When you visit the northeast coast you expect to be indoctrinated with delicious seafood. That is certainly the case in Portland, where nearly 50 million pounds of fresh seafood is brought into the port annually. While Portland (and the entire state of Maine) is known as the lobster capital of the United States, less than 10% of that annual catch consists of the crustacean. This lends to a town where virtually any and every seafood snack is available within a few miles.

Seeing as there’s over 350 restaurants in our 20+ sq. mile town, we recommend experiencing as many restaurants as you can. Luckily for you, we’ve got five places around town that offer light meals for those looking to fuel up – not fill up – their stomachs.

Award Winning Seafood Chowder

Our first stop is a Portland staple: Gilbert’s Chowder House. Offering four sizes of six different types of chowder, Gilbert’s is the definitive spot for the northeastern soup staple. Of course clam chowder reigns supreme, but their famous seafood chili leaves southerners and mid-westerners alike yearning for more. Visit during the summer and you can even finish your light lunch off with a sweet treat from their in-house ice cream parlor. Located on the Portland waterfront, Gilbert’s Chowder House is a must-visit for those looking to experience an authentic Maine meal.

Lobster on a Roll or a Stick

Portland has expanded immensely over the last decade – restaurants like the High Roller Lobster Company are a main reason for this burgeoning. Starting as a food cart in 2015, the lobster roll savants opened a full restaurant in December of 2017. High Roller lobster rolls differentiate themselves in a number of ways. First and foremost, they offer ten different sauces to give your palette the extra flavor you’ve been missing. Give it an extra kick with their homemade jalapeno mayo, or sweeten your sandwich up with their special sweet relish. Don’t like cold lobster? They have you covered with their house special: the Fried Lobby Pop.

Early Morning Seafood Fix

For our early risers we have just the place for you. Built to feed the local fisherman, Becky’s Diner opens dark and early at 4 AM to ensure everyone in the port is well fed for the day. Becky’s serves their famous breakfast all day (minus a couple options). Don’t worry though – their lobster and swiss omelet is available for you to try at any time of day. Resting in Hobson’s Wharf, Becky’s has evolved into one of the most popular local spots in town. Check it out not only for the food, but for the stories you’ll hear from the table over.

Best Lobster Deal in Town

If you enjoy the authenticity of a Becky’s Diner breakfast then you’d be remiss to not enjoy a night on the Porthole waterfront deck. Also located in the port – Custom House Port to be exact – Porthole is the penultimate Portland hangout year-round. Daily drink specials and live music ensures this restaurant/pub stays busy well past dinner hours. Share their reasonably-priced Twin Lobster special and split their delicious Porthole Lobster Scallop Cake for dinner, then enjoy a drink on the waterfront to end your evening. Much like Becky’s, you’re almost guaranteed to run into a Maine lobsterman willing to share a story or two.

Fresh Seafood Hand-rolls

We end with a restaurant that encapsulates everything that Portland has evolved into in the last couple of decades. Mr. Tuna began as a food cart (sound familiar?), but quickly relocated to a larger venue because their sushi rolls were simply too good. Now nestled in The Market House on Monument Square, Mr. Tuna serves their toro hand rolls to eager customers six days a week. Bon Appetit editor Andrew Knowlton featured the stand in a fairly important article, admitting he had ‘no problem being a walking advertisement for the guy [Jordan Rubin, aka Mr. Tuna].’ After experiencing the scallop hand roll, I can attest to that statement.

Seafood Reigns Supreme

If your curiosity did not implore you to check out the fairly important article above, that’s okay. You simply missed out on 20 different reasons why Portland, Maine was Bon Appetit’s 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. While seafood (read lobster) reigns supreme in the northern most state of the continental U.S., virtually any type of cuisine can be found in this town of 75,000 residents. From magnificent Middle Eastern to eclectic Eritrean, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.