Since 1977 this classic bar and waterfront restaurant has been serving the hungry masses and off the bus tourists looking for a fresh taste of the sea. With the heavens crying the patio is closed so The Monster must enjoy J’s inside at a table by the bar. Gruff men with mustaches that make The Monster jealous rip apart their food while downing cold beer number three as Huey Lewis croons over the speakers.
The interior is dark, fake wood walls lined with framed images of the sea. The bar itself dominates the room, a square lined by high stools. Everyone who works here looks like part of the original decor. It’s like they are straight out of central casting. It’s a perfect antidote to the more commercial (but enjoyable) Portland Lobster Company. Being at J’s one actually could picture themselves a local, escaping into the cozy environs to share a laugh and meal with old friends.
A lobster roll served with potato chips and a pickle spear and a bucket of steamed clams is the order. Coming off lunch number one straight into lunch number two this seems not wise for the waistline.
The lobster roll comes out first and it is just a marvel to behold. It arrives with butter and mayo but requires not a dollop of either. It makes The Monster reconsider other lobster rolls for they are not all created equal.
And then the bucket of steamers arrives and this is ridiculous. It’s huge. Alone it could be a meal. Nevermind the two lobster rolls, lobster stew, fries and slaw this fool has already greedily consumed.
These are Maine clams, meaning the beards are fully intact and this is full on use your hands grubbing. You rip the clam out of the shell, squeeze the beard off, wash the clam in hot water and dip it in butter. It’s a briny, of the sea treat that makes one realize the minuscule clams we’re used to are the bastard child of the sea and might as well be tuna fish to the real deal.
J’s is just about perfect. Warm service, classic look, honest food.
Why go? You feel like a local.
Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters
5 Portland Pier
Portland, ME 04101