Best of NH 2016 American & Seafood Restaurants
From left: Mr. Mac's, The Beach Plum and New England's Tap House Grille
BBQ Blend: A new NH barbecue place is always exciting in concept, but frequently disappointing. We predict big things for Concord’s new Smokeshow Barbecue. It’s about as unpretentious as a BBQ joint can be, lodged in a strip mall near Planet Fitness, but the kitchen delivers delicious brisket, pulled pork and smoked turkey in sandwiches or by the half pound. Ask for a sample of the “Goodness,” which is brisket and turkey (and sometimes pork) trimmings lightly ground and mixed with their excellent sauce. It’s the perfect juicy filling for a big soft bun.
Bar Snack: What’s better than bacon with a sweet glaze? Stave off starvation with a cup of candied bacon at Queen’s Pub & Grille on Elm Street in Manchester. Entertainment is frequently on the menu too.
Beer & Bites: Area 23 has the vibe of a secret hangout. It’s hidden off Fisherville Road in Concord in the old Smokestack Center (out past the NH State Prison). But that just makes it all the cozier once you get inside, where there’s usually an interesting crowd either belly up to the bar or playing darts. Along with a nicely curated selection of craft beers, you can order such tasty bites as their Uncle Satan’s Maximum Punishment Chili (it’s hot), half pound “bowl of bacon” (just what it sounds like) or, when they have them in stock, order the “carrot.” It’s just a big, sweet, raw carrot, served in a paper napkin, but sometimes, at the secret hangout, that’s just what you’re hungry to eat.
Brussels Sprouts: These odd little things are the vegetable of the moment. Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co. in North Conway offers sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts as an appetizer. Even carnivores will love nuances of sambal, maple syrup, crushed wasabi peas and the cute sweetie drop peppers.
Chicken and Waffles: We Yankees can get a taste of the South at One Love Brewery. Yes, it might seem a bit odd to find a classic Southern comfort dish on the menu at a Lincoln gastropub, but the chicken and waffles here are delicious. Two boneless, buttermilk-fried chicken breasts are served on a Belgian waffle made with Hoegaarden beer. Then, to top it off, enjoy the finger-licking-good Grand Marnier syrup.
Fried Lobster: Markey’s Lobster Pool in Seabrook has been serving up lobsters and steamers since 1971. As you might suspect, the fried seafood options run the usual gamut, but one item stands out — the fried lobster. It’s not something you usually see in addition to the traditional fried clam basket, but here this sweet New England crustacean gets the deep fryer treatment, taking it to a whole new level.
Grilled Cheese Fondue: Bored with dipping croutons into Gruyère? Done with strawberries and melted chocolate? Then this one-of-a-kind dish is the fondue for you. This riff on Alpine tradition from Gypsy Café in Lincoln is a knockout. Cubes of bacon and Brie sandwiches arrive be-skewered at the table for diners to dip into a bowl of apricot and Ancho chile sauce all night long. The restaurant claims it’s an appetizer, but if you eat a full meal’s worth, your secret’s safe with us.
Local Burger: There’s no worrying where your meat came from with the Many Summers Burger at Farmer’s Table Café in Grantham. The beef (grass-fed and served in six-ounce portions) is supplied by Cornish’s Many Summers Farm, an award-winning enterprise noted for its conservation efforts. Enjoy the sandwich with roasted garlic mayo and a bulky roll, and revel in your taste for shopping very local.
Make-Your-Own Burger Menu: Sure, you could make a plain cheeseburger from the Build Your Own Burger menu at Wolfe’s Tavern in Wolfeboro — but we’d suggest you branch out. Your choice of beef, salmon, chicken or veggie burger patty can come topped with ingredients from banana peppers to fried avocado to house-cured pork belly. Don’t forget the Tsar Bomba nuclear relish to top it off.
Oysters (and More): Named for the oyster joint that occupied Fleet Street in the 1860s, Portsmouth’s buzzy Franklin Oyster House serves up bivalves from the Seacoast and the American and Canadian west coasts alike. But don’t stop at oysters. Their extensive non-oyster food menu and their drink lineup are phenomenal, too — and they’re even open midday with “Lunchbox” dishes like a cilantro lime butter lobster roll.
Ultimate Farm-to-Table Dining: Farm food has never been closer to the plate than at the Applecrest Bistro in Hampton Falls. Even the yeast for the bread is gathered from its apple orchard. The fried oysters are off the charts, and all presentations are nicely done. Ask to be seated on the patio.