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Casual meal in Portland with a kid

The past few years we've stopped in Portland on our way up to the Rockland area to ride the narrow gauge railway. The first year we stumbled upon The Porthole for an early dinner. We sat at the bar, the Red Sox/Yankees game was on the TV, there was a bluegrass band playing out on the deck, my haddock sandwich was great - we loved it. It's still fun but I think it's time for a change. Any recommendations for not only dinner but a little something to do? It's a very long drive from Toronto to Maine so this stop provides a nice break for us all but there's got to be something in it for The Boy because dinner in a restaurant doesn't cut it with him (he's seven, give him time).

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  1. When we're in Portland with our girls, we normally eat at the Flatbread Pizza Co., right on the wharf next to the ferry terminal. If the weather's nice, you can sit outside and watch the boats, and they have crayons and placematst to decorate, and they hang up a ton of the "good" ones. The pizza's also excellent, and they sell a local root beer (very good) and freshly made lemonade.

    1. The deck at Flatbread is closed, but you can get a nice water view next to the window. It's absolutely kid central, and it's fun for them to watch pizzas go in and out of the wood oven.

      For stuff to do, the Portland Children's Museum is on Free St right next to the Art Museum, and has lots of interesting interactive exhibits about Maine ecology and economy, plus cool things to climb on.

      On summer evenings, especially weekends, Tommy's Park and most of the Old Port is hopping with street entertainers, including jugglers and musicians of various stripes. Most kids seem to love the show. You'll want to avoid Wharf St, though, because it tends to attract a rather rowdy frat-boy crowd at night.

      2 Replies
      1. re: the_MU

        Just went to Flatbread with my kids last night--the deck is open! I would definitely second this as a kid-friendly meal.

        1. re: sciencediet

          The deck is open? Cool. Last time I was there (last month) they had torn it down.

      2. Okay, Flatbread sounds like a possibility. We'll need our first seafood fix though. Is there another option that serves good seafood? The meal doesn't have to be kid-centric. The activity will be for him. Something outdoors and very active - we'll have been cooped up in a car for 8 hours, at this point.

        3 Replies
        1. re: crawfish

          I love Flatbread too, but be forewarned they ONLY have pizza, no other entrees. So everyone has to want pizza.

          1. re: crawfish

            You know, I was thinking after my last post - if you really want seafood and an activity for him, stop 15 minutes south of Portland and grab a lobster roll at The Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth and then let him run around there (outside tables & patio area) or just up the road at Kettle Cove (small beach w/tide pool and rocks to climb - it's off Rt 77, you'll see the sign).

            1. re: laurmb

              That's a great idea and I've always wanted to see that area but we've had a slight change of plans. Seems we have to take the faster inland route to Rockland to see some family before they leave to go back to Ontario. Hopefully they will have dinner and cold beer waiting for us!

          2. Kid friendly for me means not waiting for hours, space between tables, and food my son will actually eat. Flatbread is a great option, but if you want something other than pizza, it's not the place ot be. That said, if you are going to do an early dinner again Gritty's is pretty kid friendly. My six year old likes the long benches and watching people on the street. Later it is definitely not kid friendly, though. Sebago Brewing Co. is also good for kids for an early dinner. They tend to seat us downstairs, where it's casual and the service is pretty quick. There's great food in Portland that isn't brewery-related, but this is where I've had the most success with my son. Btw - if I'm in the city and want him to run around, we either go to the Eastern Prom and throw a ball or frisbee around or go to the playground at Deering Oaks Park, although I wouldn't do that at night. Have fun!

            1. I've never eaten at either, but my 17 grandkids of all ages LOVE Bugaboo Creek and The Great Lost Bear in Portland, and their parents obviously like them enough to take the kids there (and eat with them) fairly often.

              1. Already suggested here is Great Lost Bear on Forest Ave. The food is mediocre pub grub, but there is a kid's menu, a great beer list, and tons of stuff on the walls to look at.

                Also on Forest ave. is Susan's Fish & Chips--we ate there today! Amazing food, fabulously fried, very reasonably priced. (No beer or wine though.) Not only are the kids meals dead cheap ($2.95 I think), but there's a whole tableful of toy cars for kids to play with, and a backyard area to eat in if the weather is nice. Our eight year old was playing w/ them and was sad when we had to leave.