Some of my favorite parts of traveling are trying local food and drink. While in Maine recently, I had a chance to take a complimentary tour with Maine Foodie Tours. After my three hours, I can give this the best Portland food tour moniker. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
While you probably know Maine for seafood – especially lobster – there’s so much more to offer. I had my lobster rolls, and I made it to Holy Donut for the requisite potato donuts.
I even tried a local farm to table restaurant because Portland is totally a foodie town. My biggest disappointment? I never found time for whoopie pies.
One of my favorite ways to find and try the best local eats in a town is to take a food tour. The companies already scouted out the best places to try, and you get a ton of bites packed into a short time. This lets you know where you go back to visit again.
With Maine Foodie Tours, they offer multiple food tours to fit your needs. In fact, they offer tours in Portland, Boothbay Harbor, and Kennebunkport.
Whether you travel to the area for vacation or just spend the day in port from a cruise ship, this is a great way to get a sense of the area. The tours provide a history of the area in addition to more than enough food to fill you up.
They currently offer five food tours in Portland ranging in price from $24.95 (where you purchase your own food and drink) to $69.95 (all food and drink is provided). They also provide VIP tours for $95 that include special gifts from a discount to ship lobster home to all the tools you need to enjoy lobster once you get home.
Find the tour and the time that’s right for you. Maine Foodie Tours offers tours daily with morning, afternoon, and evening options.
Most tours have a maximum capacity of 14 people, with some maxing out at 10 people. This keeps you from feeling crowded or missing out on the tour.
Because Maine Foodie Tours partners with over 70 businesses in Portland alone, tours change regularly. While this gives you an idea of what to expect, know that your tour is likely to be different from these exact stops.
While I’ve been on food tours that end before the appointed hour, this tour lasts the full three hours (plus a bit) for the tour we took. Note that a couple tours are slightly shorter in length.
All tours run rain or shine, and they involve walking, so come prepared. You want comfy shoes, and dress in layers as the temps change throughout your tour. If you need an umbrella, grab one of the new fashioned ones that open upside down and aren’t as prone to breaking in wind.
Read on to see what makes this the best Portland food tour!
Looking for more to do in Maine? Check out some more great options.
Stops on the Best Portland Food Tour
Though HiFi Donuts wasn’t actually open during our tour, our guide picked up the famous donuts and brought them to us. We had the churro donuts, and they were delicious.
While so many know Holy Donuts and their potato donuts, these are a completely different style. They’re light and in the style of a cruller.
Everything at HiFi Donuts gets made from scratch, and they’re open 7 days a week. This store opened two years on National Donut Day, an auspicious time to open, don’t you think?
The donuts were a great first start as the guide walked and provided us with highlights of the area.
Our first actual stop was Maine’s Pantry, a general store that sells all sorts of goods and products made in Maine. This is the place to get anything from Maine for your pantry – ergo the name.
Here, you try Moxie. The sample is fairly small, just a few sips in a small cup. This is a traditional soda, mostly enjoyed by old salty men in northern Maine according to our guide.
The general consensus? It tastes like a mix of cough syrup and Dr. Pepper.
Once you finish your sample, you have some time to browse and shop, but be quick. You have just a couple minutes before it’s time to move to the next stop!
Blake Orchard focuses on cold pressed juices and raw smoothies. This business got its start selling in Boston farmers’ markets. As her popularity grew, she moved to Portland and opened a storefront.
Here we had a sweet ginger smoothie with house made almond mylk, banana, pineapple, maca, almond butter, date, and ginger. It gets garnished with chopped almonds.
This small basement storefront has a unique interior design that fits with the business’s persona. We had a fairly large size smoothie, which we needed at this point.
Unlike most stops on the food tour, we picked up our samples and kept walking rather than enjoying it in the shop. Thankfully it’s easily portable, so this works out.
The first two hours of the tour focus more on walking and history and less on food, while the last hour packs in a lot of food. In fact, we couldn’t finish the last two samples because it was simple too much food in too short a time!
While we enjoyed our smoothies, we spent time in Monument Square – which is the second real “stop” on the tour that didn’t focus on food. We learned that Maine lost most men per capita in the Civil War than any other state. This square and statue commemorate those who served and fell.
The square is more than simply a memorial, however. Every Wednesday, Portland hosts a farmers’ market there that’s 300 years old. Many restaurants buy from vendors for weekly specials, which draws even more vendors and quality produce and other goods.
A fascinating fact about Portland? Any maker can sell without licensing or permitting. That’s why you see so many various vendors along many streets, whether selling artwork or in a farmers’ market selling anything from flowers to cheese.
Just off the square, we stopped at Market House. This is a building that acts as an incubator for many restauranteurs.
They may start with a food cart then move to a stall in Market House and grow from there to a full restaurant. It’s a way to people to test and perfect their offerings without as much risk.
In fact, a restaurant we wanted to visit while in Portland literally moved from Market House to their permanent full restaurant the day before we took the tour. This gives a ton of options for food in general when you visit, no matter what you have a taste for.
This visit, we stopped a KamaSouptra, a fun soup shop where you can choose your soup – and topping, if you wish. We loved the baked potato soup with bacon on top, and the grilled cheese soup with extra cheese was another favorite.
This stop gives you time to sit down to enjoy your soup and the huge, fresh roll that accompanies it. This is also your first chance on the tour to use a restroom if you need it. Make sure you take advantage.
Gritty’s Brew Pub
Gritty’s Brew Pub may have been one of my favorite stops on the best Portland food tour I took. In fact, I brought friends back here after our stop because we enjoyed it so much.
Gritty’s Brew Pub opened in 1988 as an authentic English pub, with fun murals and artwork on the walls. My favorite part though? The mug club they offer their regulars.
As you walk in, you see hundreds of numbered mugs hanging over the bar. Regulars have their own mugs that provide larger than standard servings. It’s the kind of small thing that makes me want to come back again and again.
Here, the food tour offers a stout and a blueberry beer. This changes seasonally, and the half glasses are a generous serving. If you prefer, they have a cider option – and I loved their cider.
Gritty’s Brew Pub also offered my favorite lobster roll of all the ones I tried in Maine. Seriously. It wasn’t yet on the official menu, but it is coming soon. Our portion was a small lobster roll with fries.
The lobster roll was served on a delicious toasted garlic roll that was the perfect texture and flavor with not overly seasoned lobster. This was a true winner!
Yes, you have a chance to use the restroom here, as well as at the next stop if you need. I appreciate places that have bathroom breaks – and I know I’m not alone.
Independent Ice Company
This was my other favorite stop, and again, they offered a significant portion size. I wish the tour had split up these two locations to better allow us to digest our food between, but I’m so glad we visited!
This stop has the most friendly owner who gave us the history of ice harvesting and shipping, which I found fascinating. Their main claim to fame is as a whiskey bar, and wow do they have a collection for you to try!
We enjoyed a meatloaf slider wrapped in bacon that is one of the best sliders I’ve had the pleasure of eating and a drink. I loved the unique twist on a classic. If only I had more room left in my stomach!
Each person received the choice of three cocktails. For us, that meant an alagash white, bourbon punch with five fruits, or a bourbon sangria with prosecco floater. Additionally, they offer juice or sodas if you don’t drink alcohol.
I didn’t know I liked bourbon until I tasted that sangria. It was just enough bourbon to give it flavor without overpowering it, and it’s something I would happily drink all summer long sitting on a patio.
Between this stop and the last one – that really is almost all it takes for me to call this the best Portland food tour.
Dean’s Sweet Shop
Our last stop had to be dessert, right? Dean’s Sweet Shop is a tiny chocolate shop where they make all their chocolates onsite. Here we had the opportunity to try two different chocolates they produce.
The first was a Needham chocolate. I enjoyed one of these on my chocolate factory tour in nearby Freeport, Maine. Traditionally, they’re made with mashed potatoes and powered sugar and dipped in chocolate.
Here, Dean’s Sweet Shop uses potato vodka instead of actual mashed potato. They also include cocoa powder so the inside is chocolatier and different from what you’ll see elsewhere.
We also had the chance to enjoy a layered confection of dark truffle with vanilla buttercream and splash of passion fruit. It was a fancier chocolate and more like what those outside Maine are used to seeing.
If you follow them on Instagram, they will also give you an additional truffle. To be honest, we were so full from the previous two stops that we couldn’t do more chocolate.
What makes this the best Portland food tour?
First, you don’t leave hungry. Remember me saying we couldn’t even take an additional piece of chocolate? The three hours was more food than we expected, and it more than encompasses a meal.
I love that Maine Foodie Tours can also accommodate allergies. If you let them know ahead of time, they can handle most common allergies from shellfish to gluten to dairy and more. We had a couple people on our tour with allergies, and the stops provided solid options for them throughout.
You don’t just go to the places everyone does. I love finding the smaller “hidden gems” type places that I otherwise would miss. It’s easy to know we need to hit from a quick Google search, but this gets us into amazing small businesses we otherwise likely would miss.
There’s plenty of walking, which gives a chance to learn about the history of the town and get more tips and tidbits. We walked about 2 1/2 or 3 miles on the tour, which is pretty typical. That helps walk off the calories we ate, right?
The food tour cost $69.95, which with six stops and two alcoholic drinks plus hearty food in many of the stops was worth the cost. I felt good about the value this food tour provides, especially when you count in the history and other details we learned along the way.
Would you book the best Portland food tour on your next visit?
More to do in Portland
- Visit BlueFin North Atlantic Seafood
- Spend the day in Freeport
- Ideas for traveling with teens
- Enjoy a lobster experience
- Perfect Portland day trips