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Susan Axelrod

Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business for 15 years before turning to journalism. By day, she is the social media editor for Portland Press Herald. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs, preferably followed by a cocktail or a Maine beer. Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod@mainetoday.com On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: October 28, 2015

Dining Guide: 5 old favorites to keep on your list

If you like to go out to eat, you’ve probably got a number of the city’s newer restaurants on your “must try” list. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to visit a long-running establishment, that despite having slipped off the hotness radar, remains a fine place to dine.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

For full listings and more restaurants, see our searchable Restaurant & Bar Guide.

Artemisia

he bar and entrance area to Artemisia Cafe. Whitney Hayward/Press Herald file photo

he bar and entrance area to Artemisia Cafe. Whitney Hayward/Press Herald file photo

61 Pleasant St. Portland | 207-761-0135 | artemisiacafe.com | $$$
You can’t go wrong at this relaxed eatery where evening chef Guy Frenette specializes in classic dishes – many Italian inspired – that are big on flavor and fresh, local ingredients. Groups of up to four will enjoy booths lining the walls of the simple dining room; large parties are seated at central tables. The wait staff is welcoming and responsive and quick to answer questions or accommodate special requests. Go hungry and take a friend so you can try a small appetizer, a shared plate of pasta such as pumpkin ravioli, and seasonal entrees – rich braises like pork osso bucco in fall and winter, lighter fare in warmer months.

David’s Restaurant

A server seen through the window at David's in Monument Square. Press Herald file photo

A server seen through the window at David’s in Monument Square. Press Herald file photo

22 Monument Square | 207-773-4340 | davidsrestaurant.com | $$$
The flagship of chef David Turin’s Maine restaurant group has a bustling happy hour scene and is popular for business lunches or dinner before shows at Merrill Auditorium or the Cross Insurance Arena, both of which are nearby. The menu includes contemporary American dishes with European and Asian influences, such as the pepper-crusted sushi-rare tuna with sesame peanut soba noodles — a customer favorite. More casual options such as burgers, pasta and pizza round out the offerings.

Caiola’s

Caiola's on Pine Street in Portland's West End. John Ewing/Press Herald file photo

Caiola’s on Pine Street in Portland’s West End. John Ewing/Press Herald file photo

58 Pine St., Portland | 207-772-1110 | caiolas.com | $$$
This cozy neighborhood haunt is warm and friendly, filled most evenings with West Enders and other regulars happily tucking into chef/owner Abby Harmon’s creative comfort food. The menu changes regularly. but you’ll always find the Caesar salad with spicy fried oysters, freshly made pastas and superlative desserts. For Sunday brunch, choose from a variety of distinctive egg dishes and housemade pastries. The small, convivial bar is a fine spot for a well-made cocktail.

Katahdin

Owner Winnie Moody at Katahdin. John Ewing/Press Herald file photo

Owner Winnie Moody at Katahdin. John Ewing/Press Herald file photo

27 Forest Ave., Portland | 207-774-1740 | katahdinrestaurant.com | $$$
This is Portland’s premier pre-theater restaurant, where wood-oven-grilled and roasted fare is featured. Standout preparations include house-baked focaccia, butternut squash tart, steak frites, salmon, pork tenderloin and pasta. Desserts change but include wonderful home-made ice cream and a rich bread pudding. It’s also a popular destination for post-theater cocktails, supper and dessert.

DiMillo’s

A server at DiMillo's Restaurant, places a basket of bread on the table for lunch customers. Gabe Souza/Press Herald file photo

A server at DiMillo’s Restaurant, places a basket of bread on the table for lunch customers. Gabe Souza/Press Herald file photo

25 Long Wharf, Portland | 207-772-2216  | dimillos.com/restaurant | $$$
Yes, it’s popular with tourists, but they aren’t the only reason this floating, family-owned restaurant has been a popular dining destination since 1982. Others include: a consistently well-prepared menu of seafood — lobster mac and cheese and crab-stuffed haddock are signature items —  choice cuts of beef, and traditional Italian fare; a noteworthy, popular happy hour; and early dinner specials, available November – May.

Key to prices

The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity.)
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up

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