Vegetarian dinner recs in Portland, Maine?

Onions- I need a crack team of food lovers to help me with this conundrum. I have to drive to Portland Maine and back to Boston on Thursday 7/29. I’m picking up my sprouts who are spending a glorious 2 days with their grandparents up in Farmington. Both grandparents are vegetarian, and neither sprout is old enough to be vaccinated so they are not eating inside restaurants. Thus, we need a rendezvous point in Portland Maine that is:

  • vegetarian friendly
  • Easy to get to
  • Outdoor dining with cover/umbrella ideally as rain is forecast
  • open during the tricky 3-4pm time frame when we’re meeting
  • ideally takes reservations, or at least would not be a long wait

Help me! I had thought that the Middle Street cluster of restaurants would work, but after dining there last night am not so sure. First, the wait for a table at Eventide was 2.5 hours at 6pm. Duckfat was 1.5 hours (neither would have worked for the vegetarians) DH and I decamped to the Honey Paw, which was a reasonable 30 minute wait, and the meal was lovely, but nearly every single dish there has meat or seafood in it, and they don’t take reservations, plus I’ve now eaten there twice in the past month.


Hmmm. We don’t seek out vegetarian meals while in Portland. Still, I can offer you a couple of starting points.

One is this roundup from the Press Herald—check because things may have changed due to the dang pandemic.

The other is Portland Food Map. You can find restaurants by type of cuisine and the list is rather comprehensive. Because you need outdoor dining, I’d suggest calling the place to see what they have to offer. It’s tricky to keep up with that shifting scene.

Hope this helps!

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I wonder if Slab might tick most of your boxes? We’ve gone at off-hours in the summer and we were seated right away. The outdoor space is nice but uncovered, although I feel like there is tree cover that may suffice? We haven’t been since pre-pandemic, so there may be umbrellas out there now. Might want to give them a call if slabs of delicious pizza would appeal to your family.

Edited to add: here’s another option Bayside Bowl. We ate there a few years ago and it was a lot of fun, especially for Spring Onion. But then again, we’re bowling alley types. Veggie options, though I don’t see the tempeh sandwich that I had there previously. They open at 4 pm. I don’t think they have outdoor space but the space is large and I doubt there would be many people in there at that hour. And I totally forgot about Green Elephant which has been slinging dependable veggie food forever but I doubt they have outdoor seating since there’s not much sidewalk. But if the kids like Asian-leaning food (I can’t remember if they do), that’s a solid option. Again, it’s been a few years since we’ve been there.

Another pizza-centric, non-Portland option: Maine Beer Company. Tasty (although not life-changing) pizza, delicious beer, covered outdoor seating with reservations, easy to get to. However, it’s a bit closer for the grandparents, but about 20 min more for you each way. If you do decide on Maine Beer, try to get a table on the patio that is at the back of the brewery building rather than the big tent out front. We found it way more pleasant out there than under the tent but I forgot how the space was referred to in the Resy app. Might be easier to call for a reservation.


My personal knowledge is out of date. A quick Google search for “vegetarian food in portland me” gave a number of results. Note search for “food” vice “restaurants” in order to pick up places that have options without the whole restaurant being veg.

I concur with @tomatotomato Denise that calling ahead is wise. Websites can be out of date and COVID adjustments may not be apparent.

I also concur with you about outdoors with cover/umbrella. When you call ask about that. Tents in parking lots are not outdoors, just uncomfortable.

One thing that popped out at me was the vegan food truck. That makes truck food and a park with a covered pavilion an option. Google returns a lot of options there.

Assume you already looked through eater?

When I’m dining out with vegetarians (which is often), I find that some cuisines are much more inclusive - italian, indian, sometimes mexican (if it’s more modern or Americanized).

But at that odd time, some high quality pizza may be the solution - or a brewery with good food. There’s no getting away from checking current menus and calling, though.


+1 on Maine Beer Company if further afield and a simple meal of pizza is an option. Friendly folks and good outdoor setup. Tables under a tent and also under umbrellas when we went in May.

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Thanks all, super helpful and gives me a starting point. I absolutely anticipate calling each of these places to check the status. Also, to clarify, the sprouts eat everything (and with gusto), and now the weather is looking like it won’t rain til evening so perhaps a takeout plan and picnic bench could materialize. If the forecast holds, we might be able to make Empire Chinese (currently take out only) work…


Thank you. Every time I tried to search eater, it searched the entire site and was dominated by Portland Oregon results. Clearly my search function was not optimized…

If the weather cooperates and you can picnic, we saw a bunch of food trucks up on the Eastern Prom(enade) last time we were in Portland. Panoramic!

A local app designer launched a free app called Food Truckalico to track the location of trucks so you can see what’s where on any given day. Maine magazine has a writeup at #4 in this article.

Now I wish I were riding along. Though you’d probably have to make room for more of us including @digga if that were allowed. :wink:

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Because I am working hard to procrastinate, I looked back at my old Portland posts. Empire first showed up on my radar back in 2019. And I still haven’t made it there. I look forward to hearing about your meal if you have time to report back.

And yes, @tomatotomato, I would go in a heartbeat for 1 excellent meal (and the good company). I’ll even let you ride shotgun.

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With all such sites I use Google not the site itself - “eater Portland Maine” was what I typed in, and these were the top results

The sites don’t invest in search optimization (drives me crazy with CH, which somehow manages to intentionally obfuscate Google search of late)


I agree. A more focused search would be to include the ‘site’ keyword as “portland maine” which will filter out results that include the word “eater” even if not from So for “vegetarian +portland +maine” (the '+'s mean those words MUST be in the articles) you get

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It gave me 112 options for Portland, ME, (90 with outdoor seating) but I cant vouch for any of them.

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Digga! How can you not have hit Empire Chinese yet? I literally begged the owner to open a Boston location a few years ago. Plus, dumplings for the sprouts- always a hit. You must remedy this! Definitely get the honey shrimp with walnuts appetizer. One of those “wow- I would never have put these foods together into a dish, and I’m so glad you did!”

(Although they have not had my very favorite dish in several years- does anyone else have fond memories of the flounder basket? It was a whole flounder, scored and battered and then deep fried in a way that it curved into a basket, which was filled with chunks of flounder. There was a scallion garlic ginger sauce, and maybe some black beans? A treasured food memory is of my sprouts around age 2 or 3 munching on the crispy fish fins.)


That’s a pretty typical dish you can find in many chinese restaurants.

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A Chinese-American dish (that I’ve never had), but there has been a trend towards embracing and lifting up those iconic dishes to another level. Perhaps that is what Empire is doing?

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I never had this dish at Empire but if you would have asked me to describe a typical American-Chinese restaurant dish my answer would have been sweet-n-sour pork or honey walnut shrimps (even though both of them have a background in China - I think variations on the honey-walnut shrimp originally came from Hongkong). The description on the Empire menu reads like a very classic variation with candied walnuts and mayonnaise.
I have to admit I like from time to time a good rendition of americanized dishes like sweet-n-sour pork but I never understood the appeal of the honey walnut shrimp - the mayonnaise feels out of place for the dish.

Well, perhaps owing to years of being steered toward authentic Chinese offerings, courtesy of this board and its predecessor, I never encountered the “classic” typical Americanized Chinese dishes you mention. Regardless, I challenge anyone to eat Empire’s honey walnut shrimp dish and call it anything less than delicious.

Today was largely a minute-to-minute pivot of plans owing to weather & the ever-changing whims of my family. So much preparation; so little follow-through. The day looked like this: I surfed in York on my way up, and arrived in Portland famished. At that point, my mom informed me they actually didn’t want to eat a whole meal mid-day. The planned time frame no longer worked! So I quickly ordered myself a brown butter lobster roll from Eventide and consumed it in about two bites. Delicious. Maybe not quite my very favorite ever (Neptune) but certainly right up there.

Around 3, I got coffee from Bard. Good; but I prefer Speckled Axe. However, in the pouring rain closer was better. Then I took shelter at Blue Rooster Food Company and ordered up a pile of food. Rain paused briefly; we met on the Eastern Promenade and consumed food despite some of us having indicated reluctance to eat. I always get the Charlie Noble and this time they did it as a salad. It’s the kind of salad that lets you get away with eating a whole bunch of cheese, turkey, mayo sauce, and 1000 calories but calling it a “salad.” You know the kind. The vegetarians split a falafel salad (again, a version of the wrap. I like that all dishes can be made as sandwich or salad now). The sprouts split a chicken BLT sandwich. We all ate the excellent tots and fried brussels sprouts.

Then, a stop at the Gelato Fiasco truck for some excellent treats. The dark chocolate noir sorbetto is amazing. It belongs at Burdicks so I can eat it in rotation with their hot chocolate.

I do have to report some disappointment with the food truck scene overall. I was expecting a parking area, maybe some picnic tables, hopefully a restroom, perhaps even a covered pavillion. For all the reports and an app about food trucks, just having several of them interspersed with cars along the side of the road with nowhere to eat seemed a bit anticlimactic. I also checked the app which was mentioned in one of the articles linked above and at least half of the trucks were which listed as there, were not there. If Portland wants to lure people away from Old Port, there needs to be a little more of a destination to make the food truck thing work. Why not set up in one of the parking lots nearby and put up a tent?

On the whole, a tall order but a success. I do love me some Portland in the summer.


Argh, that is disappointing.

Though I’m glad you scored the brown butter lobster roll that you enjoy from Eventide. It’s been forever since I had one of those. Yum.


Even with all the frustrations that sounds like some good eats.