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When my partner and I first visited Portland, Maine last year, I was struck by how much I loved the city. A small, dense urban area full of seafood joints, dive bars, and shops. Located in my favorite neighborhood in the city, Old Port, Maps is a charming little speakeasy type, tucked into a tiny basement on the otherwise very busy Market Street. Their limited menu features a few well-selected draft beers, plus wine, tea, and coffee (no liquor), plus a few savory bar snacks and homemade baked goods.

The quality of a spot’s bar snacks can often make or break a place for me, and this is another spot where Maps shines. Their tiny kitchen workspace tucked into the back corner of the bar churns out delicious, decadent cheesy sandwiches that would give any full-service restaurant (or niche food truck) a run for their money.

The bar’s design and overall vibe was inspired by the owners’ travels through Europe, where they encountered cozy, intimate watering holes that doubled as community spaces. Effectively emulating this hard-to-define feel, Maps is splitting the difference between divey and homey. The bar feels like it’s always been your go-to secret spot, lived in and welcoming even on your first visit.

Maps, 64 Market St, Portland, Maine 04101, is open Wednesday through Sunday 4 p.m. to midnight. Feature photo from Maps’ Facebook page.

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