A new EMS and four more things to love about Portland, Maine

Rock Climbing
A new EMS and four more things to love about Portland, Maine

I am a New England local and it’s part of me just as much as I am a part of it… I learned my climbing ethics there, got my first girlfriend there, climbed my first 5.14 there. I graduated from high school and college in New England and I may have even gained an accent along the way.  It’s my home and always will be.

One of my favorite EMS t-shirts - sums it all up.

When I learned that there was a new Eastern Mountain Sports store opening up in South Portland, Maine I was more than excited.

The new South Portland store will be located across from the Maine Mall next to Toys 'R Us. Wish I could be there for the grand opening May 11-13!

That addition to one of the greatest New England towns got me psyched to add my two tiny cents.  Portland, Maine is where I went to college (Maine College of Art) so I had to write up a little blog in regards to this new store and this great news.  My 4 years in Portland was one of the greatest times I’ve had.  Maybe this is because I was climbing a lot more than I was doing schoolwork and spending time in the studio… but hey… it was a special part of my life.  The town itself is a quaint place filled with culture, art, music, a great community, and an independent New England mentality.


When I wasn’t in the studio painting or at Rumney working on my projects, I was bopping around the town with my friends.  There were certain spots that I frequented weekly and monthly.  I have always loved a tavern/pub style bar with and been a huge fan of wraps or burritos.  I guess I am a simple guy with a specific taste so here are a few of my favorite spots in Portland, Maine that I recommend checking out if you get the chance too… you will NOT be sorry…

1. The Maine Rock Gym! http://www.merockgym.com/

You have to go and at least poke your head in to see where some of the strongest USA climbers trained and climbed inside.  The place is old in terms of climbing gyms and keeps that integrity still the gym has a special place in my heart and will always be a place I visit when I am in town.  Tell Nate Kimball Joe says “YO!!!” and be sure to stop by the OTHER Eastern Mountain Sports store right across the parking lot.  The day fee is $15 which is standard for all gyms in the USA.

2.  Granny’s Burritos

Located in the Old Port near the cobble streets, the waterfront, and pubs you have one of the best spots to grub.  For the heavy-duty-burrito-of-madness I suggest this spot for a fix!  The vibe there is super casual with picnic tables for everyone to sit at and unwrap that tin foil rolled burrito-brick.  I have always gone with the Chicken Pesto Burrito, but there are many to choose from.

3.  Gritty McDuff’s http://www.grittys.com/

The pub of the Old Port.  My good friend Hank showed my buddies and me this place the day after I turned 21 and we pretty much made it our spot to drink good beer in the communal style setting.  Again, giant picnic table and pitchers is the setting so it is nice and mellow.  Friday nights can get pretty nuts so if you are up for action you have found the place.  It is right down the street from Granny’s Burrito, which is somehow very convenient, as well.  If you can’t find the beer you are looking for at Gritty’s then you might have to head to Germany.

 4. The Nickelodeon  http://www.patriotcinemas.com/nickelodeon.html

The Nickelodeon is a movie theatre in the perfect location for a matinee.  While in Portland you might find yourself walking right past it and not even know.  It is a low-key place with a below-average-cost.  For a cheap movie to kill some time between classes, or on your day off it’s perfect.  They usually play movies that aren’t on DVD and out of the theatre, so it’s perfect for the catch-up if you missed a flick.

There are many other great places to hit up in Portland like galleries, the Skatepark, the legal wall (graffiti), the historical sites, the parks, and always pay a visit to the Maine College Of Art gallery, The ICA.  As well, when you stop by the new Eastern Mountain Sports store in South Portland tell them I said “HEY!!!”.

What do YOU love about Portland? Post a comment and let me know!






Joe Kinder

Joe Kinder is an Eastern Mountain Sports sponsored athlete. An original East-Coaster, Joe moved to Boulder, CO, after graduating from the Maine College of Art to chase his dream of becoming a professional climber. Thanks to his hard work, constant networking, and continual crushing of hard lines, Joe has become a highly respected member of the climbing community. In addition to Eastern Mountain Sports, Joe is also sponsored by Gregory® Packs, Sterling Rope®, Petzl®, La Sportiva®,  Nutriex®, and SmithOptics® in order to continue traveling the world and sharing his passion with others. A great ambassador for the sport, Joe’s amp for rock climbing never ends. In fact, the only time you’ll ever see him down is if he hasn’t been to a cliff in a few days. The key to keeping this climber happy is simple–the rock. See for yourself at his blog, www.joekindkid.com.


  1. Jim Darroch
    April 23, 2012, 1:55 pm

    Hey Smooth – as someone who lived in Maine for several years, I was crushed to hear that Granny’s is no more. So was Joe. He’s on the road but I emailed him for an alternative. Here’s what he said in his own words:

    NO!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!…. aw man… thats a bummer… DANG!!!

    OK… Federal Spice on Federal Street… here we go…

    Federal Spice is that unique burrito joint that is unlike your Quedoba or any other heavy duty style burritos. It’s Jamaican style food and surely something not to be missed while in Portland. The shop is small with two floors, they serve beer, and has a great ambiance for a lunch spot. The Jamaincan Jerk chicken burrito is what I always stuck with as well as the Catfish…. mmmm….. I feel like I need to make a trip to Portland now just thinking about it. I would say Fed Spice became one of my frequent stops for eats due to its specific flavor, the location (Federal Street gets lots of foot traffic), and the fact I had never eaten Jamaincan food before! Check this one out for SURE.

  2. Smoooth
    April 21, 2012, 1:52 am

    Hate to say it, bu Granny’s doesn’t exit anymore and Nate is a full time realtor–no longer running the gym. Although, Chuck is doing a great job of running the gym and the food standard in town has gone p tremendously!!! So many good places to eat! Anyway, great post about Portland, would love to have you visit sometime. :)

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