In talking about year-end lists over the past week or two here in the newsroom at the BDN, it dawned on us that one of the most scorned parts of social media — people taking pictures of their food — becomes an invaluable resource when trying to figure out your favorite thing you ate. To wit, we polled various staffers about what they loved in 2019, and after a quick memory jog, here are their picks. Happy eating!
Chorizo tamales and horchata at Vazquez Mexican Takeout, Milbridge
Everything about Vazquez Mexican Takeout in Milbridge is great. Waiting in line at the cheerful, boisterous counter. Watching the mix of tourists and locals coming and going in the busy parking lot. And, most importantly, the food. My order is typically two of their delicious, savory tamales — corn masa wrapped in corn husks and steamed — stuffed with homemade chorizo and served with a healthy amount of green salsa. I get a decadent horchata (a sweet, cinnamon-y, rice milk-based drink) to go with it. And I usually steal bites of whatever my dining partner might have. The tostadas and flautas in particular are fantastic. The best Mexican food in Maine is in Washington County. Who knew?
— Emily Burnham, city desk reporter
Bi Bim Bap, Red Curry, Augusta
This past year, I had some really wonderful, memorable meals around Maine. Here in Bangor, Novio’s Lobster Bisque is always a delight, and at The Fiddlehead Restaurant, the duck breast sauerbraten with haluski on the winter menu is perfectly marinated and cooked. Also worth noting: Brunch at Provender Kitchen + Bar in Ellsworth, where the PKB Skillet, a combination of meaty short rib hash, sweet caramelized onions, spicy chorizo, creamy poached eggs and hollandaise, is divine. But my favorite meal was at a hole-in-the-wall place in Augusta called Red Curry. The menu features Thai, Korean and Japanese dishes. I was excited to find Bi Bim Bap served in a hot stone pot — my very favorite Korean dish. I love mixing around the ingredients, finding bits of crispy rice and enjoying the creamy, spicy, meaty combination. I cannot wait to see what food delights 2020 brings.
— Sarah Walker Caron, Bangor Metro and features editor
Fried fiddleheads, Grammy’s Country Inn, Linneus
I recently moved back to Bangor after many years away. So in 2019, I made up for lost time by eating as much seafood chowder and as many whoopie pies as possible. But my favorite thing I ate was so very Maine — and by that I mean the real Maine — that I was simultaneously excited to find out it existed and disappointed in myself for never having had it before. I gorged on a heaping pile of deep-fried fiddleheads at Grammy’s Country Inn in Linneus. The battered and fried little ferns were delicious, and their shape and flavor made it seem like inland Maine’s answer to fried clams.
— Josh Keefe, Maine Focus reporter
Mini wild Maine blueberry pie, Timber Kitchen & Bar, Bangor
The best food I’ve had in Maine is the blueberry pie at Timber Kitchen & Bar in Bangor. And yes, I’ve had great meals in Camden and Portland and even Linneus, but I keep coming back to the mini wild Maine blueberry pie that the lumberjack-chic restaurant serves. The tiny pie is made for one person, which means the sugared crust-to-filling ratio is perfect. It comes with lemon curd, which to me always sounded unnecessarily fancy, but in reality perfectly complements the filling. Timber also serves it with homemade vanilla ice cream, some kind of berry jam, and a thin wafer in the shape of a maple leaf. I mean, come on.
— Eesha Pendharkar, city desk reporter
Vegan breakfast sandwiches at The Grind House and Wicked Brew Cafe, Bangor
I didn’t realize Bangor was such a hotspot for vegan breakfast sandwiches until this year. The two best in town are the Just Impossible at The Grind House and the Vegan Breakfast Sandwich at Wicked Brew Cafe. The Just Impossible uses the best vegan egg replacement around (Just Egg), and the cafe churns out housemade breakfast sausage out of the Impossible burger. Wicked Brew’s offering is a little more classic veg — an everything bagel with hummus, spicy tofu, tomatoes and greens, making it the perfect blend of salty and spicy, then carby and fresh. Since they’re so different, it’s hard to pick one winner, but luckily you can have both.
— Natalie Williams, digital editor
Greens & Beans, Daily Soup, Belfast
This year, I’ve tried to make a practice of packing my lunch. But on the days that I don’t, it’s hard to resist Daily Soup in Belfast, a small eatery that consistently turns out delicious, creative soups and sandwiches. Although just about everything that I’ve tried there has been wonderful — definitely don’t miss the Hungarian stew or the Thai red curry beef and noodle soup, if you see them on the menu — the one I come back to time and again is grilled bread with sauteed greens and white beans. It’s simple, hearty, hot and wholesome, and while I’ve tried to replicate it at home, it’s never quite as good as the version made in chef-owner Courtney Miller Sanders’ friendly, bustling downtown kitchen.
— Abigail Curtis, Waldo County reporter
Pan fried garlic chive rice cakes, Long Grain, Camden
In 2019, I learned that I am not willing to share an order of Long Grain’s garlic chive rice cakes. Call it the “only child syndrome,” I don’t care. These little square morsels of garlicky goodness are gooey on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside and I want them all to myself. Served with sauteed bean sprouts and a dipping sauce you don’t want to skip, these rice cakes are a delightfully poppable appetizer before diving into any one of Long Grain’s amazing noodle dishes. But if you’re anything like me, you should order a couple plates of rice cakes if anyone in your dining party mentions the words, “to share.”
— Lauren Abbate, Knox County reporter