Exploring Biddeford to Portland, Maine (Part 3)

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, this past weekend, I traveled to the Biddeford/Portland region for a short vacation, and had lots of fun exploring this area. On Tuesday, I discussed the places I visited in Biddeford, and on route to Portland. On Wednesday, I then discussed some of the spots in Portland I visited. And today, I'll finishing talking about the rest of the interesting places I visited in Portland. Some of these stops were preplanned, while others I stumbled upon while wandering through the streets of Portland. Please also note that there were plenty of interesting places I didn't visit, but hope to check out on a future trip.

On Saturday morning, we left our hotel and walked down High Street, taking a left onto Congress Street. It didn't take long before we made our first stop, at Yes Books, at 589 Congress St., a used bookstore. There's an extensive selection, reasonable prices and it has that old-school appeal, with plenty of piles of books scattered everywhere. A fun place to browse and seek out used treasures.

Next, we checked out the Portland Flea-For-All, at 585 Congress St., an eclectic and interesting shop of vintage items, antiques, housewares, clothing, dishware, and much more. I was intrigued by some of the decanters and glassware that were there. 

I wanted to visit Strange Maine, a cool record shop at 578 Congress St., but it wasn't yet open when we passed by. Will have to visit on my next trip to Portland.

The Sock Shack, at 564 Congress St., sells a diverse selection of socks with numerous fun designs. If you have a specific interest, hobby or such, you might find socks that pertain to that subject. For example, I picked up a couple pairs of socks, one with Tiki cocktails and another with Sushi. Check out their Food & Drink selection. They have socks for men, women and children.

Maine Craft Portland, at 521 Congress St., is a retail gallery for Maine craft artists, including pottery, jewelry, glassware, and so much more. A great place to support local artists. 

The Lady in the Moon, at 15 Monument Square, is a boutique dedicated to mysticism and healing, the type of place that would fit well in Salem, MA. Tarot decks, crystals, witchcraft books, skulls, and more. I was intrigued by some of the tea sets they had.

Longfellow Books, at 1 Monument Way, is a large bookstore, offering new and used books, with a large selection of books by Maine authors. 

HiFi Donuts, located at 30 City Center, has "Made from scratch old world style donuts." They also sell sustainable coffee and a variety of interesting breakfast sandwiches (such as NJ Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese and the Breaded Eggplant, Tomato, Pesto & Egg). They also serve Lunch sandwiches, from Peri Peri Fried Chicken to a Deep Fried Brisket Burger.

I opted for the Churro Donut, and it was very tasty, being fairly light and airy, with a nice cinnamon/sugar coating, and it certainly reminded me of a churro. As I would be having lunch soon, I couldn't indulge and try more of their donuts, but will likely return again some day. 

Simply Scandinavian, at 19 Temple St., sells traditional and unique products from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. From clothes to food, Christmas decorations to candy, and much more. 

The Eighty 8, at 225 Federal Street, is also a donut shop, but it makes fresh mini-donuts, to order, and tops them with your choice of toppings, similar to Dockside Donuts in Nova Scotia. 6 donuts cost $6-$8, dependent on the topping. The Eighty 8 has another location at Sugarloaf Mountain and also operates a good truck. I didn't eat any of the donuts here, but suspect they are very good, if they are at all similar to Dockside Donuts. I love the concept and will return here again on my new Portland trip.

Lunch was at the Black Cow, a burger spot, cocktail bar, and soda fountain. The Menu is relatively small, with Sandwiches ($7-$16), Salads ($11-$13), and Sides ($3-$17). Sandwiches include items like a Cheeseburger, Slushburger (Sloppie Joe), Fried Fish, and Fried Chicken. Sides include items like Potato Fries, Tomato Soup, Fried Brussel Sprouts and Pickles. 

The restaurant is located in a former bank, and you can see one of the vaults if you're sitting at the bar. It's a casual spot, with more atmosphere than a fast casual burger joint. 

Their Cocktail menu has plenty of appealing options, most priced at $11-$15, as well as a couple Non-Alcoholic options. They also have a dozen beers on tap, many local, House Crafted Sodas, and a very small selection of wine. 

I opted for the Angel Fire ($15), made with mezcal, amaretto, madeira, Jamaican rum, and charred apricot bitters. This was a very well-made and balanced cocktail, with a complex blend of flavors, with the mezcal being the most prominent taste. Highly recommended.

The Before Sunset ($13) was made with cynar, bourbon, averna, lemon, and Islay scotch. Another excellent, complex and well-balanced  cocktail, with a nice smokey edge to it. I'd return here just for their cocktails.

In some respects, it's a no-frills spot, as they put your food in paper plates and give you plastic utensils. The Cheeseburger ($10) normally comes with a beef smash patty, American cheese, iceberg, pickles, mustard, onion, c.t. mayonnaise, and a Black Cow bun. However, you can customize your burger if you so desire, and my burger only had cheese and pickles. It was a delicious and meaty burger, with a soft bun that well fit the burger. I was very happy with this sandwich.

The Foie Gras Poutine ($17) is a Side, with potato fries, Foie Gras gravy and cheese curds. This was fine, but didn't appeal to my own preferences. First, I'm not a fan of these shoestring fries, especially in poutine. I prefer a thicker French fry. Second, the curds were more melted, lacking that squeaky, almost rubbery texture, you get in the usual cheese curds in poutine. I had no complaints about the taste of the gravy, and many people would enjoy this dish, but it just wasn't a personal favorite for me. 

Overall, I strongly recommend Black Cow, especially for their burgers and cocktails. 

The Gross Confection Bar has a Bakery at 57 Exchange Street, and a Dessert Bar & Restaurant at 172 Middle Street. Obviously, the name caught my eye. Why would you call your Bakery "gross?" It isn't because the owners are named Gross. It began as "pure kitchen sarcasm" and the owner decided to use the name in 2019. The Bakery has plenty of appealing pastries, scones, cookies, biscuits and more. If I hadn't been so full after lunch, I probably would have bought a few items here. 

Skordo, at 372 Fore Street, primarily sells a myriad of spices, herbs, salts and such. You'll also find cookbooks and assorted kitchen accessories. The spices and herbs are from all over the world, and generally stocked by world region. I bought a few intriguing spices, such as gochugaru, Korean chili powder. 

For dinner that evening, we went to Boda, located at 671 Congress Street. It is a Thai restaurant, which they state: "We serve “very Thai” food, with a focus on street vendor specialties and home-style cooking... By “very Thai” we mean our food is very authentic, opposed to being an Americanized version of Thai food." 

It's a medium-sized restaurant and they don't take reservations. We arrived a few minutes before it opened, and there was soon after a long waiting line formed outside. The restaurant filled up within ten minutes, if not less. 

They have a full bar, with a variety of Cocktails ($12-$13), and we chose the Mai Tai ($13), made from a house rum blend, orange curaçao, almond orgeat, pineapple syrup and lime. This drink had more of a pleasing sour taste rather than a sweet one. A nice way to begin our dinner. 

The Menu includes Tapas ($4-$12), Grill Bar ($4-$10), Thai Salad & Soups ($8-$12), and Entrees ($17-$22). There are lots of appealing dishes and you might be torn over what to order. Plus, there were some Seasonal Specialities. 

We began with the Kanom Jeeb Gai ($9), chicken dumplings with ginger, scallion, onion, shiitake, and carrot with a sesame soy dipping sauce and fried garlic. Very tasty, with a nicely balanced blend of flavors and textures. The dumplings wrappings were more thin, allowing the delicious fillings to dominate. Another good start to the dinner.

From the Grill Bar, I selected the Beef Skewers ($9.50), which are seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy, lime leaf and lemongrass. These were average, nothing special. 

Also from the Grill Menu, the Thai Sticky Rice Ball ($4), is made with soy, pepper, scallion, and garlic, and it also was average, with a few overly charred spots, especially on the bottom. 

From the Seasonal menu, the Crispy Chicken in a Sweet & Salty Garlic Sauce ($11), was excellent. The chicken coating was very crispy, with moist, tender chicken within, and the sauce had a rich garlic taste, with a nice balance of sweet and salty. I also wasn't expecting there to be so many pieces of chicken in this dish. Highly recommended!

As for Entrees, the Woon-Sen Pad Thai ($18), is made with glass noodles, Chinese chive, shallot, salted Daikon, bean sprouts, fish sauce, and chicken, wrapped in a Thai egg omelet. What an intriguing idea putting the Pad Thai inside an omelet, adding that eggy texture and flavor to the dish. Quite a delicious and more unique dish.

The Chicken Panaeng ($18) is braised chicken in a sweet & salty panaeng curry, Thai basil, lime leaf, and coconut cream. This was another excellent dish, with plenty of tender chicken in a compelling and complex sauce, with rich coconut notes, and a nice balance of sweet and salty. 

Overall, I was largely impressed with Boda, except for their Grilled Bar items. The Grilled items were okay, but nothing special like the rest of their dishes. Service was very good too. I'd definitely recommend Boda, but just note that it fills up quickly as they don't take reservations.

And that wraps up my time in Biddeford/Portland. It was lots of fun, and we enjoyed some excellent food and drink. Plenty of interesting shops, and there's much more that I hope to visit on future trips to Portland. 

What are some of your favorite spots in the Biddeford/Portland area?