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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: July 8, 2015

Dining Guide: 5 Portland-area restaurants for first-rate fish & chips

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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

3 Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grille

3 Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grill. Press Herald file photo

3 Buoys Seafood Shanty & Grille. Press Herald file photo

111 Cumberland Ave., Portland | 207-619-7565 | no website | $$
At the corner of Cumberland and Washington avenues, you can’t miss this brightly painted seafood shack, festooned with nets, buoys and other nautical objects. Inside, it’s clean, homey and comfortable, an ideal setting for tucking into sandwiches and platters of excellent seafood. In addition to the fish and chips, clam strips and fish tacos get especially high marks, and for gluten-free diners, there’s a separate fryer.

Dock’s Seafood

The patio at Docks Seafood. Press Herald file photo

The patio at Docks Seafood. Press Herald file photo

15 Evans St., South Portland | 207-899-4433 | docksseafood.com | $$$
It’s open year ’round, but in the warmer months, the best seats are outside, at this friendly fish market and restaurant. The menu includes chowders and seafood stews, baked and grilled seafood, however it’s the fried fish that’s the star. The prices are quite reasonable; most lunch plates, with fries and coleslaw, are about $10.

Fishermen’s Grill

849 Forest Ave., Portland | 207-699-5657 | fishermensgrill.com | $$$
This is the place that locals know and vistors should be thrilled to discover. It’s nothing much to look at, either inside or out, but Mike Nappi’s straightforward seafood joint serves up super fresh and well-prepared fish and chips, fried clams, chowders, lobster rolls, haddock sandwiches and more New England classics.

Susan’s Fish and Chips

Signature dish at Susan's Fish & Chips. Press Herald file photo

Signature dish at Susan’s Fish & Chips. Press Herald file photo

1135 Forest Ave., Portland | 207-878-3240 | no website | $$
Susan’s has achieved cult status since it opened in 1989, and the name echoes its claim to fame. The buoys and other fishing decor straddles the line between charming and junky, but you’re not there for the atmosphere, you’re there for the fried fresh seafood. Homemade tartar sauce comes to the table in a Mason jar with a spoon, the batter encasing your haddock, clam strips or bellies is crisp and greaseless and the fish inside perfectly cooked.

Porthole Restaurant & Pub

Porthole Restaurant. Press Herald file photo

Porthole Restaurant. Press Herald file photo

20 Custom House Wharf, Portland | 207-773-4653 | portholemaine.com | $$
A waterfront icon popular with both locals and tourists, Porthole has serving hearty food since 1929. The view from outside is not of tranquil islands and lighthouses, but of fishing boats and wharf activity; in the summer, the large outdoor deck is usually packed. Food-wise, this spot finds middle ground, serving dishes like biscuits and sausage gravy or lobster benedict for breakfast, and for dinner, everything from burgers and steak to lobster dinners and fried seafood platters. The fish and chips batter is made with local Shipyard beer.

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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