Let’s face it: Eating in restaurants can be expensive. For many people on a budget, it’s an experience saved for special occasions. There are deals to be had, however, and they don’t have to involve food of questionable quality at all-you-can-eat buffets. These five well-respected restaurants offer regular specials to give your wallet a break.
61 Pleasant St., Portland | 207-761-0135 | artemisiacafe.com | $$$
Wednesday is Spaghetti & Meatballs Night: salad, bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, glass of red wine – $18. You can’t go wrong at this relaxed eatery where evening chef Guy Frenette specializes in classic dishes – many Italian inspired – that are big on flavor and fresh, local ingredients. Groups of up to four will enjoy booths lining the walls of the simple dining room; large parties are seated at central tables. Go hungry and take a friend so you can try a small appetizer, a shared plate of pasta such as pumpkin ravioli, and seasonal entrees – rich braises like pork osso bucco in fall and winter, lighter fare in warmer months.
106 Exchange St. Portland | 207-805-1469 | timberportland.com | $$$$
Half-Price Burger Nights Monday and Tuesdays: Buy one Wagyu beef burger, get the second for half-price. Timber turns tradition on its head with a dramatic dining room and a varied menu featuring fish, duck and pork as well as delicious beef and chicken, with an excellent wine list to match. Don’t miss the tuna tataki starter, a fine introduction to the kitchen’s skill and artistry. At the bar, you’ll find the city’s largest selection of bourbons and inventive cocktails prepared with care by master mixologist Henry Jost.
101 York St., Portland | 207-780-8226 | elrayotaqueria.com/portland | $
$2 Taco Tuesday: All tacos $2 (dine-in only). Creative Mexican fare is served in this brightly colored restaurant, located in a former gas station near the Casco Bay Bridge. Nachos, tacos, burritos and quesadillas are done with flair, including a burrito stuffed with portobello mushrooms and a taco with grilled achiote-seasoned fish. El Rayo’s chilaquiles are casseroles featuring crushed corn tortillas, queso blanco, avocado and crema fresca, with shredded pork or chicken. There’s a full bar with Mexican drinks, and a menu for kids.
50 Main St., Kennebunk | 207-985-0850 | localkennebunk.com | $$$$
Tapas Tuesdays: A changing selection of small plates – $2 each. The menu at Merrilee Paul and David Ross’ contemporary bistro changes weekly to take advantage of local suppliers, who are listed on a large chalkboard displayed prominently in the sleek, playfully-appointed dining room. In the center of downtown, it’s a neighborhood favorite and worth the trip from out of town for interesting cocktails, local beers and sophisticated twists on comfort-food dishes.
326 Route 1, Kittery | 207-439-0300 | robertsmainegrill.com | $$$
Community Supper Tuesday and Wednesday: 3-course meal – $14 with a portion of proceeds donated to a nonprofit. Don’t let the faux lighthouse outside — left over from a previous restaurant — trick you into thinking that Robert’s Maine Grill is a a place of gimmicks and assembly-line fare. Casual in style but not in quality, Robert’s is the contemporary version of Maine’s traditional, large, roadside seafood restaurants. With a locally-sourced menu, rotating list of Maine beers on tap and a spacious outdoor deck, it’s deservedly popular with tourists and locals alike.
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