A true foodie’s haven, New England teems with spectacular cuisine like Maine lobster and clam chowder, along with lesser-known regional fare the likes of blueberry cobbler and roast duck.
But thriving food scenes are not reserved solely for the big cities. Small coastal towns such as York have made their mark in the culinary arena with everything from oceanfront fine dining to dockside seafood shacks. Best of all, these notable restaurants are located just minutes from Cliff House, and most are open for the winter season in New England.
Photo Credit: The Central Restaurant & Bar
127 Long Sands Road #7
The neighborhood eatery with an upscale, gourmet appeal is The Central Restaurant & Bar, located in the heart of York. An exhibition-style kitchen with a custom stone hearth wood-fired grill turns out smoky meats, seafood, and vegetables prepared in classic American style. The seasonally inspired menu pairs excellently with local craft beer and a selection of delicious handcrafted cocktails. Keep in mind, The Central closes for the month of January.
449 US Route 1 Suite #104
For Italian pizza and some southwestern flare, visit York54 on Route 1. The little restaurant specializes in handcrafted pizza with toppings like homemade meatballs and balsamic roasted onions but also serves creative fare like honey chipotle sweet potato soup, spicy quesadillas, and pear salad. There will be plenty of seating this winter, too, as the owner just opened up the dining area into the neighboring St. Joe’s Coffee.
Photo Credit: Patrick McNamara
480 York Street
Historic New England meets fine dining in 1637. The pub, located at the mouth of York Harbor overlooking the ocean, is as cozy as the old-time inn in which it resides. Intimate dining rooms center around a large fireplace, and in the kitchens, Chef Gerald Bonsey—who has been at the heart of the restaurant for more than 30 years—prepares fresh Atlantic seafood, veal, and other delicacies. And just down the stairs from 1637, Ship’s Cellar Pub prepares great casual lunch and dinner.
Photo Credit: Stones Throw
123 Long Beach Avenue
This restaurant and inn has the look and feel of a family beach cottage, but the culinary experience indoors (and on the patio) is nothing short of extraordinary. The magnificent Atlantic is just feet from your table as you enjoy watermelon and feta salad, spicy roasted portabella and chorizo, or bouillabaisse packed with succulent scallops, mussels, shrimp, and cod.
Photo Credit: The Union Grill and Pub
8 Beach Street
Located in the historic Union Bluff Hotel, Union Grill takes diners back to another era entirely with its dark wood-paneled walls and intimate fireside seating. Oysters are on the gourmet menu crafted by Chef Darren Kelley, along with New England-style clam chowder, filet mignon, and savory duck breast. Outdoors, a stunning stretch of beach (Short Sands) serves as the perfect pairing.
674 US Route 1
Fresh off-the-boat seafood and delicious New England cuisine can both be found at Fishermen’s Dock on Route 1. The casual local’s favorite offers an extensive selection of raw seafood on ice, including Atlantic lobster and salmon, as well as a restaurant menu with steamer buckets, chowder, haddock sandwiches, and other fresh seafood options. Along with lunch and dinner, breakfast is offered as early as 6:30 am (try the Lobster Benedict).
Photo Credit: Anthony's Food Shop
679 US Route 1
Just across the street from Fisherman’s Dock, Anthony’s Food Shop is another essential York eatery. The gas station slash restaurant is known for award-winning hand-tossed pizza, which the pizza makers cook in a stone oven before your eyes. There are also overstuffed deli sandwiches perfect for the beach, fresh homemade pastries, salads, and Anthony’s Artisan Coffee, and the selection of fine wine and craft beer is worth the stop in itself.
Photo Credit: Shearwater at Stage Neck Inn
8 Stage Neck Road
Spectacular water views on three sides define the elegant dining experience at Shearwater at Stage Neck Inn. Located at the mouth of York Harbor, the restaurant abounds with tranquil waterfront ambiance—often with the help of a live pianist—and delicious modern coastal fare such as halibut cheek niçoise, bone-in rib-eye, and a raw bar with daily local oysters on the half shell.
Photo Credit: Fox's Lobster House
8 Sohier Park Road
For 50 years, Fox’s Lobster House has been serving fresh Maine lobster and homemade blueberry pie in view of Cape Neddick’s iconic Nubble Light. The casual, mom-and-pop-style restaurant is a landmark in itself, and although Fox’s cannot be enjoyed during the winter, it should be kept in mind for May-to-October visits.
Photo Credit: Dockside Restaurant
22 Harris Island Road
When it comes to dining in the heart of York Harbor, you would be hard pressed to find a better waterfront atmosphere than Dockside. Elegant presentations of local, organic fare like pan seared diver scallops, beef tournedos with merlot demi-glace, and roast stuffed duckling accent the tables, often surpassing even the harbor views. The eatery is currently closed for the season but will reopen in the spring for Mother’s Day.
*Featured Image Courtesy of Anthony’s Food Shop