Explore Your Neighborhood: The Frontier

A random but fun post about Dallas’ favorite lunch spot. Photo credits:  Dallas’ iPhone.  True story.  Gorgeous, no?

We’re on the road a lot, and while we still “make” about half our meals  while traveling (either packing a cooler or picking up food at the local Whole-Foods style market), we do dine out quite a bit.  Unfortunately, most restaurants offer a serious set of challenges in our quest to Eat Good Food. First, eating out often means you are forced to sacrifice on food quality.  I doubt the local burger joint in Anytown, USA buys grass-fed beef or cooks with coconut oil, and I rarely get a breakfast “fruit cup” that closely resembles actual fresh fruit.   In addition, many of these restaurants are just a thematically decorated box with small tables and uncomfortable chairs, designed to get you in and out as fast as possible.  They offer little in the way of a social or cultural experience – something from which we (as a society) have grown woefully distant in the last few decades.

The most difficult part, though?  The ordering process, which is at best cumbersome, and at worst, downright contentious. “I’d like two Mexi-burgers, rare, no bun, no cheese, extra avocado, extra salsa, no fries, sub broccoli, can you steam the broccoli, and then can you double the broccoli?”  (And that’s just Dallas’ order.)   It’s rare that our waitress gets everything right the first time around, and sending food back to the chef more than once can be a frightening prospect.

So when you discover an eatery that  (a) serves heaping plates of  local, fresh, healthy food,  (b)  offers family-style seating, independent films and eclectic musical offerings, and  (c) employs staff who don’t bat an eye when you do weird things like bring your own avocado to top their salad,  you sit up and pay attention.  And if the restaurant  happens to be a LOCAL establishment… well, you fall a little bit in love with a place like that.

Welcome to the Frontier Cafe, Cinema and Gallery in Brunswick, ME. The Frontier has been in business since 2006, and came to life from the vision of founder Michael Gilroy’s travels as an expedition leader around the world. Gil’s passion for connecting people with experiences that provoke a sense of discovery compelled him to create a special kind of meeting place reminiscent of a traveler’s crossroads – where stories, ideas, culture and food interact in a rich, dynamic environment.

Aside from the cool vibe and comfortable, family-style accommodations (complete with a cozy living-room themed eating area), the Frontier has some of the best food in Mid-Coast Maine. They offer fresh, locally grown, made-by-hand salads, sandwiches and soups, and aren’t afraid to mix things and customize their offerings.  Dallas’ favorite fare includes a spinach salad (hold the goat cheese), with chopped local beets, sliced almonds and double turkey, with a house-made roasted red pepper basil soup. (And yes, he’s been known to bring in his own avocados.)  And if you’re in the mood for something decadent, the Frontier stocks the best carrot cake on the planet.  A  local baker brings it in from time to time, and it is always a treat to see it in the dessert case.   (Trust us when we say it is 100% worth going off the reservation for this cake.)

You never know where your travels will take you, but if you ever find yourself in Brunswick, Maine, stop into the Frontier and see what they’re serving up.   Got your own favorite  local eatery, or think you can top the idea of bringing your own avocados to a restaurant? Share it here!

The Frontier's spinach beet salad, with roasted red pepper soup. Yum.

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  1. Chelsea says

    That’s AWESOME! I’m from Maine, and can’t wait to stop in here on my road trip home this summer! There’s a pretty cool place near where I’m at now called Erin’s Restaurant (http://www.erinsrockhill.com/) that serves only local and fresh foods. It’s amazingly good, run out of a bagel shop when it closes for the evenings and serves dinner at long family style tables. I usually only go there as a treat though, because when I tried to explain the Paleo Diet to Erin she said “How do you ever get full (eating just meat and veggies)?!” and I haven’t quite convinced her to do a Paleo meal yet. Plus, her desserts are amazing…

  2. says

    Ok, that salad just made me want to buy a ticket! Salads are just so perfect. You can put just any combo of veggies and protein together and make a fantastic meal.

  3. Mike says

    That salad looks awesome! I bring my own avocados to work all the time to add to my meals when I don’t bring lunch and everyone in my office thinks its really funny.
    Though over time more of them have been asking me for diet & workout advice so they must not think I’m completely crazy yet. haha!

  4. Chelsea says

    Atleast your co-workers recognize an avocado when they see one. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked “What is that?” while eating my lunch…

  5. says

    You know I eat breakfast every Saturday morning at Habanero, the Tex-Mex joint in my ‘hood. Since I don’t generally eat the carbs they have on the menu — tortillas, french fries, and refried beans — I usually eat a cup of snap peas on the 1/4-mile walk there, and a piece of an apple on the way home. The first time, it felt kinda stupid, but now, it’s just SOP.

  6. Nadia says

    I’m very fond of Life Alive (http://www.lifealive.com), a very colorful cafe in downtown Lowell, MA.
    They serve a wide variety of delicious, fresh, organic vegetables and nuts, cook by flash-steaming, and avocado is almost always in season. this place would be perfect if they served meat.

  7. says

    Chelsea said, “At least your co-workers recognize an avocado when they see one. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked “What is that?” while eating my lunch…”

    Down here in South Florida we often get Hass and Florida Avocados for a buck a piece or less. They are a staple in our salads, sliced with tomatoes or plain doused with a little lemon juice. I also found a description for avocado deviled eggs from one of the contributors to this blog site. They are simply awesome.

    The other fruit that is always in the house is Mango. Plain, in a salad, mango coleslaw or mango salsa (mango, chopped onion, lime juice and jalapenos) with fish and pork.

    I am always amazed when one of our visitors has never had either. We do our best to make sure they do leave hooked!

  8. Carrie says

    I am a Maine-iac transplanted to the South and miss the kind of food I was able to get back home. I can make it, but I would love to find food like that in a restaurant down here.

  9. says

    “They offer little in the way of a social or cultural experience – something from which we (as a society) have grown woefully distant in the last few decades.”

    How true. When I spent my semester abroad in Europe whenever I would travel outside of Holland where I was staying I ended up eating out quite a bit. I think it was Spain first. They like to sit and enjoy but they are quick on-the-go-ers as well. Now… ITALY. Italy you really have to GET THEIR ATTENTION if you wanted to get out of there. You don’t want another coffee? A piece of cheese? How are you today? It was Italy and Holland itself that was just sit at the restaurant for hours and keep buying coffee (Italy) or beer (Holland) and stay for a while. Waiter’s virtually disappeared after you were done with your course and popped up every now and then to grab you a drink. This was after, of course, you’ve heard their whole life story and how their day was. I loved how personal each dining experience was.

    Oh. And by the way – Monmouth County, NJ. The Turning Point (http://www.theturningpoint.biz/home.php). They’ve branched out only in Monmouth County (mwahaha). It’s some great food. ‘Good’ food. LOVE THIS PLACE. And the waiters/waitresses are usually regular employees. The one guy was asking my friend and I about Girl Scout Cookies (they were selling outside) so we bought him a box – and he gave us free tea :)

    The guy who opened the store originally wanted to be a business owner but did not want to not be home for his kids once they got home from school. So he opened a restaurant that stays open from 8a-3p and it is all kinds of goodness. My favorite? The Crabcake Benedict minus the hollandaise or the Martha’s Vinyard Salad, no bread, no dressing, extra chicken. The Turkey Chili is quite amazing, too. Yum. I need to go home so I can eat some Turning Point! And shh! I usually treat myself to a creamy chai tea latte :) But don’t tell Melissa or Dallas! 0:)


  10. says


    If you get a chance to stop at the Frontier this summer (it’s worth going out of your way for!), ask for Gil or Katie, and say hi for me. They’ll defininitely know me by first name :) Oh, their carrot cake is TOTALLY worth going off the reservation for. Yum.

    @Captain Tom,

    Mango + avocado + fresh fish + big blue sky + the sea = Perfection. Can I send you some money ahead of time to pre-buy the Keys’ entire stock of good mango? ;)


    Don’t sweat the chai latte… it’s the general direction you’re headed, not the detours you take sometimes. If you read Robb Wolf’s blog comments regularly, you’ve probably seen my public confession of my affinity for Purely Decadent Mint Chip ;)

  11. says

    @Sam: Thanks for the NJ tip! We’re headed down to CF Ignite in a couple of weekends for a workshop, we may have to make a detour to check out Turning Point. :)


  12. Glenn Pendlay says

    Branding Iron. Wichita Falls, Texas. Get the pork, sausage, and brisket. Sit in the back. Its dark and a bit dirty, but it wont hurt you.


  13. Katelyn says

    I have been reading your blog posts in their entirety and was SO excited to see a post about The Frontier! I live in Portland and am about a half hour from Brunswick. My favorite aunt and I have monthly lunch dates and The Frontier is on our list! She also happens to be a recent Paleo convert (thanks to me!) so she will be thrilled this place gets a thumbs up. Thanks for bringing attention to my dear home of Maine! :)