April 4, 2013

Bar Guide: For specials, selection and service, try JP Thornton's

JP Thornton's offers more than a dozen beers on tap, a handful more by the bottle, and a varied wine list to suit anyone's tastes.

By Emma Bouthillette ebouthillette@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

I've been doing heated vinyasa flow yoga at a place sandwiched between a bar and a doughnut shop. I've resisted both indulgences when I go to yoga -- until recently.

click image to enlarge

Mike Corey and Amy King are part of the staff at JP Thornton’s Bar & Grille on Broadway in South Portland, where people gather after work and pictures of New England athletes adorn the walls.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer


WHERE: 740 Broadway, South Portland

PHONE: 799-3100

WEBSITE: jpthorntons.com

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday

PARKING: Large parking lot


SPECIALS: Happy hour specials from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with $1.75 Budweiser pints, $4 house wines, $1 off well drinks and drafts, and 50 cents off bottled beer

SCENE: A casual pub with great American food and artwork honoring New England sports

AMENITIES: Seating along the bar, and a few tables are within view of a couple of small flat-screen televisions to keep up with the latest on ESPN.

I first visited JP Thornton's Bar & Grille on Broadway in South Portland a couple of years ago. It was after our Portland Press Herald team played a softball game. We had unfortunately lost -- again -- but decided to celebrate anyway.

I decided to return on a recent Thursday to kill time before meeting friends for Paint Nite Portland. Either I wasn't very observant the last time I was there, or the bar has added a series of paintings highlighting New England sports. Large, bold paintings depict a New England Patriots player, three members of the Boston Celtics and a rendering of the famous photo that captured Muhammad Ali's famous one-punch fight here in Maine decades ago.

Shortly after 5 p.m., bar seats were at a premium. I tucked myself at one end of the bar to get a server's attention. JP Thornton's offers more than a dozen beers on tap, a handful more by the bottle, and a varied wine list to suit anyone's tastes. I was there during happy hour, but I was more interested in a cocktail than the specials offered on beer and house wine.

"Have you been helped yet?" the bartender asked me.

"No sir," I responded. "Do you have a drink menu?"

JP Thornton's has a fully stocked offering of liquor, but no specific menu. I couldn't think of anything specific I wanted to drink, so I asked the server, "What's your favorite drink to make?"

He came back with a vodka-based, fruity kind of martini for me that was refreshing and not too sweet. The cocktail was $8, so I definitely didn't capitalize on any happy hour offerings, but I can say it was very enjoyable.

Along the bar, it was obvious there were clusters of people gathered to catch up and enjoy a few drinks with appetizers. During happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, JP Thornton's has half-off appetizer specials and a variety of options reasonably priced. You can get wings, nachos, shrimp cocktail, fried ginger squid, mussels or a cheese plate to share with friends.

With tables nearby, there wasn't much standing room for folks who didn't have seats at the bar, but there were a few people standing in a group drinking their beverages. I grabbed an extra bar stool pushed along the back wall to sit, sip my beverage and enjoy some old-school clips of the Boston Bruins back when hockey players didn't have to wear helmets.


Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.


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