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Camden, like much of Maine, has a bounty of incredible dining establishments. Chefs here have created a name for themselves by using the freshest local ingredients picked from both land and sea. Here are Forbes Travel Guide picks for the five best restaurants in and near Camden:
1. Natalie’s at Camden Harbour Inn. Executive chef Geoffroy Deconinck uses his Belgian pedigree to create exquisitely presented modern French food. In addition to an a la carte menu, three- and five-course tasting menus showcase the best of each season. The food complements the interior, which is a present-day interpretation of a French brasserie, punctuated with bright red furniture and accents. Time your meal with the sunset over Camden.
2. Primo. Housed inside a Victorian home about 10 minutes south of Camden in Rockland, chef Melissa Kelly’s restaurant Primo brings farm-to-table to the next level. From two greenhouses and acres land, virtually all of the restaurant’s produce is grown and harvested, and the animals are raised on the property. The menu changes often, but look for entrees like backyard-raised chicken a la milanese with baby carrots, turnips and cipolline onions.
3. Francine Bistro. Francine is a must-stop while in Camden, but you’ll need to make a reservation since it’s a favorite among both locals and visitors. The ever-changing menu depends on the day’s catch, what’s available at the local farmers’ market, and chef/owner Brian Hill’s mood. The atmosphere is as inviting as the food — from the twinkle lights on the patio arbor to the vintage church pews lining the brown- and butter-colored walls.
4. Long Grain. Traditional Asian street food meets fresh Maine ingredients at this compact restaurant on Camden’s Elm Street. Co-owners Ravin Nakjaroen and Paula Palakawong hail from Bangkok, and their focus is on traditional dishes with local flavor. Enjoy house-made kimchi or bibimbap with a farm-fresh egg.
5. 40 Paper. This Italian bistro was named in honor of the nearby Knox Mill, the first woolen mill in America. 40 Paper serves modern Italian cuisine in a neighborhood setting. Snack on antipasti at the butcher-block bar, or sink into the leather couches and sip a cocktail in the lounge. In addition to traditional pasta dishes, the menu features a wide selection of grilled flatbread pizza.