In a state where summer feels synonymous with fresh seafood and coastal backwater towns, Maine has built its food scene on the lobster rolls and oyster bars that feed its summer tourist industry. But if you’re looking for reprieve from the seemingly ubiquitous shellfish – or you’re simply not a seafood lover – these establishments enable landlubbers to get the most out of the longer days and warmer nights. With no frills required and no reservations allowed, these dining destinations from Brunswick to Bar Harbor make it easy to eat well with plenty of time to explore all that Maine has to offer. You might even be treated to a blast from the past.
TACO THE TOWN
205 Maine St., Brunswick, 632-4740. On Facebook.
California-raised taco connoiseur Tai Choo already boasted a cult following before he opened the lime-green food truck that draws crowds to Brunswick’s town mall. Inspired by his family’s home-cooked Mexican fare, Choo serves up a variety of Mexican street food provisions, from pineapple-infused pork tacos to vegetarian-friendly sweet potato burritos. Hailed for its authenticity and hospitality, Taco the Town hosts a steady clientele of Brunswick residents and college students once it opens each season in May. In the summer months, the taco joint serves local neighborhood events, like the farmers market and Movies in the Park, when residents and tourists alike line up for a taste of Choo’s authentic Mexican cuisine. Head to the green Tuesday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to taste it for yourself.
HODGMAN’S FROZEN CUSTARD
1108 Lewiston Road, New Gloucester, 926-3553. On Facebook.
Nestled in the pastoral Shaker Village area of New Gloucester, Hodgman’s is old-fashioned – the type of 21st-century establishment that doesn’t have a website but rather a thriving Facebook group called “Fans of Hodgman’s Frozen Custard.” There, longtime friends and followers of Hodgman’s commune to post updates on the frozen-custard stand, from the special flavor of the week (recently, red raspberry) to queries on the comeback of the well-loved and much-anticipated pumpkin custard. The rotating flavor sits alongside the parlor’s standard chocolate and vanilla, a classic duo that harkens back to the shop’s early days as a mom-and-pop business with only two flavors on the menu. Not much has changed. Take Route 26 through Gray or enjoy the scenic byway via Route 231. Hodgman’s is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Labor Day.
BUTTERFIELD’S ICE CREAM
946 West Main St., Dover-Foxcroft, 564-2513. butterfieldsicecream.com
Ice cream isn’t the only item on the menu at Butterfield’s, another mom-and-pop type shop that rests smack-dab in the center of the state, near Sebec and Moosehead lakes. A Memorial Day through Labor Day operation, Butterfield’s prides itself on its homemade, hard-serve ice cream alongside its more center-of-the road American pub fare, including burgers, onion rings, milkshakes, wings and sammies. The menu boasts approximately 30 standard and special ice-cream flavors, with classics like Maine Mountain Blueberry and “Daak” Chocolate keeping visitors and nostalgic Mainers alike popping by this roadside attraction year after year. Plop down at the picnic tables or head inside for an air-conditioned dining experience seven days a week, 11:30 a.m. through 9 p.m. (opens at noon on Sundays). Cash only.
SULLY’S EXTRAORDINARY DOGS
Corner of Main and Pump streets, Newcastle, 380-9870. On Facebook.
Named after the owner’s dog, Sully’s Extraordinary Dogs is a pop-up hotdog stand that prioritizes good dogs and better company. The enterprise is generally open on weekdays at peak lunch hours, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the one-man stand rolls out and sets up shop. Offering an array of all-beef, bratwurst, Georgia red hot, kielbasa and Hummel’s natural casing hotdogs, the roadside stand donates a portion of its revenue to local food pantries. Fair warning: There are no tables, so eat in your car or chew the fat with the owner, friendly conversation included.
224 Main St., Bar Harbor. 288-0455. On Facebook.
Americana fare meets coastal charm at this unassuming joint in the heartland of the lobster roll. But a lobster roll is not your standard sandwich, and Bar Harbor’s vibrant seaside community can appreciate that. Reminiscent of a high-school drive-in, Adelmann’s Deli serves up burgers, fries, over 20 flavors of frozen custard, a wicked blueberry pie and, of course, sandwiches. With Acadia National Park only a stone’s throw away, grab some sandwiches to go for a picnic in the park or dine in and enjoy Adelmann’s 1950s-style ambiance. Open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through October.
14 Front St., Bangor. 745-2275. pompeiipizza.biz
Pizza is in the family for the Careys, a Bangor couple who decided to open a “Maine-style” pizza truck after their son’s successful venture, “Pizza Pie on the Fly.” Housing a custom-built mobile oven, Pompeii Pizza sits along Bangor’s waterfront and offers a standard menu of wood-fired, thin-crust pizza options, from margherita and pepperoni to “The Pompeii,” a signature blend of olive oil, arugula, caramelized sweet onions, Parmesan and balsamic reduction. A popular destination for concert-goers and foodies alike, the waterfront draws names like Ray LaMontagne, Pentatonix and the Roots. Come for the pizza, stay for the music. Open May through August, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
525 Main St., Rockland. (207) 691-6800. On Facebook.
Prismacolored parasoles and the scent of the sea mean Thai Tugboat, a stout red outfit opposite Rockport’s ferry terminal. Though lobster rolls are on the menu (the crustacean is the town’s primary export), they are far from the main event. The owners aim to redefine Thai in the Midcoast with their takes on the popular entrees of pad thai, fried rice and curry, all within an arm’s reach of one of Maine’s artistic enclaves. Open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.