The Winter Warm Up

Well, welcome to another winter in Portland. We survived our first snowstorm of the season, and chances are, it’s icy, cold and slippery all around you. This kind of weather doesn’t exactly inspire me to cook, but it does make me crave soup. Lots and lots of soup. So if you’re cold and can’t muster the energy to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I’m here to help you out! Behold, my favorite soup spots to warm up with.

The Soups:

paitan ramen pai men miyake

Ramen at Pai Men Miyake

Winter and soups just go hand in hand. First up: a hot bowl of ramen at Pai Men. Yes, I’m a bit partial to living in the West End. I love it! You know what I love even more: being just blocks away from a piping hot bowl of ramen at Pai Men pretty much any day of the week. On my last visit, I went outside the box and ordered their special, a kimchi beef ramen. It was spicy, it was hot, and oh yes, it hit the spot. Combined with some dank brussels sprouts, my friend and I were a little bit more prepared to step outside into the freezing cold. Pair with sake, and you’ll be good to go, no matter what time.

Clam Chowder at Gilbert’s Chowder House

I may be lactose intolerant, and you may be sick of hearing me talk about it, but I really love clam chowder. And in the winter, I’ll walk through the cold, snow, sleet, and ice if it means I get to indulge in a giant breadbowl that’s filled with steaming hot clam chowder at Gilbert’s Chowder House. It’s creamy and dreamy for chowder lovers, filled with potatoes, clams, and bacon. On a freezing December or February night in Portland, there’s so much to love about Gilbert’s.


Pho at Huong’s

If you’re looking for bowls of pho the size of your face, go check out Huong’s. When the temperature dips down below 30 degrees, I’m probably thinking about pho and where to get it, and this is one of my go to spots in the winter. Try it with beef, and you’ll have enough food in front of you for about 3 meals, for a very reasonable price. Don’t be fooled by their less than “ideal” location because Huong’s means business, and they intend to fill you up with some damn good pho in the process.

the liberal cup beer cheese soup

If you’re in Hallowell: The Liberal Cup for Beer Cheese Soup

I know that I must have some readers in places other than Portland, so if you’re in Hallowell or nearby, The Liberal Cup will occasionally sell a decadent, creamy beer cheese soup. This Halloween, my friends and I dressed up as the Mystery Gang from Scooby Doo, and before we went out for the downtown pub crawl, we had to fuel up! It just so happens that we all ordered a cup of the beer cheese soup, and then there was silence. You ever have one of those moments where everything just comes together? That’s what happened for us with this soup. Liberal Cup, if you’re reading this, please never stop making this soup, it’s pure perfection.

bamboo bistro beef pho

Pho from Bamboo Bistro

If you’re like me and you work in Westbrook and live in Portland, sometimes it can seem daunting to look for food options. Sometimes on Friday’s, my coworkers and I all get takeout from one place. Recently, we all decided to try the newly opened Bamboo Bistro, which replaced the much loved Siam Square. And yes, it was a cold day, so a beef combination pho it was for me, for only $9.99. As with most pho’s and noodle soups, there was more than enough food for one meal. You really get your money’s worth! What’s even better is the amount of ingredients I got. Yes, you have your typical sides: the cilantro, hoisin sauce, sriracha, jalapenos, sprouts, and Thai basil, but there was a nice proportion of the meat in the broth as well. There were 3 meatballs, and several different cuts of the beef, adding a very light flavor to the broth. Certainly a good choice to try if you’re cold on a winter day!

pho co pho ramen

The Newcomer: Pho Company at The Public Market

Living in Portland, it’s inevitable that there are going to be openings all year long. Sometimes, that means it’s Magic of Christmas time and I’m between shows on one of the coldest and most miserable days in December. Moments like that make newly opened Pho Co. a lifesaver. Don’t be fooled by its small location, because this is pho to remember. So far, the Pho Ramen has warmed my soul with all the typical ingredients in pho bo (meatballs, shank, and filet), delicious pho broth, and ramen noodles. As a lover of pho, I always remember to try the broth minus any of the sauces and add ons that come with it, just to taste the true flavor. This broth has it: a rich, full bodied flavor with a hint of spiciness but a warmth that travels all the way into your bones. And that’s before adding the sriracha, hoisin sauce and standard toppings. If you’re a tea lover, artichoke tea is on the menu, and it’s naturally quite sweet, without some of the bitterness that can come with green tea. For the pho lovers, come try Pho Co.

I hope these pho’s, ramens, soups, and chowders keep you warm all winter! Let me know if I missed your favorites!

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.