One of my favorite places in New England (ok, the world really) is Midcoast Maine. We have been visiting this little slice of paradise for several years now and come home kicking and screaming every time. The salty air, downtown streets full of quirky shops, galleries and…. good food and drinks. Lots of ’em. We have a multitude of retirement homes picked out.
A big reason we (and everyone else) love the Maine coast is, well, the coast. Being on the water, whether on the ocean or tucked in to one of a multitude of picturesque harbor areas, is incredibly relaxing. Camden’s harbor is one of the prettiest and most vibrant, in my opinion. Locals and tourists mingle on streets overlooking a harbor filled with everything from enormous private yachts, sailboats, schooners and windjammers heading out on charter cruises, working lobster boats, and everything in between. And when you’re done strolling, shopping, lounging, or sailing – you’ll be hungry. And thirsty. So where to go?
If waterfront dining and imbibing is your idea of the perfect way to wind down the day then look no further. Here are a select few of my favorite places to kick back harborside in Camden. Cheers!
Rhumb Line (59 Sea Street, Camden Maine)
Rhumb line (which is also a navigational term – google it) is a new addition to the Camden dining scene. Described as an “industrial clam shack”, Rhumb Line is tucked into a boatyard on the other side of the harbor from downtown, it is a bit of an adventure just finding the restaurant – but that is part of the fun! (tip – head down Sea Street. When it curves around to the left, stay straight. boatyard and Rhumb Line are down to the right.)
They offer an indoor as well as outdoor seating area and bar. Outdoor seating was a mix of large picnic tables and some “regular” tables along the perimeter along the edge of the wharf that seated 4. There were also some high top tables made from re-purposed crates along the outside bar – the seating areas really gave some cool character to the setting. It was a very mixed crowd, family friendly and casual.
We headed down on a Saturday evening and were seated right away (being flexible helped – there were only two of us and we were seated at the end of a picnic table that already had a group dining. Worked out great!). Service was excellent. I wish I could remember our waiter’s name as he was super friendly and helpful! (I’m TERRIBLE with that). Drink list had some great looking cocktails as well as a nice selection of local craft beers. I opted to rehydrate with this dinner and went with a nonalcoholic (*GASP* – I know, RIGHT?? Who AM I?) ginger mint lemonade that was freakin’ delicious.
The food menu had some good seafood options as well as a burger that a lot of people seemed to be getting and looked pretty tasty. I opted for a cup of clam chowder and a lobster roll, and the husband got the fish tacos. The chowder was…. ok. Clam chowder to New Englanders is a very personal experience, and everyone has their favorite type. This one was a cream based but thinner broth. I just prefer the thicker ones. Lobster roll was good. A little on the small side compared with others around (I eat a LOT of lobster rolls so they had some stiff competition here) but tasted good. I’d probably skip it next time around and try out some of the other menus. The fish tacos were reeealllly good. I had total meal envy over these and snuck a few bites.
Overall, we really enjoyed Rhumb Line and will most definitely come back. Great setting and casual waterfront vibe. Find your way there and check it out! A word of caution – parking is outside of the boatyard and there is a short walk down a hill into the boatyard to get to the restaurant along the wharf. This could be difficult to those who have difficulty walking long distances or who are mobility impaired, so plan accordingly.
Waterfront (48 Bayview Street Camden, Maine)
This is a fantastic spot, just down the street and slightly off the beaten path from Camden’s main street. Easy to find with signs directing you back to the restaurant, which has a large deck overlooking the harbor.
We found Waterfront after a day of mountain biking and I was STARVING. There are a few different seating options – we sat on the “bar side” of the deck (the deck is split in half with more casual seating and a bar menu only area, and slightly more formal restaurant seating on the other side.) We opted for bowls of clam chowder which were really great – nice thick chowdah with tons of clams, exactly how I like it. It was so good that I inhaled it before getting a picture! (it was that or chew my arm off – don’t judge). In addition to the soup we decided on sharing some appetizers and settled on the Ducktrap River Sampler (sort of a smoked seafood “fish-cuterie” plate), cheese plate, and order of steamers. Everything was great! We washed these down with a Baxter IPA and Allagash White. I may or may not have eaten the entire order of steamers myself (again – no judging – I’m a hungry girl!)
We thoroughly enjoyed Waterfront in Camden and definitely plan to return!
Tap & Vine (9 Bayview Landing, Camden)
Tap & Vine is another new addition along Camden Harbor, tucked in the corner at the end of the boardwalk. This was one of our favorite spots to sit, relax, and have a beer and we visited a few times. They have a rotating tap list as well as selections of wine on tap, and a small food menu. We came only for the drinks, and it was a perfect place to sit and unwind with a cold beer. They are dog friendly and the crowd varied from couples, groups of friends, and a couple of families. They are just starting out and the tap list wasn’t huge, but offered a solid selection of (mostly Maine) craft beers. The deck has some covered seating areas to keep you shaded (or dry) and a few indoor tables as well. The staff was very friendly and attentive and the view can’t be beat! We lingered for quite a while, chatting, drinking, and watching the boats (and tourists) come and go.
So there you have it. A snippet of a few of our favorites in waterfront drinking and dining from our most recent trip to Camden. If you find yourself heading their way – 1. I’m jealous. 2. Consider checking them out! Cheers, and happy travels!