A good problem to have in Portland ME

Heading back up to Portland this weekend and need to spend some $. (A use it or lose it work situation). Will have my 3 and 5 year olds with me, as well as husband. We are planning to get sandwiches to go from Blue Rooster, as well as tots, to take on a whale watch with us. Dinner Saturday is probably at Empire Chinese, unless we can get into Honeypaw. With little ones lack of reservations is a bit problematic.

We want to have some sushi at Miyake- maybe lunch Sunday? Or we could try again for Honeypaw.

I’d love some suggestions for best baked goods and coffee- we’re up fairly early with the kids. We’ll hit Vena’s Fizz house for sure. We also need a cake suggestion- my 3 year old actually turns 4 on Sunday, and no, she does not want a cupcake.

The problem is, all of these are fairly cheap eats. We need to drop in a for a few more meals or snacks, maybe a lobster roll or something that would run up the bill! Thoughts?

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We haven’t been to Portland since having ours 21 months ago so kid-friendly stuff, particularly higher end, is below my radar but I wanted to chime in with something. I remember happy hour at Boone’s (a REAL HH, not like here in Greater Boston) being friendly and raucous so I doubt kids would be disruptive. Would the kids like Slab or Pei Men Miyake? Green Elephant? My one concern - are you sure you want to take the kids on a whale watch? Through anecdotes from friends, I’ve heard that they can be tough if the seas get rough, even for adults.

Apparently a concern for everyone… although our sprouts are hardy seafarers, the company cancelled the whale watch both days due to rough seas. We did end up going out on a lobster boat cruise, which was actually probably even better- 90 mins, inside the harbor only so not rough, and the kids had a great time helping haul traps, measure lobsters, etc. Very interactive and highly recommended! There is the option to purchase the lobsters at boat price ($4.80/lb as of writing) and have them steamed down the pier somewhere.

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That sounds like fun. My nieces and nephews would live that.

Wish I had had some restaurant insights for you but I don’t have a lot of dinner experience there.

We did the lobster tour a few years back, and it was fascinating.

Where did you end up eating? With a 21-month old, I’m curious to hear what is both kid-friendly and delicious. (Although your kids sound rather more advanced than mine!)

Quick eating summary- we did not manage to use up my full funds, but still had some great meals. I think I’ve identified the problem: we need to drink more.

Miyake- lunch Sat- fabulous sushi and warm dishes. The peekytoe crab maki was a favorite. Well-behaved kids were fine, gobbled up avocado rolls and were given crayons and paper, but I probably would not bring them for dinner here.

Tandem- coffee and treats- my DC loves their cold brew malted coffee. I like their espresso drinks but find their coffee a bit “third wave” for my taste- ie fruity/acidic. Coconut cream pie (as written up a few years ago in Bon Appetit, I think) was finally available and was really excellent.

Holy Donut- a few more treats- not a huge fan. The donuts are heavier than what I prefer, probably due to the potato. I’ll take Union Square donuts any day.

Honeypaw- dinner Sat- arrived at 5, was told 30 min wait, but ended up being only 10 mins. Fabulous meal- would eat here weekly if it were closer. the lamb Khao Soi was a favorite- it compared well to Cha Yen’s version over in Watertown- both are wonderful dishes.

VInland- went myself after the kids were in bed- glass of a really wonderful Ortrugo, a sparking Italian white I was not familiar with which the bartender picked for me.

Portland Patisserie- breakfast (after stopping at Tandem for coffee)- Toad in the Hole- egg, sausage and cheese baked into a croissant. Probably a thousand calories, but worth it. Crepes were only so-so and at $10 for one strawberry and nutella crepe, not a good value. This place has apparently recently split into a fancy-ish sit down side and a coffee bar side, and the coffee bar side prices seem high.

Empire Chinese- lunch Sun- I just love this place. The peking duck bao are amazing. The beef with broad noodles was also a favorite. The shu mai have a whole, large, perfect flavorful shrimp crammed into each one. I could go on and on.

We got sandwiches from Honeypaw which we brought home for dinner- the tofu was underseasoned with too large of a slab of tofu, but the smoked chicken was delicious.

There also was a coffee stop at Speckled Ax, which makes a great cuppa. And a stop at Vena’s Fizz House, which has started serving real cocktails since last year, and is now a much busier, happening place than in their mocktail-only incarnation, but still a fun all-ages bar experience.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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