It's a tradition dating back to the 1930s, and for many moviegoers, it still eclipses the modern multiplex experience. But it's also threatened by extinction. With only an estimated 357 drive-ins still functioning throughout the US, Saco is one of the last places where an audience of automobiles can bask in movie magic under the twinkling starlight. With speakers propped by the car windows and affordable concessions at hand, viewers laugh, cry, and cheer at double features of first-run films while knowing exactly who's kicking the seat behind them. Those who want to keep this American tradition going can donate to Project Drive-In, which aids outdoor theaters as they strive to make the pricey conversions to digital projection.
The State Theatre was saved, as its website states, from "the ravages of time." Built in 1921 as a vaudeville and silent-film palace, the venue fell on hard times in the 1970s when disco balls replaced light fixtures and complex hand-slaps were substituted for tickets. In 2003, however, a $3 million renovation restored the State Theatre to much of its original glory, as crews painstakingly rehabbed the ornamental plaster and terracotta exterior. Inside the theater, a stunning chandelier sparkles more brightly than ever below the venue's signature dome.
Chefs and mixologists at Plush West End pair a diverse assortment of ever-changing small plates with fine wines and specialty drinks. Like a hug from a princess, the atmosphere feels both elegant and welcoming, and the Portland Press Herald’s Elisa Doucette remarked that the "cushioned leather couches in the lounge area and deep-red walls create a dark, seductive setting that compels you to stay for hours." The restaurant shows its commitment to Maine-based merchants in a variety of ways such as the Angus beef sliders topped with locally sourced cheddar. Cocktail connoisseurs mix signature specialty drinks at the bar’s glass chilling station illuminated by fiery red under-lighting, and a VIP section calls to diners seeking privacy for a special proposal or a rendezvous with international spies.
Amigo's daytime dining and lively bar scene by night provide a fiesta for Mexi-connoisseurs, college kids, and piñata lovers alike. Southwestern trailblazers can get going with the fresh-made guacamole and chips ($7), or dive right in for a sizzling order of fajitas with your choice of sautéed protein (from $11) or the deluxe enchiladas platter, made of two beef-, chicken-, or pork-filled corn tortillas topped with sauce, cheese, and sour cream ($11). Billiards and dartboards provide midmeal diversions, and the vivacious neighborhood atmosphere haunt lends buoyancy to postprandial jocularities and celebrations.
Some meat-centric restaurants may try to evoke an old-time Western ranch, but chef Harding Lee Smith dubs The Grill Room & Bar an “urban steakhouse.” Although the open, high-ceilinged dining room exudes plenty of rustic charm, Smith is most inspired by his restaurant's own bustling neighborhood and the local farms beyond it. Starring in a cast of fresh, locally grown produce are grass-fed, all-natural meats from New Gloucester's Pineland Farms. These meats—think spice-rubbed skirt steaks, butterflied pork chops, and organic Cornish game hen—are seared on the open kitchen’s wood-fired grill and then plated with modern flourishes such as truffled mash and grilled onion jam. Seafood dishes benefit equally from the wood grills, while a wood pizza oven creates crackly, chewy pies such as a duck and brie pizza with shaved apples and balsamic syrup.
Wines range through France, Italy, and New Zealand, and bartenders kick out cocktails such as hot buttered rum and the Creole Bull, a Twenty-2 vodka concoction with peppers and smoked peppercorns. Desserts tend toward the rich and creamy, with house-made bean crème brulee and New York–style cheesecakes whose flavors vary with the seasons and the Statue of Liberty's moods.