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There’s only one food concessionaire in Acadia National Park itself, and that’s at the Jordan Pond House (pictured above, tel. 207/276-3316). What makes the place special? Location, location, location. Located right in the park, on the Park Loop Road near Seal Harbor, the restaurant traces its roots from 1847, when a farm was established on this picturesque property at the southern tip of Jordan Pond looking north toward The Bubbles, a picturesque (some might say suggestive) pair of glacially sculpted mounds. In 1979, the original structure and its birch-bark dining room were destroyed by fire. A more modern, two-level dining room was built in its place—less charm, but it still has one of the island’s best dining locations, on a nice lawn spread out before the pond. The main gustatory attraction here are the light, eggy pastries called popovers—afternoon tea with popovers and jam ($11.50) is a hallowed tradition here, though you can (and should) get them anytime. The lobster stew is expensive but very good. Dinners (reservations recommended) include classic entrees like New York strip steak, steamed lobster, pasta, and lobster stew. Entrees run around $12–$27 at lunch, $16–$33 at dinner. It’s open mid-May to late October, daily from 11am to 9pm.
If you don't plan on going to the Jordan Pond House you, pack a lunch. Having drinks and snacks at hand will prevent you from having to backtrack into Bar Harbor or elsewhere to fend off starvation midday. The more food you bring, the more your options for a day expand, so hit up one of the charming general stores in any of the island’s villages first and stock up on sandwiches, sweets, camera batteries, and hydration.
Acadia National Park is full of wonderful picnic spots. Sand Beach is gloriously scenic (bring a blanket, plus a sweater for sea winds). A hike up any of the smaller mountains such as Day Mountain or Flying Mountain is rewarded with ocean views and cooling winds (or, in fall, a blaze of colors). If you’re too tired to hike, truck over to Jordan Pond or to The Bubbles for good views, or check out tiny Suminsby Park off the scenic Sargent Drive, on the eastern shore of the sound—it’s an often-overlooked picnic spot that gets you right down to the water’s edge.
Restaurants Outside Bar Harbor
Twenty years ago, there were virtually no serious dining options anywhere on the quiet side of Mount Desert Island. Things have definitely changed. In addition to the choices listed below, you can find plenty of good restaurants in Southwest Harbor and several in Northeast Harbor. There are even decent options in tiny, one-dock fishing villages such as Manset and Bernard. Or just pack a picnic at either of the excellent local markets in Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor.
Southwest Harbor’s Common Good Soup Kitchen & Café (tel. 207/266-2733) at 19 Clark’s Point Road (next to the post office), is arguably the best spot to get MDI’s signature pastry, the light and buttery popover. From June to Columbus Day, stop by between 7:30 and 11:30am, help yourself to all the coffee, oatmeal, and terrific popovers (with locally made jam) that you care to eat. Grab a seat on the patio, enjoy the live music, then leave whatever sort of donation you’d like on the way out—it all goes to fund a soup kitchen in the winter.
In Northeast Harbor, don’t overlook the informal Docksider Restaurant, hidden a block off the main commercial drag at 14 Sea Street (tel. 207/276-3965). The crab rolls and lobster rolls are outstanding, made simply and perfectly. The small restaurant also features a host of other fare, including lobster dinners, sandwiches, chowder, fried seafood, and grilled salmon.
The best lobster restaurants are those right on the water, where there’s no pretension or frills. The ingredients for a proper feed at a local lobster pound are a pot of boiling water, a tank of lobsters, some well-worn picnic tables, a good view, and a six-pack of Maine beer. Some of the best are concentrated on Mount Desert Island, including the famous Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor, one of the oldest pounds in the area. Thurston’s Lobster Pound in tiny Bernard (across the water from Bass Harbor) is atmospheric enough to have been used as a backdrop for the Stephen King miniseries Storm of the Century; it’s a fine place to linger toward dusk, with great water views from the upstairs level. Abel’s Lobster Pound (tel. 207/276-5827) on Route 198, 5 miles north of Northeast Harbor, overlooks the deep blue waters of Somes Sound; eat at picnic tables under the pines or indoors at the restaurant. It’s quite a bit pricier than other lobster restaurants at first glance, but they don’t charge for the extras that many other lobster joints do—and some visitors claim that lobsters here are more succulent. Near Seawall in Southwest Harbor, Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound (tel. 207/244-8021) is bohemian and fun, a roadstand with a retro diner motif, famous for getting its lobsters stoned before boiling them. Then there’s Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound ( tel. 207/667-2977) on Route 3 in Trenton (on the mainland) just before the bridge across to the Island, a personal favorite of mine where the lobsters are boiled in seawater. It’s salty and unpretentious as all get-out. A container of their smoky lobster stew and a slice of homemade blueberry pie make for ideal takeout.
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.