Standard Baking Co., 57 Commercial St.

In the afterlife, I believe people start every morning with a Standard Baking Co. morning bun (with walnuts, please). You don’t have to wait to taste one, either. The bakery, which also makes terrific scones and savory treats, is also a good place to stock up on chocolate chip and molasses cookies to squirrel away in a backpack for later.

Bard Coffee, 185 Middle St.

Whether you order at the walk-up window in Tommy’s Park or step inside for a seat overlooking the sidewalk on Middle Street, you really can’t go wrong with any of Bard’s superlative, house-roasted coffees. On a sweltering day, there’s nothing better than its Nitro Cold Brew with a squirt of creamy oat milk.

Higher Grounds, 45 Wharf St.


Advertised as the East Coast’s first cannabis coffee shop, locals have had five years to get to know Higher Grounds through its excellent cappuccinos, cold brews, hemp CBD products and, now that it’s legal across Maine, medicinal cannabis.


Cheese Louise, 363 Fore St.

Kids in tow? Head to the narrow corner storefront on Fore and Market streets to the flagship brick-and-mortar location of a former New Hampshire-based food truck business specializing in grilled-cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and mac-and-cheese. Note to adults with kids: Beer and cocktails can also be found here.

Mami, 339 Fore St.

Stop by for Osaka-inspired izakaya food – think takoyaki (custardy, pan-grilled octopus balls), soft-egg-topped chicken katsu sandwiches and the region’s best okonomiyaki (a cabbage pancake dressed in fluttery shavings of bonito).


Crispy Gai, 90 Exchange St. (weekends only for brunch/lunch)

Southeast Asian-inspired fried chicken sandwiches, herby salads, mocktails, cocktails and Maine oysters round out the menu for this one-of-a-kind fast-casual Exchange Street destination.


Scales, 68 Commercial St.

This enormous, wharf-front seafood restaurant took six years of incremental improvement to evolve into the most perfect version of itself. Under chef Fred Eliot’s aegis, Scales has become the area’s benchmark for sophisticated seafood dishes as well as a semi-regular special pate en croute that’s as gorgeous as it is tasty.

Helm, 60 Thames St.


Technically, this understatedly swank bistro and raw bar sits a few blocks outside of the limits of the Old Port, but it’s worth a visit if you’re after a quiet, romantic vibe and superb cooking. Order the chicken liver mousse on thick-sliced, home-baked brioche.


Gross Confection Bar and Bakery, 172 Middle St.

Still hungry? Dessert (and apart from cheese and charcuterie, just dessert) is on the menu at this subterranean hotspot. Take the easy way out with a tasting board for four people or select something sweet from the a la carte menu, like fudgy caramel torte or tangy citrus pavlova.

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