Three dinners in Portland
We're visiting Portland in a couple of weeks, for the first time. We're not really fans of tasting menus and lots of experimentation. We tend to like restaurants that have interesting menus and wine lists and are comfortable ... where local people, not tourists, go for a nice meal and evening. From what I've read so far, for example, we would like Street & Co. better than Hugo's or Five Fifty-Five.
I'd give you Local 188, Caiola's, and, to push the envelope a little, Emilitsa (the wine list is especially interesting there because all the wines are Greek).
Portland is very good at comfortable! Even places that may come off as stuffy on paper/the internet really aren't--even 555 and Hugo's.
Local 188 is a great choice, as are Caiola and Emilitsa.
I'd add Outliers, too.
For comfortable--Portand has many good bars with great kitchens/mid level, farm to table-y places with really good food where you're more likely to find locals--LFK, In'Finiti, Boda Thai, and Pai Men Miyake are a few of my favorites right now--
I'm of a similar mindset as sultanaboudreau's recs (as usual).
The better places in town are frequented by the locals although the tourists might push them out a bit during the summer months. Street and Co. is definitely one of these. Fore Street has all you're looking for as well. I'm also a fan of eventide oyster Co. Those are all in The Old Port. I'll double down with Caiola's - it's a bit harder to find so mostly local and excellent. Actually the further you get from the Old Port the further you get from the tourists as well. I'll also jump on that Pai Men Miyake and Boda bandwagon. Boda'a sister restaurant, the Green Elephant for great vegetarian. I'll throw in The North Point wine bar for a glass or two (or three) in a very cool setting.
I am full agreement with bobbert (again, as usual), and would venture to add another possibility, away from the Old Port: Bar Lola in the east end. Here, while the plates are of different sizes, you can mix and match to your heart's content, and I've always found the food interesting and flavorful. Nice wine list, too, reasonably priced.
Re. Artemisia Cafe. Just walked past the other day and IIRC I think dinner something like Wednesday - Friday. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The dinner hours were on the door but can't find them on the web. Pics of the food on their Facebook page look great. Can't wait to get in. This would definitely count as a "locals" kinda spot as they're the only ones who will be able to find it. It's now on my short list for dinner.
Went last night. Don't have time right now to write much other than to say it was terrific! What a great addition to the neighborhood. The chef (Guy) and wife (I want to say Sarah but can't remember) have quite the pedigree and it shows in their food and service. Dinner is a different experience from breakfast/lunch - think The Good Egg and Pepper Club - two different restaurants sharing the same space. Anyhow, try it for dinner. This is a super nice couple serving some great food and I, for one, would like to see them succeed.
Will add to the chorus recommending Emilitsa, fabulous food, relaxed atmosphere, great Greek wines (which the servers are very knowledgeable about). I like Street and Company a lot (the sole francais is amazing); it can get a little loud, be sure to request the back room. Bar Lola is very good but the service is slooooooow -- be prepared to have a very relaxed meal. Caiola's is another good choice too, as is Green Elephant.
As a tourist to Portland but frequents the city every 1.5 to 2 months (essentially it is our second home) here is what I would recommend:
- Local 188: If you are big on farm to table, mediterranean inspired food with a cool atmosphere, this would be my #1 pick for the overall experience (good value, great service and the food is consistent). If there are only two of you, I would recommend sitting at one of the two bars (kitchen or regular bar) for a great experience.
- Boda: Very fun hip thai small plate type restaurant with very good entrees as well, and great mixed drinks. Again, great atmosphere to hang out. They do not take reservations and open at 5pm. Expect a wait of 30 minutes or more if you arrive after 6pm.
- Fore Street: Another great, consistent restaurant. You will need to reserve a week or more in advance though.
- Evantide Oyster Bar: More of a cool place for drinks and oysters (either before dinner or as a late night visit). A bit hipsterish but I would say definately local and highly recommended.
Just returned on Friday. Thanks for all the dining tips. Here's our report:
1. Street & Co. Great sole Francaise and arctic char but even better was a fabulous lobster-based appetizer. Nice wine list. Liked the atmosphere and the service.
2. Zapoteca. Really interesting menu and good wine list. Enchiladas with local seafood not your typical Mexican stuff. Liked it a lot.
3. Ribolitta. A nice surprise on our last evening when we were very tired. Walked here and loved the homemade pasta.
And, the surprise of the trip ... fantastic seafood for lunch at Gilbert's Chowder House. Maybe the best mussels we have ever eaten. Lobster roll also terrific.