Toddler appropriate, Portland
Foodie husband and I are taking our first trip to Portland with our two year old. We are super sensitive to the fact that foodie places and babies don't often mix, so we are wondering if folks could recommend Chowish places that are appropriate for the younger set. Mexican, Thai, funky hole in the walls, local food specialties, you name it, we're interested. Lunch and breakfast options most appreciated as well.
You probably won't get to Hugo's, but Portland has lots of great restaurants where kids are absolutely welcome--I go out with mine all the time and I don't think anyone hates us. I recommend Flatbread pizza (on the water, great for boatwatching); Silly's (file under funky hole in the wall); Norm's East End (barbecue); and of course Becky's diner.
I'm also a huge fan of the Port Hole, especially when you can sit outside, and they've always been nice to my kids.
Mexican: I've heard great things about Tu Casa and I assume they're kid-friendly but I've never been there. I'm not wild about El Rayo--portions are tiny, prices high, and waits long, and everything is a little too spicy for my kids.
I'm sure I'm forgetting something...
Tu Casa isn't Mexican but it is the best substitute for Mexican in Portland. The owners are from El Salvadore. It is very informal so kids would be welcome and the food is great. I agree with your comments about El Rayo.
Another option is Paciarino on Fore Street. The owners moved here from Milano a couple of years ago and have great homemade pasta. I have frequently seen the owners young daughter in the restaurant.
I second the rec of Paciarino. We had lunch there w/ my three-and-a-half year old a few weeks ago, and the staff was fantastic. Friends have had large extended family meals there - from preschoolers to grandparents - and raved about how well they accommodate everyone. Not to mention the fact that the food is fabulous.
Flatbread is great, too. Can be tough if your kids are sensitive to noise - it's a big open space and it can get pretty loud. But the food is excellent and so is the beer list.
We eat at Becky's Diner every once in a while - they're great with kids, and they have a special kids' bathroom, with an itty-bitty toilet and sink. We've actually had to institute a rule that you can only go to the bathroom twice (once before you eat, once after) b/c of its popularity with the short set.
Norm's East End is another good one for kids, especially if you go early (5-5:30 for dinner) - otherwise the waits can be long and there's really no kid-friendly spot to hang out if you don't get a table right away.
First of all Duck Fat. Great pannini and those incredible Fries cooked in duck fat. There are always children in there.
And, if you have a car with you slip out of town and visit the Cheese Iron in Scarborough. Vincent loves kids and will supply you with enough great food, fabulous sandwiches and tidbits of information about what you buy that you'll be in food-lovers heaven. If he has the Bella Mortadella sandwich grab one--- soooo good. It's not a restaurant but a cheese and gourmet food shop but it will be a bit of a food adventure. Photos and more at this link.
And, if you need take-out breakfast, Standard Baking right under Fore Street but accessed from Commercial Street. (Next to the Hilton Garden Waterfront.)
Not food related, but if you are in Portland with your toddler on March 6, there is a kids' concert at the Space Gallery by Gustafer Yellowgold that should not be missed! Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
If you go to DuckFat, know that it is a small place and the wait is often long...either go outside of the usual meal rush or be ready for it (we unfortunately had to miss out bc of the thought of waiting with our 2 kids).