I have no idea how many restaurants there are in Bar Harbor but trust me, there are a lot! Craving French, Cuban, Irish or Maine cuisine? Prefer fine dining, casual or really casual outside on a picnic table? Steaks, seafood, burgers, pizza or popovers? You definitely can find it all here. Way to many choices! We did our best to go to each and every one of them during our visits in 2015 and 2018 but then ultimately decided we’d have to stay here for the entire summer and take out a loan to achieve that goal. But as you can see from the list below we did manage to visit quite a few on Mt Desert Island.
This post focuses on restaurants on Mt. Desert Island including Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, etc. For eateries in other areas of Maine, please refer to these posts: Lotsa Lobstah & Lighthouses (Camden/Rockport areas), Lingering in Lobstah Land (Kennebunkport/Wells area) and Castine – A Historic Town Under the Elms and By the Sea. Or select Fun Stuff: Good Eats: Maine from the menu bar.
Note we’ve rated each restaurant based on our personal preferences, judging not only the quality and taste of the food but the atmosphere, the service and the prices as well. Also, unless otherwise noted, the prices shown are those that we paid in 2015.
Cafe This Way, 14 1/2 Mt. Desert Street, Bar Harbor – Rating 5/5
Eclectic, quirky and casual cafe that might have once been a garage tucked away on a small side street away from the hubbub of downtown Bar Harbor. Excellent quality food and preparation at relatively low prices, especially for this area. At least in regard to breakfast this restaurant gets our vote for best value. Highly recommended. Usually very busy so expect a wait during the peak season. To get there follow RT 3 into Bar Harbor where it becomes Mt. Desert Street, turn right onto the narrow and easy to miss Temple St Rd which will bring you to the restaurant and a small free parking area. We ate here three times in 2015 for breakfast and wanted to try dinner but never had a chance.
The Harney ($7.95) is excellent (so good Rob had it twice and I had it once) – delicious homemade corned beef hash with two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce. I tried the Smoked Salmon Benedict ($8.50) served with home fries which was also excellent.
The day before our departure in 2015, we both had the Monte Cristo ($8.95) described by the waiter as “a bit of savory and sweet” and served with real maple syrup. We even saved half of it for breakfast the next day. Delicious!
2 Cats Cafe & Inn, 130 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor – Rating 5/5
In 2018, this restaurant is now cash only! No credit cards – they have an on-site ATM but when we were there in 2018 it was out of service!
Friends Betsy and Nancy invited us to have breakfast with them here one morning. We had eaten here many years ago but didn’t remember much about it. Located in an old house with numerous cozy dining rooms, artfully decorated with everything cats. We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast outside on the porch. I decided to follow Rob’s lead so we both had the Corned Beef Hash ($10.95) with two poached eggs and a biscuit with strawberry butter. Betsy had the Lobster Benedict ($19.95) which looked totally awesome.
We ended up going back a second time on Sunday around 8:15 am., expecting to have to wait for a table but we were seated inside right away. Rob stuck with the hash; I had a portabello, bacon and swiss omelet ($10.95) which was excellent. Enjoyed my leftovers the next morning. Prices were on the high side but relatively reasonable considering the very high quality of the food and preparation plus excellent service. Our vote for best quality breakfast in Bar Harbor. Usually very busy so expect a wait during the peak season.
When we visited in 2018, the food was just as delicious. Homemade corned beef hash ($11.95) once again for Rob while I had the Traditional Eggs Benedict ($12.95), served on a very flaky biscuit. Both served with spicy homefries.
Another restaurant we had been to many years ago. We went here shortly after we arrived in 2015 on a Saturday – it was crowded so we had to wait outside for about 30 minutes. I had one of their specials – a bacon, cheese and egg croissant with home fries (not sure of the price) and Rob had corned beef hash ($10.99) with two poached eggs and home made toast. I had water, he had coffee. Food was average quality and preparation, nothing great. The hash was canned and no different than what we would get elsewhere for almost half the price. We thought it was very overpriced for what you got, especially compared to 2 Cats and Cafe This Way. Somehow our total for breakfast was $33 – yikes! Even though this place gets really good reviews, we didn’t think it was worth the high prices or the 30 minute wait.
Jordan’s Restaurant, 80 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor (not to be confused with Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park) – Rating 3/5
Another place we have been to several times in the past. Known for everything “blueberry”. Good basic food with good service, but the prices this time in 2015 were in our opinion out of line for what you got. I had scrambled eggs with bacon and a blueberry muffin ($7.49); Rob had the Pancake Club Special – 2 blueberry pancakes with 2 scrambled eggs ($9.99). Both were good, but once again we would rather go to 2 Cats or Cafe This Way and get more quality for our money.
Sylvia’s Cafe, 248 State Street (Rt. 1A), Ellsworth – Rating 3/5
Located in a strip mall on the west end of Ellsworth on RT 1A, Sylvia’s is a favorite of the locals. Reasonable prices, good food and service. Home of the Hibernator, “A True Downeast Challenge” – eat a tall stack of buttermilk pancakes with a scrambler of your choice, corned beef hash plus 2 eggs your way with a side of bacon, sausage and ham and a biscuit. Normally this would cost $30 but if you eat all that you get it free – along with an upset stomach. Wonder if they give you a free bottle of Pepcid with your meal and have the paramedics standing by? No challenges for us! In 2015, we both just had bacon & cheese omelets, homefries and toast ($6.99). Cash only. Basic diner food at a good price with good service, we would return.
Martha’s Diner, 151 High Street, Ellsworth – Rating 2/5
Located in the same shopping center as Shaw’s Supermarket. We both had their Corned Beef Hash, listed as two Corned Beef Hash patties topped with two eggs, toast and home fries. Patties? It sure didn’t come out that way. Food was okay, nothing special, typical canned hash and typical Sysco potatoes. Lots of locals here and noisy, especially when Martha starts yelling at her staff. Service for us was extremely slow (over 30 minutes) for some reason. It gets good reviews but we don’t have any idea why. Thought it was overpriced for the quality of the food and service, so after our not so great visit in 2015, it’s very unlikely that we would ever bother going back.
Seal Cove Goat Farm, 202 Patridge Cove Road, Lamoine – Rating 4/5
A goat farm and pizza? Seems like a strange combo doesn’t it? But it works, is totally unique and is really good. This family owned and operated farm actually won Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice “Best Pizza Al Fresco 2015” award. The pizzas are handmade by the owner/operator, Barbara, and cooked in an outdoor homemade wood fired fire place.
When there in 2015, while watching the goats and kids (baby goats, not human types), we sat at a picnic table eating our goataroni, olga and tomato sauce pizza. Yes, you read it right – goataroni which is similar to pepperoni but made from goat meat. Olga cheese is made from a blend of raw cow and their goat milk, named for one of their interns from the Ukraine. Several international interns come to the US to work with her to learn the art of cheese making.
A little pricey at $11 but well worth it from a taste and experience perspective. While eating our pizza we had an opportunity to talk with Barbara, learning that she has had the goat farm for over 30 years! Besides the pizza, we bought a small wedge of Olga cheese and a Pepper and Garlic Chevre cheese ball. So good! Highly recommended for the fresh quality food and unique experience!
Sips, 4 Clark Point Road, Southwest Harbor – Rating 4/5
After taking a hike with Betsy, Nancy, Spirit 🐾, Nancy, Deas, Jen, Jake 🐾, Shorty 🐾 and Nikki 🐾, we stopped at Beech Hill Farm which is affiliated with the College of the Atlantic. Being early in the summer, not much produce was available yet. After that stop, we were hungry so off we went towards Southwest Harbor where we had lunch at Sips with Betsy, Nancy, Deas and Jen. Cute place, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (and Happy Hour). We both had Reubens ($8), served with Greek Orzo Salad and Pita Chips. Very good! Note they offer online ordering. Would definitely return.
In 2018, we returned for breakfast which is served daily until 11:00 a.m. I had one of their specials, a Crab & Gruyere Omelette ($12.00) which chock full of crabmeat and was delicious. Rob tried their home made hash & eggs ($10.00) but he wasn’t happy with it. Not the usual corned beef, instead it looked (and tasted) like it was leftover pot roast.
86 This, 125 Main Street, Ellsworth – Rating 4/5
Located in the historic area of Ellsworth, this small restaurant specializes in wraps, burritos, soups and salads. Very cute and clean. Interesting menu with several vegetarian options. No sit down service, order at the counter. In 2015, we both had the Boss Hog ($9) which is chipotle and citrus pulled pork, black beans, rice, pico de gallo, cabbage slaw, chipotle creme, cheddar/jack on a spinach wrap. Oh my! It was huge, must have weighed about a pound! Little did we know that they were so big – we could have split one although trying to divide it might have been a little challenging. Instead we had a nice meal from leftovers, enjoying the rest the next day for lunch. Would definitely go back to try some of their other items.
Side Street Cafe, 49 Rodrick Street, Bar Harbor – Rating 4/5
On their website, this family owned business is described as “part cozy restaurant, part bumping bar, part year-round local hang-out and part tourist haven”. Guess it is all of that although we just stopped here for lunch. In an older house down one of the side streets (thus the name) with two dining rooms and an outside deck. Extensive, very varied menu, known for their gourmet Mac & Cheese. Paula Deen listed Side Street Cafe as one of the top 10 To Try restaurants for Mac & Cheese (particularly the Lobster Mac & Cheese) in a 2014 issue of her magazine.
I decided to try a half order of Jeff’s Mac And Cheese ($8.95) which is their award winning recipe loaded with black beans, ham, onions and jalapeños. Surprised that I ordered that as I don’t usually like a big dish of pasta as a meal but it was excellent. Only complaint I had was that it wasn’t quite hot enough (temperature wise, with the jalapenos it was plenty spicy), but it was still warm enough that it didn’t warrant sending it back. The portion was huge so I had leftovers, hate to see how big a full size order was! Rob had their Adams Bomb Mini Burger which had melted swiss topped with bacon, grilled mushroom and BBQ sauce with a cup of fish chowder ($9.95). That was very good as well. Side Street Cafe offers both online ordering for pickup as well as call ahead seating. Would probably return.
We did return in 2018 for lunch, both of us ordering a half order of Jeff’s Mac and Cheese ($11.95, note the price is a $3.00 increase from 2015). No idea how anyone could eat a full order – we had leftovers with the half order. Just as good as the first time I had it in 2015.
Paddy’s Irish Pub, West Street Hotel, Bar Harbor – Rating 4/5
One of the two restaurants associated with the West Street Hotel (Stewman’s Lobster Pound is the other). Offering Irish-American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Paddy’s is on the corner of West and Main under the relatively new West Street Hotel. Open to the street (in good weather) it affords nice views of the harbor and is great for people watching while relaxing over a drink or good meal. We had an early dinner here with Rob’s aunt & uncle. It was a little coolish so we opted to sit inside even though the streetside walls were still open. Not your typical Irish pub decor but according to their website, has beautiful interior millwork handcrafted in Ireland, traditional Irish furnishings, and wall murals drawn from Irish folklore.
We weren’t hungry enough for a huge dinner so we both had the Guiness Barbeque Pork Stack ($12), made with slow cooked shaved local pork, house-made Guinness Barbeque Glaze, two-year aged Cheddar, cabbage slaw served on a Brioche bun and served with fries. Really tasty! The food quality and preparation is top notch as is the service and ambiance. A bit pricey, but we really enjoyed the location and would definitely go back here again.
We returned here for lunch with some of our friends, sitting outside since it was a beautiful day. Everyone shared Paddy’s Irish Nachos ($14), different than the usual nachos. Made seasoned hand-cut potato chips, melted farm house cheddar, green onions,
tomatoes, olives, ripe avocado, jalapeño, berkshire ham, ranch dipping sauce. Delish!
We split an order of Blue Hill Bay Mussels which were made with an Irish Ale, braised leeks, crumbled goat cheese, and grainy mustard broth ($14) and the Guiness Barbeque Pork Stack ($14) again.
The Cellar, 112 Main Street, Ellsworth, Maine – Rating 4/5 (Permanently Closed)
Our friends, Betsy and Nancy (RV-A-GoGo) wanted to try a different restaurant so they invited us to join them for dinner at The Cellar in Ellsworth. The Cellar is one of five restaurants in the Bar Harbor and Ellsworth areas, owned by FishMaine Inc. Located in the historic 1933 Luccini Building, the interior does look like it is a cellar with it’s gorgeous woodwork, arched ceiling, long bar, and elaborate wood trim and booths. Very nice ambiance! For dinner, Rob and I both had the Pan Roasted Atlantic Cod ($18) which is served with a mango and strawberry chutney, cilantro coulis, grilled bell pepper and arugula quinoa salad and toasted fennel grilled asparagus. Generous portions with a nice blend of flavors. Delish food and excellent service! Would definitely return.
Sweet Peas Cafe & Farm & Bar Harbor Cellars, 854 State Highway 3, Bar Harbor – Rating 4/5
On our last night of our 2015 visit at Narrows Too, Betsy and Nancy invited us to have dinner with them, suggesting a “progressive dinner”. Happy hour at Sweet Peas Cafe followed by dinner somewhere else. Happy hour offerings included half price for draft beers, local farm fresh oysters on the half shell and the Sweet Peas Pizza. On the premises is Bar Harbor Cellars Winery which has a wine tasting shop with a wonderful selection of their wines as well as other Maine based products such as chocolate, Strawberry Hills Farm maple syrup, coffee, cheese, etc. They have wine tastings (your choice of any 6 wines) for $5.
For dinner, just a pizza, or just to sip wine or enjoy a beer, sit outside at one of their tables overlooking a field where there were a few horses grazing. It was very sunny and a little warm so we opted to sit outside in the shade at a table in the front of the cafe. While sipping on our beverages, Betsy ordered their special Sweet Peas Pizza (normally $11) to share. Made with tomato puree, fresh mozzarella, olive oil. Delish!
The second (and last) stop of our progressive dinner in 2015. Lovely setting in the main dining room with a fantastic view overlooking Frenchman Bay. I had the Veal Scallopini ($29) which is sauteed veal cutlet, prosciutto, mozzarella, oven roasted tomatoes, spinach, wild mushroom, roasted garlic and lemon served over Tuscan mashed potatoes. Rob had the Chicken Saltimbocca ($26) boneless chicken breast pounded thin, prosciutto, fontina, forest mushrooms, fresh sage, sauteed in olive oil served over Tuscan mashed potatoes. Both dishes were excellent! Meal costs are definitely upper crust here, but the view is It was about 4:30 p.m. when we arrived. spectacular and the It was about 4:30 p.m. when we arrived. service top notch.
Note that La Bella Vita is a mini chain with another location in Bar harbor at the Harborside Hotel on West St., a third location at the Samoset Resort in Rockland, ME plus two more locations in Philadelphia, PA and Bolton Landing, NY.
Seafood Ketch, 47 Shore Road, Bass Harbor – Rating 3/5
Friends had recommended this restaurant so we thought we would give it a try. Every Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday night – two entrees served with potato/rice and veggie, a loaf of freshly baked and a bottle of wine, all for $30. Sounded like a good deal. I believe this special is only good through the month of June but I’m not totally sure about that.
It was about 4:30-ish on June 13th when we arrived. Although there was a nice seating area outside, with the potential of a thunderstorm, we sat inside. We had checked to see what time the special was available but there was no mention of it on their website, their Facebook page where their special menu is listed (they have since specified that the special starts at 5:00 p.m.) or on their sign outside the door. When the server told us that we were too early to get the special because it didn’t start until 5 p.m., we decided we would sit and have a drink anyway. Within five minutes, we were told it was ready unless we wanted a baked potato. When the owner made several remarks at us about arriving early, I told her that the time should be posted on their FB page – she insisted it was. When other people arrived after us (guess they had the same problem), the owner stomped around making remarks about people showing up early before the food was ready.
We both had the almond crusted haddock with a curried rum sauce and served with rice and fresh vegetables. Although the curried rum sauce was somewhat tasty, there was too much of it so it totally overwhelmed the fish. The fresh vegetable was a few spears of stringy roasted asparagus which seemed like it might have been reheated leftovers as the veggie of the day changed to green beans about 10 minutes after we ordered. The wine (Coastal Vines Chardonnay)and bread were good.
Overall definitely not a good experience. The continued rude remarks by the owner about people showing up early made us quite uncomfortable and the food wasn’t all that great. Doubt that we would ever return. So much for a good deal!
Thurston Lobster Pound, 9 Thurston Road, Bernard – Rating 5/5
Sitting outside on a beautiful day overlooking a picturesque harbor dotted with lobster boats and bordered with weather worn shacks stacked with lobster pots eating some form of seafood. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Serving Lunch and Dinner Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. Open the Sundays of Labor Day and Columbus Day Weekends. Order at the counter, put your number on the table and they will bring it to you.
Prices might be considered high but it’s all about location, location, location and it is a tourist area after all! We split an order of steamed clams (1 lb, $10.49). Rather than getting two smaller standard size lobster roll ($18.49) we opted to get a jumbo lobster roll ($24.49) and split it Good thing it was pretty big! Both the steamers and the lobster roll were delicious.
Site Cooked Lobster & Clam Bakes, at the campground – Rating 10/5
On one occasion, Deas & Nancy did home made french fries & onion rings in a fryer and yummy burgers on the grill, followed by Nancy’s awesome Blueberry Gallete.
Another time at Jen & Deas site we did steamers (soft shell clams), fresh caught lobster and all the fixins, yum!
We also visited our friends from Riverbend Clayton & Gail at their home in Ellsworth for some great company and an awesome lunch.
One other time after Deas & Jen and Rob’s Aunt & Uncle had left, Betsy and Nancy came down to our site and we boiled up some more fresh lobsters in seawater straight out of the bay. That’s how to do it! And the prices were really, really good!
In 2018 while staying at Schoodic Woods, we bought lobsters at the LobStore in Winter Harbor and had another lobster feed with our friends. Nothing is better than sitting at a picnic table in the great outdoors, eating a fresh Maine lobster!
And last but not least, how could I not mention our favorite ice cream shop?
Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, 66 Main Street, Bar Harbor – Rating 5/5
Every time we visited Bar Harbor over the years, a must do was a visit to this very popular chocolate and ice cream shop and this year was no exception! Featuring 64 home made ice cream flavors and 12 gelato flavors (plus a bunch of other sweet things made in house) it is really hard to decide what flavor to have. If you want to try a taste of any flavor just ask and they’ll give you a small spoonful.
Prices are posted on their website. Scoops of ice cream are Small, $4.50, Medium, $4.95, Large, $5.50. Although the scoops are pretty generous, for the difference in price, we usually order a medium which has two scoops. The medium size is a great choice if you can’t decide between two flavors – get a scoop of each!
My two favorites have always been Rum Raisin or Grapenut which is what I had on two separate visits in 2015. Those flavors seem to hold true each and every time because on our visit in 2018, it was grapenut for me again.
We’ve been tempted to try their lobster ice cream but somehow just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it! On their website they describe it as “a butter-flavored ice cream. We buy cooked lobster meat from a local lobster pound, chop it up, butter it, and fold it into the ice cream.” It’s been featured on the Food Network’s Roker on the Road, Road Tested, and on The Today Show. Sure I love lobster as much as the next person but lobster in an ice cream? Not so sure that I would like that combo. Probably should have asked for a sample taste.
Rob usually opts for something coffee or chocolate. Same this year – on our first visit, he had Irish Mudslide (Bailey’s Irish Cream base ice cream with added coffee and chocolate flavor, brownie bits, chocolate morsels, and a coffee fudge swirl). His choice on our second visit was the Sinful Chocolate, a chocolate base ice cream with crushed dark chocolate-covered almonds and shaved dark chocolate folded in. A visit here was always followed by a walk to work off some of those unneeded calories!
That covers most all of the restaurant dining experiences during our trip to Maine. Although it was very enjoyable, all good things must come to an end. Back to healthier eating when we return to RI! Then again, we do have lots of new restaurants to explore there too, not to mention our old favorites!