Sunday, March 9, 2014
From staff reports
More choices are a good thing.
Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro has fans among readers and our staff.
Staff file photos
Longfellow Books in Portland s Monument Square is the staff pick for best bookstore.
Staff file photo
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.
BEST TAKE-OUT RESTAURANT
El Rayo Taqueria
101 York St., Portland
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
388 Cottage Road, South Portland
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
58 Pine St., Portland
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
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
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
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.
Scratch Baking Co.
416 Preble St.,
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
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.
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click image to enlarge
The Danforth in Portland gets the staff nod for best bed and breakfast.