Mount Desert Island Restaurants

Joyce and I, as discussed in our Mount Desert Island Top Ten List blog, enjoyed another fantastic time on Downeast Maine’s Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. But now trip, regardless of how beautiful or how much fun, is complete without restaurants.

Unfortunately, Maine’s restaurant pickings get slimmer and slimmer the farther downeast you go. Although there are some very good restaurants in Portland (Fore Street), Rockland (Primo) and Camden (Natalie’s), the best Mount Desert can claim are, in our mind, relatively good restaurants with great atmosphere. And for these, you must really look. Among the restaurants we tried on this trip:

  • Peabody’s is the restaurant at the Asticou Inn (see above discussion of Northeast Harbor). We ate a dinner and lunch (both off the lounge menu) this trip. Dinner, at a table next to a window with an idyllic harbor view, consisted of three very enjoyable dishes” Maine Peekytoe crab cakes with smoked tomato coulis, Lobster ravioli with tomato sauce and Maine lobster roll. Lunch, which was outside, on the deck, was a reprise of the lobster roll. Next time on the island will absolutely include at least a night at the Asticou and a dinner on other than Tuesday, the night of their buffet.


  • Poor Man’s Gourmet has a relatively utilitarian, but from our experience, solid menu and interesting list of high-value wines at very reasonable prices. We had a “Mega Lobster Sautee” (very unexpectedly served over butter-baked, crunched up Ritz crackers), two orders on Maine stone crab claws (and I thought they were only from Florida) and a bottle and a half of one of their very serviceable “special” wines, a $15 bottle of a French chardonnay/sauvignon blanc. We chose to sit at the bar, rather than the table we were offered, enjoying a very pleasant (if not remarkable) meal, conversation with the manager and bottle and a half for wine. And the amazing part: the entire evening, including a bottle and a half of wine, cost less than $100 including taxes and tip!
  • Mache Bistro has a French-influenced menu that we found moderately interesting. The lamb loin chops were very good, as was the raspberry and blueberry crisp with Maine blueberry and buttermilk ice cream. We, however, found the pumpkin seed dusted king salmon, which sounded to us as the most interesting item on the menu to be less inspired.
  • Parkside Restaurant was our first Bar Harbor restaurant for this trip. The only reason we went is that we were still in the “full lobster ahead” phase of the trip. We got a baked stuffed lobster and a steamed lobster dinner with steamed softshell clams, chowder and blueberry pie. It reminded us—if you want plain lobster, go to a lobster pound (see below).
  • Havana was an absolutely unique experience. We went there seven years ago (the last time we were on the island) and decided to return for the Cuban-accented food. While we were quite interested in two of the dinner specials, we were blown away by the huge wine selection and especially the amazing list of Spanish wines. After seeing the list, we planned to put ourselves in the hands of the sommelier, who we wanted to recommend a menu that matched with a wine that aligned with our tastes. Then we discovered that the restaurant no longer had a sommelier. Although the owner knew quite a bit about wine, he was not available that evening. Okay, we were still willing to try. We told them the dishes in which we had the greatest interest, and asked them to recommend a Spanish wine to pair with the food. After they informed us that nobody in the restaurant could help, we left, returning to another restaurant that we enjoyed from our last visit;

There is also one additional restaurant that must be mentioned:

  • Reading Room Restaurant at the Bar Harbor Inn. Although we haven’t eaten (or stayed) at the Inn, it looks lovely on a beautiful setting on Frenchman’s Bay. The dining room, which offers some moderately-interesting, albeit pretty expensive dishes, has a great arching window with wonderful bay views. We may be tempted to give it a try on our nest trip. But even if you don’t make it for dinner, you have to make time for sunset drinks on the deck.


This does not include the casual seafood (typically lobster and fried clam, with an occasional crab roll and halibut sandwich thrown in) restaurants at which we had three lunches. While each was okay, we couldn’t particularly recommend any. All the more reason to visit your friendly, local lobster pound (including, but certainly not limited to two of our island favorites, Abel’s and Beal’s).


In summary, when looking for food on Mount Dessert, our recommendations are to look not only for the best food, but for a combination of food and atmosphere. Some of the best options—at least judging from this trip, are:

  • Peabody’s for a combination of the food, the ambiance of and view from the hotel and the Asticou gardens (see Our Top Ten List for Mount Desert Island blog);
  • Lobster pounds that are either on the shore (such as Abel’s) at the docks (like Beal’s); or, if you are in Bar Harbor.
  • Poor Man’s Gourmet, for a combination of good (albeit not great) food, low attractive prices and their attractive wine specials.

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