The Eastern Promenade at night [Photo by Erik Neilson]

The start of a new semester always brings with it a sense of palpable anxiety, not least due to being hit with an extensive, out-of-nowhere workload after a few months of lounging in the sun. Fortunately, Portland is chock-full of options for hunkering down and getting your study on, and they don’t all revolve around copious amounts of caffeine-laden hot bean juice.


Here are five of our favorite places to grab a bite and hit the books — perfect for when you just can’t bring yourself to spend another chunk of your life holed-up in the library. 


1. Forage Market

The latest addition to Portland’s bustling Washington Ave. neighborhood, Forage Market serves up some of the best bagels the city currently has on offer (and some rather delicious cold brew). Grab a toasted sea salt bagel with caper dill cream cheese and have a seat at any one of vintage tables lining the bright and airy space. When you’re done with the day’s work, celebrate with $1.50 oysters at the Shop Raw Bar & Shellfish Market — located right next door and connected to the building. | 123 Washington Ave, Portland |


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Bagel sandwich from Forage Market

2. The Eastern Promenade 

The Eastern Prom is a Portland treasure like no other, offering seaside vistas unsurpassed by even the best area vantage points. It’s also a great place to study while dining al fresco from one of the many food trucks usually lining the park’s perimeter. On weekends, don’t sleep on the pesto cheddar breakfast sandwich from the SaltBox Cafe, which is more of a tiny house with a working kitchen than your typical food truck.  


3. Quill Books and Beverage 

Westbrook’s Quill Books and Beverage is a chameleon of an establishment — a bookstore, bar, coffeehouse and community room with true vibe and a commitment to offering a LGBTQIA safe space. For lunch, Quill serves an epically satisfying grilled cheese with pickled onions and nduja (spicy prosciutto paste) that is not to be missed. Show up on a Wednesday afternoon and be sure to stick around for Board Game Night when you’re done studying. | 1 Westbrook Common, Westbrook |


4. The Portland Public Market House 

If you haven’t yet made your way into the Portland Public Market House in Monument Square, it’s only a matter of time before you discover one of the best study spots on the peninsula. With ample table space, free WiFi and plenty of vendors to choose from, it’s a “choose your own adventure” of quick and healthy bites that always seems to be in flux. After all, where else can you grab a banh mi, a green smoothie and a tuna hand roll all under one roof? | 28 Monument Way, Portland |


5. Longfellow Garden   

Who said you need to eat your Market House scores inside the building itself? Just across the street from Monument Square sits Longfellow Garden, a pearl of Portland if there ever was one. Lush, walled-in and outfitted with a fair amount of seating, its an oasis from the Congress St. shuffle that exists just steps away from the garden’s entrance. We can’t promise WiFi, but we can recommend this as one the city’s finest green spaces — tailor-fit for settling into that giant textbook you’ve been afraid to open. | 489 Congress St, Portland

Erik Neilson is a writer, musician and passionate foodhead based in Portland, ME.

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