Here's a selection (listed alphabetically) of some of the best gay-popular bars, cafes, and restaurants in Ogunquit, Maine, a favorite GLBT seaside vacation town just a 45-minute drive south of Portland (the host of Southern Maine Gay Pride each June) and a 90-minute drive north of Boston Boston. Most popular from late spring through early fall, Ogunquit buzzes with several gay nightspots during the warmer months and remains a quieter but no less charming getaway in winter.
Ogunquit Gay Bar Guide - continued on Page 2
A busy and fun spot for breakfast and lunch, bright and cheerful Amore Breakfast and Cafe Amore (309 Shore Rd., 207-646-6661) serves hearty fare like suasage-bacon-ham-cheddar omelets, lobster Benedict, cream cheese-stuffed French toast, and Belgian waffles in the morning at in the Amore Breakfast section, and lunch fare like hot Italian panini, Greek salad, and clam chowder in adjacent Cafe Amore. It's a good option for to-go picnic and beach supplies, and for coffee and sweets.
This favorite seafood restaurant at touristy but very festive Perkins Cove is a lovely spot to watch the boats in the harbor, enjoy outdoor dining on a sunny day, and feast on consistently fresh and tasty seafood, including lobster and clam rolls, scallops, broiled-haddock platters, surf-and-turf and the like. Barnacle Billy's (Perkins Cove Rd., 207-646-5575) has been going strong for more than a half century.
Dapper and welcoming Bread and Roses Bakery (246 Main St., 207-646-4227) has been delighting customers with both sweet and savory snacks, light meals, and sweets since 1989. Espresso drinks and smoothies are served, along with European-style baked goods of all kinds, from creative sandwiches to fresh salads to amazingly tasty desserts - chocolate truffle torte, lemon coconut cake, blueberry pie, and giant cookies. It fills up on summer days with folks heading to and fro the beach.
The attractive neighbor and sister restaurant of Five-O (see below), Caffe Prego (44 Shore Rd., 207-646-7734) is fronted by fragrant gardens and open-air patio seating and is a fab destination for well-prepared Italian food at lunch or dinner (creative pastas, salads, meatball sandwiches, panini, brick-oven pizzas) as well as espresso drinks and absolutely delicious gelato and other desserts throughout the day. There's a good list of cocktails and wines, too. Like Five-O, Prego is as much a spot to mingle and socialize as it is a fine option for dining.
An excellent restaurant with a cool little lounge and a more formal dining room serving first-rate contemporary food, Five-O (50 Shore Rd., 207-646-5001) has become renowned as a romantic "gay date" spot. There's a impressive wine list, and the kitchen prepares such tempting fare as Maine lobster cakes with a creamy corn sauce, and herb-crusted rack of lamb with lentil salad and mint-yogurt sauce. The same folks operate the gourmet coffeehouse, gelato counter, and gourmet food shop Caffe Prego, next door (see above). Five-O is close to other gay-popular Ogunquit hangouts, such as the Maine Street Bar and the Front Porch.
At little Ogunquit's busiest intersection, the gay-owned and perfectly charming Front Porch Cafe (9 Shore Rd., 207-646-4005) has been a fixture in this tres gay seaside resort community since it opened in 1980. The fine little restaurant serves lunch and dinner and adjoins a popular piano bar and martini lounge, offering sing-alongs and musical fun from 4 pm till closing. There's also lighter fare available from the bar menu, such as ginger-chicken spring rolls and grilled pears and blue cheese flatbreads. Close to Ogunquit Beach, this is a great place to stop for food and conversation throughout the day. The Front Porch is just across the street from Fancy That and the Village Food Market, and a short walk from other Ogunquit gay nightlife options, such as Maine Street Bar.
This no-frills hole-in-the-wall eatery in Perkins Cove is arguably the best place in town for a cup of rich clam chowder or lobster stew and a lobster roll. At the Lobster Shack (110 Perkins Cove Rd., 207-646-2941), you order at the counter and then look around for a table - it's a touristy favorite, no question, so prepare for a wait on weekends or at busy times (or bring your food with you and dine on a bench outside in this bustling collection of shops and eateries on the water). The shack is famous for the "Pounder" (a full pound of lobster meat in a giant lobster roll), which weighs in at a not-insignificant $45, but even the standard quarter-pound lobster roll is plenty filling. The lobster BLT, crab roll, and crab cake sandwich are good, too.
For a tiny village, Ogunquit enjoys a vibrant gay nightclub scene, with the attractive and highly popular Maine Street Bar and Nightclub (195 Main St., 207-646-5101), the leading late-night venue. Maine Street brings in a steady slew of performers, from Hedda Lettuce and other touring drag divas to piano cabaret to guest DJs. There's karaoke some nights, a Saturday T-dance from 4 to 8 pm, pool tournaments, monthly women's parties, and more. A cafe serves light American chow, such as shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, steak tips, and burgers. The bar is just a few doors west of the village's main intersection, U.S. 1 at Beach Street, right beside the gay-popular Two Village Square bed-and-breakfast.
Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, the talented kitchen team behind Arrows Restaurant (see above), also run MC Perkins Cove (111 Perkins Cove Rd., 207-646-6263), a more casual eatery with a light-filled dining with large windows overlooking the sea. Although the food here is less fancy and somewhat more affordable than at Arrows, it's still superb, creative, and prepared with great attention to detail. Fried haddock with lemon-marinated fennel, clam chowder with bacon and chervil drop biscuits, chicken under a brick, and lobster mac-and-cheese are among the stalwarts here from this menu that focuses on coastal New England classics with modern spins. It's a fun brunch spot, too.
After several years in Cape Neddick, Roost Cafe & Bistro (262 Shore Rd., 207-646-9898) has moved back to the heart of Ogunquit, delighting long-time fans. Owned by Aldo Vallecillo and Rob Pinkham, the restaurant occupies a sweetly romantic white farmhouse with a softly lighted, elegant, but relaxed dining room. Three meals are served, and all are done nicely: breakfast might feature a grilled corn muffin with two eggs, Black Forest ham, and potato cake, while salads and sandwiches (including a terrific smoked salmon, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich) are the star at lunch. Things are a bit fancier (though still reasonably priced) at dinner, when you might consider veggie pad Thai with a coconut-peanut sauce, butter-poached lobster with a potato pancake and Irish whiskey cream sauce, or gnocchi with a Bolognese braised meat sauce.
Founded in 1991 by business and life partners Jonathan King and James Stott, Stonewall Kitchen (2 Stonewall La., York, 207-351-2712) has become ubiquitous around New England and well beyond for gourmet sauces, jams, and other edibles, along with kitchen goods and all sorts of other goods popular with foodies and gourmands. The flagship Company Store is in the town of York, just 10 miles south of Ogunquit and the same distance north of Portsmouth, NH - this campus of attractive clapboard buildings is not only the headquarters of an empire that includes about 10 other stores but also a cooking school and a terrific cafe, which makes a good stop if you're in the area browsing nearby Kittery's many outlet shops. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch as well as specialty foods to go. Bagels and lox, breakfast sandwiches, roasted apple chicken salad wraps, and black Angus burgers are among the favorite dishes.