July 31, 2011

And a few of our favorite things

From staff reports

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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.

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BEST HAPPY HOUR

Brian Boru

57 Center St., Portland

780-1506; brianboruportland.com

The deck allows you to get outside on the nice days, but the bar feels authentic in a neighborhood kind of way. The service is solid and unpretentious, and during happy hour, you can actually have a conversation -- and a beer at a reasonable price. 

BEST BREW PUB

Sebago Brewing Company

Various locations

sebagobrewing.com

Mainers harbor a fondness for craft-brewed beer, and the state's independent brewers provide a plethora of refreshing options. In this crowded field, Sebago wins fans for brewing more than a dozen regular and seasonal beers, and its pubs score points for their clean, upscale atmosphere and a menu that appeals to everyone from the meat-and-potatoes crowd to vegetarians and gluten-free diners. 

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE -- INDOOR

Merrill Auditorium

20 Myrtle St., Portland

porttix.com

Portland is blessed with a lot of terrific venues for music. But as good as some of the others, it's still hard to beat Merrill Auditorium because of its acoustics. If there is a show you really want to see, regardless of the musical style, Merrill is the place you want to see it. That said, the State Theatre in Portland is fast on its trail.

BEST LIVE MUSIC -- OUTDOOR

Bangor Waterfront Pavilion

1 Railroad St., Bangor

799-0668; waterfrontconcerts.com

A great outdoor venue on the scenic Penobscot River in downtown Bangor, with seating for 8,000 and more room on the grass. In its short existence, it's attracted a slew of big-name acts, from B.B. King to Bob Dylan.

BEST KARAOKE/OPEN MIC

Kill the Karaoke at Bayside Bowl

58 Alder St., Portland

791-2695; baysidebowl.com

Tired of the boring old karaoke machines and their cheesy graphics and uninspired song selections? Need a better option to make your Portland singing debut? Kill the Karaoke at Bayside Bowl features a live band that can play just about anything. They may even be able to drown out your voice, if necessary. 

BEST MOVIE THEATER

Cinemagic

183 County Road, Westbrook

774-3456; cinemagicmovies.com/loc_Westbrook.asp

It took years for Maine to catch up with the rest of the country, but we finally got a clean and comfortable theater with stadium seating so you don't have to dodge the heads in front of you while watching the new Harry Potter movie. Now if we could just get rid of those big-screen commercials. 

BEST DRIVE-IN

Prides Corner Drive-In

651 Bridgton Road, Westbrook

797-3154

Prides Corner Drive-in opened in 1953, and it still has the feel of the 1950s and '60s, except that it shows popular, newly released movies. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for ages 4 to 11, and free for children under 4. The 35-mm film provides high quality pictures, and the sound quality is good through FM radio. Simple snacks of popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries and pizza are reasonably priced.

BEST PERFORMANCE ARTS THEATER

Portland Stage Company

25A Forest Ave., Portland

774-0465; portlandstage.org

Portland Stage wins because of its consistency. Southern Maine has a lot of good theater, but Portland Stage presents the most consistently good performances, with the smartest selection of shows and the best teams of professional producers and actors.

BEST LIGHTHOUSE

Portland Head Light

Fort Williams Park, 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth

799-2661; portlandheadlight.com

Admit it: This is the first place you take out-of-town guests. The stoic 18th-century lighthouse standing guard over the entrance to Portland Harbor, the heady scent of beach roses along the walking paths, the stunning view of the Atlantic -- Portland Head Light is one of the gems of southern Maine. And it's still free. Thank you, Cape Elizabeth.

BEST SUMMER FESTIVAL

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

  


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