Foodie poohbahs lavish attention on Maine’s hot chefs and farm-to-table restaurants, but few dish on the off-the-publicity-grid, non-chain, fastish-food, takeout and grab-and-go joints. When I’m driving Route 1, the state’s coastal artery, focused on getting to my destination, and hunger pangs strike, I favor chow options that are good, fast, and cheap. Over the years, I’ve developed a list of reliable quick eats, some of which even answer cravings for ethnic specialties. Two caveats: Although most aren’t well publicized, the locals know them, so don’t expect to be alone; and many are cash only.
Locals call the stretch of Route 1 north of Kittery’s Memorial Bridge the Miracle Food Mile or Gourmet Alley. Sandwiches are made to order at Beach Pea Baking (53 Route 1, Kittery, 207-439-3555, www.beachpeabaking.com ), where you can eat indoors or on the patio. Sandwiches, soups, salads, and prepared foods are available at Terra Cotta Pasta Co. (52A Route 1, Kittery, 207-475-3025, www.terracottapastacompany.com). Carl’s Meat Market (25 Route 1, Kittery, 207-439-1557), a butcher shop, earns kudos for awesome burgers and sandwiches. Top it off with elegant, connoisseur-worthy chocolates from Byrne & Carlson (60 Route 1, Kittery, 888-559-9778, www.byrneandcarlson.com).
Get your reggae on with jerk chicken, curried goat, and other island specialties at the Jamaican Jerk Center (1400 Route 1, Cape Neddick, 207-351-3033, www.jamaicanjerkcenter.com), a seasonal takeout with tables under a tent and on the lawn. Prefer hot dogs? Flo, namesake of Flo’s Steamed Dogs (1359 Route 1, Cape Neddick, no phone, www.floshotdogs.com), is long gone, but her family continues to crank out wieners with Flo’s renowned relish.
The biggest challenge with stopping at Bread and Roses (246 Main St., Route 1, Ogunquit, 207-646-4227, www.breadandrosesbakery.com), a small downtown bakery, is scoring a convenient parking place. If you do, expect scrumptious baked goods, tantalizing salads, and vegetarian lunch items.
It’s easy to create a to-go gourmet picnic from cheese, specialty foods, and pre-made sandwiches at The Cheese Iron (200 Route 1, 207-883-4057, Scarborough, www.thecheeseiron.com), but save room for a chocolate or maybe a sea salt caramel ice cream from Len Libby (419 Route 1, Scarborough, 207-883-4897, www.len
libby.com), home to Lenny, the world’s only life-size chocolate moose.
North of Portland, snag a picnic table overlooking a tidal estuary and order steamed, grilled, or fried seafood, chowders, and lobster rolls at Day’s Seafood Takeout (1269 Route 1, Yarmouth, 207-836-3436, www.dayscrabmeatandlobster.com). Both Old World Gourmet Deli (117 Route 1, Freeport, 207-865-4477, www.oldworldgourmet.com) and Royal River Natural Foods (443 Route 1, Freeport, 207-865-0046, www.rrnf.com) are reliable go-tos for sandwiches, soups, salads, and prepared foods. Old World makes half-size and kiddo sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies that alone are worth the stop.
Craving lobster? Operating since 1938, Red’s Eats (41 Water St., corner Route 1, Wiscasset, 207-882-6128) has gained a national reputation for its lobster rolls, which contain the meat from a whole crustacean, but unless you visit at an off-hour, plan on spending a long time in line. The alternative, located on the dock just across the street, is Sprague’s Lobster (22 Main St., Route 1, 207-882-1236, Wiscasset). Not a seafood fan? Aptly named Treats (80 Main St., Wiscasset, 207-882-6192, www.treatsofmaine.com) is a delicious find for scratch-made baked goods, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Wiscasset traffic is challenging; it’s best to park in the direction you’re heading.
Loop through Damariscotta village on Business Route 1 to find Larson’s Lunch Box (430 Business Route 1, 207-563-5755, www.larsonslunchbox.com), a humble takeout serving everything from lobster rolls to kielbasa Reubens. Pair it with a scoop from Round Top Ice Cream (526 Business Route 1, 207-563-5307).
Kitty-corner from Waldoboro’s famed Moody’s Diner, where the line often extends out the door, is Borealis (1860 Route 1, 207-832-0655). Although best known for its artisan sourdough breads, it also offers takeout sandwiches, soups, and sweets.
Rockland’s tube steak palace is Wasses (2 North Main St., Route 1, 207-594-7472), a modular building backed up to the Brown Bag, a nod north of the ferry terminal. All dogs are fried in peanut oil, and the special comes with fried onions, relish, and mustard.
Pick up locally made cheeses and other Maine-made goodies at Rockport Marketplace and the State of Maine Cheese Co. (461 Route 1, Rockport, 207-236-8895, www.cheese-me.com), which is also home to Maine Street Meats (461 Route 1, 207-236-6328, www.mainemeat.com), source of specialty foods including cheeses, charcuterie, and house-made breads, along with soups, sandwiches, and flatbread pizzas. Equally enticing are the sandwiches, soups, pastries, and other goodies at The Market Basket (223 Route 1, 207-236-4371, www.themarketbasket.me).
Since 1974, Scott’s Place (85 Elm St., Route 1, 207-236-8751), a takeout near Reny’s in the Camden Marketplace, has been Camden’s roadside quick stop for hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, wraps, rolls, and more.
Two more good sources for eat-in or takeout pastries, sweets, sandwiches, soups, and salads are Dot’s (2457 Route 1, Lincolnville 207-706-7922, www.dotsgoodies.com), located just south of where Route 1 hugs the beach, and The Good Kettle (247 Route 1, Stockton Springs, 207-567-2035, thegoodkettle.wordpress.com), just north of the intersection with Route 1A to Bangor.
Downtown Ellsworth is home to a number of sources of good, quick food. Rooster Brother (29 Main St., Route 1, 800-866-0054, www.roosterbrother.com) is a culinary emporium with fresh sandwiches, cookies, breads, and other goodies on the lower level. 86 This! (2 State St., 207-610-1777, www.86thismaine.com), one storefront off Route 1, dishes out made-to-order fat burritos and wraps. Dubbed “Ellsworth’s living room” by day, The Maine Grind (192 Main St., Route 1, 207-667-0011, www.themainegrind
.com) is the place for salads, pizzas, sandwiches, even tapas. At night, it morphs into the much-lauded Cleonice. Right behind it is Morton’s Moo (9 School St., 207-266-9671, www.mortonsmoo.com) a must-stop for fresh ice cream and gelato in creative flavors.
Jordan’s Snack Bar (200 Route 1, Ellsworth, 207-667-2174, www.jordanssnackbar.com), north of the strip, has an almost cult-like following for its crabmeat rolls and fried clams, but shakes, burgers, and fried seafood earn raves too. Wednesday night cruise-ins draw up to 50 vintage cars and often feature live entertainment.
Have a hankering for Korean? Sonye Carroll and family serve bi-bim-bahp, boul-koh-kee, barbecued ribs, and kim-chee, along with burgers and dogs, homemade doughnuts, and Gifford’s ice cream at YU Takeout (674 Route 1, Hancock, 207-667-0711, www.yutakeout.com).
Tracey’s Seafood (2719 Route 1, Sullivan, 207-422-9072, www.facebook.com/traceyseafood) doesn’t look like much from the road, but don’t be fooled. The Tracey family harvests the clams and catches the lobsters, shucks and picks, and dishes out ultra-fresh lobster, chowders, and fried seafood. Portions are big, prices are low — $4 burgers, twofer-$12-$16 lobster rolls (as low as $10 last summer), and weekend fish fries and clam fries with free seconds for $10.95. Don’t miss the homemade pies.
For years, Vazquez Mexican (38 Main St., Route 1, Milbridge, 207-598-8141, www.facebook.com/vazquezmex) operated out of a food truck parked on a back road, moving to the blueberry fields to serve the migrant community from late July through August. This spring, it opened a permanent takeout downtown serving burritos, gorditas, guaraches, tamales, tostadas, chimichangas, and specials such as enchiladas and new chile rellenos, in addition to burgers and other American-style usuals. Even better, Vazquez makes its tortillas from scratch.
Say hi to American Pie (20 Route 1, Columbia, 207-483-2227), which makes lobster rolls, subs, and burgers, but is best loved for its hand-tossed fresh-dough pizzas in 8- to 24-inch sizes.
The options dwindle the farther north one travels, so plan ahead. The Monster Haddock Burger and house-made onion rings reel road food cognoscenti into Riverside Take-Out (Route 1, Machias, 207-263-7676), a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it red-and-white traileresque shack in a dirt lot edging the Machias River. Burgers, lobster rolls, and sweet potato fries also earn acclaim.
To score one — or a dozen — of Jeremy Towne’s homemade cake doughnuts, it’s best to call to see whether his Towne Fryer (207-733-2066) doughnut mobile is parked at his Route 1 home in Whiting, the Route 1 dike in Machias, or elsewhere. The raised-honey-glazed sell out quickly, but check out the 3-D, a chocolate doughnut iced with chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate chips, or molasses, apple cider, chocolate coconut, pumpkin spice, and brown sugar coffee cake. One or two of these should power you right up to the Canadian border.