June 14, 2012

2012 Audience Readers' Poll: The Winners

THE TOP THREE VOTE GETTERS are listed in each category: First place, second place and honorable mention. In the event of a tie for first or second place, an honorable mention award was not given. In the category of Best Tattoo Parlor, there wasn't a clear winner for honorable mention.

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Best Place for Family Entertainment: International Cryptozoology Museum

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Best Take-Out Restaurant: The Buttered Biscuit

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The Buttered Biscuit

347 Cottage Road, South Portland

799-5005; on.fb.me/L3dFRm

Check out the daily specials on The Buttered Biscuit's Facebook page, and you'll know this isn't your typical pizza and burgers take-out place: Chicken pot pie, scallop cakes, chicken noodle soup, pasta with sundried tomatoes. Sounds like we all have another reason not to cook dinner.

Second place: Amato's, various Maine locations

Honorable mention: Ken's Place, Scarborough 


Fore Street

288 Fore St., Portland

775-2717; forestreet.biz

For the better part of two decades, Fore Street has had a national reputation as a fine dining spot. Not only is the food great -- with an emphasis on local products -- its location makes it perfect for starting after-dinner strolls along Portland's waterfront.

Second place: David's, Portland and South Portland

Honorable mention: Texas Roadhouse, Scarborough 


The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth

799-1677; lobstershacktwolights.com

The Lobster Shack is everything most people want in a trip to Maine, rolled up in one neat package: Lobster rolls, fried fish, incredible ocean views, crashing surf, dramatic rock cliffs and nearby lighthouses. Parking in this residential area is limited, so considered going during off hours if you can.

Second place: Flatbread Company, Portland

Honorable mention: Saltwater Grille, South Portland 


Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro

608 Congress St., Portland

347-3111; greenelephantmaine.com

This vegetarian restaurant has a definite Asian flair, with items such as peanut curry, Thai basil fried rice and organic green tea noodles. If your idea of vegetarian food is vegetable lasagna, this is probably not the place for you.

Second place: Pepperclub, Portland

Honorable mention: Silly's, Portland 


The Gelato Fiasco

74 Maine St., Brunswick

425 Fore St., Portland

607-4002, 699-4314; gelatofiasco.com

The folks at Gelato Fiasco say they use only Maine milk and natural cane sugar for their gelato, an Italian type of ice cream. The flagship Brunswick store has been open since 2007, but a new Portland location in the Old Port just opened this year. You can also get Gelato Fiasco's product at area stores, including some Hannford and Shaw's supermarkets.

Second place: Beal's Old Fashioned Ice Cream, various locations

Honorable mention: Red's Dairy Freeze, South Portland 


Dunkin' Donuts

Various locations in Maine and elsewhere


Dunkin' Donuts coffee is good ol' reliable joe, no question about it, and you can find a shop almost everywhere you go.

Second place: Coffee By Design, Portland and Freeport

Honorable mention: Starbucks, various locations 


Scratch Baking Co.

416 Preble St., South Portland

799-0668; scratchbakingco.com

Standard Baking Co.

75 Commercial St., Portland

773-2112; StandardBakingCo.com

Two great bakeries with two different vibes. Scratch is a cool little neighborhood place over by Willard Beach, a place where people walk in for bread for dinner or bagels for a beach-side stroll. Standard Baking is on Portland's waterfront, and provides baked goods and sweets to a slew of area restaurants as well as to general folks like us.

Second place: Dunkin' Donuts, various locations 


Eric's Pizza Express

Commercial Street near the Maine State Pier, Portland


These seem to be booming times for food carts and food trucks in southern Maine. Just wander into Fort Williams Park this summer to see what we mean. For the second year in a row, the winning food cart is run by Eric Hughes, a young man in his early 20s who dreamed about serving pizza from a cart -- and made it happen.

Second place: Lola's Taqueria, Brunswick

Honorable mention: Mark's Hot Dogs, Portland 



576 Congress St. and 225 Congress St., Portland

773-7099; 358-7870; ottoportland.com

Otto's famed mashed potato, bacon and scallion pie earned the pizzeria lots of national attention and some food TV spots last year. But it's not just the creative toppings that make Otto great -- it's the chewy crust and fresh tomato flavor that you would imagine your grandmother's pizza to have. If your grandmother made pizza, and was Italian, that is.

Second place (tie): Flatbread Company, Portland

Portland Pie Co., Portland, Scarborough and Westbrook 


Ken's Place

207 Pine Point Road, Scarborough

883-6611; facebook.com/KensPlace1927

Most southern Mainers have their favorite Pine Point seafood place. This year, Ken's wins the clam category. Come to think of it, the building kind of looks like a clam box with the flaps pulled down. Coincidence?

Second place: Susan's Fish-N-Chips, Portland

Honorable mention: The Clambake, Scarborough 


The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth

799-1677; lobstershacktwolights.com

Red's Eats

41 Water Street, Wiscasset

882-6128; on.fb.me/KwEyMw

Again, the Lobster Shack is worth the trip for the surf and view alone. But the lobster roll is great, sporting simple fresh chunks of meat with a dollop of mayo and a pickle. You can get drawn butter if you ask for it.

Second place: Bite Into Maine, Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth 


Buck's Naked BBQ

568 Route 1, Freeport and 4 Turning Leaf Drive, Windham

865-0600; 893-0600; bucksnaked-bbq.com

Buck's has three kinds of ribs -- baby back, St. Louis or Wolfe's Neck -- plus barbecue staples such as pulled pork, pit-roasted chicken and brisket. There's live music on the weekends.

Second place: Famous Dave's, Scarborough

Honorable mention: Norm's, Portland 


Chicago Dogs

285 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough

510-6363; chicagodogsofmaine.com

This hot dog restaurant serves up its signature all-beef Chicago dog, topped with tomatoes, pickles, onions, mustard, homemade green relish, peppers and celery salt. It's also got dogs topped with cheese, chili or kraut, as well as Ruben dogs, corn dogs -- even a non-meat soy dog.

Second place: Flo's, York

Honorable mention: Rapid Ray's, Saco 


Mister Bagel

Various locations


These bagel shops were started in Portland in 1977 by transplanted New Yorkers Rick and Gail Hartglass. So maybe after 35 years, we can say bagels are a Maine food.

Second place: Scratch Baking Co., South Portland

Honorable mention: Dunkin' Donuts, various locations 


Bintliff's American Cafe

98 Portland St., Portland

774-0005; bintliffscafe.com

Bintliff's also has a restaurant in Ogunguit serving brunch, but the Portland location has been brunch central for more than 20 years. When a place has a section on its menu titled "Benedicts," you know it's serious about brunch. The Bistro Steak Benedict sounds particularly brunchy.

Second place (tie): Becky's Diner, Portland

Hot Suppa!, Portland 


Novare Res Bier Cafe

4 Canal Plaza, Portland

761-2437; novareresbiercafe.com

For people looking for new and different beer experiences, head over to Novare Res off lower Exchange Street. Here's a sample of some of its offerings: Youngs Chocolate Stout; Wurzburger Pilsner; Evil Twin Soft Dookie; Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, and North Coast Red Seal Pale Ale.

Second place: Gritty McDuff's, Portland, Freeport and Auburn

Honorable mention: Brian Boru, Portland  


Shipyard Brewing Company

86 Newbury St., Portland

761-0807; shipyard.com

Shipyard seems to be always trying something new. In the past few months, it put out its new Applehead Ale as well as the new Monkey Fist IPA. Plus, it gives free tours of its Old Port brewery.

Second place: Gritty McDuff's, Portland, Freeport and Auburn

Honorable mention: Sea Dog Brewing Co., South Portland, Bangor and Topsham


Pins & Needles

259 Saint John St., Portland, and 193 Main St., Biddeford

774-8282, 284-4828; pinsandneedlesportland.com

Two locations. If you get a tattoo of your girlfriend's name at the Biddeford location, you can think about what else she might like as part of the artwork -- maybe a dahlia or a puppy perhaps? -- as you drive back to Portland. Then you can go to the Portland location and get the extra work done.

Second place: Sanctuary Tattoo & Art Gallery, Portland 


Bayside Bowl

58 Alder St., Portland

791-2695; baysidebowl.com

Bayside Bowl is bowling for the social media/multi-tasking generation. There are bowling alleys, a bar, a restaurant and live music -- all in one spot. No more wasting time driving from the bar to the restaurant to the bowling alley to the club.

Second place: Vacationland Bowling Center, Saco

Honorable mention: Big 20 Bowling Center, Scarborough 


Saco Drive-In Theater

969 Portland Road (Route 1), Saco

284-1016; on.fb.me/LGfZJt

Thank goodness Maine has people who care enough to keep drive-in theaters open. In much of the country, they are extinct, but we've still got choices around here. If you've never sat in the open air experiencing a movie and munching popcorn, you really ought to try it.

Second place: Pride's Corner Drive-In, Westbrook

Honorable mention: Bridgton Twin Drive-In, Bridgton 


International Cryptozoology Museum

11 Avon St., Portland

518-9496; cryptozoologymuseum.com

The world's only cryptozoology museum is right in downtown Portland. Learn about the search for Bigfoot and other beasts that may or may not exist.

Second place: Funtown Splashtown USA, Saco

Honorable mention: Joker's, Portland and Auburn


State Theatre

609 Congress St., Portland

956-6000; statetheatreportland.com

It's hard to beat this restored 1929 movie palace as a place to see live music. Not to mention they bring in everybody from Snoop Dogg to Fiona Apple to play there.

Second place: Merrill Auditorium, Portland

Honorable mention: One Longfellow Square, Portland 



Locations in South Portland, Westbrook and Saco


Cinemagic theaters around here are comfortable and have all the hottest flicks. Nickelodeon (second place) is nice because it's right downtown, and you can't say that about many movie theaters these days.

Second place: Nickelodeon, Portland

Honorable mention: Smitty's Cinema, Biddeford and Sanford 


Portland Stage

25A Forest Ave., Portland

774-0465; portlandstage.org

The largest professional theater in Maine, Portland Stage is constantly presenting new and interesting works. And it's been doing so since 1974.

Second place: Maine State Music Theatre, Brunswick

Honorable mention: Merrill Auditorium, Portland 


99.9 The Wolf (WTHT and WBQQ, 99.9 and 99.3 FM)

477 Congress St., Portland

797-0780; 999thewolf.com

The Wolf is a country music station with a very lively morning show hosted by Dave Winsor and Michelle Taylor. Second-place MPBN is the state's public broadcaster with news and public affairs, while third-place Q97.9 is the hits station, also with a lively morning show. So I guess when it comes to radio, Mainers like a little bit of everything.

Second place: Maine Public Broadcasting Network

Honorable mention: Q97.9 (WJBQ, 97.9 FM), Portland 

-- Compiled by Ray Routhier, Staff Writer


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Additional Photos

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Best Live Music Venue: State Theatre

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Best Dine-In Restaurant: Fore Street

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Best Outdoor Dining, Best Lobster Roll: The Lobster Shack at Two Lights

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Best Live Theater: Portland Stage

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Best Bowling Alley: Bayside Bowl

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