While the old saying, “Half the fun is getting there” rings true for boaters, the destination can be just as important, especially if you are hungry and didn’t pack lunch. The good news is that there is no shortage of eating establishments accessible by boat around Casco Bay.
Even better, they offer enough variety to satisfy just about any preference.
• Got a hankering for fish chowder, a blueberry muffin and homemade pie? Then look no further than the Dolphin Restaurant and Marina on the shores of Potts Harbor in South Harpswell (www.dolphinmarinaandrestaurant.com). The Dolphin also offers lobster dinners, local seafood, and for the meat lovers, hand-cut steaks.
Both the dock and marina have undergone extensive expansion and renovation. You can tie up at the dock, or the friendly marina staff can show you to a mooring and give you a ride in. Best of all, the new restaurant offers fantastic views from every table.
• For lovers of fried food and lobster, there is the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster on the water in South Freeport (www.harraseeketlunchandlobster.com).
The enticing aroma of fried clams wafting over the harbor has drawn us in on more than one occasion. Along with the fried clams and seafood baskets, there are lobster rolls, lobster dinners and traditional grill items for the landlubbers.
Tie up at the Freeport Town Dock, place your order at the window and take in the scenery while you wait. Everything here is cooked to order, so don’t expect “fast food.” You can bring your own beer or wine to enjoy with your meal.
The Harraseeket’s casual atmosphere seems to foster intermingling between locals and tourists. My husband and I enjoy talking with some of the visitors and learning a little about where they’re from, what brought them here and where they’re going next.
• Farther up the coast is Cook’s Lobster House (www.cookslobster.com) at the northern tip of Bailey Island in Harpswell, just beyond the cribstone bridge. The place is expansive, the menu extensive and there’s a wharf where you can tie up your boat.
• At Sebasco Harbor Resort up the New Meadows River (www.sebasco.com), the Ledges offers casual dining with a view, while the Pilot House is a bit more formal, if you consider golf shirts and khakis to be formal.
With limited dock space, you are likely to be put on a mooring and given a launch ride in.
Portland Harbor has a plethora of choices for docking and dining.
• A mainstay on the Portland waterfront is Dimillo’s Floating Restaurant (www.dimillos.com/restaurant/).
With Dimillo’s Marina right there, the staff can probably find room for you to tie up while you have lunch. DiMillo’s offers a broad range of seafood and Italian choices, along with gluten-free options and a kids’ menu.
• Across the river in South Portland, Joe’s Boathouse (www.joesboathouse.com) at the southern entrance to Portland Harbor offers moderately priced brunch, lunch and dinner choices. Check with Spring Point Marina for short-term docking availability.
• Around the corner and just inside the harbor mouth is the Saltwater Grille (www.saltwatergrille.com). Tie up at its dock and come as you are — you’ll see businesspeople, families with kids and locals. There is a kids’ menu, and for the night owls, a bar menu with items served until closing.
For those in the mood for more of a splurge, there are options, too.
• Diamond’s Edge Restaurant and Marina on Great Diamond Island (www.diamondsedge.com) is a popular lunch spot among the Casco Bay boating crowd.
The restaurant offers local fare, fresh seafood and a raw bar; the deck offers breathtaking views of the bay. Reservations are recommended. The marina has 40 slips and a few tie-ups, and a call on VHF Channel 9 will get you docking assistance.
• The Chebeague Island Inn (www.chebeagueislandinn.com/restaurant.html) prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients in creative ways. Dinner is served nightly, lunch every day except Sunday, and there’s a Sunday brunch. The prices of the selections reflect the quality of ingredients and the expertise and creativity in preparation.
If there is room at the town’s Stone Wharf, you can dock your boat or dinghy for a fee. The Chebeague Island Inn also offers moorings and launch service, or you can anchor off the Stone Wharf to the northeast of the ferry’s path and take the launch in for a fee.
The above sampling barely scratches the surface. Points East magazine offers a list of restaurants as part of the marine directory on its website at www.pointseast.com/directory.php. Click on “Restaurants.”
The Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast by Taft, Taft and Rindlaub has docking and dining information for virtually every harbor along the coast.
With a little effort, you’ll find so many options it will take all summer, if not longer, to try them all.
Gail Rice is a freelance writer in Maine. She can be contacted at: