Greetings, Phish phans. If you’ve never been here – or haven’t been here since you drove through on your way to Limestone – welcome to Bangor. We’re very happy to have you. It’s changed a lot in the past decade. Looking for some stuff to do in town while you’re here? I’ve assembled some helpful tips to eat, drink, see, stay and otherwise enjoy the Queen City. For a full list of all the addresses and contact info for businesses and other places in downtown Bangor, you can visit the downtown Bangor website.
EAT AND BE MERRY
There are some great restaurants right in and around downtown Bangor. 11 Central, located on Central Street, has a pizza called the Dirty Hippie, and Giacomo’s next door serves up a huge array of sandwiches to fuel up for a night of dancing. Bagel Central, also on Central Street, makes a mean breakfast. There’s some fantastic sushi at Yoshi across the bridge in Brewer, there’s very good Indian food at Taste of India on Main Street in Bangor, plenty of pad Thai to eat at Thai Siam, also on Main Street, and you can have a lovely Italian meal at either Massimo’s on Hammond Street (fancy) or Tesoro’s (not so fancy). Want lobster? Visit McLaughlin’s near the Bangor-Hampden line, or drive out to Eddington for a superb lobster roll at the Eagle’s Nest. There’s Latin-inspired fine dining at Thistles. There are giant burritos at Verve in Orono, a 15-minute drive from downtown. Try the wings – and the house-made beer – at Geaghan’s, next to Hollywood Slots. Seasons on Main Street – right across the street from the Waterfront – has a big menu and is reasonably priced. Dysart’s, just off the 174 exit on I-95, is also a Bangor area institution. You can get poutine there. Oh, and Pompeii Pizza, right on the Waterfront, makes killer brick oven pizza. I’d better stop now, or I’ll list every dang restaurant in town!
SHOP AND SEE
There are a number of great places to pick up a gift, supplies or just a fun thing to remember the Bangor Phish show with. Mexicali Blues, at the corner of Hammond and Main Streets, has got you covered for clothes. Epic Sports has amenities for any camping emergencies you might run into. Need some new kicks? Check out Valentine Footwear. Metropolitan Soul has got cool gifts and cards, Central Street Farmhouse offers up homebrewing supplies and baby care, and The Rock & Art Shop is stuffed full of minerals, fossils, jewelry and other totally unique items. Books are at Bookmarc’s and The Briar Patch. Fine wine and beer are at Bangor Wine & Cheese Company and State Street Wine Cellar. And Herbal Tea & Tobacco and Headies, both on Main Street, have an array of for-tobacco-only products. Ahem.
DRINK AND SCHMOOZE
Before or after the show, you can sample some top notch brews at Nocturnem Drafthaus, right on Main Street – local beer, craft beer, imported beer, amazing burgers, served with panache, and on Wednesday night in particular there’s a tap takeover featuring Maine’s own Oxbow Brewing. Paddy Murphy’s, also on Main Street, is one of the friendliest go-to watering holes in town (also, two words: fried pickles). Same goes for The Big Easy at the Charles Inn or for Ipanema, both on West Market Square. One of the best dive bars in the world is located on Broad Street, across the street from the parking garage – the Waverly, with its two jukeboxes, free pool and Beechwood aged Budweiser. The Main Street Tavern as well has lots of room – though perhaps the intimate Red One Lounge on Main Street, the nightclub setting of Half Acre on Harlow Street, or the subterranean Phoenix Pub on Franklin Street, are more your style. Or, you could hop over to Carolina Sports & Spirits, for vodka infusions, a dance floor and pub food.
If you’re in town early, on Tuesday night there’s a Phish pre-party with Joshua Peter Childers at Ipanema Bar & Grill; there’s also live jazz from 7 to 9 p.m. at Nocturnem Drafthaus, and an open mic night at Paddy Murphy’s. If you’re feeling ambitious on the day of the concert, you can join the folks from the KahBang Festival for a cruise down the Penobscot River featuring jam band The Jauntee – the boat sets sail at 4:30 p.m. from the Waterfront docks and returns at 6:15, there’s a 21 plus cash bar, and it’s $20 to come aboard. The Sea Dog Brewing Company – adjacent to the Waterfront and purveyors of fine in-house beer – hosts a tailgate party starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday with the delightful Aroostook County band Mellow Endeavor. Tantrum, located just a few hundred feet past the Sea Dog, hosts Richard James and the Name Changers (pictured above) starting at 10:45 p.m, as the show is getting out. There’s also an after party at the Phoenix Pub, featuring Back on the Train.
STAY AND (MAYBE) SLEEP
If you haven’t already booked a hotel room or campsite, you might be out of luck. Most hotels in the area are completely booked up. I know – I called just about every hotel in the greater Bangor area, and they all said the same thing. There might be a handful of rooms left at the Holiday Inn on the Odlin Road, though I bet by the time you’re reading this they’ll be gone. Both the Paul Bunyan and Pleasant Hill Campgrounds are full, though there are a few spots left at the Waltons Campground in Eddington and at Pushaw Lake Campground in Orono. Otherwise, you should probably make friends with a local, or be prepared to drive as far as Newport or Waterville for a room. Just a reminder: there is no public camping in Bangor, or Orono, or at UMaine, or anywhere else, for that matter. So don’t even try it.