BANGOR — Anyone who’s traveled from southern Maine to points north or east knows, you’re probably going to stop in Bangor for lunch. If you’re nodding right now, read on.

Harvest Moon Deli was a desperate find this past winter when I realized my favorite burrito place in Bangor had closed. But I wasn’t sad for long. One street up from Main Street, along Columbia Street’s brick sidewalks lined with old brick buildings, sits Harvest Moon Deli. Here, you’ll find artisan sandwiches, fresh ingredients, varied salads, homemade sauces and dressings, and a welcome attention to detail. (For example, they don’t just offer gluten-free bread, they ask if you need it made in a gluten-free environment.)

What makes Harvest Moon especially amazing is it can be found in five other locations: on Griffin Road and Stillwater Avenue in Bangor and also in Brewer, Orono and Newport (perfect for a break en route to Moosehead Lake). With so many Harvest Moons located around these eastern Maine towns, there’s never a fear of going without a hearty, healthy, yummy lunch – or a quick dinner – while traveling through this part of Maine.

During the pandemic, the Harvest Moon team at the Columbia Street location switched to curbside takeout, like so many places. You call in an order, wait out front, and they bring it out to you in about 15 to 20 minutes, with your sandwich tightly wrapped, utensils included for your side dish, a wrapped pickle and a winning attitude.

The Harvest Moon team takes pride in the fact they make these sandwiches quickly, a promise made on the website. And yet they present it with such care, as if it’s for a catered affair.

The sandwiches and paninis at Harvest Moon Deli in Bangor are a hit every time. The best news is, the deli is in six locations around Eastern Maine. Deirdre Fleming photo

After a trip way Down East, I enjoyed the More than a Bird sandwich with roasted turkey, provolone cheese, spinach, onion, tomato and roasted red peppers with pesto mayo ($9.25). It was utterly fresh, with deep-red, farm-fresh tomatoes and just enough mayo to make it juicy, but not dripping.

While traveling through earlier this winter, I enjoyed the signature We Got the Beef sandwich with rare roast beef, pepper jack cheese, spinach, tomato, avocado and homemade chipotle ranch ($9.50). Truth is, I rarely order roast beef. But I have to admit it was delicious and satisfying, and I was glad I ordered it.

Most of the sandwiches and paninis are right around $10, but worth it. Many of the dressings and sauces are homemade, as is the potato salad and cole slaw ($3.35). They also will use gluten-free bread ($2), and unlike some rice bread, it works great for paninis.

Many of the ingredients in the sandwiches, sauces, sides and soups at Harvest Moon are homemade. Deirdre Fleming photo

You have the option of making any combination sandwich or panini from the varied ingredients offered, but they’ve perfected their signature creations at Harvest Moon.

When my husband and I head up to Baxter State Park this month, I plan to try the Olive and Let Die, with roasted turkey, mozzarella, tomato, black olives, homemade pesto and cherry pepper mayo ($9.25), and on the return trip, the Harvest Moon salad with apples, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, onions, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, crumbled bleu cheese over fresh spinach ($9.25). Later in the winter when we head north to ski, it’ll be the homemade soups ($5.40 a cup or $6.60 for a bowl).

It’s hard to find fault with any of the offerings here. So when I phoned in my curbside order three weeks ago and the man taking my order asked if I wanted to add a “tip for the team,” I had him bump the bill way up.

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