Restaurant owner David Turin was a little skeptical when he heard the original plans for Maine Restaurant Week.

“You’re going to take one of the slowest weeks of the year, in March, and turn it into one of the busiest weeks of the year? Sure you are,” said Turin, who owns three David’s restaurants, in Portland and South Portland. “I was a hardcore skeptic at first. But that’s what happened. One of the worst times of the year for restaurants became one of the best, like summer.”

Now in it’s 15th year, Maine Restaurant Week has become a highly anticipated event, when restaurants, cafes and other establishments put a spotlight on their fare by offering special menus and deals. Some might have discounts or special items to entice customers, others offer multiple-course dinners with a fixed price.

The event runs March 1-12, and some 70 restaurants from all over the state are expected to participate. There are also several special events where people can sample the fare of more than one restaurant at the same time.

At Old Port Sea Grill, Chef Jason Murphy puts the finishing touches on a plate of grilled salmon for Maine Restaurant Week in 2022. The restaurant is participating again this year. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

One is the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off, where a dozen or so eateries will be competing for best breakfast honors. People who buy tickets can sample all of the would-be prize-winning dishes by roaming from one chef’s station to the other and then voting for their favorites. The event, which has traditionally signaled the start of Maine Restaurant Week, will be held on Feb. 28 from 7-9 a.m. at Sea Dog Brewing Co., 725 Broadway, South Portland. Tickets are $29.

While Maine Restaurant Week was held during the pandemic, with restaurants offering food to-go, the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off has not been held since 2020. Another event, Spirit Quest, is a self-guided cocktail and bites walking tour in Portland scheduled for March 5, and as of last week, it was just about sold out.


While many of the restaurants are in Greater Portland, there are eateries in towns all around the state, including Camden, Brunswick, Thomaston, Lewiston, Kennebunk, Waterville and Old Town. For a list of all participating restaurants and links to what they are offering, plus information on the special events, go to

Saute Chef Isabel Hebert works in the kitchen at David’s Restaurant in Monument Square in Portland during Restaurant Week in 2022. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Maine Restaurant Week was started in 2008 by Gillian and Jim Britt, of gBritt PR, to help their restaurant clients get through the winter in better financial shape. Gillian Britt said that, as of mid-February, about 50 restaurants had signed up to participate this year, but that based on previous years, she expected about 70 to participate.

Turin said that during Maine Restaurant Week, his three restaurants – David’s and David’s Opus Ten in Portland and David’s 388 in South Portland – do about 33-50% more business than in an average winter week. His restaurants get calls for weeks in advance from people asking what the special menu is going to be.

This year, Turin is planning a special wine-pairing dinner at David’s Opus Ten, which is located inside of David’s in Monument Square and has not been open since the pandemic began. The multi-course dinner begins with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 6:15 p.m. Dishes on the menu include fennel-dusted salmon and peekytoe crab, local exotic mushrooms with pasta, roasted chicken and Madeira sauce, a duck and chicken andouille boudin (a type of sausage), and pork osso bucco. Along the way, there are treats like a Maine wild blueberry, lemon and thyme sorbet to cleanse the palate and, of course, dessert. Prices are $75 for the dinner menu, $37 for the wine pairings and $16 for the cocktail cart.

Kate McAleer, owner of Bixby Chocolate Cafe in Waterville, looks into a display case. Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer 

But not all of the restaurants are offering fixed-price dinners with wine pairings. Some of the places are more casual. Bixby Chocolate Cafe in Waterville, which opened in December, is offering a chocolate pastry and coffee for $5, and a soup plus half a sandwich and one bon bon for $12. Bixby Chocolate, a chocolate maker based in Rockland, imports cacao beans from all over the world to make the chocolate that goes into the cafe’s treats, said Kate McAleer, the owner of both establishments.

McAleer said she’s always been a fan of Maine Restaurant Week, so she was excited to get a chance to participate this year with the cafe. She also likes that it’s something to look forward to in an otherwise dreary time of year in Maine.

“It’s a great opportunity to get your name out there and have people check you out,” said McAleer. “March can be a weirdly sad time of year.”

At Dara Bistro in Cumberland, owner/chef Bryan Dame is participating for the first time to try to bring attention to the fact that the restaurant started offering dinner about six months ago. Before that, it was mostly a breakfast place and bakery, he said. He’ll be offering three-course dinners for $45, featuring some things that are normally on the menu. He said he hopes the publicity of restaurant week will convince people to try something new.

“We’re in an old farmhouse, and I hope that if people hear about us (because of Restaurant Week), they’ll take the 10-minute drive from Portland to try us,” said Dame.

Helm Oyster Bar & Bistro in Portland is participating in Maine Restaurant Week. Michele McDonald/Staff Photographer

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