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Specific advice on seafood restaurant in Portland, ME

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I'm a former Mainer now living near Denver (for the last 15 years), and heading back this weekend for a visit. Flying into PWM at 5pm and heading straight into town to get dinner with my parents, wife, and 2 year old daughter.

I'm really hankering for simple but fresh and well-prepared seafood, since we don't really have much of that in Denver. Not super fancy or expensive, but somewhere where the food is reliably very good. We'll probably hit Fore Street or Miyake later in the trip for a nice dinner (leaving the kiddo with the parents), but on this first night I just want something fun, tasty and relatively family-friendly. Where would you go?

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  1. The 2 y.o. limits the options a bit with no outdoor seating this time of year. My first thought was J's Oyster. It's fun. The food is reliably good (not necessarily VERY good - the steamers are excellent - shy away from the oysters) and although it's pretty tight, the little one could scream its head off and no one would really notice or mind. It's very much a locals spot this time of year. You can get a nice piece of fish that doesn't have to be fried which for me might cut out some of the other more casual places.
    The Old Port Sea Grill does a nice job with fish although I think they're overpriced for what they present. The space is certainly big enough to not be on top of someone with the baby. I wouldn't do Street and Co with a 2 y.o. - if you're feeling lucky, maybe Eventide Oyster Co IF you got there, say, before 5pm (nothing on the menu is especially pricey but I always manage to spend a lot here). There's alway (I'll get crap for this) DiMillos which does an ok job with fish if you keep it simple and it has the bonus that if your parents are younger than 75, it's one of the few places around where they can feel young and I really like their chowder (thick, creamy). If you don't mind crossing the river, there's Joe's in South Portland although I've had much better luck in-season than out of season there and once again, not quite sure if I'd try it with the baby.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bobbert

      Thanks, I'll check these places out! The two year old is generally well behaved in restaurants; we go out to eat at relatively nice places with her all the time, and the servers usually love her. She's also a bit of a budding foodie (she loves pho and mussels, and her favorite pizza toppings are capers and kalamata olives). So I guess I'm willing to stretch the definition of "family friendly" to mean just not white tablecloth or otherwise a place that's totally inappropriate for kids (like Miyake).

    2. When in the mood for good inexpensive chowder and seafood we've enjoyed Gilbert's along the waterfront. Nothing extraordinary but pretty affordable compared to a dinner at Fore Street. Non the other hand we were at Fore Street just a couple weeks ago and had a sublime dinner that featured a roast John Dory which was extraordinary.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ThanksVille

        Gilberts is probably not quite festive enough for what I'm thinking - somewhere we can celebrate the fact that we've arrived back in the land of sea air and cobblestone streets. But we're definitely thinking of hitting Fore Street later in the trip!

      2. I actually think that Street & Co is loud enough that it could be fine, if you go early and the 2-year-old is in a decent frame of mind. (Not that I ever went there with my kids at that age, but I live here.) You'll have a much better fish experience than at Gilbert's. Or, to take a different tack, a 2-year-old would be entirely welcome at Yosaku.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sciencediet

          I actually thought of Yosaku (which I enjoy immensely) but if they were thinking Sushi at Miyake, Yosaku kinda becomes redundant. Gilbert's was also a thought but the fish is mostly fried and maybe a bit too casual. I do like their chowder when it's hot enough. For the op, if you're doing more than one meal with the little one and she likes pizza, cut her lose at Flatbread.