Last month I took the long (And I mean LONG… like 15 hours with traffic long) road trip up Route 95 to Cherryfield, Maine. It’s a small town in Down East Maine. and just a short distance in from the eastern seaboard. It’s also not too far away from the Canadian border. It’s really up there! The reason for my journey up to this part of Maine was a family wedding. It’s hard to remember that I used to make this trip up to visit my grandparents, aunt and cousins multiple times a year.
While the car time is exhausting, there is something so peaceful and gorgeous about Northern Coastal Maine. However; I’m not here to sell you on my particular destination (although it’s a pretty great one) today. I’m writing this post to talk about making some road trip stops along the way.
You see, those family members are not the only New England people I have in my life. I find myself on route 95 North quite a few times throughout the year. With SO much time on the road north, it’s easy to get tired of stopping off at the rest stop McDonald’s for a meal.
There are so many great little cities and towns sitting right off Route 95 that make for GREAT short detours to give you that much needed driving break, a little site-seeing, and MUCH better food options.
Today’s road trip write up includes two Maine towns that sit right on Route 95. Their downtown’s are less than a five minutes the highway and they offer some of the best food lover areas in the state. While the two establishments I visited celebrate the tourism and local eats spirit, i.e. seafood; there are options for all palates if you do a little research!
Route 95-Maine Stops that are worth it!
The first stop I’m sharing with you is in Kittery, Maine. It is on the Southernmost tip of the state and it’s the first large town after the big bridge from Portsmouth, NH. After driving too many hours and starving for lunch I took the exit for Kittery and intended to find something,anything to munch on. I had even resorted to thinking I was fine with the dreaded McDonalds if need be (Hey I was getting Hangry!). Lucky for me, I not only stumbled on to a huge onset of outlet stores (that I had to forcibly look away from so I didn’t stop) but quite a handful of local restaurants to select from. Because I was getting fed up with traffic and on the verge of being too hungry to think any longer I pulled into the first large restaurant I saw.
We ended up at Robert’s Maine Grill. I expected a tourist ridden seafood shop with overpriced meals (but hey…It would still be a big step above fast food). However; we were pleasantly surprised. Locals co-mingled among the mid-day shopping crew in the bright and airy restaurant space. The kitchen here takes a slightly different approach to seafood by incorporating a farm to fork approach. Using local Maine purveyors, they put a few unique spins on their menu. But they also include all of the classics like New England clam chowder and lobster rolls.
In addition to great food using local ingredients the restaurant finds other ways to highlight local pride. The walls showcase local artists’ work throughout the restaurant and almost all of it is for sale. They also feature many Maine craft beers which can be sipped in flights or single mug tastings.
The service was pleasant, quick and we were back on the road within 45 minutes. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather spend a few extra minutes getting this experience. Its absolutely above stopping at a roadside port-a-john, eating a greasy hockey puck burger.
Kittery Maine Detour Resources:
The second stop is about one hour into Maine into a city that has quickly become the food-lover hub of Maine. Portland is a coastal city that has really been catching attention for its restaurant scene in past year’s. Even I had known about and was hoping for a spot to sit in the ever popular Eventide Oyster Company for a stop on our trip. Well, they don’t take reservations and at 2PM they still had a line out the door and around the corner. But, if you have better luck than I did, based on food forums, bloggers and reviews I can say Eventide is a great option right off the Route 95 exit.
With no clue where to go now that our number one choice was no longer an option, we asked a parking attendant what his recommendation for a tasty seafood lunch was. He mentioned a restaurant up the street that had valet, great views, and a pretty decent lobster roll. We took him on that offer.
DiMillos on the Water is a restaurant housed in a former car ferry right on the marina in Portland. This restaurant definitely had more of a touristy feel to it. But, you know what? The views were great, the service was good, and the food happened to be pretty dang tasty. My clam chowder was the perfect creamy texture with large hunks of clam and a lot less potatoes (the way it should be!). Another great dish was the clams, they were delicately breaded and perfectly crispy. Lastly, my husband can vouch for that pretty decent lobster roll ad the parking attendant alluded to.
Walkway to the DiMillos boat restaurant
Inside their bar portion of the restaurant
The view from our patio seats
additional patio views
Maine style Lobster Roll
Fried Whole Belly Clam Platter
Their Chowda….are you seeing a food pattern yet? We like Clams, Chowder and Lobster rolls 🙂
This establishment is also only a few minute detour off the highway and if you’re heading up to Northern Maine or Canada this stop should fill that stomach up enough to get you through the next long haul of the drive.
Portland Resources for 95 Detour:
Now you have some great road trip eating options to give you that break you deserve. Oh, and not to mention the much better food. It’s surely worth the extra few minutes!
…all for the love of the dish