Lobster and Beyond: Family-Friendly Hidden Gems in Portland, Maine

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Turns out this historic, progressive New England town has a lot more than just lobster to boast about: it’s a bona-fide foodie’s paradise. Best of all, there are are plenty of family- friendly dining options poised to please not only your sophisticated palette, but also your tot’s budding one.


Here’s a sampling of some of the city’s finest offerings for fun, kid-friendly dining:’

For that lobster fix. the charming and whimsical DiMillo’s On the Wateris surprisingly kid-centric, with plenty to engage the little ones as you wait for your meal. This floating restaurant started out a decommissioned car ferry, and its antique ship wheels and oversized portholes with harbor views garner lots of ooohs and aaahs from kids and grownups alike. The lobster is simple and perfectly cooked, as you’d expect from an established Portland eatery, and there is a good kid’s menu that features plenty of crowd pleasers like Mac and Cheese and Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Located ocean-side in South Portland, The Saltwater Grille offers breathtaking water views inside as well as out with it’s a big saltwater aquarium, replete with pint-sized Adirondack chairs right in front of it, so your children can have an up close and personal look-see at all the fish inside while nibbling on their Chicken Fingers, PB&J, or a host of other children’s entrees. For Mom and Dad, Johnny’s Bouillabaisse or Linguini in Lobster Sauce are both excellent choices, and there is a good wine list to complement the seafood- focused fare.

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In Portland, even upscale restaurants without separate children’s menus tend to be family friendly, a great example of this being the James Beard Award winning Fore Street Restaurant, which offers a seasonal menu created around everything that’s fresh and local. They’re happy to serve up children’s portions of regular menu items like Marinated Grilled Hanger Steak and Turnspit Roasted Pork Loin; they’ll even happily turn out a pasta dish not on the menu if you have a more finicky tike in tow.

Finding an appropriate atmosphere for having a beer and a bite with the little ones along can be challenging in any city- but Portland has you covered with Novare Res: part German beer garden, part English pub, and part Belgian beer cafe – but ALL Portland. It is family owned and operated, and they pride themselves on their “families not only accommodated but also warmly welcomed” reputation. An extensive list of domestic and imported brews in rotating taps plus 500 bottles will tantalize the beer aficionado, and the tasty menu offers fare like Shrimp Tacos, Charcuterie, and Cheese Plates to perfectly accompany your tipple.

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When it’s time for a treat, kids of all ages will flip for the goodies at Scratch Baking Company. There are Cinnamon Sugar Graham Crackers, fabulous Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookies, and of course, Brownies! Adventurous kids and their foodie parents can also enjoy more sophisticated cookies, desserts and cakes such as Key Lime Pie-Ettes, Maine Honey Cheesecake with Fresh Berries, Deep South Coconut Cream Cake, or Sea Salt Shortbread. There’s a made to order sandwich menu, too-plus wonderful breads, and of course, freshly brewed coffee. Be sure to inquire about tree nut ingredients before ordering if your child has allergies.  If you need a lift when you are traveling, check out Budget Car Hire for fast and easy options.


  1. vickie couturier says

    that isn’t too far from where we live,,we are in Vermont,,would love to try their lobster

  2. That lobster look so good. I never had lobster before, wish I did.

  3. Everything we eat is alive….
    id rather know what it was then hope for the best.
    That cookie does look stellar though 🙂

  4. Sounds like you had some great treats along the way.

    I like Lobster, but I could not deal with them bringing the “whole thing” to the table as depicted in that first photo. I don’t like that stern of a reminder that it was a living creature. Lobster tails are about as far as I can go if I’m not going for something like a lobster bisque.

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