When people think of dining in Maine, it is likely that the image of a bright-red lobster with a side of steaming mashed potatoes and corn on the cob come to mind (all slathered in butter, of course). And while there’s nothing quite like a late summer lobster bake or lakeside barbeque in the Pine Tree State, there is a growing population of plant-based consumers across the country, and they need to eat too!
Over the past few years, Maine restaurants have been catching onto this trend and have started to cater more towards vegetarians and vegans. Some have even chosen to focus entirely on offering plant-based menus, and have received raving reviews in the process. Does all this mean that the lobster roll will soon be a thing of the past? Of course not! But, if you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or someone simply looking to expand your palate, this might come across as good news. And, chances are, you will be able to find a lobster (or a steak) and a plant-based dish at a number of Maine restaurants, keeping everyone in your family happy and full.
Here you will find a comprehensive guide to plant-based eating in Maine, broken down by region. So, next time you reach for your phone to search “restaurants near me” on Yelp, keep some of these truly unique places in mind!
Lisa’s Legit Burritos, Gardiner & Augusta, ME
Lisa’s Legit Burritos is a bright, small-scale, made-to-order Mexican restaurant with two locations in the Belgrade region. Think Chiptole, but local: you build your own burrito by selecting your tortilla, beans, filling, salsa, and toppings. Vegan filling options include butternut squash and sweet potato, and vegan cheese can be added as a topping. Lisa’s also offers a specialty grilled vegan burrito.
Otto’s on the River, Augusta, ME
Otto’s features “casual fine dining” with views of the Kennebec River from their dining room and outdoor patio. In addition to their popular seafood and pasta dishes, they are also well-known for their vegan specialties, such as their vegan meatball marabella, veggie stir fry, veggie burger, and veggie wrap.
Blue Hill Co-op, Blue Hill, ME
The Blue Hill Co-op is a cafe and market with a focus on selling local and organic products. It was established in 1974 and has been serving Blue Hill and surrounding communities ever since. You can shop for anything from fresh produce and artisan cheese to DEET-free bug spray at the market, and the cafe sells a slew of delicious, plant-based readymade meals, such as a roasted tempeh dinner, a quinoa tabbouleh dinner, a tofu patty sandwich, and a variety of soups and salads. All smoothies can be made vegan, and vegan cheese (or artisanal hummus) can be added to sandwiches.
CJ’s Big Dipper, Bar Harbor, ME
There’s nothing like a day of exploring Acadia National Park and later strolling through downtown Bar Harbor with an ice cream cone in hand–and it is a luxury vegans and the lactose intolerant should not be excluded from! Luckily, CJ’s Big Dipper, an old-fashioned ice cream shop located right in downtown Bar Harbor, offers a selection of non-dairy, vegan ice creams, including almond milk soft serve, soy-based hard serve, and sorbets.
Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast, Bar Harbor, ME
Jeannie’s sunny yellow walls, cheerful staff, and expansive menu make it the perfect place to settle in for a hearty meal, perhaps after watching the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain (as many of its patrons do). While they don’t skimp on classic diner food, they have dedicated an entire section of their menu to vegan breakfast options, including two tofu scrambles, a vegan breakfast burrito, and perhaps most famously, their selection of vegan pancakes. They even make gluten and dairy free pancakes. Jeannie’s is a must-visit while in the Bar Harbor area!
Thrive, Bar Harbor, ME
Thrive is a recently established juice bar and kitchen with a mission of “producing fresh and delicious raw juice, superfood smoothies, and healthy meal options made from nutritious, high-quality ingredients.” Thrive’s three, health-conscious co-owners were inspired to open the restaurant after facing and fixing their own dietary troubles by focusing on incorporating more natural, plant-based foods. In addition to the array of juices and smoothies available, their menu includes innovative vegan options, such as sweet or savory breakfast quinoa, a vegan breakfast burrito, a vegan avocado BLT wrap, and much more!
Fresh & Co., Camden, ME
Fresh & Co. is a “globally inspired eatery featuring dishes from around the world” that uses as many local products as possible. Their menu changes routinely and includes a “small plate” section and a “large plate” section, making it easy to mix and match dishes. In terms of vegan dishes, on their sample menu they have listed an aromatic coconut curry, an udon noodle salad, and a local green salad. They also serve vegetarian and gluten free dishes.
Frontier, Brunswick, ME
Frontier is more than just a restaurant–it is also a theater, event venue, and coffee bar. For this reason, reservations are highly recommended. Frontier’s mission is to “cultivate an experience where you may enjoy food, film, music, and art inspired by the world” and they are committed to blending fresh and local ingredients with flavors from around the world. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy a number of options, including fried brussels sprouts, vegan nachos, squash tacos, a wild rice bowl, or a teriyaki noodle bowl.
Little Dog Coffee Shop, Brunswick, ME
The Little Dog Coffee Shop is located in downtown Brunswick and is hard to miss with its twelve-foot ceilings, big storefront windows, and outdoor seating. While a love for coffee (and a little dog) inspired the original owners to open the shop, they also serve breakfast and lunch fare. Plant-based options include avocado toast, a vegan breakfast burrito, and a bagel with hummus and veggies. The Little Dog is known for its warm, welcoming environment where you can “sit, stay, and enjoy.”
Run with Soup, Bath, ME
Run with Soup is a small restaurant with a lot of variety and raving reviews. The selection of homemade soups changes regularly and always includes vegetarian and vegan options, such as curried sweet potato and rice, butternut squash and apple bisque, tomato with spinach and quinoa, carrot ginger, Thai vegetable, and African sweet potato and black bean. They also make a variety of salads and sandwiches, and you can eat in or take out!
Bagel Central, Bangor, ME
Bagel Central is one of Bangor’s hot spots, especially on a weekend morning at the brunch hour, and for good reason. (Thankfully the interior is a large, open space with plenty of seating.) They make their own bagels in many varieties, including vegan and gluten free options, and have a list of nearly fifteen different toppings (including vegan cream cheese, hummus, and peanut butter for plant-based patrons). They also have a full breakfast and lunch menu, and bake their own vegan and gluten free pastries.
Novio’s Bistro, Bangor, ME
Novio’s describes their menu as “small, selective, and unique” even though it includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, such as seared tofu, a bistro greens salad, and delectable desserts like coconut panna cotta and housemade cherry sorbet. The menu changes with the seasons to include produce from local farms, and to accommodate new inspirations in the kitchen. Novio’s also features a full-service bar with a large selection of wines, craft beers, and cocktails.
Umami Noodle Bar, Bangor, ME
Umami, an “Asian fusion restaurant,” is like a privately-owned Chipotle of the noodle world. You can order a “signature bowl,” such as “The Vegan Venture,” or, you can create your own ramen by selecting from a list of broths, noodles, proteins, and add-ons. Unique, hip, and fun, this is a great place to try when in the Bangor area!
Bandaloop, Arundel, ME
Bandaloop is committed to combining global flavors with local produce and green practices, and to providing options for “meat eaters and vegetarians alike.” Their menu includes a generous offering of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free dishes, such as the “oven roasted Heiwa tofu steak” and a “house-made chickpea-hemp seed veggie burger.” The restaurant recently moved from Kennebunkport to a three-story restored barn on Route 1 in Arundel, so if you’re looking for a true New England atmosphere, Bandaloop won’t disappoint!
Loveshack Juicery, Ogunquit, ME
Loveshack Juicery is family owned and operated on the shore of Ogunquit. They offer smoothies and smoothie bowls made from exclusively fresh and plant-based ingredients, and pressed-on-the-spot juices and lemonades. You can even try a freshly pressed ginger “shot” for some quick energy and a digestive boost!
Tulsi North, Wells, ME
Tulsi North boasts “the best Indian food in Wells” and sources local ingredients as much as possible. Its menu includes an expansive vegetarian section with a handful of vegan options, such as a seasonal mixed vegetable curry, yellow dal, channa masala, and aloo gobhi matar (cauliflower, potatoes, peas, onion, and tomato in a coriander spice blend). As noted on their menu, more vegan options are available upon request.
Nectar, Bridgton, ME
Nectar is a plant-based, superfood smoothie shop. They offer acai bowls and 12+ smoothie options, all of which are dairy-free and made from local, organic, and GMO free ingredients whenever possible. The menu includes a thorough list of ingredients for each smoothie, so you know exactly what you’re sipping. Some notable flavors include the “Maui Wowie” (coconut, banana, Hawaiian sea salt, macadamia nuts, almond cream, agave nectar, unsweetened coconut/almond milk), the “Blue Dream” (Maine blueberries, Maine maple syrup, bananas, spinach, acai berry, chia seeds, unsweetened hemp milk), and the “Power Plant” (kale, spinach, pineapple, avocado, lime, raw ginger, matcha green tea, local honey).
Taste of Eden Vegan Cafe, Norway, ME
Taste of Eden is a family-run cafe located on Main Street in Norway. Everything offered at Taste of Eden is 100% vegan and “supplied from farm-to-table through veganic gardening techniques.” Their menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, veggie burgers, burritos, and a variety of beverages. They also sell pre-packaged, frozen vegan meals and offer catering services.
SEBAGO REGION – PORTLAND
If you find yourself in the Sebago Lakes Region, chances are you aren’t too far from Portland, which really is the dining hub of Maine–in 2018, it was named the “Number 1 Foodie City” by People Magazine and offers just about everything from seafood platters to a vegan “Korean Street Dawg.” Here are some favorite plant-based hot-spots in the city of Portland:
Bam Bam Bakery, Commercial Street, Portland, ME
Bam Bam’s first claim to fame is that all of its baked goods are exclusively gluten-free, making it one of only about one hundred entirely gluten-free bakeries in the U.S. Even more impressive is that Bam Bam also features a variety of vegan and gluten-free options! (This is a tough combination to come by!) You can stop by their shop in downtown Portland for a coffee and a sweet treat or place an order–Bam Bam is even willing to accommodate dietary needs in special orders.
Flatbread Company, Commercial Street, Portland, ME
Located on the Portland waterfront, Flatbread offers one of Portland’s premier dining experiences. The restaurant’s interior is cozy and welcoming thanks to the large earthen oven in which the flatbread pizzas are cooked. Flatbread is committed to using organic ingredients whenever possible and makes a vegan pizza with caramelized onions, mushrooms, Kalmata olives, homemade garlic oil, and an organic herb blend. They also offer “free form flatbreads” in which you can select your own toppings, including vegan cheese. Your non-plant-based friends and family will be happy too, with a wide selection of all-natural meats and cheeses to top their pizzas with–there is truly a pizza for everyone here!
The Green Elephant, Congress Street, Portland, ME
The Green Elephant advertises as an “Asian inspired vegetarian bistro” and is one of southern Maine’s more well-known restaurants for plant-based fare. Every option on their extensive menu, which includes various noodle, rice, and curry dishes, is vegan, or can be altered to be vegan. The Green Elephant sources local products whenever possible, particularly within their beer and wine selection.
Totally Awesome Vegan Food Truck, Portland, ME (see schedule here)
This food truck is a real winner. In fact, it was awarded “Best Food Truck” in the 2019 Portland Old Port Awards and was #3 on the list of the Top-10 Food Trucks on the Planet by Tenderly Magazine. It boasts “gourmet vegan junk food like you’ve only imagined” and offers lunch, dinner, and brunch menus. (Yes, this is where the vegan “Korean Street Dawg” hails from!)
Java Joe’s Corner Cafe, Farmington & Carrabassett Valley, ME
If you’re headed to the mountains (or lakes) for the day and need an on-the-go breakfast or a backpack-friendly lunch, Java Joe’s is your one-stop-shop. They offer a wide selection of bagels (homemade), coffee (from the local Carrabassett Valley Coffee Company), wraps, and sandwiches that can be easily customized to accommodate a plant-based diet. If you love the coffee, you can grind your own beans right there and take your favorite flavor home with you!
Longfellows Restaurant, Kingfield, ME
Longfellows offers casual family dining, and it will certainly make the whole family happy between the kid’s menu, meat-based dishes, and the growing list of comfort-style vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. Some notable plant-based dishes include a curry vegetable stir fry, vegan linguini with marinara sauce, a homemade veggie burger, and a mediterranean hummus wrap.
Portage Tap House, Oquossoc, ME
The Portage Tap House is a relatively new addition to the Rangeley Lakes Region with an atmosphere that “pays homage” to the region’s boating and fishing history “while having all the amenities of a new tap house.” Its menu does a good job of striking a balance between classic pub fare (sometimes with a modern twist) and plant-based dishes, including a vegan pizza, avocado toast, and a sweet potato and black bean burger.
Rolling Fatties, Kingfield, ME
Rolling Fatties is a husband-and-wife run restaurant and food truck “specializing in locally sourced food in the form of a big FAT burrito.” The original “fatty” includes Maine-grown organic oat groats, Maine black beans, fresh salsa, crema (skip for a vegan option) and cilantro, but specialty fatties are also offered, including a plant-based falafel fatty. Any fatty can be deconstructed into a bowl for a gluten-free option. If you’re in the Kingfield area and spot a restored 1974 Airstream Argosy, chances are it’s the one and only “rolling” fatty!
By: Laura Pulito for Tom Ferent/Mr. Lakefront