Andrew Knowlton, Deputy Editor at Bon Appetit (@AndrewOKnowlton), declared Portland, Maine the publication’s “2018 Restaurant City if the Year.” Harvest on the Harbor Festival took off 10 years ago and is growing strong because of 1) Portland’s dynamic restaurant and bar community and 2) the vast community of farmers (land and sea), bakers, cheesemakers, brewers and distillers, coffee roasters (+++ there are so many others!). Bottom line, this is Why We Celebrate.

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  1. Start every day with a trip to Tandem Bakery. I find it almost impossible to order anything other than a biscuit slathered in butter and blueberry jam. Wait, I mean the sticky bun. No, the black sesame and banana tea cake. Then again, pretty much everything baker Briana Holt whips up is brilliant.

  2. Get a glass of on-tap Maine-made pét-nat Morphos, throw back expertly shucked oysters and baby scallops (when in season), and you could easily spend your entire afternoon at The Shop at Island Creek Oysters.

  3. Treat the high-energy Izakaya Minato like a sushi bar: Sit at the low-slung kitchen counter and ask chef-owner Thomas Takashi Cooke to give you whatever was swimming nearby yesterday (mackerel, uni, scallops). And when you’ve polished that off, order another glass of sake and a couple plates of JFC.

  4. Stay at the 15-room Francis Hotel set in a historic Victorian Mansion (I prefer the junior suite, room 303). At night I like to sip an old-fashioned in front of the fireplace, but the best reason to stay here might be the fact that it’s located directly across the street from Tandem Bakery (see No. 1).

  5. Forget trendy and head to Ruski’s Tavern, a neighborhood bar that is open from 7 a.m. (9 a.m. on Sundays) and serves just about every bar food you can imagine. The chili cheese dog will not disappoint. If this place ever dies, so too will Portland.

  6. Hit up the Jewish deli that’s worth its weight in legit bagels: Rose Foods. Yes, I just said that (it’s on our Top 50 list!). And after you’ve loaded up on perfect Montreal-style bagels, crispy latkes, and a big bowl of matzo ball soup, be sure to purchase one of their soon-to-be-famous canvas totes.

  7. Order the funky, fresh pho ga at Cong Tu Bot on Portland’s restaurant row, Washington Avenue. Actually, everything I tried at Vien Dobui and Jessica Sheahan’s lively Vietnamese street food spot was brimming with herbs, heat, and soul.

  8. Try your best not to fill up on the standout small plates (see: house-made morcilla, cured local bluefish on smoked onions) at Spanish-leaning Chaval, or you’ll risk being too full to try Ilma Lopez’s desserts. She’s one of the most talented pastry chefs in town, just as skilled with the simple (sticky and addictive maple pie) as the ornate (Paris-Brest with cacao sorbet).

  9. Swing by Little Giant, the sophomore effort from the team behind local favorite Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, which gets clever with dishes like lobster chips with serrano ranch and Moxie-braised pork belly. The sister market next door sells local beers and groceries and daily specials (don’t miss Friday and Saturday’s roast chicken and biscuits).

  10. Visit the wine bar of my dreams: Drifters Wife (another Top 50 nominee!). Basically, I want the life of owners Peter and Orenda Hale. They’re constantly popping open bottles of chuggable natural wines from their wine shop and then skipping over to the dining room to feast on mussel toast with nduja and other seasonal plates from chef Ben Jackson. At least this is how I want to believe they live.

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Congratulations to all who pour their passion into taking care of guests and creating memorable Portland-Maine-style experiences.  Cheers!