Best of NH 2015 Delis, Butcher Shops, Catering, Cafés, Lunch and Breakfast

Enjoy a Sunday morning brunch, hearty chili, outstanding sandwich, farm-to-table breakfast, the best catering and more.
From left: Readers' Poll winner for gourmet-to-go and bakery bread Tuscan Market (photo by Susan Laughlin), Editor's Pick for satisfying salad Revolution Taproom and Grill (photo by Susan Laughlin), Editor's Pick for farm-to-table breakfast Hilltop Café (photo by Susan Laughlin) and Editor's Pick for dinner for lunch Bayona Café (courtesy photo).

’50s Diner Décor: At Joey’s Diner in Amherst, you can fill up on a choice of diner staples — tuna melt, meatloaf, chicken pot pie and the like — but the real experience is the décor. Surrounded by relics of the ’50s like an old Coke machine, jukebox, Mobil gas pump and striped barber pole, you feel transported back to the rock ‘n’ roll days of poodle-skirted girls and pompadoured boys dancing to Elvis and Buddy Holly. Check out Siegfried, the “whistling waiter.” Breakfast all day.

Breakfast: Be warned — lines are often out the door on weekends but the wait is work it. At Tucker’s in Hooksett and New London, you’ll get a delicious breakfast with a smile from the always-welcoming staff. They’re open for both breakfast and lunch, but the breakfast menu is tough to beat. They’ve got the usual suspects — French toast and eggs Benedict, but everything is a step above. The French toast is thick-cut Challah bread and the bennies range from classic to pesto and bruschetta. Try the Morning Burrito or Pressed Veggie sandwich for something different.

Destination Breakfast: Find breakfast as it should be at The Sunrise Shack in Glen. The ambience is warm, the omelets are fluffy and the orange juice is freshly squeezed. Try the Yard Sale — it’s a breakfast bowl served with homemade hash, griddled mashed potatoes, veggies and two eggs over easy rafting on top. 

Dinner for Lunch: Bayona Café in Manchester’s Jefferson Mills is the new hot spot for the work crowd, but even if you work outside of the area, definitely make a point to check it out. Open for breakfast and lunch only, the menu nevertheless has some hearty entrées — like the duck confit and mushroom ravioli or lobster mac and cheese — that are not your usual café fare.

Farm-to-Table Breakfast: Many places claim to source locally, but the Hilltop Café in Wilton is in the farmhouse at the Temple-Wilton Community Farm and sources its eggs, cream and milk directly from the onsite farm. You can say “thank you” to the chickens running free across the road and tip your hat to the Holsteins in the fields while you enjoy one of the most interesting breakfast menus around. Sit outdoors in the dappled light to enjoy your house-made croissant, breakfast miso soup, Israeli eggs or sandwiches served on Orchard Hill bread. 

Healthy Food Truck: Ditch the idea of the food truck that slings grease and check out The Farm Concessions based in Keene. Fresh, local-when-possible ingredients that change with the season and location mean a changing menu with healthy options including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices. Check them out on Facebook for the latest location.

Healthy Lunch: Choose from beautiful salad bowls filled with organic raw vegetables or savor the curative powers of fresh cold-pressed juice along with a shot of wheat grass or ginger root at The Fresh Press in Portsmouth. Pick from the menu board or design your own healthy wrap or salad.

Mexican Brunch: Everyone loves brunch, but if you’re looking for a twist for next Sunday, visit Vida Cantina in Portsmouth, where you can brunch south of the border. The blueberry pancakes come with agave syrup or try a Mexican classic like huevos rancheros or chilaquiles. Oh, and did we mention the homemade donuts? Don’t leave without one (or three) of those.

Paninis: As the name suggests, paninis are excellent at the Pressed Café in Nashua. Options range from the basic grilled cheese (pressed on ciabatta) and chipotle turkey to a California BLT and the roast beef Wellington. Daily specials are always worth checking out.

Satisfying Salad: When you know you should just eat a salad, you want a good one. At Revolution Taproom and Grill in Rochester, the wild arugula and beet salad will satisfy your inner health quest and your gut lust for a great taste. The perfect marriage of confit of golden and red beets, spicy pepitas, goat cheese with a blood-orange basil vinaigrette seals the deal. There are plenty of great beers on tap too.

Sandwiches: Choice Cuts Butcher Shop in Merrimack is a great place to stock up before your next cookout, but they also have a little deli where you can get one of the best subs around that are bursting (really, they can be tough to close) with Boar’s Head cold cuts and veggies. Check out the Facebook page for specials.

Seafood Chowder: Too buttery, too thick, too many potatoes — whatever the complaint, it’s hard to find a seafood chowder that is “just right.” But head to Milford, and you’ll find it at Yankee Chef. Maybe it’s because the restaurant is owned and operated by a self-described “True New England Yankee Chef,” but the chowder there is definitely just right, with a satisfying amount of shrimp, scallops, haddock and clams in a not-too-thick, not-too-buttery, not too potato-y base. 

Slow-smoked Ham: At Fox Country Smoke House in Canterbury lean and smoky, but not so much that you can’t taste the rich meaty flavor, ham just doesn’t get any better. This old-fashioned smokehouse doesn’t stop with ham. Equally delicious, each with just the right smoky flavor balance, are chicken, turkey, duck, pork loins, kielbasa, rainbow trout and salmon — even smoked provolone and mozzarella.

Take-out Pot Roast: Sure, you can buy the all-natural, grass-fed beef at Two Happy Butchers in Milford and cook it yourself. But, if the kitchen isn’t your thing, you can still serve delicious pot roast. It’s made in the store, slow-cooked to cut-it-with-a-fork tender with just the right amount of spiciness. Their beef brisket and pulled pork are just as amazing. Add sides of mac ‘n cheese and cornbread, and you are all set for a great meal.

Upscale Food Truck: Gourmet doesn’t have to mean slow and pretentious. The Grazing Gourmet food truck based in Amherst has ever-changing specials and a menu that’s sureto delight your taste buds with worldly offerings that have included the classic Cubano sandwich, chicken satay, gyros, a hummus wrap and American favorites such as sliders, a local grass-fed beef burger and more. See Facebook for specials and locations.

Categories: Best of NH Winners