West Bayside was a largely industrial area for the majority of Portland’s recent history. While East Bayside was thriving with the arrival of new breweries, coffee shops, and restaurants, West Bayside had yet to see this sort of revitalization.
However, in the past few years, this area of town has blossomed from wasteland to a wonderland, chasing the heels of its sister neighborhood to the East. Whereas East Bayside is very beverage-centric with Rising Tide, Coffee By Design, and more, West Bayside brings a bit of variety to the table. From bowling alleys to barbecue to community-focused cycle studios, the options are growing every day. We’ll be highlighting some of these gems and how they’ve helped developed West Bayside into a thriving, vibrant part of the Portland community.
Everything at Batson River is inspired by the rich outdoor traditions of Maine. From the hunting-lodge vibes of their expansive restaurant and tasting room to their curated cocktail list and menu filled with the best seasonal, local ingredients, they are always celebrating Southern Maine.
Opening its 2nd of four locations in Maine in December 2020 (original location based in Kennebunkport), Batson River continues to bring all the fun, style and energy of the Maine outdoor experience to downtown Portland. Batson River currently offers brunch, dinner, and happy hour throughout the week with trivia Tuesday nights, live music on Saturday nights, and drag brunch the last Sunday of each month.
Banded Brewing Co. originally started just down the road in the neighboring town Biddeford, as Biddeford’s first brewery. In 2020, they added an expansive brewery and tasting room with a five-barrel brewing system at 82 Hanover Street in Portland, with indoor and outdoor seating.
Banded stands for solidarity – “banding together” – both in and out of the beer industry. Prioritizing collaboration and keeping community at the forefront of everything they do, Banded brews a wide selection of high-quality beers, from the traditional to the avant-garde. Bring your community to share a pint on the patio on a summer day, or cozy up inside in the winter.
Bayside Bowl is one of the original projects that began to bring West Bayside into modernity. What began as a single-level, 8-lane bowling alley on Preble St transformed into a multi-level, 20 lane experience complete with four bars, arcade games, live music, comedy, and a legendary rooftop bar with a refurbished Airstream selling street tacos.
Bayside Bowl’s transformation from a humble bowling alley to the ‘it’ place in West Bayside really helped facilitate the change to come.
If you’ve been to Bronxville or Port Chester in New York, then you may already be familiar with Coal’s Pizza, founded in 2004 in the Bronx. The owner of Coal’s Pizza, Billy Etzel, is a long-time visitor to Maine with a family connection in Kittery. This bond with the Pine Tree State made it clear to Etzel that this was the perfect place to establish the third Coal’s Pizza location. Etzel purchased the former Portland & Rochester space on 114 Preble Street, and opened on June 12, 2019.
They serve crispy, flavorful grilled pizzas such as the “Bee Cool” (three cheeses, tomato, basil, smoked pepperoni, hot honey) and “The Bayside” (fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, pistachio pesto, arugula). If you’re not in the mood for pizza, Coal’s has some of the most finger-licking, lip-smacking chicken wings in town.
Need a break from breweries and brunch? Head to Cyclebar for a mindful reset. They strive to offer an inclusive and inspiring workout to anyone, regardless of where they are on their fitness journey.
If you’re curious but unsure if spin is right for you, Cyclebar offers your first class free, so there is no risk to checking them out.
Fork Food Lab has served as an incubator for some of Portland’s most beloved food staples: The Totally Awesome Vegan Food Truck, Suga Suga, Mill Cove Baking Co., and many more found their footing within these walls. Providing a tasting room and kitchen, Fork provided the means for up and coming food vendors who did not have adequate space to practice their craft.
In spring 2022, Fork Food Lab announced an impending move to South Portland, but their legacy in the West Bayside neighborhoods lives on. They will continue to be a place for young food trucks and culinary businesses to grow, create, and thrive for many years to come.
With clean concrete, wide open space, and a lounge area complete with a fire place, Wilson’s is described as “a comfortable gathering place replete with Southern hospitality and unfussy charm.”
When I first visited, on the menu were delectations I hadn’t laid eyes on since my road trip through North Carolina. Hush puppies, collard greens, cheesy grits, and banana pudding are all rare delicacies to the Northern palette and it felt like such an indulgence. In addition to the large menu, there is a broad selection of brews on tap, both local and from away, so you’ll find no shortage of options to quench your thirst.
The casual sophistication of Wilson’s space is met with a laid-back attitude that almost makes you forget you’re north of the Mason-Dixon.