The Tourist’s Ultimate Foodie Guide: Winter 2016

Happy new year, everyone! I hope you had an amazing holiday season, and are ready to eat until you burst in 2016, because that’s currently my plan. Lucky for me, I was able to eat my way through Portland for four straight days with one of my closest friends from home! Her visit basically turned into going out for almost every meal, while trying to finish the inevitable leftovers. Needless to say, I was able to give her the true Portland foodie experience. Bon Appétit, guys!

miyake bento boxMouth Watering Sushi:

No matter what time of year it is, there’s always space on your itinerary for Miyake. Whether you go with the classic Bento Box special, or indulge in the delectable sushi, chances are you’re going to have a magical experience. Fresh ingredients mean some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. When you want sushi that leaves you speechless, or a bento box that’s truly magnificent, Miyake is the place to bring your tourist friends or anyone that appreciates truly amazing sushi.

paitan ramen pai men miyakeFor Your Noodle & Ramen Fix:

Pai Men Miyake

I know I’ve had a little bit of a complicated history with Pai Men, but it has grown on me. And on the coldest day of her visit, ramen and steamed pork buns had never sounded better. Our thirty minute walk from my West End apartment, all bundled up in sweaters, scarves and snow boots was well worth our spot at the bar. Their lunch special ensured we could both order exactly what we wanted, which is good, because my friend had serious food envy over my spicy tuna rolls at Miyake. Combine ramen, pork buns and sushi and you have an extremely filling meal. Which is fitting, because we had to trek back to my apartment afterwards. Pai Men always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, especially in the fall and winter. Living within walking distance from it is a nice perk too!

sur lie composite brunchPortland’s Best Weekend Brunch:

Sur Lie

When you have special friend in town, it’s easy to impress them in Portland. There’s no denying that there’s a lot of really great restaurants you can go to. And don’t even get me started about how many places are offering brunch now. Every time I think I’ve tried all the brunches, another new one starts. But my go to that I knew my friend would love is Sur Lie. Brunch is one of the most perfect meals for small plates, and we all know that Sur Lie truly excels at the small plates game. The worst thing I can say is you will probably order too much food, and end up with quite a few items to take home with you. Add in the mimosas, and you’ve got my favorite brunch spot in Portland, by far.

tomato soup little tap houseThe Late Weekday Lunch:

Little Tap House

LTH has been on my list as a consistent place to hit for brunch, lunch or dinner since I’ve lived in Portland, and there’s a good reason for that. From their lamb burgers to lobster omelets at brunch or just for a good old fashioned grilled cheese and some tomato soup, everything is consistently great. The location helps too, since it’s just a short walk from my apartment in the West End. Top that off with their create your own lunch specials and you’ve got the makings of a great weekday lunch! I recommend the aforementioned grilled cheese, though my friend enjoyed the fried egg concoction (no longer on the lunch menu) a great deal.

bao bao beet cocktailBecause You Can’t Go Wrong With Dumplings:

Bao Bao Dumpling House

It’s no coincidence that Bao Bao Dumpling House is up after LTH, since they are basically right next to each other. Bao Bao was our original destination, but sometimes you just can’t wait. If you haven’t made it to Bao Bao, you’re missing out. Innovative dumplings, some serious cocktails and a great atmosphere makes this a favorite spot for most Portlanders. From a first date to a fun place to bring your parents who are in town, Bao Bao is always a smart choice. Learn from my mistake though: they are usually pretty busy, so don’t arrive last minute or you’ll have to wait!

deep fried cookies pb and meFor The Best Deep Fried Cookies You’ll Ever Have:

The Rink at Thompson’s Point @ The PB&ME Food Truck

Thompson’s Point is one of the best places to go in the winter right now, and it’s only partially because of the ice skating. Don’t get me wrong, the warming room, yurt and skating are fun. But the real star of the show has to be the deep fried cookies that you can get from PB&ME. I mean, I was already a fan of them because of their focus on peanut butter and jelly and using it creatively (hello, thai peanut wings at the first Street Eats & Beats) but I had no idea that I needed a deep fried cookie. Specifically, a deep fried chocolate chip cookie. Oh, but you do need this. You won’t be able to skate afterwards because you’ll be so full, but it’s worth it, trust me. It’s ooey, gooey, chocolatey, and warm. And there’s really nothing like that first bite…you might even go back for more. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: it’s deadly and you will die and go to heaven.

For Chilly Nights When Only Hot Chocolate Will Do:

Bar of Chocolate

I am a huge Bar of Chocolate fan. It’s my go to for girls night out, birthday’s and New Year’s Eve or even just happy hour. No matter the reason, this is a must! Bar of Chocolate has some of my favorite cocktails in Portland..there’s really nothing out there that can beat their Chocolate Martini for me. And yes, I’ve tried plenty of other cocktails at other bars, but theirs is always my favorite. But if you don’t want to go the cocktail route, they also make a lovely hot chocolate. You can go the fancy way and get it spiked with raspberry chambord (for a cool $14) or stick with the classic with peppermint schnapps. After a long day of walking around the Old Port and seeing the sights, there’s just nothing better than walking in and sinking into a rich, decadent hot chocolate!

blueberry cornbread slab brunchWhen You Need A Hangover Cure On Sunday Morning:


Enjoying the Old Port is a must, no matter your age, but sometimes it’ll catch up to you. If you can handle it, leave your bed on Sunday morning and go to Slab for their brunch. You know you’re in the right place when one of the menu items is called the Hangover Wedge. Slab makes a great pizza (at least if you like it thick and doughy) so their brunch is just as scintillating. Recommended: blueberry cornbread served with a whipped orange butter and the mushroom wedge. But hey, let’s be honest here, chances are high that anything on Slab’s brunch menu will make your hangover disappear. Especially if you top it all off with a $4 mimosa!

kamasouptra jalepeno beer cheddarSoup To Warm The Soul:


There’s no doubt about it, I’m a soup fiend. From tomato soup as the perfect pairing with grilled cheese to hearty stews and chili, I love it all. So obviously, if you’re in Portland, Kamasouptra is the place to get a warming lunch or dinner. Their soups are hearty, warm, and most importantly, delicious! I haven’t met a soup I don’t like there, and it’s one of the only places I go for lunch when I’m at work for my Friday treat. The Clam Chowder is an award winner, so that’s always a good call, but my favorites include the Red Pepper and Gouda, or the Sweet Potato Corn Chowder, though every flavor is great.

chicken parm dutchsToo Legit To Quit:


The only other place I frequent for my Friday lunches is Dutch’s (yes, I’m a creature of habit sometimes). But there’s a really good reason for it: Dutch’s is just really good. First of all, don’t get me started about the Chicken Parmesan sandwich, which I swear is life changing. It takes Chicken Parm to a whole other level of amazing. You have to taste it to understand what exactly, I’m talking about. See above picture to start drooling! But even if you don’t order that sandwich, their other offerings like the Pulled Ham and Roasted Turkey are damn good! After all, on a cold Portland day, sometimes the only way to warm up is with a good soup and sandwich.

brisket chili terlinguaTerlingua: 

Brazilian BBQ & Meats

It may be a shock to some but there’s a lot going on outside the Old Port. From the East End to the West End, Portland has an extremely diverse restaurant scene right now, and it’s only continuing to grow. Case in point, there’s Terlingua, a new(ish) addition on Washington Ave. With Brazilian fare and smoked meats, this is a menu that’s killer for lunch, brunch or dinner. On a cold winter night, their Brisket Chili truly warms you from the inside out. With just the right amount of heat and a smoky piece of bread with honey butter, you’ll leave warmed, inside and out! Which, let’s be honest, is kind of a big deal when it’s winter in Portland!

green elephant noodlesGreen Elephant:

For The Vegetarian 

You’ve got to love Portland for having so many different kinds of places to try. There’s Vinland for the Buy Local crowd, Local Sprouts for vegan and vegetarians, and then there’s the Green Elephant, which is exclusively vegetarian and vegan fare, but Asian Fusion cuisine. Granted, I’m not vegetarian or vegan, and have no plans to give up meat. However, Green Elephant is the kind of place that anyone who loves food will be quite comfortable in. There’s a strong focus on noodle and rice dishes, as well as stir fry dishes. There’s lots of fresh vegetables, as well as tofu based items, but everything is accessible, which I appreciate. The flavors are strong, and the food is just as good as anywhere that serves meat on their menu. Sometimes, it’s nice to travel outside of your comfort zone. My taste buds are thanking me for this one!

portland hunt and alpine club cocktailsNationally Acclaimed Cocktails:

Portland Hunt & Alpine Club

When a place is well loved, word tends to spread. In Portland Hunt & Alpine Club’s case, it spread all the way to being named one of the 5 Best New Cocktail Bars in America in 2014 by Bon Appétit. What does this mean? It means that there are some great cocktails and libations to be found here, for one thing. Their drink menu ensures that there’s something for everyone. From bubbly concoctions like the White Noise to the daily punch, these are beautifully handcrafted drinks. They also have a late night menu, meaning you’ll have to leave a little bit of room for food after the drink! The popcorn is a favorite of mine, and seems to be the perfect pairing for every single drink on their menu!

ocho burritoOutrageous Burritos That Also Taste Amazing:


Yeah, burritos are usually nothing special, I get that. You’ve had one Chipotle burrito, you’ve had them all, right? Not exactly. Ocho is…the Otto of burritos. Which makes sense, because Ocho is owned by the owners of Otto Pizza. Hmmmm. They bring their high quality to the burritos, with a little twist. These aren’t your average burritos. Where else are you going to find a pork cider braised burrito? Or their new special which is basically poutine in a burrito. Yup, we’re officially not in Chipotle territory anymore!

With all of these recommendations, it’s hard to find an excuse to stay inside this winter! Did I miss your favorite spot for the season? Let me know on Twitter, Facebook or email!

Sarah Gelber

About Sarah Gelber

A recent graduate from the University of Southern Maine, Sarah has always had a passion for food. Follow her escapades around Portland, trying every new restaurant in her path! Conquering Portland, one meal at a time.