Best Outdoor Dining in Portland

10 Best Outdoor Dining Spots For Enjoying True Open Air Maine Splendor

Outdoor dining in Maine is truly an experience of beauty and taste. Maine restaurants captialize on the environment in many ways. For generations, DeMillo's on the Water has offered some of the best, signature harborside dining in Portland. Patrons sit at metal framed tables and chairs on the deck of the restaurant's iconic ship, watching the mix of pleasure and working craft as they enjoy some of the best seafood in town. Similarly, J's Oyster and Portland Lobster Company ( offer breathtaking views of Portland Harbor with delicate ocean breezes and the sound of gulls and other sea birds stirring the appetite. For some of the best in Maine coastline dining, locals and visitors alike turn to The Lobster Shack at Two Lights. Nothing fancy here - just good, honest sea shack dishes like lobster rolls and fried clams to enjoy. But the menu is made even more special with expansive views of the rocky shore, surf roaring against huge granite boulders. For those seeking to enjoy people watching opportunities in Portland, El Rayo Taqueria, Duckfat and Silly's offer casual but delicious patio dining. Meanwhile, Le Petite Jacqueline and Five Fifty Five take upscale outdoor dining to new heights of excellence. Finally, Bintliff's American Cafe has superior breakfast dining within one of Portland's most trendy neighborhoods.  


Photo courtesy of Duckfat

Opened by the owners of Hugo's, one of Portland's choice upscale eateries, Duckfat has become a favorite with both the lunch and dinner crowd in Maine's largest city. Their much beloved specialty here are hand cut Belgian Fries cooked in, what else, duck fat. The result are some of the crispiest, chunky fries you will ever enjoy. Accompanying these specialty fries are choice gourmet dipping sauces including Thai Chili Mayo, Truffle Ketchup, and Smoked Mussel Mayo. Yum! Don't overlook the rest of the menu, however. Consider, for instance, their hot and crispy Panini sandwiches with varieties including Corned Beef Tongue Reuben, Oven Roasted Turkey, and Duck Confit. Dessert is also a treat with a fine selection of Gelato floats, Churros and milkshakes. For those seeking something a bit more adventurous for their lunch or light dinner menu, Duckfat is definitely worth a try.

Local Expert tip: Check out Duckfat's website for daily menu specials.

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Petite Jacqueline
Photo courtesy of Petite Jacqueline

The fine folks at the much praised Five Fifty Five have done it again with Petite Jacqueline, their newest entry into Portland's vibrant restaurant scene. Think fun French when it comes to this exciting eatery. The atmosphere is relaxed, casual, a classic bistro environment. The menu is reasonably priced with light fare that is both tantalizing and savory. Each dish is prepared with an eye toward the attractive but with equal emphasis on delighting the palate with fresh and tasty foods. Among menu standouts are Seared Local Fluke with capers and butter; Boeuf Bourguignon, a French classic featuring Burgundian Beef Stew, mushrooms and fresh Maine potatoes; and Saumon A La Poele with pan-seared salmon, mustard creme fraiche, and crushed fingerling potatoes. Gourmet desserts include Creme Brulee, Petite Gateau Chocolat, and ice cream are not to be missed under any circumstances. Whether a casual night out or something more foodie focused, be sure to visit Petite Jacqueline.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to ask about the specials of the day for some great meals.

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Bayside American Cafe
Photo courtesy of Bintliff's American Cafe

Since opening its doors in 1990, Bintliff's American Caf�as become a favorite with foodies throughout Portland and beyond. Their brunch, which is served every day, brings this cuisine standard to new heights of gourmet status. Consider, for instance, their Dark Chocolate Waffle featuring a mix of Belgian waffle batter blended with rich, smooth dark chocolate and served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Equally tempting is their Orange Graham French Toast made with select Tuscan bread dipped in orange batter and coated with graham cracker crumb crust. Equally tantalizing are such brunch classics as Seafood Bisque with crab, scallop, and haddock; Grilled Shrimp Cocktail; and Grandy Oats Granola and Fruit Bowl featuring organic granola, fresh cut fruit, vanilla yogurt and honey drizzle. Prices average $10 - $12 per serving and the atmosphere is decidedly upscale but comfortable.

Local Expert tip: Check their website for daily specials.

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Five Fifty Five
Photo courtesy of Five Fifty Five

Five Fifty Five's owners, Steve and Michelle Corry, bring a wealth of culinary and restaurant experience to their Portland eatery and it shows. Their expertise and passion have created one of the most distinctive and highly acclaimed restaurants in the city. Their establishment's atmosphere is comfortable and inviting, their menu features locally sourced food that is delicious and prepared simply but attractively, and the service is polite and professional. Menu standouts include truffled lobster mac and cheese, three-day marinated hanger steak, and savory lemon goat cheese-panna cotta. Desserts are equally tantalizing and include pumpkin brown betty and chocolate maple torte.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to sample the dessert offerings - some of the best in town!

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Portland Lobster Company
Photo courtesy of Portland Lobster Company

This place is the real deal for lobster lovers. Nothing fancy, just a casual, friendly place on the Portland waterfront serving up some of the best lobster and seafood available in Maine's largest city. The lobster, in particular, is a standout. It is consistently fresh, succulent and made to order. Variations include their classic Maine Lobster Dinner served with baked potato or French fries, corn on the cob, homemade coleslaw and drawn butter. Also worth diners' indulgence is the Downeast Feast with lobster, steamers, corn on the cob, homemade coleslaw, French fries or baked potato and butter. Portland Lobster also features a nice selection of other seafood offerings including Fried Haddock, Fried Maine Shrimp, Fish and Chips and Lobster Roll. The Portland Fisherman's Platter is a real treat with Maine Shrimp, Clams and Haddock. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere has a welcome summer barbecue feel. Great for adults and families.

Local Expert tip: Portland Lobster Company's outside patio dining is a great summer treat.

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The Lobster Shack at Two Lights
Photo courtesy of The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

There are few places that compare to The Lobster Shack at Two Lights for both delicious seafood fare and surrounding scenery. The views from this modest, casual establishment in beautiful Cape Elizabeth are truly worth savoring with rocky shoreline, the steady rhythm of waves, the nearby lighthouse and foghorn, and intoxicating fresh sea breezes. Equally pleasing is the fresh off the boat seafood offerings at this remarkable eatery. All of the favorites are here including Lobster Roll, Lobster Dinner, Haddock Plate and Shrimp Plate. The Lobster Stew and Clam Chowder are both thick and hearty with lobster and clams in every bite. Vacationers, especially, are in abundance at The Lobster Shack during the summer season. Families can be seen enjoying the shoreline vistas from picnic tables while sampling the diverse menu. Inside, there is a cozy dining room for more intimate dining.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to avail yourself of The Lobster Shack's outside picnic tables for the full lobster by the sea effect!

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J's Oyster
Photo courtesy of J's Oyster

For oyster lovers, as well as fans of local seafood specialties, J's Oyster is a little bit of heaven right in Portland. Owner Janice "J" Noyce has gone to great lengths to create an upscale eatery that is also comfortable, friendly and, most of all, specializes in great seafood. Just about every oyster specialty can be found at this restaurant, located right alongside the Portland Pier. Lunch and dinner menu favorites include Baked Stuffed Oysters with a moist, flavorful stuffing; Oysters Rockefeller with spinach, cheese and bacon; and Oysters Mornay with hearty Swiss cheese topping. J's Oyster also does a fine job with other seafood classics such as their exquisite Broiled Haddock Filet served with rice, Scallops with Lemon and Dill served over Angel Hair pasta, and their special Crabby Janice � a classic crab casserole with spinach and crumb topping. During warm weather, dining on J's Oyster's patio overlooking Portland Harbor is a real treat. The wait staff is efficient and polite.

Local Expert tip: Check out J's Oyster's dinner specials, offered on a daily basis.

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DeMillo's on the Water
Photo courtesy of DeMillo's on the Water

For those who equate the best seafood meals with proximity to the water, then DiMillo's on the Water is the restaurant for you. This iconic Portland eatery floats atop the busy waters of Portland Harbor, offering spectacular views of Casco Bay. It's location near the Old Port upscale shopping district makes it an even greater destination for discerning diners. DiMillo's features quality, fresh seafood prepared with continental flair. Most of their offerings � from lobster to shrimp and fish � feature catches purchased the very same day from the Portland docks. It just doesn't get much fresher. Service is a hallmark of this fine dining establishment with staff that are both knowledgeable and courteous. Top menu choices include their Pecan-Encrusted Haddock with butternut squash and cornbread stuffing, topped with a savory maple cream sauce; DiMillo's Style Lobster Mac & Cheese featuring fresh lobster with bowtie pasta in a smooth, creamy lobster Marscapone cheese sauce with Cognac; and their traditional Twin Lobsters � each weighting a tasty 1 1/8 pounds � that can be baked, stuffed or steamed.

Local Expert tip: Be sure to review DeMillo's on the Water's website for daily dinner specials. Also, DeMillo's can host large parties and dinners.

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