Housed in a vintage railroad car, Palace Diner entices visitors to Biddeford and locals alike to nab one of the 15 counter seats, to the tune of hour-plus waits on weekends. This legendary spot is worth any wait and it’s open daily from 8 a.m. till 2 p.m. Breakfast served all day features ultra-savory Corned Beef Hash, and a fat stack of Buttermilk Flapjacks that’s always the play if available (it sometimes sells out early). For those inclined toward lunch, sandwiches such as the Fried Chicken with cabbage slaw and jalapeños are enormous, and we could not imagine any better. To us, Palace Diner, you are perfect. Take me there.
With a distinctive bubbly, charred exterior, Rover Bagels offers rustic renditions of tried-and-true types of bagels like Sea Salt and a well-coated Everything. Cranadama, a riff on cinnamon raisin using cranberries and malty Anadama, a classic New England flavor, pairs appealingly with the house-blended lemon-thyme-honey cream cheese. Bagel sandwiches at Rover are a real treat, too, such as the Shift Meal (bacon, seasoned avocado, roasted onions, hot honey) and the Spicy Salmon (smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, greens, chili-garlic cream cheese). Be sure to order online early to snag the bagel of your choice before this takeout-only spot inevitably sells out for the day. Take me there.
Biddeford claims a few craft beer hot spots, such as Banded Brewing Co., the city’s first taproom; and gluten-free brewery Lucky Pigeon Brewing Co. It’s also home to your favorite brewer’s new favorite brewery, Sacred Profane. By design, this Biddeford brewery produces only two beers: a pale lager and a dark lager. The brewing partners, formerly of Oxbow Brewing and Notch Brewing, set about opening the country’s first “tankpub,” where rather than make a dozen different types of beer, they focus on two—in this case, classic Czech-style lagers—and really nail it. Presentation is key to these stellar mugs, topped with aromatic foam measured in “fingers,” which enhances the drinking experience. Sacred Profane also serves wine, Allen’s Coffee Brandy, and a rotating selection of other bevvies, including beers from other breweries. The kitchen’s full menu is filled with perfect pairings like a Double Smashburger and homemade French Onion Dip with Saltines. Take me there.
Elements: Books, Coffee, and Beer
The Biddeford scene has come into its own in more recent years, but Elements has been holding it down for a decade. The Main Street staple provides a highly curated experience through each… element. Coffee is ethically-sourced and roasted at Elements’ own roastery, also located right in town. Craft beer, ciders, and seltzers are always evolving, and run the gamut of Maine gems like Bissell Brothers and hyper-local cans from Sacred Profane. Settle in with a beverage and your pick of the gently used books for sale. Take me there.
Fish & Whistle
It’s all about the fried seafood at Fish & Whistle. Lightly battered and perfectly crispy, we’re here for it in the form of Fish and Chips or a sandwich on house-baked milk bread, made with sustainable catch like hake or Maine squid. When the malt vinegar fries get involved, it will be a challenge to save room for Sea Salt Vanilla Soft Serve, but you should try: Co-owner Kate Hamm, who runs Fish & Whistle with her husband Jason Erickson, was nominated as Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation. Through their shared experience and training (Erickson himself is an alum of Portland’s Eventide Oyster Co.), the couple has created a beautifully whimsical, simply wonderful Maine fish fry. Take me there.
Doubling as a retail shop and wine bar, Lorne Wine brings sustainably-made wines from small producers to downtown Biddeford. (Its co-founders are also the hospitality and food and beverage partners at Sacred Profane!) The neighborhood spot believes in not only providing great wine, but making it approachable and affordable to all—hello, $12 glass pours. The fun doesn’t stop here: The small but mighty shop holds wine classes and a wine club for locals, and is also big on events, like pop-up dinners with local chefs. Take me there.
Magnus on the Water
Magnus on the Water is an intimate, stylish spot with a big bar, deeply rooted in warm hospitality. The menu, matched with cocktails, is primarily savory small plates with a couple entrees and desserts, paying homage to local farmers and fishermen. Bites like Smoked Beets with chiriboga blue cheese and maple curried walnuts, and local Hake with cranberry beans, cremini mushrooms, kale, and horseradish, are put together with “a soulful community spirit,” according to the founders; and every ingredient has an important place on the plate. Take me there.
At Elda, lauded chef Bowman Brown and his team offer nightly tasting menus that draw inspiration from the Maine landscape through flavors and stunning plating techniques. Imagine scallops cured in cherry blossom paste; Marinated Venison atop an emulsion of black trumpet mushrooms and ramps; and Wild Maines Belon Oysters. The dining experience can be up to three hours—but it also extends well beyond the dinner table, both before, while gathering and foraging for ingredients; and after, through lasting impressions. Elda has alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage pairing options, and reservations are a must. Be sure to plan ahead for this memorable meal. Take me there.