Once upon a time, Washington Avenue, at the foot of Munjoy Hill wasn’t somewhere the average Portlander wanted to be. Seemingly overnight, the strip transformed into a playground full of activities and cuisine for visitors and locals alike.
From oyster bars to Japanese izakayas to distilleries, you could spend a whole day on this strip of road and not run out of things to do. Let’s take a stroll down the avenue.
Where to Eat & Drink on Washington Ave Extension
Anoche is a Basque-inspired cider house and bistro that offers a wide selection of international ciders and spirits as well as innovative modern pintxos. Meaning ‘last night’ in Spanish, Anoche is a place that has an air of being somewhere you come upon when you are lost and discover when you least expect it.
The Cheese Shop opened in 2018 as one of the flagship businesses in the Black Box, but has since moved to a new, larger space at 107 Washington Ave where there is now seating (including small coffee tables along the sidewalk in the summer), an expanded sandwich menu, and an array of their familiar cheeses and accoutrements.
Whether you’re preparing a charcuterie spread for your next party or need a simple lunchtime pick-me-up, The Cheese Shop has you covered!
This hip, lowkey venue glows at night with its dim lighting and neon sign in the window. Their entryway is marked by a lovely hand painted mural of their name in hot pink letters. From the outside, you can already get a sense for what kind of chill, creative vibe you’ll experience once you’re inside.
Their authentic Vietnamese menu is just as eclectic as their aesthetic. From your simple pho ga to the cơm chiên hải sản bursting with local seafood, there is no shortage of flavor and inspiration on this menu. Even if you’ve never ventured outside of drunken noodles before, Cong Tu Bot encourages you to try new things with their ever-changing menu and expert chefs behind the bar.
We all know and love Duckfat. Their duck-fat-fried french fries, the thick Gelato Fiasco milkshakes…I could go on. But what if I told you that you didn’t need to make a reservation at their restaurant to enjoy some of your favorites? And what if I also told you there may even be new and exciting dishes to try? That’s where Duckfat Friteshack comes in.
The Friteshack at Oxbow Brewing gives patrons a place to line their tummies and enjoy a taste of Middle St. without having to fight the crowds. They carry the fan favorite Belgian-inspired frites and poutine, as well as some newcomers such as duck fat-fried donut holes and rotating specials like fried chicken sandwiches. Occasionally they also host special menus such as yakitori nights.
If you’re wandering Washington Ave. with a belly full of brews but don’t feel like shelling out the big bucks, maybe all you need are some frites smothered in aioli (and maybe a fried egg).
Not feeling frites? You’re in luck with a new development on Washington Ave. Next-door neighbors Oxbow Brewing and Hardshore Distilling are both expanding their tasting rooms on Washington street for late summer 2023. To compliment this exciting development, Evan Richardson is revitalizing his beloved New Orleans cajun fried chicken concept as a food truck just outside.
Forage prides themselves on a simple bagel consisting of only four ingredients: flour, water, malt, and salt. If there’s anything Portlanders love, it’s a good bagel. So when the Lewiston-based bakery opened up a second location on the peninsula, they were slated for success from the very start. Hand-rolled, aged for two days, and cooked by a hardwood fire, these bagels surely give Rose Foods a run for their money as the reigning bagel champs of Portland.
Alongside their bagels, they serve cream cheeses made in-house, pastries, fresh sandwiches and a dedication to local ingredients. Start your day at Forage and maybe end it at a brewery, all without leaving Washington Ave!
The liquor train doesn’t just stop at 123 Washington Ave. In 2016, after years of fine-tuning and crafting, Harshore’s flagship product ‘Hardshore Original Gin’ was released and the tasting room soon to follow. Ever since then, that’s been it.
From gimlets to G&T’s, there’s no shortage of creative ways gin can find its way into a cocktail. What could be thought of as a summer drink is transformed here into an anytime liquor with a place in cocktails from smokey to sweet.
Izakaya Minato may just be my favorite restaurant in Portland, period. An izakaya is an informal type of Japanese bar that serves drinks and snacks, a favorite amongst Japanese business men and women after a long day at work. Minato takes this format to a whole new level with fresh, seasonal offerings and an elevated dining space that hits just the right balance between casual and upscale.
Among Izakaya Minato’s most beloved offerings are the JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken), rotating sashimi, as well as their broad selection of filtered and unfiltered sake served in the cup of your choice (yes, they bring a tray of many different adorable antique sake cups to choose from) But the king of the menu is undoubtedly the omakase; a six-course meal at $42 a person offering you the chef’s choice of dishes for the night. This can include anything from the JFC to Kamo Yaki Udon or Ban Ban Ji.
Boy, do I love Maine Craft Distilling. Within their walls, just about every liquor imaginable is crafted. From the cinnamony Cannon Shot vodka to the beloved Blueshine Liquor, if you have a favorite poison, they make it. Founded in 2012 and with locations in both Freeport (now closed) and Portland, MCD quickly became a local favorite. With everything from boozy slushies to a killer fried chicken sandwich, there’s a lot to love on the menu. Plus they host a slew live music – from acoustic to folk!
MCD offers distillery tours and tastings daily and live music throughout the week.
Dim lighting. Wooden barrels for tables. Tucked quietly away from the street for a cozy feel. These are the things that make Oxbow Brewing Co. stand out as a quiet gem on Washington Ave. Accompanied by Duckfat Frites Shack, the outdoor patio space is the perfect place to hunker down with some pals, enjoy some poutine, and throw back some deeply satisfying brews.
With their first location sprouting up in Newcastle, Maine, the move to vibrant Portland was a natural next step. Partnering with a James Beard award-winning restaurant and emphasizing a focus on European-style food and rustic beer, drinking has never felt as snug and comforting as it does here.
Meaning ‘roots’ in Italian, Radici is the brainchild of Randy and Ally Forrester. These two felt that putting down roots here in Portland was the logical next step for them after closing their restaurant in Allentown, NJ. Drawn to Maine by their love of the land and sea, this culinary couple transformed their James Beard semi-finalist restaurant Osteria into the pizzeria Radici.
Their pizza dough is naturally leavened (meaning no yeast) and hand-mixed. With a commitment to fresh, natural ingredients, low intervention wine and high-quality espresso, this newcomer to the Portland food scene will think twice next time you’re craving Dominos.
One of the many brainchildren of Chad Conley and Josh Sobel (Conley is the founder of both Palace Diner and Rose Foods) Ramona’s began as a pop-up at The Portland Zoo. Now, the Philly-inspired hoagie shop serves lunch and breakfast fare you can’t quite get anywhere else in Portland.
Their unique sandwiches make for the perfect pick-me-up on the way to work or a lunch break treat.
I didn’t like kombucha for the longest time. Kombucha to me was, as I like to call it, just ‘spicy juice’. A low ABV, a bitter taste, and what the heck is a ‘mother’? Everything about the probiotic drink turned me right off. However, in one fell swoop, Root Wild Kombucha proved to me just how enjoyable a nice glass of kombucha could be.
With flavors ranging from beach rose to pineapple jalapeño, Root Wild makes sure that not a single one of their flavors is boring or unappetizing. My personal favorite is the classic ginger flavor; good for the tummy and tastes good too!
If you ever need a break from the heaviness of a beer, try a flight at Root Wild to cleanse the palate and maybe even find a new favorite.
If there’s anything locals and tourists alike love, it’s a fresh oyster. Featuring a wide array from Maine and Massachusetts as well as littleneck clams, tinned seafood and alcoholic beverages, the menu at Island Creek has a little something for any diehard seafood connoisseur.
Established in 2015, Terlingua sought to bring big Tex-Mex flavor to Portland in their small 52 Washington Avenue space. Having graced many Top 10 Conde Nast Traveler and Bon Appetit lists, Terlingua became a quick favorite with their house-smoked meats and hearty brunches.
After a recent expansion, Terlingua now boasts almost 60 seats for both indoor and outdoor dining – which includes a Corral Bar and outdoor margarita garden. They also offer takeout and a grab-and-go section in their market, which features house-made products, smoked meats, and dry goods so that you can recreate the Teralingua experience from the comfort of your own home.
Tu Casa, in my and many Portland native’s opinion, is the city’s best hidden gem. I’ve met many folks who even claimed this Salvadoran spot to be their favorite place to eat in town. Why might this be? People have yet to even hear of this humble eatery tucked away on Washington Ave behind blink-and-you’ll-miss-it signage. Despite its unsuspecting appearance, Tu Casa serves up some of the freshest, most authentic Salvadoran food you can get in the Pine Tree State.
When Tu Casa was first recommended to me, I was told to order the Plato Monanero; steak, avocado, plantains served with rice and beans. This plate is a little bit of everything essential and is the perfect entry dish for those who are new to Salvadoran food. The pupusas (thick corn tortillas filled with cheese and herbs) and house-made horchata aren’t to be forgotten either.