Because our city prides itself on its foodie culture, the places that are suggested to tourists are often very high-class and expensive. However, there are so many places that only locals are aware of that offer high quality food and drink at very reasonable prices. If you’re new to Portland and want some advice for great places to wine and dine, then these five secret locations are worth exploring with friends or family!
This location can only be found by entering through the alleyway on lower Exchange Street in Portland. It sells high-quality meat and cheeses, has roughly 25 rotating taps and 500+ bottles of alcohol to choose from. Also available is the Novare Riot My Precious Kölsch, which you can’t find anywhere else in the world, in addition to other high quality brews that will have you coming back for more. Its name, “Novare Res,” translates to “to start a revolution” in Latin. The location itself is not a typical bar: their fermented beverages are gathered from all over the world, and visitors who stumble upon this special location find themselves nestled in a comfortable, dim-lit booth with a drink menu that looks large enough to be a book.
Lincolns: This bar is a local gem, with no social media presence and no contact information, so don’t bother Googling to find their location, because it won’t seem to exist. Located at an unmarked address on Market Street, you can only access this bar by walking through a nondescript doorway, descending a flight of stairs and sliding over a fake bureau. Everything on its menu costs $5.00 (including cocktails) and it is a venue for live comedy shows and music entertainment throughout the week (at scheduled times only visitors know about). This location serves as a place for the locals, where tourist traffic is low due to the bar’s anonymity. If you’re looking to make new friends in the community, Lincolns is a great place to start—after all, the one thing you would all share in common is the visitation to a bar in Portland that is virtually unknown to most.
Bramhall: Located off of Congress Street, this establishment offers craft cocktails and burgers, but its location goes unnoticed by those who aren’t looking for it. The company claims their location as a “hideaway” as an all immersive experience, where you walk down into the basement of a brick building only to find yourself in a room lit primarily by candles through antique glass windows. Its menu has a variety of diverse and affordable options, such as “Rice Krispy Du Jour,” a variety of flavored rice krispy treats, rotating cheese cakes and “Baked Cubano,” a ham and swiss sandwich with pickles, mustard and mojo sauce on a Ciabatta bun.
The Thirsty Pig: Tucked away on Exchange Street, this location is known for its craft brews and handmade sausages. If you aren’t paying close attention while walking by, it is easily mistaken for another restaurant—but walk down a small alley way and you’ll find yourself surrounded by live music and outdoor patio seating. Inside, customers order first then sit down at a table of their choice. From deep fried pickles, to their Rueben hot dog slathered in Morse’s Kraut and Thousand Island dressing, you won’t want to go the semester without this experience.
Tiqa Cafe and Bakery: Located inside the historic 1894 Castle in Deering Oaks, this cafe and bakery offers fresh hot coffee and a variety of food (such as sandwiches, salads and freshly baked pastries). It also offers beer and wine, while providing a patio area to relax outside. For entertainment, it has a variety of park and picnic games to offer, such as bocce balls, horseshoes, outdoor chess and bean bag toss. Because of its specific location, many people only know about it through hearsay, or by stumbling upon it during a walk through the park. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to study or you just want to grab a coffee with a friend, this location is so close to USM that you could walk there within 10 minutes. It’s a two minute walk over to the pond, where you can relax and watch the ducks swim in and around the fountain.