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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 On Twitter: @susansaxelrod

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Posted: September 10, 2015

Dining Guide: 5 places where you can eat, drink and play

Bowl, play pinball, paint a picture or take charge of the Monopoly board at these fun establishments.

Written by: Susan Axelrod

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

Bayside Bowl

Owner Charlie Mitchell shakes up a cocktail at the bar at Bayside Bowl. Press Herald file photo

Owner Charlie Mitchell shakes up a cocktail at the bar at Bayside Bowl. Press Herald file photo/Gordon Chibroski

58 Alder St., Portland | 207-791-2695 | | $$
On cold winter nights, this is the place where groups of friends meet to warm up with pitchers of beer and a few strings on the lanes. But it’s also a spot in any season to chow down on way-above-average bowling alley grub, including fan-favorite tater tots, served plain or as poutine. On the menu: fare you might expect, such as nachos and “BBQ pork cigars,” as well as lobster grilled cheese and a Cuban sandwich. The island bar seats about 18, but there’s ample seating throughout the dining area, with tables and seats against the wall and a long counter that overlooks the lanes. Live music on weekends.

Arcadia National Bar

The scene at Arcadia National Bar. MaineToday file photo

The scene at Arcadia National Bar. file photo/Heather Steeves

24 Preble St., Portland | 207-747-4958 | | $
Indulge your inner (or outer) nerd with Pac-Man, pinball, or a game of Super Mario Bros to recall your misspent youth at this year-old Portland hangout. The beer selection includes local brews on tap and the menu offers one thing: grilled cheese, plain or with “extras,” which change daily. New this fall: On Saturdays, the bar opens to all ages from Noon to 4 p.m. with no alcohol served; Maine Root beverages and snacks will be available.

Muse Paint Bar

Muse Paintbar on Commercial Street in Portland. Shannon Bryan photos

Muse Paintbar on Commercial Street in Portland. file photo/Shannon Bryan

245 Commercial St., Portland | 207-618-9500 | | $$
Maine is full of talented artists. If you’re not one of them, you can still get in the game by booking a “session” at Muse, putting on an apron and picking up a brush. While you create your masterpiece, with the help of people who are actually artists, you can sip wine or beer and nosh on hot and cold nibbles such as spinach and feta triangles or a hummus platter. If your creative side requires heartier fare, there are a few larger plates, such as 3-cheese mac and cheese or a chicken calzone. Most sessions are $35; food and drink additional.

Easy Day

Easy Day in South Portland. file photo/Claire Jeffers

Easy Day in South Portland. file photo/Claire Jeffers

725 Broadway, South Portland | 207-200-2226 | | $$$
A spacious, family-friendly 10-lane bowling alley, restaurant and bar, Easy Day is a huge place that offers great views of the Fore River, Portland and Casco Bay Bridge from the dining area and large patio. The staff is extremely friendly and quick and the crowd is lively and laid-back. The specialty of the house is Detroit-style pizza, served “upside down” (toppings under the sauce and cheese), but there’s a full menu that includes classic bar food, pasta, burgers and more.

Up & Up

The entrance to Up & Up in Saco. file photo/Claire Jeffers

The entrance to Up & Up in Saco. file photo/Claire Jeffers

206 Main St., Saco | No phone | | $
Fair warning: Up & Up got its designation because of the two flights of stairs you have to climb in the narrow townhouse building to get the bar on Saco’s Main Street. Nostalgia is the operative word in this lounge-y space, which feels like someone’s quirky rec room: There’s a stack of board games in one corner, an antique gramophone, and booths with Pac-Man and PlayStation. The cocktail list leans classic; beers are largely local and there’s wine by the glass, bottle and on tap. Chips and salsa and popcorn from the machine are free; a small menu offers items such as grilled cheese, chicken wings and chili.

Key to prices

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

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