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Dec 29, 2011 01:01 PM

J's in Portland

Coming up soon with the family for a weekend (can't wait for this mini vacation). My spouse is insisting on going to J's b/c a co-worker told him it is really great. Well, I've been reading here and there about it and it doesn't seem so great. Dirty and smoky, from what I've read, with not so good food. It sounds like a bar to me; would you take a kid in there? Thank you.

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  1. What you heard is true.... Yes--its a noisy bar......

    1. I don't know that I'd be so harsh. Yes, it's mostly a bar with tables around the perimeter. No, it's not smoky (no smoking allowed in restaurants or bars anywhere in Maine). It is... gritty… but not in a bad way. Very down to earth. Zero pretentiousness. You are just as likely to find a lawyer at the bar as you are a lobsterman. The food is a solid good (not great but not bad either) - there's better in town to be sure but very few places where you can get a good meal while getting that true Portland feel. The kids... I would have had no problem bringing my kids there when they were young but like you've heard, it really is a bar. Go early and it shouldn't be a problem or maybe check it out for lunch as a compromise. Get the steamers.

      1. I think J's is a love it or hate it kind of place. One person's gritty, divey bar is another's charming, insiders hangout. To me, what can be "great" about it would be experienced drinking and sitting at the bar and interacting with the interesting, eclectic clientele. Absent nostalgia, sitting at the tables to eat might not be as satisfying as other options.

        2 Replies
          1. re: foodquest

            J's is a local's place. Tourists will either love it or hate it.......mostly they love it! In the summer outside with FRESHLY shucked oysters, amazing steamers and generous cocktails, what's not to love? The servers there have all been there almost as long as the owner and are all amazing if not a bit brusque. This is New England after all :) Tony Bourdain loves it enough to visit when he's off camera! Visit it and make up your own mind.

          2. Hmmm...we would go at lunch, but I am thinking that my spouse should soak up the atmosphere on his own at the bar with some steamers while the kid and I go shopping in the old port. Thanks for the advice!

            1. Like foodquest says...