July 31, 2011

And a few of our favorite things

From staff reports

More choices are a good thing.

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Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro has fans among readers and our staff.

Staff file photos

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Longfellow Books in Portland s Monument Square is the staff pick for best bookstore.

Staff file photo

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We collected your opinions on everything from your favorite restaurants and bars to nail salons and tattoo parlors, and compiled the results for our 25th annual Readers' Choice poll.

But if you want even more choices -- more ideas for places to go and things to do during the short Maine summer -- we're offering up this list chosen by the Features staff of the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Enjoy!

BEST TAKE-OUT RESTAURANT

El Rayo Taqueria

101 York St., Portland

780-8226; elrayotaqueria.com

Quick, inexpensive, tasty. That's what a take-out restaurant should be, and El Rayo fits them all. The Champion Burrito ($7.50), with portobello mushrooms, peppers and caramelized onions, is heaven. The tacos ($3.25 to $3.95), quesadillas ($4.95 to $6.95) and rice-and-bean bowls ($7.50 to $7.95) are good too. 

BEST DINE-IN RESTAURANT

David's 388

388 Cottage Road, South Portland

347-7388; davids388.com

A funky and quaint neighborhood restaurant located at the top of South Portland's Meeting House Hill and under the same ownership as David's in Portland. The food is creative and very thoughtfully prepared. 

BEST DATE NIGHT RESTAURANT

Caiola's

58 Pine St., Portland

772-1110; caiolas.com

Time stands still at Caiola's, a neighborhood restaurant in Portland's West End. It's small, private and perfect for impressing someone special.

BEST OUTDOOR DINING

Broad Arrow Tavern, Harraseeket Inn

162 Main St., Freeport

865-9377; harraseeketinn.com

Downtown Freeport may be best-known as a retail destination anchored by L..L. Bean, but it also has fine-dining establishments with award-winning chefs. After a day of shopping, relax on the patio of the Broad Arrow Tavern in the historic Harraseeket Inn and order off the menu or take advantage of the luncheon buffet, served 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday. 

BEST ICE CREAM SHOP

Beal's Old Fashioned Ice Cream

bealsicecream.com

With locations in Gorham, Scarborough, South Portland and two in Portland, Beal's is Greater Portland's best-known and most-loved destination for local ice cream. 

BEST COFFEE SHOP

Arabica Coffee Co.

2 Free St., Portland

899-1833; arabicacoffee.com

Whether it's fancy espresso-based drinks or just a cup of old-school drip, Arabica is the place to go. Plunk down with your favorite hot or cold elixir and maybe an order of the shop's legendary toasts, and people-watch, read or enjoy the free wi-fi. 

BEST BAKERY

Scratch Baking Co.

416 Preble St.,

South Portland

799-0668; scratchbakingco.com

Willard Square can be like Times Square on Sunday mornings, when people flock like moths to a flame in search of Scratch's highly coveted bagels. Sold out when you get there? Fear not -- the bakery's spread of delicious pastries and other baked delights will have your mouth watering while you decide whether to have an espresso from the coffee bar.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR VEGETARIANS/VEGANS

Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro

608 Congress St., Portland

347-3111; greenelephantmaine.com

Any restaurant in Portland with a dose of creativity offers vegetarian and vegan fare, but when plant eaters want more than one or two menu choices, they head to the Green Elephant. Serving lunch and dinner in a modern, chic space, Green Elephant cooks up Asian-inspired meals. Because the restaurant always attracts a crowd (and doesn't accept reservations), go early or be prepared to wait for a table. 

BEST FOOD CART

Mark's Hot Dogs

Middle and Exchange streets, Portland

A hot dog cart as local landmark? That's Mark's, located near Tommy's Park in the Old Port since 1983. When owner Mark Gatti celebrated his 25th anniversary, city officials turned out to hail his hot dogs, and people have continued to hail -- and inhale -- them since. 

(Continued on page 2)

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The Danforth in Portland gets the staff nod for best bed and breakfast.

  


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