Our family-friendly Jewel by the Sea presents a unique opportunity for parents to expose their hungry prodigy to the subtle flavors and elegant atmospheres that will enhance their dining experiences as they grow as children, and as a family, without breaking the proverbial bank.
Kids dining in style on a sunny seaside deck
It’s dinner time as the car delivers you to Saltwater Grille
on Portland Harbor. You weave your way through the crowd of first-time visitors being welcomed at the elegant eatery–you have a reservation!
The hostess notices you and the folks following behind, and smiles, "We’ve been waiting for you! Your table is right this way.” Heads turn as you stroll by, many surprised to see someone of your stature at a place like this… they do not realize how common it is. As the hostess holds your seat on the deck, the sun illuminates the skyline and you remember how much you love coming here. Your companions order their drinks and dinner, and now your turn: "I would like the chocolate milk and chicken fingers with fries, please!” and then return to coloring your menu.
Foodie’s have been following their favorite chefs to Portland for awhile, but with the recent increases in culinary awards and accolades such as Bon Appétit magazine’s recognition of Portland as "America’s Foodiest Small Town,” refined palates have swarmed to Portland as a culinary destination. But what about foodie parents? In Portland, no child will be left behind.
is just one of many upscale family-friendly restaurants feeding the foodie fanatics one child at a time. In addition to an "extensive child menu” with dishes for more sophisticated tastes including grilled and fried haddock and pasta with cheese and/or marinara sauce, the seaside restaurant also offers cheese pizza, hamburgers and even PB&J for the more finicky. It doesn’t stop there, however. Child-sized Adirondack chairs sit in front of a large saltwater aquarium stocked with the tropical fish from "Finding Nemo” so they can visit Marlin, Dory, Gill and other friends "for real.” Touches like this ensure children enjoy their experience every bit as much as their adult companions who are relaxing after dinner, soaking in the view.
Children marvel at the floating restaurant
Across the channel, DiMillo’s On The Water
, docked on the Portland side of the harbor, is also a child-friendly wonder. The sheer size of the decommissioned car ferry, retro-fitted as a floating restaurant, drops jaws. Inside, automated doors silently swing open to welcome visitors and antique wooden ship wheels and oversized porthole views of the harbor keep children engaged in their surroundings until the mac & cheese, spaghetti & meatballs, or other kids meal arrives.
Award winning dining for little tykes
Even if child-specific menus are not available, almost all high-end restaurants will welcome well-behaved and appropriately dressed patrons of any age. At Fore Street Restaurant
, the establishment of James Beard award-winning chef, Sam Hayward, the menu can be enjoyed by parents willing to share fine food with their children. Street & Co. is also "happy to accommodate” children and will create children-sized portions of pasta dishes when preferred over fish. Similar food is available at Eve’s Restaurant
at the Portland Harbor Hotel
, which has an outdoor courtyard to safely limit a wandering curiosity.
Families on a budget
If more affordable fare is preferred with a more casual, child-friendly environment, Dry Dock Restaurant & Tavern
, Bull Feeney’s
, Ri Ra Irish Restaurant & Pub
, Portland Lobster Company
, Flatbread Company
, and Port Hole Restaurant
are excellent places to introduce the historic charms of the Old Port to young foodies. Happily for some parents, your offspring need not be over 21 for you to savor the fine beers at the brew pub locations of Sebago Brewing Company
, Gritty McDuff’s Brewing Co
., Shipyard’s Sea Dog Brewing Company, Inn on Peaks
, or $3 Deweys
The Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth gives families a unique opportunity to enjoy the Maine coast in all its fullness while eating from a menu that includes hot dogs and chicken, along with scallops and lobster. If sitting beside crashing waves proves too tantalizing, adults can easily bring inquisitive youngsters to explore the tidal pools, rock formations, and even down to feel the Atlantic’s sea spray.
Sports and Snacks
Even sports-minded families have tasty affordable food to enjoy while watching their favorite teams. Rivalries
has big screen vistas so sports fans of every height can enjoy whatever game they care to watch while they eat. More than that, the local teams, Portland Pirates
(hockey), Maine Red Claws
(basketball), and Portland Sea Dogs
(baseball) all have terrific concessions at minor league prices.
by Bob Stephens