket Lake. Open every day except Christmas Day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, River Drivers is a popular stop for visitors beginning or ending an adventure in Baxter State Park. Fans rave about the fiddlehead soup, lobster bisque, burgers and reasonable prices; there’s a fish fry on Friday and Saturdays are prime rib night. Much of the menu is locally sourced in season.
1 Bowdoin Mill Island, Topsham | 207-725-0162 | seadogbrewing.com/topsham | $$$
One of three Sea Dog locations in Maine, the Topsham pub is in a renovated mill on the Androscoggin River. Inside, arched windows frame the river view, but if the weather allows, head to the deck, which hangs out over the water and makes a great spot to sip one of Sea Dog’s beers. The menu has everything you expect from a brewpub, and then some: jambalaya, steak and artichoke salad, and a variety of pastas are among the choices you might not expect. If you can’t decide on a beer, order a sampler, allowing you to taste 5 or 10 of the selections on tap.
The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up