Grub in the Granite State: What to Eat in New Hampshire

Find the ice cream, lobster, maple syrup and other foods that make New Hampshire as delicious as it is beautiful.

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Photo By: Bob Manley

Hungry in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire is backboned with granite mountains and laced with pristine lakes. It’s a vacation destination for its natural beauty, with plenty of iconic foods along its byways. Rolling hills are lush with apple orchards, and small farms abound, providing restaurants across the state with close sources for fresh produce and protein. And even with just a kiss of ocean shoreline, there is plenty of fresh seafood. If you like it fried, the state has you covered.

 

Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs

Lobster Pound

The New Hampshire seafood shack scene is not to be missed. Typically, you’ll find rows of picnic tables in a large room, with diners up to their elbows in lobster shells, steamers, drawn butter, with an occasional stray French fry. Lobsters pulled from a tank and dunked into a steaming iron caldron of salted water can be the main choice, but steamers and fries make it a meal. Enjoy some of the best there is at the casual, cash-only Brown’s Lobster Pound in Seabrook.

French Toast

A 1765 farmhouse in Wilton is the perfect setting for owners Ben and Christie Reed to open their rustic coffee house, Hilltop Cafe. As former Portlandians, they understood the need for a local coffee culture. Now, Sarah makes wonderful croissants and morning dishes. Their classic French toast is decadently rich, using day-old croissants smothered with local maple syrup, blueberries and a dollop of fresh local cream.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is New Hampshire’s favorite treat. What can be better than a creamy and rich ice cream cone from a charming roadside stand, Intervale Ice Cream in Henniker. Indulge in any of the 35 flavors, from classic Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate to Maple Nut, which pays tribute to the state’s exceptional maple syrup. Berries are locally sourced and brittles and brownies are made in-house for the mix-ins. The stand is seasonal, but ice cream is available in the adjacent pancake house — which serves their own sweet maple syrup — year-round.

Pancakes

It stands to reason that a state with a serious maple syrup operation would put a high priority on pancakes. With views of the White Mountains and preserved historic properties including the home of Robert Frost, the town of Sugar Hill holds Polly'€™s Pancake Parlor. Try the whole grain pancakes, which are made from freshly milled flours and served with the house maple syrup. Diners can mix batters (plain, whole wheat, buckwheat) and additions (coconut, ginger, blueberries) for endless combinations. Your server makes the cakes and delivers them in two rounds to make sure they are piping hot.

Poutine

Natives with a strong French-Canadian heritage, especially near Manchester, carry a gravy-slathered torch for this iconic cheesy French fry combination. The dish is offered as a basic recipe in many bars around town, but at New England Tap House Grill in Hooksett, the fries are given a Parmesan and fresh rosemary dusting and the gravy is enriched with a sherry-peppercorn demiglace, then a heady spritz of truffle oil. Authentic: No. Worthy: Yes.

Farmhouse Pâté

When an apple orchard opens a bistro to source hyper-locally throughout their orchards, barns and fields, apple fans should plan a visit. Sure, at Applecrest Farm in Hampton Falls — the oldest and largest in the state — you can find rows of apple pies and cider doughnuts in their market. Dash into the Bistro for more than just apples, including pâté graced with apples and walnuts

Clam Chowder

A clam chowder is always somehow better within sight of the sea, especially in New England. Find it in perfect proportions at Petey’s Summertime Seafood in Rye. Open year-round, Petey’s is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. The chowder is not too thick or rich, with a delicate balance of potato, clam and celery flavors. The place — including its rooftop — really hops in-season, so fans know to arrive early.

Eggs Benedict

Politicians traveling through the state have made Robie’s in Hooksett a soap-box stop for generations. Now the historic Root’s Cafe at Robie’s Country Store is cared for by Josh and Amber Enright, long known for their attention to culinary traditions. It’s hard to find a good Benedict, and Amber takes the time to make it right with a lemony hollandaise. Find local eggs and a good measure of the past in one stop.

Lobster Roll

Most lobster rolls these days are stuffed with packaged and frozen lobster meat. Even the iconic lobster shacks on the seacoast don’t take the time to pick from a fresh lobster. At Temple Street Diner in Nashua, the management knows the lobstering business and finds the best-quality lobster for their rolls. For lobster lovers, no lobster roll is ever large enough, but here they offer a 20-ounce monster, dressed with just about nothing, as it should be. Of course it comes on the iconic, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, toasted and buttered hot dog bun. No need to run to the Seacoast for your fix.

Apple Cider Cocktails

New Hampshire is home to many apple orchards, including Applecrest, the oldest continuously operated apple orchard in the country. Beyond raw apples, cider is a local favorite. The restaurant at White Mountain Cider Company in Bartlett uses their very own pressed cider to make a few house cocktails, including a cider-based take on the Moscow Mule and their special Cidertini.

Wild Game

The great North Woods region of the state is a hunter’s paradise. Those who prefer not to bag their own moose can head to Rainbow Grille & Tavern at Tall Timber Lodge in Pittsburg. This cozy restaurant, miles from the Canadian border, offers game as a daily special. Choices can range from elk, bison and venison each uniquely and masterfully prepared for a taste of the wild on a hot plate.

Oysters

Great Bay has a host of oyster farms, making nearby Portsmouth a great home to oyster bars. Franklin Oyster House serves a nice variety of salty bivalves cultured in local waters, including the eponymous Franklin. Chef Matt Louis also prepares cooked oysters, including stewed with bacon, grilled with bone marrow, stuffed with chorizo, fried with Cajun spice and bacon-wrapped and roasted.

Whiskey

Tamworth Distilling, which is building a reputation for garden-to-glass spirits, does a great job using local ingredients for their inventive creations, like vodkas flavored with beet root, sweet potato and chicory from local farms. Their Camp Robber is kind of a brown-spirit cheat until their bourbon has time to age. It takes their 16-month-old bourbon, then adds apple brandy, fresh apple cider from Carter Hill Orchard and caramelized sugar to balance the exuberance of the young whiskey

Sausage

The whole menu at Throwback Brewery in North Hampton is intriguing and geared to pair with their generous list of stouts, porters and lagers on tap, but one special treat is the sausage made by co-founder Nicole Carrier. She recently added charcuterie to her list of talents, using the same commitment to historic methods that earned her such a strong reputation in brewing. Autumn sausage on the charcuterie plate, a kielbasa and even the chorizo in the steamed mussels are all house-made.

Family-Style Breakfast

Hearty breakfasts have been part of the fabric of New Hampshire since before it was a state. Driving hilly country roads sets the historic mood for a visit to Heritage Farm Pancake House in Sanbornton. Servers here wear prairie dresses, the walls are built from wood milled from the property, and the portions are generous. Breakfast options include a list of flavored pancakes, local bacon, home fries and scrambled eggs offered family style. With a maple-sugaring operation on-premise, the restaurant practically demands that dishes be showered with the golden elixir.

Chicken and Waffles

New Hampshire tourists love to stay at country inns that show off the state’s bucolic history. With new owners, The Grazing Room at Colby Hill Inn, a 1797 building in Henniker, serves a local menu with a few Southern-style dishes. Chicken and waffles is given a New England touch with a cider brine and maple syrup drizzle. The chicken is succulent and perfectly crisp, and the waffles have a touch of seasonality flavored by vegetables from the local market. Say yes to zucchini waffles.

Hard Cider

Crisp and tangy with a bit of effervescence, hard cider is made with simple ingredients to show off the best of New Hampshire. The small North Country Cider in Rollinsford uses regular varieties of local orchard apples in several combinations to produce a number of flavors from the crisp Original Press to the sweeter Honey Badger to the tart barrel-aged Bitter Brothers Blend.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate chip cookies may be all-American enough not have a specific origin, but they’re an especially beloved treat for picnics and hikes in New Hampshire. Head to Buckley’s Bakery in Merrimack for a cookie with just the right amount of chew and crispness to satisfy without being overly sweet.

Apple Wine

The folks at Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith wanted to make wine from what grows well in the Granite State. The answers was fruit, especially apples. The rest is history. They now specialize in fruit wines styled like grape wines. Their Sparkling Harvest Apple Wine is made from heirloom varieties from Apple Hill Orchard harvested at their peak and bottled with a light effervescence.