Portland, Maine Dining Guide: A Foodie Paradise By the Sea #savortheroad

Several restaurants in Portland, Maine, made our 2015 Summer Road Trip Restaurant Guide, so we were thrilled that contributor Nevin Martell was able to visit this past weekend and share his personal Portland, Maine dining guide – a city he calls a foodie paradise by the sea. Read on for delicious inspiration for your trip to the Forest City this summer. 

Walking around Portland’s charming Old Port neighborhood overlooking the picturesque Casco Bay on a simmering July afternoon, I could taste the salty tang of the Atlantic on my tongue. As the sun worked up my thirst, the sea breeze whetted my appetite with every step. Luckily, there were plenty of options for satiation nearby.

In the last few years, Portland’s food scene has undergone a stunning transformation from being staid and sleepy to an electric mix of praise-worthy culinary ventures that have rightfully earned a bounty of buzz. Much of this revolution is happening by the port. Wherever you look in its crosshatch of cobblestone streets, you’ll spot someplace to sup or sip. Don’t feel overwhelmed. Exploring the seaside district is easy to do on foot. Plus, you’ll want to walk off everything you’ve eaten, so you don’t outgrow your wardrobe by the end of your trip.

Scoring a table during the high season can be tough, so I recommend making a reservation to ensure you can eat your way through your vacation’s culinary bucket list. Case in point is Fore Street, which boasted a 45-minute wait just to dine at the bar on the Wednesday night I visited. A reservation meant skipping the hang time and digging right in. Chef Sam Hayward presides over a humming open kitchen, turning out seafood every which way, thoughtful charcuterie, offal, prime cuts, and a bounty of seasonal produce in stripped down presentations that flatter the natural flavors.


My meal began with perfectly plump wood-fired Maine mussels in a pool of almond-rich melted butter served with plenty of bread for sopping. That was followed by a decadent tartine starring roasted tomato sitting on a throne of buttery puff pastry and coronated with a puff of goat cheese mousse. A steaming hot, small cast iron pan arrived with seared pork belly, crispy on the top and buttery smooth throughout. Summer squash sautéed in lard, more-butter-than-potatoes whipped spuds, and horseradish-zested roasted cauliflower rounded out the array. Definitely one for the record books.

To kickstart myself the next morning, I made a pilgrimage to The Holy Donut. These aren’t your average rounds. The puffy bangles are made with potatoes, which adds heft without making them as dense as cake doughnuts. One regular round came glazed with Allen’s coffee brandy – a buzz times two – while a sweet potato doughnut was dipped in a redolent ginger glaze. Though they’re not as sweet as a Krispy Kreme, it was still nice to cut through the sugar rush with an icy cold brew from nearby Coffee By Design.

Continue Reading

2015 Top 100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America + 10 Most Instagrammable Outdoor Seating Areas

Summer travel season is almost here! Fire up your Google Maps app. Hit up Priceline for travel deals. And get ready to make the most or your vacation or staycation dining with a meal at one of the OpenTable 2015 Top 100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America! These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Highlighting restaurants in some of the nation’s most coveted vacation destinations, the complete list features winning restaurants in 15 states, and includes Frida’s in Lahaina, Hawaii, Geoffrey’s in Malibu, and The Turtle Club in Naples, Florida. Many of the restaurants are associated with picturesque resorts conceived to highlight the natural splendor of their surroundings or situated on prime spots in some of the country’s most beautiful coastal states. Come armed with your appetite and your phone; these restaurants are ready for their close-ups on your summer travel stream. Don’t believe us? Check out 10 of the most Instagrammable outdoor seating settings from this year’s honorees below.


The sunny state of California has 45 winning restaurants, followed by Florida with 18 and Hawaii with 17. Arizona has seven winning restaurants. Nevada and South Carolina have two winning restaurants apiece. Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia are also represented. American fare proves most popular among the winners; however, regional Californian and Hawaiian cuisines are also common, as is seafood.Continue Reading

10 Essential Dishes for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is on Tuesday, May 5, but we’re already craving salt-rimmed Margaritas on the rocks, chips and salsa, and every culinary creation associated with this festive holiday. To narrow things down, we’ve rounded up 10 essential dishes for Cinco de Mayo to tuck into as you celebrate this weekend or on Tuesday (or really any day because — deliciousness!). Whet your appetite and make your reservations!


1. Blackened Fish Tacos at Chef Geoff’s Rockville, Rockville, Maryland
Ingredients: Blackened wild catfish, corn and black bean relish, and avocado crema.
Rave review for Chef Geoff’s Rockville: “We can always count on a perfect meal — from the cocktails to the appetizers to the entrees and if we are able — the desserts! We have never been disappointed and will keep coming for the delicious, enjoyable meals!”

2. Ceviche de Atun Pacifico at Oyamel Mexican Cocina, Washington, D.C.
Ingredients: Honolulu Fish Co. Hawaiian Ahi tuna with Maggi-lime marinade, scallions, avocado, toasted pecans, Fresno chiles, and crispy amaranth.
Rave Review for Oyamel Mexican Cocina: “The food and service were great. The pork belly quesadillas, guacamole, and mushrooms were terrific, as was the tuna ceviche (according to the others I was dining with).”

3. Elotes/Mexican Street Corn at Rosa Mexicano New York, New York
Ingredients: Mexican crema, Cotija cheese, chili powder, garlic, and lime.
Rave review for Rosa Mexicano: “Great take on traditional TexMex, classy environment, and attentive service. Tasty margaritas, too.”


4. Enchiladas de Mole Negro Oaxaqueño at Fonda, Brooklyn, New York
Ingredients: Soft corn tortillas filled with braised chicken topped with a stone-ground Oaxacan black mole, chopped onions, crema, queso fresco, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
Rave review for Fonda: “I love this place. The sauces are so good I want to completely wipe the plate clean with tortillas!”

5. Guacamole at Lola, Denver, Colorado
Ingredients: Handcrafted and served tableside with perfectly ripe avocados, Serrano peppers, cilantro, red onion, garlic, lime, Chimayo chile powder, salt, and pepper.
Rave Review for Lola: “Everything here is great, but their table-side guacamole has got me hooked!!!! Perfect for drinks and apps with girlfriends, or dinner, or brunch! I HIGHLY recommend having a Horchata with rum or Tuaca.”

6. Huevos Ranchero at HECHO in San Francisco, California
Ingredients: Eggs, spicy‏ red sauce, bacon, black beans, crema, avocado, and flour tortillas, served with Mexican hash.
Rave review for HECHO: “We found this place because our friends’ son said he heard about a fried avocado taco. Starting out, the cocktails were great. The server was very attentive, and the food was great. Fun evening.”

7. Husk Merengue with Corn Mousse at Cosme, New York, New York
Ingredients: Corn husk leaves, egg whites, sugar, corn puree, heavy cream, and Mascarpone cheese.
Rave review for Cosme: “All the hype surrounding Cosme is 100% deserved. I can’t stop thinking about the duck carnitas and the corn husk merengue. I think they’re going to haunt me for the rest of my life. The husk merengue was so good we ordered another one after we finished it.”

8. Surf + Turf Molcajetes at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, Boca Raton, Florida
Ingredients: Skirt steak, Spanish chorizo, chicken, and shrimp in a roasted garlic verde sauce.
Rave review for Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar: “The food and service are always great. Love, love, love the slow-cooked pork! Being gluten free is never an issue with these guys. Lots of options for even picky eaters, too.”Continue Reading

2015 Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America — Plus the 10 Most Mouthwatering Brunch Dishes

Just in time to find the perfect place to celebrate Mother’s Day, we’re pleased to announce the 2015 Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Despite the term “brunch” being coined by an English writer, brunch is very much an American institution, thus it isn’t surprising that American fare dominates the winning menus. Restaurants showcasing French, fusion, Creole, Irish, and southern cuisines, among others, are present, as well. Check out 10 of the most delicious brunch dishes from this year’s honorees below.


From restaurants in popular hotels to eateries serving playful spins on brunch staples, the complete list features winning restaurants in 30 states and Washington, D.C., and includes Garden Court in San Francisco, Rosebud in Atlanta, and Sarabeth’s TriBeCa in New York. New York claims the greatest number of winning restaurants with 15, followed by California with 14 and Florida with eight. Washington State has seven winning restaurants, while Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., have five apiece. Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas have four. Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, and Oklahoma all have three winners, and Louisiana, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin have two each. Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah are also represented.

Continue Reading