Celebrating the Year of the Rooster with a stop into Empire Chinese Kitchen

I love award shows. Until we cut the cable cord recently, I watched them all. As part of my ritual a family tradition was born where we always get Chinese take-out to enjoy during the show. This tradition became a favorite with my girls even if they didn’t always watch the show with me. But, one thing that we have struggled with even as the tradition has persisted is finding good Chinese food.

When we lived in Massachusetts, we lived close to a Chinese restaurant with excellent take-out so we had fairly high standards. While we’ve circled through a variety of local places we still haven’t found the right one yet. After reading great reviews for Empire Chinese Kitchen, I was hopeful we would finally find a restaurant that matched our standards. Continue reading

Having Lunch at Tomaso’s Canteen in Portland while Shopping Local

One dollar jello shots and three dollar craft cans were on special to celebrate the first anniversary of Tomaso’s Canteen in Portland this past Saturday. But, it wasn’t the bargain pricing that I noticed, but rather the eclectic mix of beverages on the menu generating both a dive bar and more upscale neighborhood hangout feel all at the same time.

I was out shopping for Small Business Saturday, and only stopped in for a quick bite between local shopping destinations, so I didn’t get the full bar experience but was able to scope things out for future outings. It’s a cozy, narrow space with a long bar running the length of one side and a single row of table seating along the other. Continue reading

Appetizer and Drinks at The Treehouse in Portland

We went to The Treehouse on a recent cool autumn night. Not the ideal time to venture to a restaurant known for its amazing deck that sits beneath twinkling tree branches. Even though it was too chilly to sit outside, we found The Treehouse on Stevens Avenue in Portland to be a magical destination for any time of the year.

As you enter the restaurant, you immediately head up a flight of stairs to reach the darkened dining area which is brightened by a seemingly endless number of hanging lights, both colored and white, throughout the space.

We made the decision to head there on a whim. Even though it recently won Portland’s Best Kept Secret award at the Portland Buy Local Indie Biz Awards, I knew it wasn’t that much of a secret. It’s a much buzzed about, well reviewed destination and we’d been wanting to try it for a while. Being on the fence about our plans until only an hour or so before heading out made making reservations a non-option. As we weren’t going for dinner, just a drinks and appetizers at the bar on this trip, we were hopeful we’d get a seat. Continue reading

Lunch at El Rayo Taqueria on Free Street in Portland, Maine

Who would have thought that it would be too hot to eat on the outside deck at El Rayo Taqueria in October? Although it was hot, that didn’t dampen our excitement at trying out their new Free Street location in Portland.

I had been to their previous Portland location as well as their one in Scarborough so I knew already that their food is delicious, and I was looking forward to having them back in Portland again. As soon as we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted with warm, festive colors and a casual atmosphere. The front has an order area for takeout behind which is a long wooden bar that draws you towards the back where there is a counter for dine in patrons to order. The space is narrow, but welcoming. Continue reading

Light and Fluffy Breakfast Sandwich from Biscuits & Company in Biddeford

I grew up in Saco and one of my favorite things is to see how the Biddeford-Saco area is coming back to life as new restaurants and businesses move into some of the vacant spaces and revitalized areas. I still get down to the area fairly regularly, and it’s always fun to check out some of these new places when I do.

On a recent  lunch outing with a friend, I was looking forward to going to Biscuits & Company. I hadn’t had a chance to eat there yet, and was intrigued by this biscuit bistro. It gets great reviews which I discovered during my quick google search for local lunch spots. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. My bar for biscuits is extremely low having only had experience with the Bisquick variety which I dropped by random spoonfuls into a homemade and remarkably flavorless chicken pot pie many years ago. There may have been a few of the Pillsbury frozen variety on occasion too. Continue reading