Three Cities, Three Words. . . Kennebunkport: Mabel’s Lobster Claw
Rated #2 in USA Today as America’s “Best Seafood Restaurant,” Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport, Maine is the best lobster I've ever eaten. And quite possibly the best I ever will have. The quaint little restaurant has been around since the 1950s and maintains that same 50s charm. The atmosphere is simple, yet charming. Wooden booths line the walls and you can order fried clams by the pint to go or homemade ice cream at the little walkup window off the kitchen. Mabel’s serves up blueberry bread at the start of your meal (yum!), and you must finish with a slice of the raspberry pie (ala mode, of course)! But do not miss the lobster! Wether it be Mabel's Famous Stuffed Lobster, The Duke, or the night’s special (what I ordered), I promise you will not be disappointed. The lobster is so fresh, they bring it in straight off the pier across the street! It’s one of Barbra Bush’s favorites (the Bush compound is just around the corner on Walker's Point) and when she’s in town, they always keep one table open for her. I did not see a single meal come out of the kitchen that I wouldn’t want to come back and order. I ate my share of sea food on this trip, from Massachusetts to Maine, to Rhode Island, and this was my favorite meal of the whole trip. The day I visited was chilly and rainy. A plastic curtain hung around the portch with heaters placed among the tables. I can just imagine the place come summertime, a line spilling down the sidewalk, families flocking the picnic tables with their pints of fried clams, and children licking their Maine blueberry, ice cream cones. Make reservations! You don't want to miss this!
Kennebunkport is the perfect getaway if you’re looking for a sleepy little beach town. Quaint shops line the main street, dotted here and there with coffee shops and quaint places like The Clam Shack (didn’t get to try this one, but line of people out front had me adding it to my places to try next time). Federal Jack’s is a great place to grab a meal with a view of the harbor! Stroll along Ocean Avenue, and watch the white spray where the blue water rushes against the black rock of the coastline and you’ll understand why the Bush’s decided to make this the spot for their summer home. You can see the Bush compound just off Ocean Avenue on Walker’s point. If you want to visit the beach, hop in the car and drive on up the road to Goose Rocks Beach. I swear it is the softest sand I’ve ever walked in. It felt like walking on flour. Just be carful, that tide can sneak up on you!
One thing that really stuck out to me about Kennebunkport is how simple life is there. Visiting was like stepping back in time. You get that small town, slowed down, charm, where the people are friendly, you can walk nearly everywhere, and the crime rate must be nearly zero, because they still have places like this:
Came across this darling shed after missing the turn off to the beach. (Helpful hint: there is a large clock tower just across the main road from the beach turn off where Mills Rd and Dyke Rd intersect.) If you drive just a little further north of the beach turn off, this place will be on your right. You don’t want to miss it. The place is run on the honor system. I’d never seen anything like it! A couple of local women who shop there regularly and know the lady who runs it had to explain the system to me. You write down what you take on the notepad and drop your money in the cash box on the counter. The women told me to try the pies, which I saw stacked up in a pie safe (there was only one left, but clearly there had been several earlier in the day) with a sign saying, “take the cardboard, pies are HOT!” referring to the round pieces of cardboard between the pie tins and the shelves like disposable potholders. I opted for a molasses cookie (I didn’t think I could manage a whole pie this time) and was not disappointed. While some of the pieces of paper tacked on the wall in this picture tell the prices of baked and canned goods, most of them are thank you notes from others who have enjoyed this little gem.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in this darling town, be sure and check out the Captain Lord Mansion. The historic mansion has been there since 1814. The current owners have had it for forty years. Just a short walk from the main street, the B&B is an absolute escape. Open the windows of one of the 20 rooms and listen to the bubbling fountains in the garden. Climb the stairs to the copola and get a bird’s eye view of the neighboorhood lined with historic homes. It's no wonder the B&B has been ranked the number one in Maine for several years. Coffee, tea, and popcorn are available around the clock (so if you want to climb up to the copola at midnight and watch the stars with a bag of popcorn and a cup of tea, you can!). Snacks (delicious snacks) are served in the kitchen in the afternoon, followed by wine in the evening. Breakfast in the morning is an event. Sit either at the long dining room table or in the kitchen and enjoy the day’s menu. On my visit, I enjoyed a spread of fruit and yogurt, sticky buns, asparagus soufflé, and steak. The chef added a surprise side of ambrosia salad (yum!). A couple from Sweeden sitting across the table from me found this to be hilarious (“Steak and marshmallows for breakfast?”).
Thinking about visiting Kennebunkport? Grab a good book, some flip flops, and your appetite! Prepare to relax, unwind, and slow down. You’ll get the 1700s architecture, the 1950s culture, and today's joy!