Southwest Harbor is small town on the southern end of MDI’s west side. Our first taste of it was seeing the harbor itself on the drive in. There are several piers, and one had a small pulloff. It looked so picturesque with boats scattered around, and we just had to stop and take some photos. The harbor is small, so we definitely recommend stopping to take in the views. To us, this was quintessential Maine.
Southwest Harbor is also the closest town to Seawall Campground. Compared to Bar Harbor, it’s much smaller. There are fewer restaurants and stores, but that didn’t dissuade us from exploring it!
When we first arrived at Seawall Campground, it was already late, so we decided to go out for dinner. We had heard about a Mexican restaurant called XYZ; its name comes from the different regions of Mexico (Xalapa, Yucatan, and Zacatecas). It sounded interesting, though people had mentioned online that it was overpriced. Someone had recommended another Mexican place in Ellsworth, but unfortunately that had closed and was pretty far away anyway. So we decided to give XYZ a try.
When we arrived at XYZ, the place was pretty crowded, but we were able to squeeze into some seats at the bar. The website stated that they have a full bar, so I asked the bartender if he could mix me several different things, but he didn’t have the liquor that was required (so…not a full bar). Eventually I decided on a margarita (the bartender’s recommendation) with sugar on the rim. It was okay, but nothing special. Which was pretty disappointing, considering we were at a Mexican place, and this seemed to be the only drink the bartender was able to make.
After we ordered our entrees, they brought us salad, which consisted of a few lettuce leaves on a plate with a side of oil, lime, and some pepper. I ate it because I was hungry, but it was probably the most boring salad I’ve ever had. They also brought us the tiniest serving of bread I have ever seen.
When our entrees arrived, they looked like something that had been sitting on a counter under a heat lamp for a bit too long. My Cochinita was okay. The beans and rice were palatable, but not very flavorful. The meat was not as tender as I would have liked. And I’ve had great marinated onions at lots of places, from local hole-in-the-wall places to Cava, but these didn’t compare favorably. T’s dinner was also disappointing. He ordered Chiles Rellenos (one of his fave Mexican dishes) but said it didn’t taste good.
Overall, staff was friendly and quirky, and decor was curiously inviting, with various political posters in Spanish that caught my attention. I speak some Spanish, so I enjoyed trying to read them. Other guests seemed like they were having a good time, and the restaurant seemed to accommodate several larger parties. For us, the food was just too expensive for the quality. Our dinner bill, which included two drinks, came to $85 (excluding tip).
A couple days later, we decided to check out Sips for breakfast. It is a cozy neighborhood spot with small, high-top tables and a wine bar. The decor made the place feel very homey and comfortable. After perusing the menu and chatting with the friendly waitress, I decided on a breakfast sandwich – an everything bagel with egg, sausage, tomato, and avocado. They have a variety of toppings, so you can customize your order. I also got a side of home fries.
My food came, and the sandwich was beautiful. I know that’s a weird thing to say about a breakfast sandwich, but see the picture below. The home fries were about average. T got french toast which looked amazing. Overall, the food was simple, but high quality and thoughtfully prepared. This meal came to about $14 total (excluding tip). Totally worth it. Next time, we’ll skip XYZ and come here.
After breakfast we took a stroll through Southwest Harbor. After perusing some clothing and trinket shops, we ended up at Sawyer’s Market. Their selection of chocolate included many different flavors and brands from a variety of countries. Naturally, we each bought one, even though they were pricey.
T also picked up a bottle of Coal Porter beer from Atlantic Brewing Company at Sawyer’s. He had tried it during our tasting at Mainely Meat, and wanted to bring one home. Though some items were expensive, this shop had a great selection of novelty items as well as groceries and baked goods. Plus, it’s right on Main Street.
Though we spent only a short time in Southwest Harbor, it seemed to be a quaint Maine town with a low-key vibe. We saw some beautiful views, got some great food, took a relaxing stroll along Main Street, and even satisfied some snack and drink cravings.
Seawall Campground | 668 Seawall Rd, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679
Southwest Harbor | Google Maps
XYZ Restaurant | 80 Seawall Rd, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679
Sips | 4 Clark Point Rd, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679
Sawyer’s Market | 344 Main St, Southwest Harbor, ME 04679