My Top 5 Maine Dining Spots After Photographing

May 12, 2022  |  Maine

Since moving to Maine almost six years ago, I've spent a lot of time exploring the state and photographing it. Because my favorite times to photograph are at sunrise and sunset, I often find myself hungry after an outing. Sometimes before, like when sunset is at around 8:30pm in the summer! I'm often on the lookout for a good place to grab a bite when I'm on my way home from sunrise, or on my way to sunset or on my way home if sunset is earlier. Often, people who know me and are visiting Maine for the first time will ask me where I recommend to eat. I don't pretend to be very high brow when it comes to dining, but here are the places I really like to stop after an outing with my camera, especially when I'm with my wife, or with friends like Kristen Wilkinson or Andy Crawford. This list is in no particular order.

Sea smoke rises from the curface of Casco Bay on a bitter cold winter morning at Portland Head Lighthouse.

Winter Morn at Portland Head Light

Sea smoke, caused by frigid air temperatures moving over warmer water, rises from Casco Bay as Portland Head Lighthouse stands on the headland keeping its watch early on a winter morning. Recent snowfall covers the rocky shoreline while the horizon glows pastel orange and pink through the fog on a day where the temperature measured -14ºF with a -24ºF wind chill.

Becky's Diner, Portland, Maine

Becky's Diner has been serving the working waterfront of Portland, Maine for over 30 years. When I first moved to Maine, I'd been told about it by people I met. So one morning, after photographing a sunrise at Portland Head Lighthouse, I made my way to Becky's for breakfast. It was awesome. They have a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, but I'm sad to report I've never been there for lunch or dinner. Usually I walk in around 7am after having photographed sunrise.

My favorite Becky's occasion was on New Year's Day, 2018. I wanted to photograph the sea smoke we were getting from some extremely cold days, so I planned to visit Portland Head Light for sunrise. My wife, who was then my girlfriend, asked if I minded if she tagged along. I warned her how cold it would be but she said she'd be fine, so we bundled up and off we went. The temperature that day was -14ºF with a -24ºF wind chill. It was blistering cold. Jess's hair froze, my fingers froze working the camera, and we shivered the entire time. When I was finished photographing, we climbed in the car, blasted the heat, and decided to head to Becky's. It was the perfect spot to warm up. We were still shivering as we walked in! I had their Titanic omelette. It was amazing.

Waves wash over the cobblestone beach of Monument Cove on a spring morning in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Spring Morning in Monument Cove

Waves wash over the cobblestone beach of Monument Cove on a spring morning in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Jordan's Restaurant, Bar Harbor, Maine

Whenever I'm in Bar Harbor to photograph in Acadia National Park, Jordan's is my go-to place for breakfast. I usually photograph sunrise along Ocean Drive on the Park Loop Road, so it's a quick shot back into Bar Harbor to get to Jordan's. I love their blueberry pancakes! The last few times I led workshops in Acadia, Jordan's was a regular stop for breakfast, but I've also had lunch there a few times as well. Nothing fancy, just great home cookin'! They've been around for almost 50 years now, so they sure know what they're doing.

After I moved to Maine in 2016, it took me awhile to visit Acadia again, between working at my job at the time and getting settled. One May night, I was finishing up work and looking forward to the day off I had the next day. I decided I really wanted to see the sunrise in Acadia. So I headed home around 8:30pm and started pulling my stuff together. It was a three hour drive to Acadia, so I left at about midnight and drove up. I arrived just before 3am, in the pitch dark. I thought I might be able to get some night sky landscape photos, but there was a cloud cover obscuring the stars. I climbed down into Monument Cove in the dark, found a nice boulder to sit on and just listened to the ocean, the peepers, and then the seabirds as dawn approached. As the sky began to glow, I started getting my gear ready and started photographing. "Spring Morning in Monument Cove", above, is one of my photos from that day. Once I finished up in the cove, and suddenly feeling very short on sleep, I headed to Jordan's to fuel up before driving home for a good long nap!

A small boat floats in the waters of the harbor near Bernard, Maine, on Mount Desert Island. A pier rests in the background, stacked high with lobster traps.

Dory in Bernard Harbor

The southwestern corner of Mount Desert Island, known as The Quiet Side, is the location of this timeless down east Maine scene depicting a single dory tied to the dock in Bernard Harbor. A wharf stands in the background, piled high with lobster traps as the bustle of the day has ended and the harbor now sits peacefully at dusk..

Beal's Lobster Pier, Southwest Harbor, Maine

The first time I ate at Beal's Lobster Pier I was assisting on a photo workshop. The lead instructor had been doing this workshop for a while so he knew where we were going. The first evening, we stopped at Beal's for dinner before photographing sunset in Bernard Harbor. What a place! Great views of the harbor, and the lobster roll I had was outstanding! I go for warm lobster meat with drawn butter on my lobster roll, none of that cold mayo stuff! So good! You wait in line and order at the counter, where, if you're so inclined, you can choose your lobster from the tank. Once your order is placed you go find a table and wait for the call. This place is celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, so be sure to congratulate them if you stop in!

My image "Dory in Bernard Harbor" was taken the same evening I had my first Beal's lobster roll.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse at sunset.

Reflections of Sunset

Pemaquid Point lighthouse is reflected in a puddle on the rocky shore as clouds glow with the late day light on a summer evening in Bristol, Maine.

Shaw's Wharf, New Harbor, Maine

New Harbor, Maine, is just around the corner from Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, which makes Shaw's Wharf the perfect stop for dinner before photographing a summer sunset there. The seafood is fresh- it literally comes in just off the boat. And New Harbor is among the prettiest harbors in Maine. The lobster rolls are outstanding, as are the lobster dinners, and the seafood platters featuring clams, shrimp, scallops, and haddock. It's a great place to stop for lunch or dinner as you explore the Pemaquid Peninsula.

The sky glows after sunset at Bass Harbor Marsh in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Afterglow at Bass Harbor Marsh

Limited Edition

The waters of Bass Harbor Marsh reflect a brilliant sunset on a late spring day in Acadia National Park. Glowing pink, yellow, and orange, the sky is a beautiful contrast to the deep green of the evergreens and marsh grasses below. The pines lining either side of the marsh reach skyward as their fresh scent wafts through the air.

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 prints. Includes signed Certificate of Authenticity.

Side Street Cafe, Bar Harbor, Maine

Lest you think I only eat at lobster piers and diners, I feel compelled to include the Side Street Cafe on the list of my favorites. This is a fun place tucked away on Rodick Street in Bar Harbor, and a popular spot among the locals. Yes they have great lobster rolls, but the story here is their award-winning Mac and cheese. They have six Mac and cheese options. Get a lobster Mac and cheese and get the best of both worlds! They also have great burgers and sandwiches, and some delicious desserts too!

I ate at Side Street Cafe the night I photographed this stunning sunset at Bass Harbor Marsh.

Honorable Mentions

Buoys and rope litter the dock in Friendship Harbor, Maine as the sun rises on a summer morning.

Buoys and Line

Limited Edition

The rising sun bathes Friendship Harbor, Maine, in a warm glow as vibrantly painted lobster buoys and rope lay strewn on the wooden dock. Lobster boats wait, anchored in the harbor's waters glistening with the orange and tangerine reflections of the morning light on this summer morn.

Available as a Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 prints, which includes a signed Certificate of Authenticity with serial number. COA will be shipped separately.

Moody's Diner, Waldoboro, Maine

Moody's Diner has been a fixture on Maine's midcoast since 1927. I've stopped here for breakfast after a sunrise outing, lunch before an afternoon outing, and dinner before a summer sunset outing. The food is outstanding, and service is always friendly. Make sure you save room for their blueberry pie à la mode! My favorite!

A slice of blueberry pie à la mode at Moody's Diner

Moody's Diner's blueberry pie a la mode is by far my favorite dessert of any place I've eaten.

The sun rises over the rocky coastline of Ogunquit, Maine along a path known as Marginal Way.

December Sunrise in Ogunquit

The rising sun burns through a marine layer of fog on Marginal Way in the coastal town of Ogunquit, Maine. As the sky above glows with yellows and oranges, a long exposure artistically captures the movement of water around the rocky shoreline as if painted by an artist's hand, showcasing the wondrous natural beauty of the coast of Maine.

Congdon's Donuts, Wells, Maine

For those of you visiting southern Maine, or for the times I'm down there photographing, Congdon's Doughnuts is always a good stop. Their donuts are amazing, and have contributed mightily to my portly physique! They also have an amazing breakfast menu complete with omelettes and pancakes and more. Well worth the stop, as I did the morning I photographed "December Sunrise in Ogunquit".

So there you have it, my five favorite pre- or post-photo outing eateries in Maine. Nothing fancy, just good food. What are some of your favorites, in Maine or anywhere else?