Blueberry muffins are served instead of bread at the seasonal Dolphin Restaurant and Marina in Harpswell. Courtesy of Dophin Marina

Summertime in Maine is nothing short of a culinary gold mine. It’s when most of the flavors that we’re famous for are at their peak, and directly at our fingertips. Tangy and tart wild blueberries. Strawberries dripping with sweet-as-can-be juices. Rich and salty clams, straight from the sea. And better still, those treasures get coaxed into next-level specialties that sing of the season – from delectable blueberry muffins and crisped-to-golden fried clams to velvety strawberry ice cream.

The only problem is finding enough time to savor them all. So we’ve created the following handy checklist of seasonal must-eat menu items, listing those local gastronomic treasures that are only available during the summer, to help you most efficiently devour every single last bite. Dig in.

Blueberry muffins at Dolphin Marina & Restaurant

515 Basin Point Road, Harpswell, 207-833-5343, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Decades ago, owner Mimi Saxon made a tradition of including one of these gems – generously studded with plump wild blueberries and laced with cinnamon – with every meal, instead of bread and butter. Unsurprisingly, in the years since then, not a soul has complained.

Fried clams are the star of the Yarmouth Clam Festival. Photo by Michael Leonard

Fried clams at the Yarmouth Clam Festival


305 Main St, Yarmouth, 207-846-3984, July 21-23.

Of course there are plenty of other places around to find a plate of superb fried clams, but at this annual three-day event, they’re the star of the show, the guest of honor, and the plat du jour all in one.

Barnyard Burger from Wolfe’s Neck Farm Cafe. Courtesy of Wolfe Neck Farm

Barnyard Burger at Maggie Mae’s Outpost Wolfe’s Neck Center Farm Café

134 Burnett Road, Freeport, 207-865-4469. Opening in June, Wednesday through Saturday, hours to be determined.

A national model for regenerative agriculture practices, Wolfe’s Neck Farm feeds its cows only grass, which lends huge flavor to the plump and juicy burgers slung at its on-site Café. The result is a boon for environmental health – and for our palates.

Gimme S’More Chips from Stone’s Throw in York Beach. Photo courtesy of Stone’s Throw

Gimme S’more Chips at Stones Throw


123 Long Beach Ave., York, 207-361-3116, 4-8:30 p.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; 4-8 p.m. Monday.

“We always do things a little differently at Stones Throw,” says Savannah Freeman, general manager of the seasonal restaurant in the beach town hotel. Case in point: These cinnamon sugar-dusted house-made potato chips are covered in chocolate ganache, caramel, honey and marshmallows, then baked in the oven in a cast-iron pan. Cape Cod can have its potato chips – at long as we’ve got these instead.

The lobster roll from Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster in Freeport. Courtesy of Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster

Lobster roll at Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster

Town Landing, Freeport, 207-865-3535, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Stuffed to their brim with fresh, sweet lobster meat, they’re best scarfed down on the sprawling lawn or abutting dock. Bonus points if you carve out time to trek up to the restaurant’s highest deck and take in the view.

Fore Street serves a tart featuring tomatoes when they’re in season. Photo courtesy of Fore Street

Tomato tart at Fore Street


288 Fore St., Portland, 207-775-2717, 5-10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

You’ll only find it on the menu when tomatoes are at their ripest and fruitiest, in the latter part of summer, which makes this ephemeral gem all the more precious.

Il Leone’s Aragosta pizza with wood-fired Maine lobster, organic Maine basil, lemon, garlic, olive oil and chili flake. Photo courtesy of Il Leone

Pizza at Il Leone

2 Garden Place, Peaks Island, 207-370-1471, open May through October: noon to 3 p.m and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.

Forget the enduring nature vs. nurture battle. If ll Leone’s leafy outdoor setting = nature, and their chewy, slow-fermented, crackly-crusted pizzas born of an 850-degree oven = nurture, then there is no battle. Because everyone wins.

Clam Fritters from Chebeague Island Inn. Photo courtesy of Chebeague Island Inn

Clam fritters at Chebeague Island Inn


61 South Road, Chebeague Island, 207-846-5155, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Bite through the thin crisped crust, and a feather-light pillow gives way to briny, sweet clams. Swipe one through the creamy tartar sauce awash in fresh dill, and you’ll already be contemplating placing a second order.

Strawberry ice cream from Sweetcream Dairy. Photo courtesy of Sweetcream

Strawberry ice cream at Sweetcream

128 Main St., Unit 101, Biddeford, 207-494-4852, noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

So retro but so new. Every summer, Stevenson’s Strawberries in Wayne delivers the fruits of their labors to Sweetcream, where they’re married with an ice cream base sans eggs that highlights the berries’ delicate, sweet-tart flavor and re-introduces you to a fruit you thought you already knew.

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who lives in Maine.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: