Restaurants/Bars for foodies in Portland, Maine
Family (all over 21 so don't need any kiddie recommendations) of foodies heading to Portland, Maine for the first time next week. I'm interested in finding out not only about restaurants but also good bars too. Regardless of whether its a dark locals spot or a white table cloth establishment, if they've got good food let me know.
I've read that Duckfat and The Lobster Shack are supposed to be good. What else?
Pretty much everything in Portland, even the fine dining-ish places like Fore St, are comparably laid back, so I wouldn't worry about too many white tablecloth places!
I wouldn't say the food at The Lobster Shack is good--but it's in a pretty location at Two Lights. If you want a good lobster roll in a scenic spot I'd much rather go to the Bite Into Maine lobster roll truck at Ft. Williams Park.
Duckfat seems to be the must-visit restaurant in Portland, judging by the line/people tailgating out front during tourist season. It's good; not necessarily consistent, but fine. Duckfat is probably as much about the whole experience at this point as it is about the food quality. Eventide, in the same neighborhood, is really good. I'd be much more inclined to wait in line at Eventide than I would at Duckfat (but Eventide has oysters!) Also in the neighborhood is the Sicilian Slab at Micucci--definitely worth waiting in line for--and whoopie pies at Two Fat Cats are the best in town.
Other places I like in no particular order: LFK, Pai Men Miyake/Miyake, Otto Pizza, Novare Res, Infiniti, Sonny's, Local 188, Boda Thai, Bar Lola. Bar Lola and Miyake are the only fine dining-ish places; the rest are bars with good food or midlevel spots. If the weather is nice restaurants with decks on wharves are good choices--The Porthole, Infiniti, Flatbread, J's Oyster (the food isn't great, but it's in a good location)--
Portland is a big beer town, so if you like beer you should check out those from Oxbow, Maine Beer Co., Bunker Brewing, and Rising Tide, in particular.
Of course, I agree with just about everything sultan recommends. Hit the lobster roll truck vs. Two Lights - you're probably going to the Portland Head Lighthouse anyway.
Depending on how many you are, Duckfat and Eventide are both small and as stated, I'd rather wait for oysters vs. fries or go mid-afternoon and do both. Portland bars/restaurants are great for food/beer crawls. Just the other night we hit the North Point wine bar (cool spot and nice small plates) and then went over to Infiniti (4th time and decided that overall I don't care for their food about as much as I do like their beer/cocktails).
I think the best food/drink combos in town right now can be had by Longfellow Square. Pai Men Miyake, Boda, Local 188, and LFK make a great 1-2-3-4 punch. Great food in all and vibrant bar scenes. All within steps of each other. These are all places that are food centric and the bars have followed. Great restaurant hopping as long as there are no lines to break up your evening. I especially like the seamless transformation that Pai Men makes from mellow afternoon through early evening noodle bar to evolve into upbeat eating/drinking and very hip later-night spot.
Over 21 makes Nuvare Res a must stop for a beer or few. I'm also really liking Outliers (best mens room in town, that's right, mens room) which might be even harder to find than Nuvare.
Every place in Portland is casual and very welcoming. I hit all the places mentioned with my over 21 kids on a regular basis. It's amazing how willing they are to hang with dad when he's picking up the tab.
You're a great dad for taking them to good places! When my folks visit from up north I usually have a big list of places for them to visit--
Longfellow Square is definitely the best part of town for bar/restaurant crawling right now!
I really need to check out Outliers and the North Point--and I agree with you about Infiniti. The physical space is great, and the drinks/beers are really good, also. But the food doesn't match up--even the homemade pretzel was kind of sad. In a town where we have the ridiculously good pretzel rolls from Rosemont (LFK and other places serve burgers/sandwiches on them....) you'd think they could up their game. It's replaced Havana South as the big place in town that's really only worth going to for drinks.