Three friends and I spend a weekend together every September and discovered the fun of culinary tours. Although the Maine Foodie Tour wasn't our favorite, we would recommend it. Pros and Cons? Be prepared for a strenuous walk thanks to the hills and cobblestones of the Old Port District. We would have appreciated a map and list of shops like we have been given on other tours in Boston and NYC. We're getting old and can't remember every stop. The food samples are great but not quite enough to substitue for lunch or perhaps despite ending the tour with half a wonderful whoopie pie at Fat Cats (?) plus beer and soda samples at Shipyard Brewery, we still had a late lunch.
You will not have time to shop so any shopping requires re-tracing the route. It was great that the tour was limited to 14 people. Tour leader Pat Bag was very informative and there was some interesting historical info but she has a soft voice and a tendency to continue talking as she walks. If you are at the tail end of the group, you won't hear everything. She was happy to repeat things, however, and has a lovely, friendly personality. Be warned that there are no restroom breaks on the tour.
Shops on the tour offered a 10% discount. Although a map might allow non-tour visitors to go on their own, the food samples at each stop were the highlights and you would miss the history and might forget to look up at Portland's wonderful architecture. The tour started at 10:30am. By the time we had lunch, ice cream and did a little shopping we missed getting back to the bakery which closed at 5pm on Saturdays to get orders to take home.
We walked past Duckfat near the end of the tour so my friends were willing to go back to share an order of fries. It was about 2pm on a Saturday and there was a 30 minute wait for a table. We needed to sit after so much walking and after seeing what other people were having we wanted a full lunch. One friend shared her poutine which she said was the best she ever had. Truly delicious. We also shared an order of fries and two sauces: truffled ketchup (YUM) and garlic aoili. I'm not sure if the duckfat makes the difference but if you like your fries well done, they're great.
We also wanted to leave room for a visit to Mount Desert Island Ice Cream on Exchange Street. I've raved about this before and I carefully pointed out that we could have two free tastes. We then decided we would each get a flight, a dish that had 4 1-oz scoops of ice cream. The shop is small, we were loud and opinionated but the employees graciously filled our requests and put up with our hems and haws. I really liked the blackberry blue cheese but didn't think I liked it enough for a whole scoop.
Pat said Portland has one of the best farmers markets in the US. I wonder if I can get back before the season ends!!!
Most convenient parking for the tour which meets at the Old Port Wine Shop is the parking lot on Commercial Street that has a flat all day rate of $8 (vs $3 an hour). Street parking has a limit of 2 hours on the meters. The tour is longer than that and ends at the Shipyard Brewery.
Old Port Cafe
111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496