South Portland (SoPo) is one of those places that has both changed a lot over the years but also hasn’t really changed. (If that makes sense) I grew up in SoPo and still live there now with Andrew and our kitties. We like our little neighborhood across the bridge from foodie central Portland, and honestly prefer to eat on our side closer to home. Parking is easier, there aren’t as many tourists and the food is fantastic. Here are some of our favorites.
Coffee and Pastry
Sad to say my ultimate stop for coffee closed up shop unexpectedly just a few weeks ago (RIP Omi’s) but thankfully I can still grab an amazing coffee at Solo Cucina. This small Italian market serves up strong caffeinated beverages and delicious pastries. I love walking down there when the weather is nice to grab an iced coffee and a croissant or rhubarb almond cake to enjoy in nearby Mill Creek Park.
No doubt Scratch is tops when it comes to a local favorite. They have fantastic bagels, croissants, savory scones, danishes, and a rotating bread selection. This is also a great spot to grab a sandwich or salad to enjoy on Willard Beach which is right around the corner. If you’re in the mood for a donut, eclair or festive sugar cookie, pop into The Cookie Jar. This old fashioned bakery has been make delicious treats since the 1950s. Technically they’re in Cape Elizabeth, just over the town line but a cinnamon sugar donut with a cup of coffee on a Sunday is perfection.
SoPo Seafood opened in 2021 and we quickly became regulars. Delicious chowders, briny oysters, lobster dip and rotating specials keep us coming back. I had a delicious salmon cake over salad greens special the other day and it was SO good. They also mix up a mean negroni.
Without a doubt it’s Foulmouthed. Not only are they brewing up a bunch of quirky, rotating beers but they also have a drool-worthy menu. The nachos and french fries are a must if you are going in for a drink and a snack. It has a great neighborhood vibe and they also host trivia on Mondays!
Taco Trio serves up the best tacos and burritos around. (In my opinion, anyway.) Stop in and grab a spicy margarita or paloma to have with some traditional Mexican favorites. I love the carne asada open burrito plate or the fish tacos. They also have daily tamale specials which are worth an order, they are delicious.
Right next door to SoPo Seafood is Judy Gibson. The menu here continuously changes with the seasons so you know the ingredients are top notch.(plus the owner is the former Chef de Cuisine at Eventide in Portland) Dishes like beef tartare served on a hash brown with smoked tuna mayo, scallop crudo with pickled peppers topped with buttermilk dressing and pistachios, and crispy duck rillettes with tomato jam and mustard greens are some favorites. Another great date night stop is Bistro Leluco. Serving Mediterranean inspired dishes and using fresh, seasonal ingredients everything the chef makes is delicious. When we stopped in I had the Parisienne gnocchi with maitake mushrooms and Andrew had the steak au poivre. The small plates and cocktails were also amazing. They just opened in January but it already feels like a neighborhood favorite.
Grab and Go
BenReuben’s Knishery serves up their old family recipes and traditional Jewish dishes right in Knightville. I had never had a knish before stopping in here and they are delicious. They have their house standard knishes but also feature specials using fresh, seasonal ingredients. The BenReuben knish made with house pastrami, sauerkraut, and Swiss is one of Andrew’s favorites. They also make delicious deli sandwiches and if the Schtick-y Bun (cinnamon knish) is on the menu, order one!
Do you have a favorite place in SoPo? Let me know! I’m sure there are new places I haven’t explored yet.