WELCOME TO PEAKS ISLAND Leslie Davis’s Lobster on a Roll cart opened last weekend.
The islands of Casco Bay may seem remote (especially in the winter), but some are as close as a 20-minute ferry ride. As summer approaches, take a break from Portland's busy foodie scene and treat yourself to the tastes of the islands — after a breezy, salty boat ride across the ocean.
Whether you take a ferry or water taxi, or end up on Peaks, Great Diamond, Long, Cliff, or Chebeague, restaurants, bars, and food carts are usually within walking distance of the dock.
Just 20 minutes out into the bay is Peaks Island, where resident Leslie Davis serves fresh, hand-picked local lobster rolls and hot dogs from her cart Lobster on a Roll. Beginning this weekend, Davis will be open daily starting at 10 am. Other places to try while on Peaks include:
• Peaks Island House, 20 Island Ave. Restaurant open Memorial Day through Labor Day and weekends through October.
• Inn on Peaks Island, 33 Island Ave. Restaurant and bar open year-round.
• The Cockeyed Gull, 78 Island Ave. Open year-round, serving innovative cuisine.
• Hannigan's Café, 76 Island Ave. For all your picnic provisions.
• Peaks Café, 50 Island Ave. Don't miss the cinnamon buns.
• Down Front, 50 Island Ave. Ice cream and sweet treats.
Though Great Diamond Island is mostly private, there are two public eating options — which are not quite open yet. Diamond's Edge restaurant is a beautiful spot for a drink and a snack at sunset; it will open June 16. And General Store owner Amy Farrell says she has some new things this year — boxed lunches for the beach or the boat, lobster rolls, lobsters to order, and an ice cream cart at the dock. The grand opening is May 25.
About 45 minutes away on Long Island, Capt. Perry's Cafe serves meals a short walk from the ferry. The Capt. plans to open in early June. Rent a bike or buy picnic fixins at the Boat House Beverage and Variet, owned by resident Laurie Wood. Long Island has beautiful beaches to explore, but there are no public bathrooms, so plan accordingly.
Chebeague Island has two ferry lines — you can take an hour-long ride from Portland to Chandler's Cove, or drive up to Yarmouth and head over to Cousins Island to hop a 15-minute Chebeague Transportation Company boat to the Stone Pier, , which is a short walk from the Chebeague Island Inn. It is tempting to stay and enjoy cocktails on the porch overlooking the bay, but try to motivate and experience other places:
• Calder's Clam Shack, 108 North Rd. Fried clams, pizza, burgers, and ice cream.
• Niblic, 24 Niblic Circle. Coffee, baked goods, soups, and sandwiches.
• Doughty's Island Market, 237 South Rd. Groceries, sandwiches, beer and soda.
• Slow Bell Café, 2 Walker Rd. Restaurant and bar, seasonal menu, live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
The last stop on the ferry line is Cliff island, an "H"-shaped island an hour and half from Portland. Pearls Seaside Market and Cafe provides visitors and residents what they want (ice cream, pizza, or a burger) and what they need (coffee, eggs, and sugar). Owners Steve and Johanna Corman split their time between Portland and Cliff Island; they encourage mainland residents to visit and experience the island way of life.