More than anything else, Portland is a city of creative cheap eats. Don't neglect local bakeries and coffee shops while trolling for budget meals. My favorite bakery in New England, hands-down, is Standard Baking Company, at 75 Commercial St. (tel. 207/773-2112), across from the ferry terminal and behind the new Hilton Garden Inn hotel. Allison Bray and Matt James bake some of the best sticky buns (with or without nuts) and focaccia I've tasted, plus top-rate breads, brioche, cookies, and more. There's good coffee here, too. The bakery is open 7am to 6pm daily except Sundays, when it closes at 5pm.

Among the many coffee shops around the city, I frequent both Arabica, at 16 Free St. (tel. 207/879-0792), which features house-roasted beans, a good choice of teas, plus pie, bagels, scones, and even toast with peanut butter, and Portland Coffee Roasting Co. (tel. 207/761-9525), at 111 Commercial St., with inventive coffee drinks, a daily trivia quiz, and a display case of fun snacks such as sushi and energy bars.

Portland also claims to be the original home of the Italian sandwich -- which may have been the original sub sandwich in America as well -- and locals maintain the best example can still be found at the (purported) inventor of this creation, Amato's (tel. 207/773-1682), at 71 India St., in what's left of Portland's Italian neighborhood.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.