One of the best ways to get to know a place is shopping at its local grocery store. They usually have interesting things you don’t have at home, plus you can get supplies for meals or snacks to save a bit of cash while traveling.

And whether you’re vacationing or living on Mount Desert Island, chances are you’ve needed a grocery store, even if you don’t care much about exploring them like I do!

The larger towns most people drive through on the way to Mount Desert Island, like Bangor and Ellsworth, tend to have large stores with more selection (and even some big box chains) so some people do a massive shop en route to MDI. The largest grocery store on the island itself is the Bar Harbor Hannaford (which you might hear some locals refer to as ‘Don’s’ since that is what it used to be called). That doesn’t mean it’s the only option though. Check out these other smaller local markets!

Note: there are some spots, like Hulls Cove General Store, which I love but kind of straddle the line between market and convenience store. For the sake of this list, I asked myself, “Could I create a meal of what is there, not including anything they have pre-made on site?” If the answer was yes, it’s here. If the answer was going to be a very weird meal (hot dogs and bananas!) then they are not on this list. Check out our post about favorite convenience store foods if that’s more your thing.

A&B Naturals

Bar Harbor
This local health food store is right in downtown Bar Harbor. Think bulk goods, organic produce and a full range of natural food, beverage and home products, supplements, and all the stuff you would expect in a health food store at a smaller scale. There is a small cafe inside for smoothies, juices, and coffee.  They do have some prepared foods as well. The staff are helpful and they have a receipt program for frequent buyers so save up your receipts and after you spend a certain amount, get a percentage off your next purchase. Open year round.
Buy a gift certificate

Town Hill Market

Bar Harbor
If a natural food store had a baby with one of those old time-y general stores, it would feel a lot like the Town Hill Market. Creaky wood floors (in a good way) and aisles of snacks, some household items, alcoholic beverages, and a counter for prepared food. Their breakfast sandwiches are great but they also make¬† other takeaway items, like sandwiches and pizza. In the summer season, they have an ice cream window. Cash only but there is an ATM inside. Some things are ‘expensive’ but like small stores everywhere, you are paying for not having to drive 20 minutes because you ran out of, say, dish soap. Open year round.

Carroll’s IGA (IGA Southwest Food Mart Grocery)

Southwest Harbor
I will say this place is a lot bigger from the inside and while it’s laid out a bit odd, the staff are totally helpful in terms of orienting you. They have a nice variety of products (I went to six stores before I found coffee stout for a recipe here) including good meat, ethnic foods, and other weekly specials (if you’ve been to any kind of IGA before, you might know the vibe I’m talking about). They do have a TON of parking so that seems to be a pretty big selling point. Open year round.

Sawyer’s Market

Southwest Harbor
A local specialty food store, these folks are known for their wine and cheese selections in particular (technically Sawyers Specialties I think is a separate thing but it is right next door, owned by the same people, and open during the summer and fall months. They have a virtual tour so you can zoom in right on the bottles, helpful if you are trying to find something specific in terms of wine or spirits. The staff are really knowledgeable about their products and they have some unique items, like steaks cut to order and services like boat provisioning. Open year round, they also have to go items like lunch and dinner selections that change regularly.
Buy a gift certificate

Otter Creek Market

Mount Desert
Right near the popular Blackwoods Campground, this place has provisions like sandwiches, ice, beer, s’mores supplies, camp wood, and (or course) lobster. There is an Inn attached, there is indoor and outdoor seating available if you want to have your lunch onsite. They even have a souvenir section if you want some made-in-Maine gifts. To be honest, we aren’t sure who owns Otter Creek Market and it’s seasonal so it may not be locally owned, but it has that feel we were going for and is literally the only thing like it on this part of the island, it’s going on our list!

Pine Tree Market

Northeast Harbor
The store has that cool general store feel (maybe I just have a thing for old wood floors?) and is pretty big. They have homemade baked goods, coffee in the mornings, and your normal and some upscale grocery store items including some takeaway options. Locals joke about $7 Triscuits and things like that so just check prices of stuff before you buy it (versus assuming this is like your local grocery store). Good wine selection. Another store that caters to visiting yachts. Open year round with a wider selection of produce and fresh foods during the busier months. <— Note, not updated since 2016 as of publication but it’s what we’ve got!

Locally owned grocery stores are owned by locals, which means they not only have a bit more personality than a superstore but also some unique goods. Check them out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.