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Fuji Restaurant, Old Port: A Taste of Japan

Food is a central tenet of Off the Maine Road. It’s what brings Mainers together. Some treats are uniquely Maine, while other delicacies come to the Pine Tree State from all around the world. Today, we’re going to travel to Tokyo…well not really. We’re going to the Old Port, on Exchange Street, to Fuji Restaurant. As cliché as the name sounds, this is no ordinary eating establishment. The restaurant divides itself into 3 parts (longtime readers know that I like lists):

  • Standard “western” booth seating
  • Tatami mats
  • Hibachi (which is downstairs)

Of course, the take-out option is always available.

Fuji Restaurant's Hibachi grill.

Fuji Restaurant’s Hibachi grill.

During the few visits I made to Fuji, I had the opportunity to sample each seating option, and try many of the dishes. After a long day walking around the Old Port, it was a welcome treat to sit around the hibachi table and watch a culinary experience unfold right before my eyes. Hibachi portions are generous, and include an appetizer, soup, salad, rice, vegetables, and your choice of poultry, meat, fish or seafood. While not part of the traditional Japanese cuisine, fresh Maine lobster is also available. Sushi is fresh, and quite tasty. Of course, I wanted to sample everything on the menu, but due to time constraints (and budget), was unable to. That being said, I encourage you as readers to head out and enjoy Fuji’s take on Japanese cuisine! Feel free to comment below any new discoveries you made at the restaurant!

That wraps up today’s edition of Off the Maine Road. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for daily updates, Maine-worthy articles, photos and more!

A View of Maine from Above!

I want to make Off the Maine Road an interactive experience so you, as the readers, can experience Maine from different viewpoints and angles.

Today’s mini-post comes from 23,400 feet above sea level, in a Boeing 777. It’s a photo I took two days ago of the Southern Maine coastline, still somewhat covered in snow. I was able to recognize some “landmarks,” including:

  • Portland, the Old Port, and the Back Bay
  • Portland International Jetport
  • Sebago Lake and its surrounding lakes
  • Cousins Island
  • Falmouth and Yarmouth
  • Mackworth Island

I created an interactive picture, in which you can click on some of the places (marked by dots) and find some cool links related to the location. Hope you enjoy it!

North Conway, New Hampshire: A Weekend Getaway

Today, Off the Maine Road is going on an adventure. It’s an adventure which crosses state borders, into the state of New Hampshire. We’re taking a weekend off from Vacationland and will be going on a vacation of our own.

A short journey to the Northwest of Portland along Route 302 brings us to North Conway, New Hampshire. It’s a destination known for its activities during the summer and winter. One of the most valuable guides to the area is on this website. I’ll briefly mention some of my favorites in this post.


There are a number of good hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area, which are all on the guide below. For families, the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort is a good choice, with an indoor waterpark called Kahuna Laguna in the hotel.


The Flatbread Company has some of the best artisanal pizza in town. It’s thin-crusted, and cooked in a brick oven right next to you. They also have a location in Portland, among others.  Another upscale choice is dining on the historic Conway Scenic Railroad. There’s a Ben and Jerry’s right across from the railway station.


Shopping in North Conway can be divided into two parts: the outlets and stores in the center of town. Settlers’ Green Outlet Village contains many of the store you may be looking for, but the L.L.Bean outlet is just down the street. The main street in town (White Mountain Road) across from the railroad station is full of small shops chock-full of gifts and other New England goodies. Zeb’s General Store is one of the biggest.


If you’ve ready Off the Maine Road before you’ll notice that I like lists, so I’ll mention my suggestions in a list format.


Cranmore Mountain Resort.

Cranmore Mountain Resort.

Everything Else

That’s it for now. Next time you’re left with a free weekend, consider North Conway as a possible destination!

See the gallery below for photos of North Conway’s dining, shopping and attractions.

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The Ice Cream Dugout: Home Run!

I like to think of Off the Maine Road as a journey. It’s a journey through the best of what the Pine Tree State has to offer. For this post, we’re in North Windham Maine, a short distance away from our last post had to offer. This post will be short and sweet (literally!).

The Ice Cream Dugout is the best around. We must understand what the Dugout tries to combine: baseball and ice cream. The ice cream is inspired by the Portland Sea Dogs, an MiLB team not too far away. Hence, the sizes of ice cream are appropriately named bunt, single, double and triple (and RBI, which stands for Really Big Ice Cream). The 48 flavors (ranging from Almond Joy to Whoopie Pie) are supplied by the delicious Shain’s of Maine Ice Cream Company. One of my favorite Maine treats is the infamous Sea Dog Biscuit, which will be mentioned in further detail in a future post. I highly recommend it, as it is one of the only places outside of Hadlock Field (the Sea Dogs’ home field) where you are able to get one.

Hadlock Field, the home of the Portland Sea Dogs and the Sea Dog Biscuit.

Hadlock Field, the home of the Portland Sea Dogs and the Sea Dog Biscuit.

Combined with the friendly Maine service, the Ice Cream Dugout is worth the stop for a cold treat on a hot summer’s day!

Naples: The Town by the Lake

In this post, Off the Maine Road will certainly live up to its name. This town is located a little “off the beaten track,” but it’s worth the visit if you have some time to spare.

Naples is located in the Sebago Lakes region, which is about an hour northwest of Portland. It’s in the middle of Long Lake (which is rather long, hence its name) and Brandy Pond. Local businesses revolve around the lake, and there are many activities you can do for leisure. Sebago Kayak Company is one-stop shopping when it comes to kayak, paddle board and other small craft rentals.

On the lodging front, the Lakeview Inn (also known as the Inn at Long Lake) has some newly renovated rooms Other bead and breakfasts include the Augustus Bove House and the Lambs Mill Inn.

Of course, no Off the Maine Road post would be complete without any mention of dining or food. My personal favorite restaurant in Naples is the Freedom Cafe and Pub. Although only open during the summer/spring months, it has a family atmosphere and serves some pretty good treats. It’s located right on the causeway, just across from the Lakeview Inn.  After having dinner, why not go for some ice cream at Causeway Dairy Bar? Some other picks to eat are the Black Bear Cafe, Merced’s on Brandy Pond, and the Lobster Pound. They’re all located on Roosevelt Trail (aka Route 302), which is the main road that passes through Naples.

Outside the Freedom Cafe and Publick House in Naples.

Outside the Freedom Cafe and Publick House in Naples.

Finally, Steamboat Landing maybe right up your “alley” when it comes to mini-golf.

While not as famous as Naples, Florida or Naples, Italy, Naples, Maine certainly has that Maine feel and a lot to offer!

Maine Track Club: Make a Run for It!

Throughout the next few posts, I will be writing short features on various tidbits in Maine.

A hobby among some Mainers is running. There are a number of running clubs and organizations scattered across the state, but the largest is located in Portland.  Maine Track Club was established in 1979, and hosts many annual races, the biggest being the Maine Marathon in October. The Farm to Farm Ultra Run in Wolfe’s Neck Farm is also a favorite event  among Mainers. The club also runs 7 weekly group runs across Southern Maine.

New members are always welcome, so if you’re interested in Maine running, check out Maine Track Club!

Maine’s Ski Resorts: The Super Bowls of the Pine Tree State

Maine’s been clobbered with the snow this past week. The Super Bowl was yesterday. So what better time to write about Maine’s “back bowls” (Vail, Colorado reference) and ski resorts?

Let’s start with the “Big Five”, and then we’ll move on to some of the smaller ski areas.

Sugarloaf – Carrabassett Valley, Maine

Largest ski area east of the Rockies. One of the top year-round destinations in New England. Enough said. And Maine Correspondent Simone L.’s personal favorite. Follow the resort on Instagram @sugarloafmountain – the photos are fantastic.

Saddleback – Rangeley, Maine

High elevation and rustic alpine experience. But don’t get discouraged by its toughness – it’s ski-in and ski-out for all lodging on the mountain.

Sunday River – Newley/Bethel, Maine

Large ski area. Summer and winter fun and excitement. Cool nearby town of Bethel (5 miles from the resort). 870 acres of skiing.

Shawnee Peak – Bridgton, Maine

Smaller, but still just as awesome. 19 trails are lit for night skiing. Lots of snowmaking equipment.

Mt. Abram – Greenwood, Maine

Near Sunday River. Small, but great for families.

Here’s an interactive graphic I created, mostly to show the sheer size of Sugarloaf.


Sugarloaf Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of Simone L.

Sugarloaf Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy of Simone L.

Beyond those five, read this article on MaineToday for some other local favorites (including some of competitive skier Anne M.’s picks!). There will be a follow up article on MaineToday with the remaining few ski areas they say they will mention, so I will post that as an update when it comes.


Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading another edition of Off the Maine Road!

Wolfe’s Neck Farm: Quite the Spring Chicken

Play this song while reading this post:

After quite the adventure in Acadia National Park, let’s head back to Freeport for a quick replenishment of our L.L. Bean gear. Driving 10 minutes southeast of Freeport takes us to a surreal location by the sea. It’s kind of like going to a seaside resort in England for the weekend. Welcome to Wolfe’s Neck Farm. It’s actually out of the main Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, but it is worth checking out. Both the park and the farm offer campsites and the farm boasts 3 cottages with views of the bay and ocean. The park features many walking trails, but my personal favorite is the Casco Bay Trail, which leads right down to the ocean. Spend some time walking on the rocks and collecting Maine’s mussels. Back at the farm, discover the steps Wolfe’s Neck takes to promote Maine’s agriculture. Some of the activities at the farm include hay wagon rides, bicycle rentals, canoe and kayak rentals, and much more. It’s a great weekend destination for families. The farm also features Belted Galloway cows, nicknamed “oreo cows” because of their white and black pattern is similar to that of an oreo cookie. Don’t take my word for it – visit Wolfe’s Neck Farm yourself and prepare to show a greater appreciation for the Earth and Maine’s locally-grown food!

(Also, for you runners out there, Maine Track Club‘s annual Farm to Farm Ultra Run starts at Wolfe’s Neck Farm. It’s a 25K, 50K or 50 Mile race supporting locally-grown food in Maine. It’s pretty aweseome.)

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