As a food writer, the most common questions people ask me are “What’s your favorite restaurant?” or “Where’s a good place to eat in (insert town name here)?”
I have written about hundreds of restaurants, food shops, bakeries, and food events. For the Hippo alone I’ve written more than 500 articles in the past 2 1/2 years. Add to that the pieces I’ve written for the Concord Monitor, Around Concord magazine, New Hampshire Home, etc…well, you get the idea.
Here is a list of my top 20 food places in New Hampshire. These are the ones I keep going back to time and again. They are not in any particular order since what I choose varies depending on what I’m craving. The exception is number 1, which is my all-time favorite restaurant in the state.
My Top 20 New Hampshire Food Spots
1. Tooky Mills Restaurant and Pub, Hillsboro: This is my favorite restaurant. I’ve never had a bad meal here, and the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. The menu has something for everyone, with entrees such as the Garlic Balsamic Steak Tips, Three Bean and Vegetable Burrito, and Fish and Chips, with the fish dipped in a Guinness beer batter. But my favorite meal starts with a bowl of the clam chowder and/or a house salad, and then a selection of appetizers. My top choices: Bourbon Street Barbeque Shrimp—a true New Orleans style dish, which is not actually barbecued! (I don’t know where it got the name.) Large shrimp are sauteed in a buttery Cajun sauce that is so delicious you will use the soft bread sticks to soak up every drop. Or pick the Buffalo Tenders, made with chicken tenderloins dipped in beer batter, fried, and served with a wonderful buffalo sauce. www.tookymillspub.com
2. Beefside, Concord: The best roast beef sandwich around, and great barbecued pulled pork and seafood. www.beefsiderestaurant.com.
3. Madeleines, Concord: A French-style bakery with the absolute best croissants outside of France. www.madeleinesed.com
4. Apple Hill Farm, Concord: Owner Diane Souther makes the best pies in the area. I dream of those pies! www.applehillfarmnh.com
5. The Red Blazer, Concord: I get the same thing every time I go—roasted vegetable quesadilla, made with red peppers, corn, onions and cheese. Yummm. Plus the restaurant has an amazing selection of more than 30 beers on tap, with many regional microbrews. www.theredblazer.com
6. The Barley House, Concord: I crave the Dublin Burger, a peppercorn charred hamburger topped with whiskey gravy, blue cheese, and crispy onions. I also enjoy the Irish-pub atmosphere that is conducive to a conversation with friends or just sitting quietly with a good book while you enjoy your meal. www.thebarleyhouse.com
7. The Red Arrow, Manchester or Milford: Look up the word “diner” in the dictionary and it will describe the Red Arrow. The menu is full of traditional diner fare, plus there are fun specials each day (I loved the eggnog French toast on Christmas morning.) Also, it is impossible to feel lonely in this place with the friendly staff and patrons at the counter. And I can’t leave without a Dinah finger, the diner’s take on the Twinkie. www.redarrowdiner.com
8. Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, Concord: I enjoy dinner at the hibachi table—a fun show and delicious food! www.ichibanconcord.com
9. Granite Restaurant and Bar, Concord: This restaurant in the Centennial hotel has an elegant atmosphere, but the prices aren’t too outrageous thanks to the half order option. www.graniterestaurant.com
10. Butter Fine Food and Wine, Concord: I can spend an hour checking out all of the imported food options. And the cheese case is top of the line. www.buttersfinefood.com
11. Cotton, Manchester: Great art deco atmosphere. I like to check out what’s on the special’s menu. www.cottonfood.com
12. Z Food and Drink, Manchester: Gotta have the Asian nachos! www.zfoodanddrink.com
13. Shabby Chic, Windham: Gourmet cupcakes—enough said! www.shabbychicwindham.com
14. Greenwood’s at Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury: Kicked-up Shaker fare. www.greenwoodsatcsv.com
15. Ignite, Manchester: Great atmosphere, and I crave the hot dog Ruben sandwich. www.ignitebng.com
16. Johnny Troy’s, Manchester: Terrific thin-crust pizza and shrimp Siciliano. www.jtitalian.com
17. 900 Degrees, Manchester: Love the Margherita and Bella Cosa pizzas. www.900degrees.com
18. The Sausage Source, Hillsboro: When the outdoor cart is open in the summer, I always have the chuck n’ cluck sandwich. www.sausagesource.com
19. The Sausage King, Nashua: Great sausages (of course), buffalo chicken salad, and deep-fried Oreos! www.thesausagekingofnashua.com
20. Nonni’s Italian Eatery, Concord and Hillsboro: I always have the garlic knots, stromboli, and Penne Vodka ala Rosa. (The spaghetti Bolognese is terrific, too.) www.nonnisitalianeatery.com
So, what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Did I leave someone out?