Quick bites, Portland

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Two lunches, two East Side restaurants, one an institution, the other quickly becoming one. Both are family friendly, and both also serve beer and wine.

With a bit less than an hour to kill, and wanting to catch up on email and relax, I headed into North Star Music Cafe, on the East End of Congress Street. Good choice. This easy-going spot dishes out some great food in comfy, welcoming digs, and provides free Wifi. There are sofas and lounge chairs, tall tops and regular tables, local art on the walls, and in the evening, acoustic entertainment often is offered.

North Star’s fare leans toward good for you and good for the planet, with Fair Trade coffees and sandwiches, soups, salads, rice & beans, and baked goods; even vegan options. My small Phoenix salad, made with  organic mesclun, dried cranberries, walnuts, and Sunset Acres goat cheese, was plenty big and the house balsamic dressing is excellent.

Next day, too gorgeous to sit inside, so I debated my choices for takeout and decided upon Silly’s, around the corner from North Star, on Washington Avenue. Silly’s is retro refined, with Formica tables and red vinyl and metal chairs, tin ceiling, and walls lined with photos of customers displaying Silly’s bumper stickers in far-flung locations.

Silly’s funky, fun, and known for great shakes and delish sweets. My Greek salad was a winner, even though the insipid tomatoes were that unripened, refrigerated shade of pink; making up for that were lots of feta, plentiful Greek olives and a good dressing. Perfect for enjoying on the waterfront, which I did, claiming a harborfront chunk of granite near the new pier.