With over 600 food establishments in greater Portland, deciding where to eat can be daunting. To get an idea of folks' true opinions, I canvassed five knowledgeable and respectable individuals in the food industry and asked them a number of questions about dining out.
Nicholas Verdisco, Executive Chef at Bolster, Snow, & Co., has an extensive culinary background, making him a go-to guide for Portland dining.
“I live in SoPo and Taco Trio really hits the spot. I feel good about the food there, the prices, and the people working too. In Portland, I really like Honey Paw. I am constantly surprised by the food. Great service and drinks. My only wish is that the space lent itself to staying longer. It's eat, drink and go — but still a great bite of food.”
Kevin Gravito, the chef at Rose Foods, known for outstanding bagels and other deli delights, has his own thoughts on where to eat:
“I haven't been able to eat out as much as I would like lately. Unless it's take out, then it's a few times a week. I tend to stay local when eating out. My favorite restaurant in Portland is Izakaya Minato. The food is beyond delicious and always satisfying.”
Max Brody, Owner/Executive Chef of the Buxton Common Restaurant (an anticipated spring opening), owned a celebrated restaurant in Western Mass called the Night Kitchen:
“We've ventured to The Treehouse, which we enjoy thoroughly. We had a great meal at Hugo's, but I can't justify the cost of going back. All the high-end places are guilty pleasures, but it's hard dropping more than two weeks' worth of grocery money on a meal these days. Taco Trio, Local 188, and Hot Suppa are our favorites for cost, value, and service. They do an all-around solid job.”
Patrick O’Reilly, owner of O’Reilly’s Cure in Scarborough.
“I eat out about three times a month and usually in Portland. Besides my own restaurant, I’d have to say that EVO is my favorite. Chef Matt Ginn takes great care in preparation and the flavors are amazing.”
Guy and Stella Hernandez are the owners of Lolita on Munjoy Hill. Guy can be found in the kitchen, while Stella takes command of the front of the house. People still talk about Bar Lola, their first restaurant in Portland.
“Our family’s schedule can be the biggest challenge, but we try and treat ourselves every two weeks or so. Our most recent great dinner was at Izakaya Minato with our son — warm service and absolutely delicious food. There's always something fun to try if you're feeling adventurous and the standbys of JFC (Japanese fried chicken) and Udon Vongole never disappoint.“
Personally, my go-to restaurant in Portland is Pai Men Miyake. It’s two blocks from my apartment, I can always get a seat at the bar or chef’s counter, and the food is consistently delicious. There are enough choices to satisfy my culinary desires, but I can live on Ramen. And their hot sauce knocks my socks off.