This is the first in a series of six stories featuring Maine burger and milkshake destinations — Burger Boy in Caribou, Houlton Farms Dairy, Owl’s Head General Store, L&H Burgers in Rockland and Fat Boys in Brunswick. The diners featured were culled from a list of recommendations from Bangor Daily News readers and staff. Please note, these features are just a sampling of the most recommended destinations and are not intended to endorse those on the list or discount any not included.
A little more than 30 years ago, Jimmy and Carol Jordan of Eastbrook purchased a small snack shack-style building along Route 1 in Ellsworth, and started serving up fried fish, burgers, fries, milkshakes and just about every diner-style food in between. Now, the blue and white drive-in eatery is a fixture along the heavily traveled road— a regular stop for seasonal tourists and locals alike.
One recent weekend, Don and Rachel Booker of Bradford and friends Norm and Sue Hichborn of Hudson stopped at Jordan’s for a quick bite to eat and a few of the eatery’s signature “shoestring” onion rings before heading back home from a camping and fishing trip.
Despite polishing off his meal, Don Booker found he had room for one more treat and sidled up to the window for a vanilla ice cream cone for the road — a common occurrence at the snack bar. All four friends said they are regulars of the joint, have been for years, and that the drive is always worth it.
“This is our second trip here this weekend, it’s just quite yummy, in fact we were just here yesterday,” Sue Hichborn said. “We’ve even traveled just to come here and eat.”
The friends are representative of most of Jordan’s’ customers. Many have been coming since the restaurant opened years ago, Carol Jordan said as she poured iced tea and lemonade into containers in preparation for a busy, hot day.
“I love seeing the customers year after year, I get to know them, the girls get to know them, they get to know their orders, it’s a good community feel,” she said. “We’ve also had the same cooks for a long time so there’s a consistency to our product too, people know what they’re going to get.”
Carol Jordan, who has managed and owned the drive-in on her own since Jimmy Jordan’s death in 2010, has 25-30 seasonal employees who join her every summer to serve up the sizzling eats. Many are family members like her son Shawn, who runs the kitchen. Others, like the customers, are locals who kept coming back to work for her year after year.
Curtains hang from the diner’s windows and the kitchen is clean and bright, something the Booker and Hichborn families said they noticed right away, along with the service, which according to a story about the diner in “Cruise Maine” magazine, is a testament to Jimmy Jordan’s legacy.
“It’s so clean and friendly, you don’t have to wait either, I don’t think I’ve ever really waited even if it was crowded,” Norm Hichborn said.
Each Wednesday, car enthusiasts from around the Down East region meet at Jordan’s to show off their antique cars, dance and enjoy live bands. According to the magazine, the tradition was started by Jimmy Jordan, who had a passion for cars and motorcycles. The event continues to draw crowds each week.
Families can eat outside in a shaded picnic area that has a playground, dozens of tables and decorative bear cubs hanging from trees. An air-conditioned dining room is available if the heat is just too much to bear, and there’s always the car, which allows for unbridled people-watching.
“You can eat in, you can eat in the car and just watch people come and go, I have a lot of people who do that,” Carol Jordan said. “A lot of my regular customers will see their friends here.”
Because of the location, on the way for many to Acadia National Park, the diner often sees guests from all over the country and world. But Carol Jordan said their most notable was probably Sen. Olympia Snowe who stopped a few summers back.
A quick look at Jordan’s Snack Bar:
How to get there: From Bangor, take Route 1 through Ellsworth and at the Route 1/Route 3 split, continue left on Route 1. Jordan’s Snack Bar is just about one mile after the split on the left, just before White Birches Golf Course. From Machias, take Route 1 toward Ellsworth and about a half mile after the golf course, Jordan’s will be on the right.
Family-friendly features: The drive-in offers plenty of shaded picnic tables, a gazebo, a large playground with slides and a old fashioned metal merry-go-round in the back for the kids, and a separate air conditioned dining room that can seat up to 120.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. March through October.
Payment method: Jordan’s Snack Bar accepts credit cards and cash.
Famous for: Both customers and Carol Jordan said most people know her diner because of the “shoestring” onion rings, fish burgers and good company.
Special events: Wednesday night is “cruise-in” night with antique cars and live bands.
Prices: Food ranges from $2 for a small soft-serve cone to $16 for a lobster roll. A basic hamburger is $5.85 and a regular, small milkshake is $3.35.