Black Friday. For some, it’s a day to avoid major shopping areas at all costs. For others, it’s one of the most anticipated events of the year — getting up early, waiting in line, rushing to get that discounted TV, laptop or pair of silk pajamas.
Whatever your feelings on it, however, it’s likely that if you live in eastern Maine and you’re doing any sort of holiday shopping this year, you’ll probably make it out to the Bangor Mall area at least once in the next month.
After hours of unfettered money-spending, you’ll probably work up an appetite. Where should you get some grub? While there are many different chain restaurants at the mall area that remain wildly popular, there are many locally owned eateries, from full sit-down restaurants to grab-and-go lunch counters and coffeehouses.
What’s good to eat at the mall area? Read below and find out.
Cubita Libre Cafeteria
661 Hogan Road
Since opening in late August in the Maine Square Mall, Cubita Libre — the family-run Cuban restaurant owned and operated by Jennice and Sigfredo Rodriguez — has built a reputation largely on word of mouth. Authentic, traditional Cuban food in Bangor? Sign us up. While there are ever-changing daily specials in this cozy, takeout-centric eatery, the Ropa Vieja, a hearty Cuban classic made up of flavorful stewed beef with vegetables, is a must-try. Cuban sandwiches — ham, pork, cheese, pickles and mustard grilled on white bread — are an equally traditional and delicious option.
Cubita Libre is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Kobe Ninja House
829 Hogan Road
Fans of Kobe come for the festive atmosphere — and the food, too. Bangor’s first hibachi grill not only does the fiery, performative slicing and dicing that hibachi is known for — it also has really tasty sushi and big, creative cocktails, from martinis to shareable volcano bowls. Let’s face it, though: The hibachi is the star of the show. Make reservations and bring a crowd to get the full experience. Or make friends with strangers around the table. To make reservations, call 992-9983.
Kobe is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturday.
Coffee Hound Coffee Bar
Inside Vision Care of Maine, 1 Ridgewood Drive
Though it’s tucked away inside Vision Care of Maine, the large, modern-looking building across from the back entrance to Target on Stillwater Avenue, Coffee Hound Coffee Bar is a hidden gem in mall-area eating. In addition to a full espresso bar serving up lattes, mochas and flat whites, Coffee Hound has an array of fresh baked pastries and breakfast items, house-made soups and artisan sandwiches named for Bangor landmarks. We’re particularly partial to the Union — melted brie cheese, sliced granny smith apples, arugula and balsamic drizzle on a warm ciabatta roll.
Coffee Hound Coffee Bar, which also has locations in Bar Harbor and at Sunday River Ski Resort, is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Natural Living Center
209 Longview Drive
While most Bangor-area residents probably think of the Natural Living Center as a place to buy organic everything, bulk foods and dietary supplements, this longstanding natural foods store also has a small cafe in the back that caters specifically to vegetarians, vegans and those who are gluten-free. Salads, sandwiches and other to-go items are served alongside good coffee and a small selection of desserts. Menu items are different almost every day, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one thing. But if you have dietary restrictions, the Natural Living Center is a great, worry-free place to eat.
Natural Living Center is open 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.
Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant
697 Hogan Road
You can eat tacos, enchiladas and burritos to your heart’s content at Miguel’s, the cheerful, laid-back longstanding Mexican restaurant and bar on Hogan Road. But one thing that’s unique at this eatery are the lunch specials. In particular, Miguel’s offers tortas — a Mexican sandwich consisting of crusty white bread stuffed with meat, cheese and other fillings. The Torta Milanesa (fried chicken, chipotle mayo, cheese and veggies) and the Torta Pepito (steak, avocado and black beans) are on the menu, though there are daily specials as well. And don’t forget those cocktails.
Miguel’s is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Las Palapas Mexican Restaurant
8 Bangor Mall Boulevard
The other Mexican restaurant at the Bangor Mall area has a huge menu, huge portions and huge pitchers of margaritas. One thing this casual eatery is particularly good at are enchiladas — the sauce is flavorful, the meat is tender and the enchiladas rancheras (stewed pork) are particularly good. The real star of the show is the appetizers, however: the queso dip, with or without sausage, is dangerously addictive, and the guacamole is really good, too.
Las Palapas is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
The Green Tea Restaurant
11 Bangor Mall Boulevard
While Green Tea is most known as a sushi restaurant, offering fun, fresh, unorthodox rolls alongside more traditional maki and sashimi, the brightly lit eatery also has excellent Chinese food. The salt and pepper shrimp or squid, the Mei Fun noodles and the Mongolian beef are all highlights. Plus, check out those exterior lights! It’s seems like it’s always the holiday season at Green Tea.
Green Tea is open 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Swett’s Hogan Road Deli
451 Hogan Road
On the outside, it’s just a gas station and garage. On the inside, however, it’s much more than that. Beer lovers have known for quite some time that Swett’s might just have the best beer selection in Bangor — from a wide array of local breweries to the best of the best of American and international craft breweries. Not only that, but there also is a really good deli, whipping up made to order and pre-made sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches and other goodies, and a full salad bar and baked potato bar. For grab and go, it’s hard to beat.
Swett’s is open 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.
36 Springer Drive
It should be obvious what’s good to eat here: It’s a candy shop, after all. Specialty Sweets has made candy, fudge, truffles and other sweet treats for years now, and if you’re looking for a sugary pick-me-up while you’re juggling those shopping bags, look no further. There’s lots to eat here, from chocolate bark to candied ginger, but for a special holiday treat, try the Divinity Fudge, a light as air, decadent goodie, optionally topped with pecans.
Specialty Sweets, which also has a new location in downtown Bangor, is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
320 Bangor Mall Boulevard
The Oriental Jade is still undergoing extensive renovations and a continued menu revamp, but for now there are a few new treats accompanying old favorites at the venerable locally owned Chinese restaurant. For instance, there’s now a full sushi bar, as well as items such as the Bento Box Pu Pu Platter — a combination of the Japanese lunch icon with the classic Chinese-American appetizer array — and a two for $25 special featuring a number of Jade favorites.
The Oriental Jade is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.