Global Food in the Granite State

There's a big world of global food out there — but you don't have to travel far to find it. Leave your passport at home and head to these 35 spots for the most irresistible international eats in the Granite State



The typical American table these days can sometimes have little in common with that of our meat-and-potatoes-eating forebears. Taco Tuesday or Friday night Chinese takeout are about as likely to be on your family’s menu as a burger and fries. But there’s a big world of global food out there beyond the familiar confines of Chipotle and Panda Express.

Around the Granite State, you can find inventive, delicious dishes from all corners of the globe — if you know where to look. In 10-seater Nepali restaurants tucked into grocery stores and vibrant downtown eateries serving photo-ready Korean eggs Benedict, New Hampshire’s restaurateurs are rising to the challenge of cooking for a globalized palette.

When you’re ready to taste the increasingly diverse cuisine of our increasingly diverse state, put down the kung pao chicken and follow us to the eateries bringing the flavors of the world to the 603.


photo by jenn bakos
A variety of dishes from Street

Sampler Platter

The missus wants arepas. Mr. Right wants shawarma. The kids want California rolls. Who says you have to choose? These four eateries around the state offer fusion cuisines and menus with a little taste of all corners of the globe.

Street
With their devoted hipster following and easy-to-follow menu, the most popular fusion restaurant in the state may be this Portsmouth hotspot. More than a dozen countries across four continents are represented in their menu, and — do you hear the angels singing yet? — the place has brunch. Hit them up on a Sunday morning for Irish fry-ups and breakfast burritos alongside Korean fried chicken and South American hangover snack yucca fries. 801 Islington St., Portsmouth. (603) 436-0860; streetfood360.com

photo by jon benton
Gypsy Cafe chef and co-owner Dan Duris

Gypsy Café
This eclectic Lincoln eatery has long been a favorite of diners looking for a tour of the world in the North Country. Though their dishes aren’t always faithful to their countries of origin (Indonesian peanut sauce on a Black Angus burger, anyone?), their inventive creations represent a diverse swath of ethnic traditions. Try the Berbere-spiced steak for a taste of Ethiopia, the Moroccan-inspired shrimp with couscous and tzatziki, or the pumpkin pasta for a glimpse of a cuisine you won’t find anywhere else in the state: Navajo. 117 Main St., Lincoln. (603) 745-4395; gypsycaferestaurant.com

East of Suez
The Lakes Region doesn’t have much by way of unusual world cuisine, but this seasonal eatery attempts to make up for that shortage by representing a whole gaggle of Asian countries. Alongside classics like sushi and pad thai, you’ll find Pacific Islander-inspired dishes and Filipino specialties such as pork and chicken adobo. The menu changes frequently, so pop in this summer to see what one of the country’s oldest Pan-Asian eateries has cooking. 775 S. Main. St., Wolfeboro.  (603) 569-1648; eastofsuez.com

Piedra Fina
This Monadnock spot was a Best of NH editor’s pick last year, and for good reason: Their menu is mouthwatering. All ends of the Spanish-speaking world are represented in the restaurant’s small and large plates, from classic Spanish tapas like croquetas to Venezuelan-style arepas (try the brisket-and-pepper-sauce pelúa) to inventive global specialties like the Peruvian stir-fry lomo saltado. 288 Main St., Marlborough. (603) 876-5012; piedrafina.com 


The New Asia

There are few things more quintessential to American cuisine than Asian takeout. With General Tso on speed dial and tandoori chicken as likely to arrive on the table as chicken soup, the average New Hampshirite is ready to graduate to other corners of Asia — and Granite State eateries offer all kinds of opportunities to branch out. Here are the restaurants to try for Asian flavors beyond China, India and Japan.

Korean: Shira Kiku
Nashua’s Shira Kiku offers the lengthy sushi menu and miso soups of a Japanese restaurant, but they’re hiding a secret: a selection of authentic Korean dishes. Try specialties like Korean barbecue, bulgogi and the pièce de résistance: four varieties of bibimbap served in traditional superheated stone pots. 13 Broad St., Nashua. (603) 882-8644; kikunh.com

Thai: Chang Thai Café
Thai cuisine is approaching Chinese in its ubiquity these days, but it still offers some fun surprises — like the straight-out-of-Bangkok café hidden away on Littleton’s Main Street. Chef-owner Emshika Alberini grew up in Thailand, and her menu uses local ingredients to create classic Thai flavors. Don’t miss the non-entrée items. How about an imported Thai beer and dessert sticky rice with that green curry? 77 Main St., Littleton. (603) 444-8810; changthaicafe.com

Vietnamese: Saigon & Tokyo
Pho isn’t just fun to pronounce (rhymes with "huh?"); it’s also delicious. The state’s finest example of this Vietnamese noodle soup is found at Dover’s humble Saigon & Tokyo. Try it and other tastes of the city formerly known as Saigon alongside Japanese dishes and other Asian treats like bubble tea. 892 Central Ave., Dover. (603) 750-4127

Nepali: Durbar Square
The team behind this Portsmouth eatery brought Himalayan-style cuisine to Hanover’s Base Camp Café and Manchester’s Café Momo before moving into the Seacoast market last year. Move beyond the well-known momo dumpling to explore the spicier sides of Nepali cuisine, such as the vegan sweet potato chhoila and wild boar ribs chili. 10 Market St., Portsmouth. (603) 294-0107; durbarsquarerestaurant.com


photos by jenn bakos
Cataleya's Caribbean Grill offers tropical drinks, island food and a hefty dose of equatorial color

Small Town Surprises

To the benefit of us all, exotic treats aren’t just found in New Hampshire’s larger cities and college towns. Exciting international cuisines can be found in all sorts of small towns and unexpected places — if you know where to look.

Cataleya’s Caribbean Grill, New London
Before last year, it would have been surprising for either Venezuelan or Caribbean food to find a home in the sleepy Lake Sunapee region. Now, two restaurants take on those cuisines, and 8-month-old Cataleya’s, astoundingly, does both. Try the Cuban black bean soup, the Puerto Rican pernil pork or the jerk-seasoned just-about-anything, from entrées to salads to — believe it or not — pizza. 420 Main St., New London. (603) 526-6600; cataleyas.squarespace.com

photo by jenn bakos
Cáceres Argentinian Grill offers Latin flavors in a sophisticated space.

Asian Delight, Franklin
The 8,000 people of Franklin are hiding a secret: They may just have the best Thai in the state. This eat-in and delivery spot long predates the days of Yelp and TripAdvisor, but it’s still managed near-five-star ratings on both. Franklinites and visitors from around the state and the country rave about the fresh veggie rolls, curries and pad thai, so stop by to see what all the (much-deserved) fuss is about. 330 Central St., Franklin. (603) 934-9700; Facebook

Sunshine Cook Shop, Claremont
Across the lake and a few miles west from Cataleya’s, a second eatery (this one 13 months old) brings the islands to the Granite State. Jamaican traditions are the focus here, from oxtail to fried plantains. Whatever you do, don’t miss the jerk chicken wings: KFC may claim the honorific “finger-lickin’ good,” but these babies actually earn it. 145 Pleasant St., Claremont. (603) 543-0003; Facebook

My Sister’s Kitchen, Milford
It’s not every day that you stumble upon a Russian restaurant in small-town New England. This hole-in-the-wall is a longtime favorite of those in the know, and its hearty breakfast and lunch dishes will have you pining for Mother Russia no matter where in the world you’re from. Try anything stuffed or wrapped, from the crêpe-like blinis (offered in sweet and savory iterations) to stuffed cabbage leaves to good old-fashioned pierogies. 286 Elm St., Milford. (603) 672-7202; Facebook

Cáceres Argentinian Grill and Mediterrano, Hillsborough
Tucked away on Route 9 between Concord and Keene, the little town of Hillsborough offers not one but two out-of-the-box ethnic restaurants worth a trip. Turkish eatery Mediterrano has been serving up their adana lamb kebabs and baba ganoush to wild acclaim since 2013, while Cáceres has served their South American specialties for only four months. Find empanadas and Argentinian chorizo sandwiches alongside inventive dishes such as the humita, a pumpkin and corn chowder inspired by a Quechua dish dating back to the pre-conquistadores days. The restaurants are only five doors down from one another, so try them both (and the German bakery in between) for a taste of what may be the tiniest foodie capital in the state. Cáceres: 17 W. Main St., Hillsborough. (603) 264-5050; Facebook. Mediterrano: 24 Henniker St., Hillsborough. (603) 680-4337; mediterranoo.com


Two towns, tons of options

There’s great ethnic cuisine to be found all over the state if you look carefully, but two places rise above the rest with their sheer volume of international eateries. One is the state capital and a hotbed of immigration. The other is an Ivy League college town with one of the most diverse populaces in the whole state. Head to either of these cities for a what’s-for-dinner argument that’s more “Nepali or Cambodian” than “burgers or pizza.”

Hanover and Lebanon

Phnom Penh Sandwich Station
The newest brick-and-mortar addition to the Dartmouth-area dining scene isn’t exactly new. The team behind Phnom Penh has wowed on the farmers market scene since 2015, and the restaurant space they debuted in November is poised to be just as hot. Try their beloved banh mi and pho, or branch out with other goodies, such as the lemongrass beef appetizer or the Khmer crispy coconut cookies for dessert. 1 High St., Lebanon. (603) 678-8179; phnompenhsandwiches.com

Base Camp Café
A few blocks from the center of campus, this restaurant serves up perennially crowd-pleasing Nepali fare. Plenty of Himalayan classics appear on the menu (mix-and-match momo plates run as little as $8), but we’d recommend going vegan for the night. Large swaths of the menu here are meat-product-free, so chow down on some jackfruit tarkari and gundruk soup for a glimpse at how the vegan half lives. 3 Lebanon St., Hanover. (603) 643-2007; basecampcafenh.com

Yama
Word on the street counts this eatery as a favorite among Dartmouth’s Asian international students, so you know they’re doing something right. Yama boasts an impressive menu of both Korean and Japanese fare (including a lengthy sushi list), and, at lunchtime, it’s an absolute steal. Stop by for a midday combo including miso soup, salad, rice and an entrée like bulgogi or shrimp teriyaki for under $10. 96 Main St., West Lebanon. (603) 298-5477

Also try …

  • Candela Tapas Lounge: Small plates faithful to the Spanish tradition plus varied Caribbean and European extras, with an impressive Iberia-heavy wine list. candelatapas.com
  • Jewel of India: North Indian restaurant serving the Upper Valley since 1992 (and they deliver!). jewelofindiahanover.com
  • Tuk Tuk Thai Cuisine: Family-run Thai joint whose extensive menu comes with a one- to three-pepper guide to how spicy dishes are. tuktukthaicuisine.com
  • Sushi Ya: Page after page of Japanese and Korean specialties, including impressive selections of nigiri and makimono sushi. hanoversushiya.com
  • Boloco: Boston-area chain featuring Chipotle-style burritos inspired by global cuisines. Try the tikka masala or Bangkok Thai. boloco.com

courtesy photo
Aissa Sweets in Concord offers savory filo wraps in addition to their pastry creations.

Concord

Katmandu Bazaar
From the outside, this spot — if you notice it at all — looks like a standard international grocery. But behind the shelves of Asian and African pantry goods, there’s a teensy restaurant space churning out hyper-authentic Nepali food. Grab one of the dozen or so seats to eat in among one of the state’s most diverse restaurant clienteles, or order a to-go sack. In either case, don’t miss appetizers like spicy aloo dum and steamed tingmo buns at almost criminally low prices. 133 Loudon Rd. #1, Concord. (603) 856-7006; katmandubazaar.net

Wow Fried Chicken
Another treasure in disguise, this newly opened spot hides Middle Eastern halal delicacies behind the façade of a fried chicken restaurant. Word to the wise: The less Colonel Sanders-y section of the menu — i.e., the dishes made from that mouthwatering doner kebab spit in the kitchen — is labeled “Wow Specialties.” If the kids aren’t adventurous enough for stuffed cabbage leaves, no worries: Iraqi chef-owner Maher Abbas makes some darn good fried chicken too. 7 Depot St., Concord. (603) 856-8036; Facebook

Go Food Basket
Part Korean restaurant and part convenience store, this spot offers bibimbap, bulgogi and a Korean sushi known as gimbap alongside American lunch favorites and grocery items including house-made kimchi. Pick a sunny day and take your bibimbaps, Philly cheesesteaks and Korean sodas down the street for a multicultural picnic in White Park. 72 Washington St., Concord. (603) 225-2242; gofoodbasket.com (website under construction)

Also try …

  • Angelina’s Ristorante Italiano: Homey basement spot that may just be the best Italian restaurant in the state. angelinasrestaurant.com
  • Gyro House: Popular its for authentic gyros and other Greek treats. Facebook

Like This? Try That

With the number of international cuisines that have made their way to America’s menus in the past few years, it can be a little daunting to choose which fare to taste-test next. You know your basics, but where do you begin when confronted with the global foods beyond tacos and farfalle? With baby steps. Find your favorite cuisine below, and we’ll provide you with suggestions of what to try next.

If you like Italian, try …
Bavaria German Restaurant

The pastas and antipasto platters of Italian cooking are comfort-food bread and butter. Expand your horizons for feel-good eats with the satisfying wares of a colder part of Europe. This Hooksett spot serves up authentic Bavarian food, and their menu — with sausages, pretzels, and yes, even schnitzel with noodles — is hearty and delicious enough to weather any winter storm or food snob’s critique. Forget spaghetti; the noodle you need is spätzle. 1461 Hooksett Rd., Hooksett. (603) 836-5280; bavaria-nh.com

If you like Mexican, try …
Rincon Colombiano

Graduate from burritos to more exotic Latin American fare with this Nashua eatery. The teensy spot churns out superauthentic Colombian cuisine with a meat-and-potatoes-style formula of marinated meats paired with such sides as fried plantains or rice and beans. White-tablecloth dining this is not, but the comically low prices — not to mention the mind-blowingly good empanadas — make this place a can’t-miss. 34 ½ Canal St., Nashua. (603) 595-1670

If you like Greek, try …
Matbah Mediterranean Cuisine

Venture farther across the Mediterranean Sea with this Turkish and Middle Eastern Queen City eatery. Owner Omar Yasin arrived in the US just 10 months ago, and his menu focuses on the Ottoman-Turkish cooking traditions of his homeland. Come at lunch for belly-warming soups and snacks like falafel and zucchini fritters, or sample from the long list of kebabs, adana wraps and small plates for a full-on Mediterranean feast. 866 Elm St., Manchester. (603) 232-4066; matbahcuisine.com


courtesy photos
Date-filled maamoul cookies (left) and chocolate walnut baklava (right) from Aissa Sweets

The Great Global Bake-Off

New Hampshire’s international food makers didn’t just bring their cooking skills to the Granite State — they brought their best bakes too. From the savory to the sweet, check out these six baking-centered businesses for breads, pastries, chocolates and desserts from all corners of the globe.

El Camino Foods
Derry-based El Camino pays the bills with its prepackaged Puerto Rican meal kits, but it’s most beloved for its empanadas. The savory stuffed pastry is popular throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and El Camino brings it to New England at a rotating selection of local farmers markets. Check their schedule online to see where you can find their beef, chicken or veggie varietals this weekend. (855) 479-5804; elcaminofoods.com

Aissa Sweets
After four years of wholesaling and working the farmers market circuit, Syrian bakery Aissa Sweets opened a café in Concord last fall. Stop in (or check the pastry section in your local specialty grocery) for such treats as chocolate walnut baklava, date-filled maamoul cookies, and za’atar bread rolls. Pick up lunch too while you’re at it: their eight varieties of filo wraps — we like their chicken shawarma — are delicious. 128 Hall St., Unit H, Concord. (603) 856-8735; aissasweets.com

Lala’s Hungarian Pastry
This downtown Manchester eatery will celebrate its 20th anniversary this fall, and there’s a reason it’s such a mainstay: The food is unbelievable. Their reverie-inducing pastry cabinet includes familiar classics like apple turnovers and raspberry squares (heavenly), but try the Eastern European specialties for a taste of the owners’ home region: beigli poppy rolls and dobos torte from Hungary and, from Romania, the indulgent chocolate amandine. 836 Elm St., Manchester. (603) 647-7100; lalasnh.com

Vicuña Chocolate Factory
The bars and baked goods at this Peterborough chocolatier may look the same as our American sweets, but the origins of this cocoa are as global as it gets. The chocolates here are made from ethically sourced heirloom cocoa beans grown in Ecuador, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Belize. Visit their café for pastries, drinking chocolate, and bars in such exotic flavor combinations as dark chocolate blueberry and ginger honey. 15 Main St., Peterborough. (603) 924-2040; vicunachocolate.com

La Maison Navarre
We’ll admit: Compared to exotic newcomers like North African shakshuka and Nepalese aloo dum, the humble French pastry and its long history in mainstream American culture may not seem too exciting. But the Paris- and Lyon-born bakers at this Portsmouth sweet shop give a thrilling spin to the classic. Macarons (in such flavors as blackberry, rose and Earl Grey) are the main event here, but don’t miss the fresh baguettes and dreamy religieuses. 121 Congress St., Portsmouth. (603) 373-8401; mnpastry.com

Nomad Bakery
Whoever said man cannot live on bread alone has clearly never tried Nomad. Cheryl Holbert draws on her own varied heritage to create the breads of the world in her Derry home bakery, from Iranian barbari to Jewish challah and Russian babka. Find Nomad’s loaves at Benedikt Dairy in Goffstown, A Market in Manchester and the Concord Food Co-op in Concord, or make an appointment to pick some up straight from the baker’s home. Derry, nomadbakery.com

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