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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: September 3, 2015

Dining Guide: 5 Southern Maine places for first-rate fries

Hot, crispy, salty French fries are a favorite Maine indulgence. Here’s where you can find fries worth every calorie.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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


The signature fries and a shake at Duckfat in Portland. Press Herald file photo

The signature fries and a shake at Duckfat in Portland. Press Herald file photo

43 Middle St., Portland | 207-774-8080 | | $$
When it opened in 2005, Duckfat filled a need Portland didn’t know it had – a desperate longing for Belgian fries fried in duck fat. The menu has maintained its beloved staples (those fries, poutine, paninis, craft sodas and doughnut holes fried in duck fat with caramel and spicy chocolate dipping sauce) while experimenting with a variety of soup, salad and sandwich specials with an honest emphasis on fresh and local ingredients. Reservations are not taken, so plan on long, but well worth it, waits on summer weekends

Nosh Kitchen Bar

Burger and bacon-dusted fries at Nosh Kitchen Bar. Press Herald file photo

Burger and bacon-dusted fries at Nosh Kitchen Bar. Press Herald file photo

551 Congress St., Portland | 207-553-2227 | | $$
Nosh chef-owner Jason Loring uses his culinary training to take sandwiches and other deli-inspired fare to new heights. Meats are butchered, brined and roasted in-house, and everything is over-the-top. Take the Nosh Mac N’ Stack: the “bun” is made of mac and cheese patties, in between are a burger, American cheese, smoked tomato, BBQ sauce, bacon and pickles. You can also get a Slab burger: slices of pizza from Slab, Loring’s other Portland restaurant, replace the bun. The bacon-dusted fries continue the theme; made of Maine potatoes they’re served with ketchup and your choice of 12 sauces.

Pier French Fries

A box of Pier Fries. MaineToday file photo

A box of Pier Fries. MaineToday file photo

12 Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach | 207-934-2328 | No website | $
The most celebrated fries in Maine are available for take-out only, at a walkup window just off OOB’s famous pier. For more than 80 years, the opening of Pier Fries in April has been a harbinger of summer: fans line up for hours to get their first-of-the-season, thick-cut fries, sold by the cup, bowl or signature box (the most popular), doused with salt and vinegar. The shop also sells hot dogs, chicken tenders, and poutine in case you want to make it a meal, but for most loyal customers, the fries are the thing. If you haven’t gotten your annual fix yet, you have until Columbus Day.

Bistro 233

233 U.S, Route 1, Yarmouth | 207-846-3633 | | $$$
New owners have spiffed up this longtime local favorite, and added the addictive Italian cheese fries to the menu. Hot, thin and crispy, prinkled with asiago cheese, sage, oregano and truffle oil and presented in a cone, they make a perfect bar snack. You’ll also find creative cocktails, a good selection of local beer on tap, a well-curated wine list (1/2 price bottles on Sundays and Mondays) and imaginative takes on comfort food. Tuck into a rich cottage pie, braised beef short ribs or seafood jambalaya; the menu also includes burgers, sandwiches, salads and an excellent French onion soup.

Po’ Boys & Pickles

Sign at Po' Boys & Pickles on Forest Avenue in Portland. Press Herald file photo

Sign at Po’ Boys & Pickles on Forest Avenue in Portland. Press Herald file photo

1124 Forest Ave., Portland | 207-518-9735 | | $$
Three words: Sweet potato fries. Sure, the authentic New Orleans-style sandwiches are the primary draw, and you can get regular French fries, chili cheese fries, gravy fries and  cajun fries too, but do yourself a favor and go for the sweet potato. Other must-tries: the fried oyster po’ boy, roast beef “debris” po’ boy, muffaletta po’ boy, bayou gumbo, and for dessert, coconut macaroons and sticky toffee pudding. Oh, and the vanilla custard milkshake. Eat in and check out the vintage New Orleans photos on the walls or take your Southern comfort food home.

Key to prices

The approximate cost of two breakfast entrees (not including drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up

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