Life is a roof: drink and eat in style at these elevated establishments
Feeling depressed after a year of being locked away at home due to the pandemic and unable to enjoy Portland’s vibrant nightlife?
Well, maybe you should aim higher this summer and treat yourself to some rooftop bars or elevated terraces in southern Maine. Some offer stunning views of downtown Portland, Back Cove or the harbor. Others allow people to gaze at the ocean or a nearby river from an elevated perch while sipping cocktails or munching on oysters, burgers or a salmon fillet, whatever your taste.
Portland’s latest rooftop destination – Luna Rooftop Bar at the Canopy by Hilton Portland Waterfront hotel – opened on Commercial Street on June 30. renovation later this year which includes two outdoor terraces. Big Shots Restaurant and Bar opened in Old Orchard Beach this year with a covered second-floor patio that overlooks Grand Avenue. The rooftop of the Bayside Bowl, about 30 feet above the Bayside neighborhood, offers views of the city skyline.
Here’s a closer look at some rooftop – or elevated – food and drink destinations in southern Maine. Think of it as the “strengths” of high level relaxation.
TOWARDS THE MOON
Luna is located on the sixth and highest floor of the new Canopy Portland Waterfront hotel, on Commercial and Center streets. There are views of the city’s working waterfront straight ahead, as well as views to the left to Commercial Street and along the harbor and to the right over the Casco Bay Bridge. The large indoor bar has a fireplace, tables and seating, and dim lighting with blue accents, for a moonlit feel. There’s also a large covered outdoor patio facing Commercial Street, with tables, plants, fire pits, and lounge seating. There are also heaters for those chilly nights.
Accordion doors allow the exterior space to be fully open to the interior. There’s a full bar and a casual bar with shareable plates, including lobster rolls and crab rolls which come three on one order. The cocktails are named after an astrological theme or Greek mythology, such as Persephone, named after the Goddess of Spring, who has St. George California Citrus Vodka, Cappelletti Apertivo, Prosecco and Lemon. For more information, visit lunarooftopbarmaine.com
ALWAYS ON TOP
You can’t find a rooftop bar higher in Portland than the venerable Top of the East, which is on the 15th floor of the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, about 40 feet above the High Street. The indoor lounge gives people 360-degree views of Casco Bay, downtown, Back Cove and, on a clear day, Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The hotel opened in 1927, and the rooftop lounge opened in the 1960s. Top of the East serves craft cocktails, Maine beers, and small plates designed to be shared.
The owners of the hotel plan to renovate and add two outdoor terraces to the Top of the East, and construction could begin in late 2021, hotel officials said. The bridges will have chimneys, decorative lighting and a total capacity of over 100. The bridges are intended for the High Street and Cumberland Street sides of the building, overlooking the West End and Back Cove neighborhoods. They will both be discovered and will have an outdoor bar. For more information, visit thetopoftheeast.com
BOWL YOU ON
Bayside Bowl on Alder Street opened its rooftop bar in 2017 and has hosted movies, concerts and even weddings. The site is approximately 30 feet tall and offers views of downtown, Munjoy Hill, Deering Oaks, Back Cove and the fireworks at Hadlock Field after the Portland Sea Dogs baseball games. There is a converted Airstream trailer on the roof that serves tacos and other food and a full bar. So even if you’re not a bowling fan, the rooftop bar at the Bayside Bowl gives you a reason to head down the lane. This summer’s rooftop film series includes “Wet Hot American Summer” on July 27, “Kingpin” on August 3, “High Fidelity” on August 10 and “Bridesmaids” on August 31, among others. For the full schedule and more information, visit baysidebowl.com.
SEE THE SEA
Joseph’s by the Sea in Old Orchard Beach offers rooftop dining on the second floor at its beachfront restaurant. The diners have a breathtaking view of the grass of the beach and the crashing waves. The restaurant has been a staple on the beach since the late 1960s, and serves a full menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant has recently added a new raised terrace on the first floor, with a view of the ocean. For more information, visit josephsbythesea.com.
Big Shots is another Old Orchard Beach bar and restaurant with an elevated patio. The place just opened this year and has a covered second-floor rooftop terrace that overlooks the sidewalk of West Grand Avenue in the heart of Old Orchard Beach. People who eat or drink there have a view of the ocean, beach and Palace Playland theme park. For more information, visit Big Shots on Facebook.
VIEW OF THE RIVER
For a different high-level view, head to The Frog and Turtle Gastro Pub in downtown Westbrook, on the Presumpscot River. There is an outdoor terrace on the second floor, 16 feet above street level, with seating areas, fire pits, and tables. A canopy covers half of the deck. There are views of the famous Saccarappa Falls, which once fed the Westbrook mills. For more information, visit The Frog and Turtle on Facebook or thefrogandturtle.com