So Many restaurants, so little time (and money)
September 4, 2015 2:32 PM   Subscribe

We are foodies going to Portland Maine next weekend for my wife's birthday. There are literally over 100 restaurants in this 70,000 persons town. Help us choose 2 great, affordable restaurants to make reservations at.

We have looked at YELP and NYT ratings. The top pick restaurants are starting at $150 for 2 persons without wine or extras. That's a little steep for us but we want to have a great food experience. We are pescatarians (no meat but eat fish). Are there some great new unrated places? Help us narrow our choices.
posted by Xurando to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This topic was just covered a couple weeks ago, though withour your dietary restrictions. You might find some good recomendations over there.

Since you eat fish, annnnd if you like sushi, Miyake can't be beat. More on the expensive side of sushi in general, but it is top tier…one of the better sushi experiences I've ever had.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2015

Hardly an expert on the Portland food scene, but we recently went there for the day and had a lovely experience at Grace. The food was wonderful (on the expensive side, but large portions) and the space was really beautiful and would feel appropriately celebratory (it's in a converted church with stained glass windows). If you do go and you like all the ingredients, try the pan seared barramundi with lamb -- I loved every single component of this dish.
posted by peacheater at 3:05 PM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am not a huge fish eater, but my wife always liked Street and Company for fish (back when we used to go out more). After you eat there, you can go across the street to Bar of Chocolate for desserts and drinks.

I had a really nice meal at Caiola's one time, and they do a fair amount of seafood as well.

I also had a really nice meal more recently at The East Ender, but they have maybe 2 fish dishes on the menu?
posted by selfnoise at 3:15 PM on September 4, 2015

Oooh, I didn't see the part about you being pescatarians --please ignore my suggested dish at Grace as it has lamb. They did have several good seafood options though.
posted by peacheater at 3:28 PM on September 4, 2015

Best answer: If you like sushi, you have to hit Miyake. You want the Fore street location. Splitting the chef's 5 course ($50) and 1 or 2 rolls ($15-20 each) between two people is excellent and will run you about $80. It's a little expensive, but it's seriously some of the best sushi ever. The Chef's special used to be whatever they put in front of you, but they have a standardized where you pick a couple dishes out of each course, so should be no problem with the dietary restrictions. It's totally worth every penny. Similar level of sushi in a big city would be like a $200 per person kind of deal. (Also, totally worth the $8 to get the Sashimi for the first course. Raw lobster tail in a garlic oil that will make you never want to eat cooked lobster again? Yes please.)

Other than that, luckily most of the restaurants in Portland are really cheap in a quality vs price bracket. We have a very large vegetarian/vegan population, so most places can accommodate you.

A really great resource is the Portland Food Map.

Hope you enjoy your stay in Portland, it's really a great place! If you have any specific Portland questions feel free to MeMail me.
posted by mayonnaises at 3:50 PM on September 4, 2015

Whoops, didn't realize you wanted more upscale places - sorry about that, my bad! Both are still really good, though, if you need casual options.
posted by onecircleaday at 6:04 PM on September 4, 2015

Six, seven comments in and I'm the first to mention Fore Street? Chef Sam Hayward is amazing. You'll find tons of Maine-produced ingredients and really simple, thoughtful preparations in an atmosphere that is just like Portland - elegant/straightforward/classic/rustic.

I agree that Street & Co is a good place for fish, and also check out Standard Baking for breakfast. As it happens they're all part of Hayward's restaurant group. All amazing.

Portland's a great food city. Even many of the pub grub places are good! A Sunday afternoon getting a buzz to reggae at the Porthole (in the middle of the fishing docks) is not to be underestimated as well.
posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on September 4, 2015

Oh, I also like Local 188 and it's a notch down in expense from the likes of Fore Street and Street and Co, plus it brings you into a different neighborhood than Old Port.
posted by Miko at 7:44 PM on September 4, 2015

The Grill Room is awesome, and despite their meaty name, they do lovely seafood options. J's Oyster Bar is a very Portland experience, full of townies and offering amazing non-fussy seafood at good prices on the water. And although the full tasting menu with drinks would be beyond your stated budget, if you did the two course tasting at Hugos, you would have a variety of seafood and vegetarian options that would be stunning in their quality and originality.
posted by donnagirl at 8:20 PM on September 4, 2015

It's only open seasonally, though I expect it will still be open when you go, but for a casual meal (lunch?) try a lobster roll or other fish/seafood option at Portland Lobster Company.
posted by gudrun at 10:52 AM on September 5, 2015

We've been to the Old Port Sea Grill and Raw Bar. It's not cheap, but even if both of you had the most expensive starter and main course, my math adds that up to about $100 for 2 people, without drinks. It's in the heart of the Old Port section. Service was excellent.

It's not as fancy-schmancy as some of the other restaurants, but Dimillo's on the Water is not a bad choice. I've never had a bad meal there, it's on a boat that's permanently parked on the water next to the docks, and their prices are reasonable.

Another place we've been is in South Portland, which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Portland. The Saltwater Grille is right on the water, with fantastic views, lots of fish and seafood choices, and reasonable prices for fine dining.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:13 AM on September 6, 2015

Eventide, if you like oysters.
posted by dizziest at 5:53 PM on September 6, 2015

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