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Have you ever been to a place and immediately fell in love with it? That’s how I feel about Mount Desert Island. On the Down-east coast of Maine and home to most of Acadia National Park, MDI is beautiful, rugged, and friendly. Bar Harbor, the main tourist town on MDI, is filled with ice cream parlors, restaurants of all styles and shops of all types. It has a blend of upscale and down home, and no shortage of green space to get your people watching on. As a vacation spot this island is packed with things to do, whale watches, scenic drives, hiking, kayaking, camping…oh and relaxing, reading, napping and of course eating. And while most eateries are boasting fresh seafood, proprietors also know that catering to vegetarian and vegan customers is simply smart. Most restaurants had vegan friendly options and the wait staff was quite knowledgeable. Here is a round up of the places we had a chance to nosh at and a Google Map to help you find your way, if you happen to be eating vegan in Bar Harbor, Maine.
View Vegan Eats: Bar Harbor, Maine in a larger map
The great thing about tourist towns is that most restaurants publish their menus outside of the building or in the window. And while this may not exactly be 5 star fine dining, it makes searching for vegan and vegetarian eats a whole lot easier. I noticed that the Finback Alehouse allowed you to sub in a black bean patty for any of their burgers, which is a score when you’re really just looking for an excuse to eat french fries. I think we decided to eat here after our Whale Watch. We started with a Greek salad (sans feta) which was decent but over dressed. But in an attempt to make up for not eating any vegetables for several days (mmmm, ice cream) we ate the whole big salad. @isitvegan gave me the credit. The veggie burgers were good but not stellar, but the bread was fresh baked and you could top them with anything they had on the menu. So both @isitvegan and I loaded ours up with guac and the standard lettuce and tomato. Overall an okay experience. Not bad, but not fantastic either.
The Opera House
This is an odd open air coffee bar, Internet cafe, game station, chilling joint. You could sip a beverage, eat a bagel, write you novel in the corner, gaze at the obscene amount of Torani Syrups they had, or just sit and chat with friends. And while the concept is awesome, and the place had a great vibe…the coffee was bad. One sip of @isitvegan’s 3 shots over ice with a bit of soy milk and my face was soured. Bitter beans served in a Styrofoam cup. Now I know why they had such a collection of syrups. We didn’t really explore any more of the Opera House after I vetoed their espresso. To be fair this was the only thing we tried, so perhaps there are some gems waiting to be uncovered.
Yes! Yes! Yes! This place was so great we ate there twice. One of the best things we did was go here on our first morning in Bar Harbor. See @isitvegan was recovering from a very short cross country trip and back to LA. He was tired and jetlagged and I worried that he’d be cranky…but nothing puts a smile on his face faster than Vegan Pancakes and Tofu Scramble. This breakfast of champions definitely set us up right for the day. There may be only two vegan options, but…they are both 10/10 choices. The vegan Oatmeal Walnut pancakes are huge and you can order a stack of 2 or 3. I enjoyed mine with maple syrup and some of Jeannie’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam on top. But it seems it’d be worth asking if they would add in some Maine Blueberries. While they may not be suitable for people with a nut allergy, they are delicious. The island tofu scramble was also delicious. Spiced Tofu cooked with peppers and onions and topped with a fresh salsa, served with toast and home fries. This recipe was very similar to something I would make at home, and it was fresh, a little spicy and a good sized portion to boot. We played it smart and order both dishes and shared, creating something of a vegan “grand slam”. Another plus, is that the rest of menu, while not vegan, is also great. We met some non vegan friends their later in the week and they were happy with the choice and I believe it was deemed “a good solid breakfast”. Overall we both highly recommend Jeannies Breakfast as a breakfast choice on MDI.
Morning Glory Bakery
This is a traditional bakery making everything from artisan breads to blueberry pies. They are open seven days a week and appeared to bake everything on premises. With a few bar stools and perhaps a wireless connection, they were actually a pretty popular spot. We were tipped off that they sometimes made a vegan cookie or two. @isitvegan walked in every day and inquired about their vegan goods. I believe on Thursday they finally had some vegan cookies, which he excitedly bought two of and didn’t share with me.
Previously, this was more of a coffee shop, but has now been morphed into a very interesting hybrid. Is it a cafe? a coffee spot? a natural foods store? It’s all three. Interesting concept which seemed to be working for them. The shop has an island bar where all the food is prepared. The Tamarind fare was simple, coffee, smoothies, sandwiches and individual pizzas. The front of the shop has several groupings of cafe tables, and the back has three overstuffed sofas for lounging (which I totally made use of.) The perimeter of the store is lined with shelving to hold an array of natural foods, eco-friendly paper products and even some frozen goods. We sampled their espresso while we waited to meet up with some friends. I’d say 7/10 and regret that we didn’t sample more of their menu.
You know when you’re in a hipster bar when they are playing the Smiths and they have cans of Schlitz on the drink menu. The vibe of Lompoc Cafe was great for a lingering casual meal, even with the hipster appeal. An open air seating plan tucked away in a garden, trees growing in the middle of the floor and a bocce court. They did have indoor seating and a bar as well, but outside on a beautiful summer day was fantastic. We ate dinner here twice. The first night I enjoyed two glasses of the house reisling and was not let down. The second night we were starved so we ordered the warm pita and hummus app sans cheese. Great garicly home made hummus! Their dinner options for vegans (and vegetarians) was limited but still delicious. @itisvegan ordered the Bahn Mi sandwich with fries. We determined that this was a take on the Vietnamese classic, as they served it on a ciabatta roll, but that didn’t undermine the tastiness of the sandwich – marinated tofu with cucumber, carrot, lettuce and tomato. I had the Falafel burger, which I really enjoyed – a home made falafel inspired patty, fried to be crispy on the outside, served on a soft roll with lettuce, tomato, and hummus. I opted for salad instead of fries….mostly because I needed to make sure I had room for ice cream.
CJ’s Big Dipper
The highlight of my week was being able to walk into an ice cream shop and order a non-dairy ice cream in a cone with jimmies. Oh, how I miss that. CJ’s offers all kinds of traditional ice cream but they also make – yes they make it there – vegan ice creams and inventive sorbets. Typically, they have two vegan ice cream flavors available. During the week we sampled Raspberry Vanilla Swirl, Toasted Almond, Black Raspberry and Pistachio. Toasted Almond was deemed our favorite. Lets just say it…10/10.
Cafe Blue Fish
This cute intimate restaurant on the edge of downtown had the appeal of eating in an antique store. It has soft lighting, stacks of old books, old worn wooden tables and booths made from salvages church pews. Dinner is served on mismatched dishes with flowery patterns. This is the sort of thing I can get into. We also like the discussion starters on each of the tables. While I sipped my freshly made blueberry lemon martini, we quizzed each other with some “vintage” Trivial Pursuit Cards. Wow, I think these things were from the late 80’s. The vegetarian menu item was a herb crusted tofu or tempeh served with a curried sweet potato mash and a dill coleslaw. We both ordered the tofu and it was tasty for sure, but the autumn inspired feel wasn’t exactly fitting for the 90 degree days of July. Also, the coleslaw was not vegan, despite the waitress telling us that everything on the plate was vegan. She then came back, and let us know that she had made a mistake. However, she made up for it when she came back with a dessert menu and let us know that the Blueberry Apple Fruit Cobbler and the Cinnamon Strudel were both vegan and served with a scoop of vegan ice cream. Both were so good, that I almost wish we had just done drinks and desserts at this place. Actually, I just wish they would step up their veg*an game. Overall 7.5/10
Natural food store with baked goods that included some vegan items. The muffins were very hippie-ish and filled with bran and raisins. The store was packed with all kinds of natural food items with lots of vegan choices and vegan friendly brands. This would be a great place to stop if you are staying in a cottage nearby as the Hannaford’s natural foods selection was sorely lacking.
Burrito Bar with patio seating. Great food, even better drinks, and cheap. This is more of a takeaway or fast food type eatery, but sometimes that fits the bill just fine. The burrito options were expansive with filling options including tofu pups, sweet potatoes, and white beans along with the standard black or refried beans, guac and tofu. The kitchen made several salsas that were categorized by heat level. My favorite was the mango. The highlight had to be the homemade lemonade, limeade and gingerade. That gingerade was soooo incredibly good. While @isitvegan was looking all over town for a Coke Zero, I was happily refreshed by one of these.
That was our experience in Bar Harbor, Maine. We had a blast and left with fuller than we entered. Tell us about your favorite spots, and let us know what we missed so we can hit it up the NEXT time we are in Bar Harbor.