Dining out with kids in Maine

sillyshotcocoa

No one can resist the hot cocoa at Silly’s.

By Jennifer Hazard

I’m blessed with a family that likes to eat. Ever since my children were mere babes, my husband and I have made it a point to take them to restaurants we can all enjoy. The result of our dining adventures has enabled us to get to know some of the best family-friendly dining spots across the state. Some offer play spaces, others fantastic outdoor dining, and all have a great understanding of what families need most — quick, friendly service and satisfying, freshly made food. Below, you’ll find our favorite spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bon appetit!

SOUTHERN MAINE

Silly’s
40 Washington Avenue, Portland
207-772-0360
www.sillys.com
Weekend brunch
The quirky decor, which includes lamps festooned with beads and feathers, retro tables and walls adorned with photos of Silly’s fans all over the world, provides enough bells and whistles to occupy the kids before mealtime. Expect generous portions and easy-to-share meals, including french toast with mixed berries, granola and whipped cream.

The New Moon Restaurant
17 Pepperell Square, Saco
207-282-2241
Find them on Facebook
Breakfast
Located in a little yellow house that looks like it is straight out of a fairytale, this local favorite serves up a memorable breakfast. The crepes are a standout and come topped with fresh strawberries and a generous dollop of butter.

The Lobster Shack at Two Lights
225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth
207-799-1677
lobstershacktwolights.com
Lunch
If you’re searching for the perfect Maine location to have lunch, Two Lights is your answer. Located next to the ocean, families can explore the rocky shoreline while waiting for lunch. There is typically a line during the summer months, but the traditional lobster rolls, topped with mayo and served with crinkle cut fries, are worth the wait.

The Wayfarer
2 Pier Road, Cape Porpoise
207-967-8961
wayfarercapeporpoise.com
Lunch
A friend and Kennebunkport shop owner is a fan of The Wayfarer for its traditional New England vibe, welcoming staff (what kid doesn’t love a waitress with eggshaped earrings?) and generous portions. Comfort food classics, such as burgers, BLTs, and a golden-battered fish and chips deliver full bellies and big smiles.

When Pigs Fly Wood-Fired Pizzeria
460 US Route 1, Kittery
207-438-7036
whenpigsflypizzeria.com
Dinner
This industrial-style restaurant is where my family stops for dinner whenever we’re crossing the bridge into Maine. Creative pizzas made with fresh, local ingredients in a wood-fired oven and a fantastic craft beer menu are highlights. If you’re able, take home artisan bread or cookies from the bakery next door.

Buck’s Naked Barbecue
568 Route 1, Freeport
207-865-0600
bucksnaked-bbq.com
Dinner
There’s a play area inside this rustic restaurant, so parents can enjoy downtime while waiting for their meal. Guests are invited to dress their own BBQ with sauces such as House Blueberry or sweet and spicy Thai Chili. The pulled chicken sandwich, corn bread and hearty sweet potato fries are family favorites. Note: Additional locations in Portland and Windham.

MIDCOAST

Baked goods beckon from the dessert case at Mae's Cafe.

Baked goods beckon from the dessert case at Mae’s Cafe.

Mae’s Cafe & Bakery
160 Centre Street, Bath
207-442-8577
maescafeandbakery.com
Breakfast
Mae’s breakfast menu features decadent eggs Benedict, egg sandwiches, pancakes and more breakfast delights, but the pastries are the best splurge (the cinnamon rolls are big enough to feed a small family). On a summer day, you’ll want to sit on the deck under the shade of a tree that grows right through the floor boards.

Wasses Hot Dogs
Two North Main Street, Rockland
207-594-7472
Find them on Facebook
Lunch
A Rockland-based sea captain and father of two young children recommended Wasses — an iconic hot dog stand that has been a crowd pleaser since the 1920s. We love the intoxicating scent of onions fried in peanut oil and the hot dogs in natural casings that snap when you bite into them. Order a hot dog with everything — onions, mustard and relish. Note: Additional locations in Thomaston, Camden, Belfast and Damariscotta.

Dot’s Cafe
2457 Route 1, Lincolnville
207-706-7922
dotsgoodies.com
Lunch
If you’re planning on taking a picnic to Lincolnville Beach or Mount Battie, try Dot’s. Families can create their own sandwiches or choose from a variety of pre-prepared options. We like the smoked turkey, avocado, bacon and tomato on a chewy baguette.

Frontier
14 Maine Street, Fort Andross, Brunswick
207-725-5222
explorefrontier.com
Dinner
Frontier is tucked away in a historic mill that overlooks the Androscoggin River. The expansive menu has tempting choices for palates of all ages, and accommodates vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets. My family likes the creative Market Plates best, allowing everyone a chance to try select meats, cheeses, breads and condiments from around the world.

The Drouthy Bear
50 Elm Street, Camden
207-236-2327
www.drouthybear.com
Dinner
Owned by the parents of two young children, this cozy and authentic Scottish pub is a popular new addition to Camden. My children and I loved the crispy fish and chips and bangers and mash (Maine made sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy). We’d love to return for afternoon tea.

LAKES/MOUNTAINS

The rocks outside of The Lobster Shack provide endless entertainment.

The rocks outside of The Lobster Shack provide endless entertainment.

Auntie M’s Family Restaurant
13 Lily Bay Road, Greenville
207-695-2238
Find them on Facebook
Breakfast
Located near Moosehead Lake, the in-town location, friendly waitstaff and generous breakfasts make this diner a local favorite. My family enjoyed a flavorful eggs Benedict with hash browns and sautéed veggies and french toast made with homemade cinnamon raisin bread.
The rocks outside of The Lobster Shack provides endless entertainment.

Beth’s Kitchen Cafe
108 Main Street, Bridgton
207-647-5211
Find them on Facebook
Breakfast all day
You can’t miss this cheerful, brightly colored restaurant on Bridgton’s Main Street. It’s the place to go for home baked treats, Matt’s Wood Roasted Organic Coffee and thick slices of coconut french toast with bacon.

The Good Life Market
1297 Route 302, Raymond
207-655-1196
thegoodlifemarket.com
Lunch
A combined deli/grocer, I like this market for its large selection of locally made provisions. You can pick up a combination of breads, cheeses and snacks to take to Sebago Lake or order sandwiches from the counter, including kid-friendly choices such as PB& J or a lunch box that includes fruit, chips, a drink or a cookie.

The Black Bear Cafe
215 Route 302, Naples
207-693-4770
Dinner
My family stopped here on a whim one evening and had so much fun listening to live Irish music while waiting for our meal. My husband and I liked the Shepherd’s pie with ground beef, root vegetables and sweet potatoes, while the kids enjoyed the fried pork dumplings with chili dipping sauce.

Ebenezer’s Pub
44 Allen Road, Lovell
207-925-3200
ebenezerspub.net
Lunch
For beer loving parents, this is a great stop (Beer Advocate named Ebenezer’s the #1 Beer Bar in America). There are picnic tables outdoors and green space for the kids to play. You can’t go wrong with the classic pub fare, including a variety of burgers with hand cut fries or artisan pizza with homemade marinara sauce. Note: There is a second location in Brunswick.

Smokin’ Good BBQ Food Truck
212 Mayville Road (Route 2), Bethel
207-824-4744
smokingoodbarbecue.com
Dinner  
A friend says this bright orange barbecue trailer, which parks outside The Good Food Store in Bethel year-round, is consistently delicious and a great value. If you’re with a big crowd, the Double Wide Family combo, which includes a variety of smoked meats and sausages, beans, slaw, cornbread, pickles and plenty of BBQ sauce is perfect for a no-fuss, take out meal. 

DOWNEAST

Two Cats
130 Cottage Street, Bar Harbor
207-288-2808
Find them on Facebook
Breakfast  
Every breakfast at Two Cats is made from scratch, which means a longer wait, but parents can order a fresh-baked biscuit with strawberry butter, bottomless cups of coffee and fresh squeezed juice to tide over the table. Egg dishes, such as a lemony lobster eggs Benedict with fresh fruit and a generous helping of home fries, are popular.

Flexit Cafe and Bakery
192 Main Street, Ellsworth
207-412-0484
Find them on Facebook
Breakfast
This casual, counter service cafe is ideal for a quick and satisfying breakfast in downtown Ellsworth. Homemade pastries are a favorite, including buttery croissants and raspberry scones. Kids love the fresh juice and smoothie bar.

It's hard to resist the Maine-made Giffords ice cream at J.M. Gerrish cafe.

It’s hard to resist the Maine-made Giffords ice cream at J.M. Gerrish cafe.

J.M. Gerrish Cafe
352 Main Street, Winter Harbor
207-963-7000
Find them on Facebook
Lunch
J.M. Gerrish is an old-fashioned soda fountain and cafe complete with counter seating, heart-shaped chairs and checkerboard floors. The menu is straightforward and features lunchtime classics including BLT wraps, PB&J and hamburgers. Save room for Maine-made Giffords ice cream after your meal.

Helen’s Restaurant
111 Main Street, Machias
207-255-8423
Find them on Facebook
Lunch
Friendly service, comfort food and views of the Machias River make this diner-style restaurant a favorite among families. Guests rave about the thick, hearty fish chowder and generous slices of homemade pie (my family likes the chocolate cream best).

Reel Pizza Cinerama
33 Kennebec Plaza, Bar Harbor
207-288-3811
reelpizza.net
Dinner
When you’re looking for a no-frills night out with the kids, this is the place. There is something satisfying about ordering a pizza and enjoying a movie on a comfy old couch (get there early to grab the best seats). Pizzas range from traditional cheese to your choice of adventurous toppings such as smoked salmon or roasted red pepper sauce.

Mainely Meat BBQ (at Atlantic Brewing Co.)
339 State Highway #3, Bar Harbor
207-288-1100
atlanticbrewing.com/mainly-meat-bbq
Dinner
If there is one style of food my family of four can agree on, it’s barbecue. Mainely Meat serves up hearty platters with smoked pulled pork, baked beans, slaw and giant slices of cornbread. For an after-dinner treat, try a Root Beer or Blueberry Float made with Atlantic Brewing Co.’s all-natural sodas.

 

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