Kittery, Maine

This serious food town in southern Maine punches well above its weight.

  • Current
    Weather

Clouds & 58°

  • When to
    Visit

Year round

  • Population
     

Approx. 9,700

  • Founded
     

1647

By Catherine Smart

Kittery is the Brooklyn of Portsmouth. No, Portland. No, Boston. Nevermind—when it comes to being at the forefront of good food, craft beer, and cocktails, this Southern Maine town is second to none. Here, you’ll find classic lobster rolls with water views and fried seafood institutions beside outlet malls—classic Kittery. But you’ll also discover the new guard of hospitality folks populating the quaint Kittery Foreside district with cocktail bars, noodle joints, and the kind of neighborhood restaurants that we’d all like to have a few doors down. For a delicious weekend in the best little restaurant town in New England, here are six can’t-miss spots.

Kittery is the Brooklyn of Portsmouth. No, Portland. No, Boston. Nevermind—when it comes to being at the forefront of good food, craft beer, and cocktails, this Southern Maine town is second to none. Here, you’ll find classic lobster rolls with water views and fried seafood institutions beside outlet malls—classic Kittery. But you’ll also discover the new guard of hospitality folks populating the quaint Kittery Foreside district with cocktail bars, noodle joints, and the kind of neighborhood restaurants that we’d all like to have a few doors down. For a delicious weekend in the best little restaurant town in New England, here are six can’t-miss spots.

The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Kittery, Maine

 

Lil’s Cafe Boston

Lil’s Cafe

You came for the Cruller. This adorable community-center-of-a-coffee-shop has many good eats on offer—from Quiche to Almond Croissants—but patrons line up for those eggy, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts. These aren’t the heavy braided sticks you’ll find at Dunkin’s. We’re talking French crullers, shaped into rounds and—classically—glazed. Lil’s also offers a sugared version, plus seasonal riffs like harvest spice and apple toffee. If you’re in need of some protein, follow it up with the Egg & Cheese on Biscuit or a Southwestern Veggie Wrap with black bean spread. Lil’s also makes a stellar turkey sandwich on sourdough with Sriracha mayo that comes with house-made chips and a pickle. Just don’t forget: A hot coffee + fresh cruller at Lil’s = one of the top donut-eating experiences of your life. Take me there.

Anju Noodle Bar | The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Kittery Maine

Anju Noodle Bar

​​If the term “Asian fusion” makes you shudder, stick with us for a minute. Anju is a bright and airy noodle bar which cherry-picks flavors and techniques from across cuisines to great effect, letting local ingredients shine. From big steaming bowls of umami-packed Shoyu Ramen to ponzu-lifted Duck Yakisoba topped with cabbage and crunchy cashews, to Khao Soi, the rich and spicy Burmese noodle soup—most of the heavy lifting is done right in front of you, on a couple of induction burners behind the service bar. For proof that Anju knows how to iterate and when to leave a classic alone, try both steamed buns: One a traditional Chinese mix of pork belly, crunchy aromatics, sweet hoisin, and kimchi mayo; while the other riffs on Vietnamese Banh Mi with house country pork terrine. Anju refuses to play by the rules, and we all win. Take me there.

Tulsi | The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Kittery Maine

Tulsi

Locals have long known that this restaurant serves some of the region’s best Indian food. In fact, Travel + Leisure magazine once named Tulsi one of the top Indian eateries in the country. Chef Rajesh Mandekar, a Mumbai native, puts dishes from across India on the menu. Dig into rich Northern curries like Chicken Korma with cashew cream, cardamom, and fennel, or Tandoori Chicken marinated in yogurt and spices. Channa Masala, a Punjabi tomato- and ginger-spiked chickpea dish, packs a ton of flavor, while the Pork Vindaloo, a hot and tangy Goan recipe with Portuguese influence, surprises with malt vinegar, mustard oil, and plenty of garlic. Soak it all up with fresh baked breads like whole-wheat Roti and perennial favorite Garlic Naan. The food skews spicy, so icy local brews from Rising Tide and Moat Mountain Brewing Company are a must. Take me there.

The Black Birch

The Black Birch

When The Black Birch threw open its doors in 2011, the team was planting a flag: Kittery’s Foreside district deserves great food and drink. Though it paved the way for the many others, this original continues to excite in a warm, lively dining room and bar. Poutine and Duck Confit with hand-cut fries, fresh cheese curds, and rich gravy has been on the menu since day one, and you’ll always find some iteration of super-snackable Deviled Eggs. But most of the menu is in constant flux. So there’s always something new to try—like potato Borek with kale, feta, phyllo, yogurt, and nigella seed—and always something you’re pining for, like the shatteringly-crisp brick chicken you scan the menu for on every visit, hoping they’ll bring it back. No such luck? Console yourself with a Dancy Dirting, a cheery blend of mezcal, tawny port, dry vermouth, pineapple, lemon, and mint. You’re bound to leave satisfied to the bone. Take me there.

The Wallingford Dram

The Wallingford Dram

First there was a neighborhood bistro, then a noodle bar… A craft cocktail bar coming to Kittery Foreside was inevitable. The folks behind Anju and Portsmouth’s The Wilder restaurant also run The Wallingford Dram, which serves a frequently-rotating selection of drinks like the peppy Swear to Me, with gin, Thai basil, ginger, grapefruit liqueur, lemon, black pepper, and honey. Then there’s the toe-warming Golden Hour with reposado tequila, Fino sherry, apricot liqueur, lime, and orange-chipotle-cinnamon agave nectar. If you’re into smoky, but still fresh and foamy, try the Dovetail with tequila, mezcal, lime, grapefruit, egg white, and salt. The Dram also offers snacks like charcuterie plates with spreadable ‘nduja sausage and garlickly saucisson sec, or roasted pork sliders dubbed “Little Tonys” with arugula-walnut pesto and tomato-onion jam. Take me there

Tributary Brewing Company

Tributary Brewing Company

Tributary was a long time coming. Master brewer Tod Mott—creator of the original Harpoon IPA recipe—finally got a place of his own. The tasting room’s blue walls are meant to invoke the serenity of a pool of water; Mott and his wife Galen find inspiration in the mighty Piscataqua, whose tidal rivers and marshes lend the brewery its name. The atmosphere is decidedly soothing as well, with long communal tables, friendly servers who can point you toward a brew you’ll love, and live music on the weekends. You can’t go wrong with a crushable Pale Ale, or an iteration of a Belgian style with its signature peppery kick. But if there’s an imperial Russian stout on offer, one named—with a wink and a nod—“Mott the Lesser,” that’s what we’re having. Mott developed the cult classic Kate the Great Russian imperial for Portsmouth Brewery back in the day. Fans will follow him anywhere for these rich, dark, fruity, smoky flavor-bombs of beers. Take me there.

Updated by Jacqueline Cain

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