6 best Bar Harbor date-night spots

couple on dateHavana/ La Parilla 

318 Main St.


If President Obama thinks it’s a good idea to take his wife on a date here, maybe you should consider it, too. The Obamas dined at Chef Michael Boland’s Havana during their 2010 MDI vacation and, according to the staff, loved every bite.

Here, you’ll find menu items like provoleta and seafood paella. Boland serves up stylish dishes in a funky-chic setting — not to mention a fantastic wine list, where each bottle comes from an exotic local outside of the U.S. Not into wine? The white-bearded bartender will whip up a tangy mojito.

Ask for a table in the far back room if you want an intimate meal. Or, if you want the Cuban flavors at less of a price, hit La Parilla, the restaurant’s outdoor grill that offers small plates in a bustling patio setting.

Hot plate: Citrus and cilantro-brined pork chop


Mache Bistro

321 Main St.


You never know exactly what you’ll get at Mache Bistro, where the menu changes more often than the Maine weather forecast. What you do know, is that you are in for a treat at this French-style bistro.

The small, romantic setting is ideal for a date; every table in the restaurant is a good date-night table. Candles flicker on wall sconces as you sup on Cabernet-poached pears with Roquefort and duck confit over creamy polenta. Don’t get too attached to what you see on the menu; the dishes change nightly. While the locally sourced dishes can be pricey, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reasonably priced wine list.

Hot plate: Anything on the dessert menu


McKay’s Public House

231 Main St.


If you want to take your significant other out on a nice date without breaking the bank, hit McKay’s Public House, a favorite among locals.

This cozy, upscale pub features standard bar fare such as burgers and fries, but mixes it up with a wide range of apps and entrees, such as pork tacos, portobello picatta and vegan risotto.

Pull up two seats at an intimate corner of the downstairs bar, or on a warm night, nothing can beat dining under the twinkle lights on the patio.

Hot plate: Rasta Rufus jerk chicken wings (named for Rufus, a longtime McKay’s cook)



6 Summer St.


Tucked away from the hustle and bustle on Main and Cottage streets, Fathom is a mini-retreat away from downtown Bar Harbor.

The intimate and elegant yet still casual atmosphere at this upscale bistro is perfect for a date night. The tables are small, and the flavors are big. Many of the ingredients are sourced directly from Mount Desert Island, and the seasonal menu makes the most of its farm-to-table resources.

A night out at Fathom isn’t cheap, especially since the cozy atmosphere will lure you in for more courses and more drinks, but it’s worth it.

Hot plate: Chateaubriand-style filet with whipped potatoes and crispy kale


The Veranda Bar at Balance Rock Inn

21 Albert Meadow


Stunning views of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Mountains aren’t the only reasons to hit The Veranda Bar at Balance Rock Inn. This stylish setting serves up great small plates along with its extensive specialty cocktail list.

At sunset, sip on a Maine Mule — the bar’s version of a Moscow Mule with muddled rhubarb added to the ginger beer and vodka — and snack on fresh seafood appetizers like ceviche and crab cakes.

Hot plate: Mussels in saffron, lemon broth, tomato, parsley and butter


The Reading Room

7 Newport Dr. (at Bar Harbor Inn)


If the walls of the storied Bar Harbor Inn could talk, they might tell you stories of the rich and famous who have walked their halls since 1887, from the Vanderbilts and Pulitzers to President Taft. What is now called The Reading Room restaurant was once the place for the highest of high society folks to gather and discuss literature. It was a men’s social club back in the early 1900s.

The Reading Room has kept its upper-crust atmosphere, but now welcomes women and people without famous last names. This is a special occasion restaurant, where the entrees top $39 and a pianist accompanies your meal as you gaze out onto Frenchman Bay. But for a golden anniversary or other milestone, The Reading Room experience can’t be beat.

Hot plate: Go all out with the Petit filet mignon with Maine lobster tail

Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]