Buttery lobster rolls and fried clam baskets are what we crave on Maine summer days. But if you’re looking for a respite from hearty winter soups and stews, you’re in luck — not all casual seafood eateries close up for the winter.
111 Cumberland Ave., Portland | 207-619-7565 | No website | $$
At the corner of Cumberland and Washington avenues, you can’t miss this brightly painted seafood shack, festooned with nets, buoys and other nautical objects. Inside, it’s clean, homey and comfortable, an ideal setting for tucking into sandwiches and platters of excellent seafood. Clam strips and fish tacos get especially high marks, and for gluten-free diners, there’s a separate fryer.
1135 Forest Ave., Portland | 207-878-3240 | No website | $$
Susan’s Fish-n-Chips is a local treasure on outer Forest Avenue, having achieved cult status since it opened in 1989. The buoys and other fishing decor straddles the line between charming and junky, but you’re not there for the atmosphere, you’re there for the fried fresh seafood. Homemade tartar sauce comes to the table in a Mason jar with a spoon, the batter encasing your haddock, clam strips or bellies is crisp and greaseless and the fish inside perfectly cooked.
15 Evans St., South Portland | 207-899-4433 | dockseafood.com | $$
This fish market and restaurant has plenty of tables, and a bright, light atmosphere, with lots of windows — a plus for wintertime diners. The menu includes chowders and seafood stews, baked and grilled seafood, but it’s the fried fish that’s the star. The prices are quite reasonable; most lunch plates, with fries and coleslaw, are about $10.
602 Gurnet Rd., Brunswick | 207-729-7300 | gurnettrading.com | $$
Despite its kitschy seafood-shack decor, the Gurnet never feels like a tourist trap; you sense the presence of the water more than see it. The excellent fried clams are shucked on the premises; the lobster roll gets raves, too. The seafood is super fresh and portions are generous.
315 U.S. 1, Kittery | 207-864-2883 | bobsclamhut.com | $$$
Never mind the outlet shopping, Bob’s is reason enough to make the trip to Kittery. Open since 1956, the once tiny shack has grown to include indoor and outdoor seating, and is famous well beyond Maine for pristine fried clams, shrimp, scallops and fish. The clam chowder and lobster stew are equally praiseworthy.
The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up