Best of NH 2019 Pizzerias & Ethnic Food Restaurants
Try a world of cuisine right here in New Hampshire. This list has it all – Thai noodle soups, Cajun dishes, a Brazilian buffet, pizza, taco trucks and so much more.
Asian Fusion: The old Fat Belly’s space in Portsmouth has been rebranded as Fuki, featuring the mind-bending menu of executive chef Zack Squier, the creative genius behind Umami in Northwood. If you enjoy small-plate dining and innovative Asian flavors, this is your ticket. Find wagyu beef hot dogs and burgers dressed to kill, a duck fat brownie sundae, kimchi fried rice, fried duck wings and smoked ribs that are delightfully presented. And, oh my, the Oh Mai Tai cocktail with aged rum, a mango shrub and house orgeat.
Brazilian Buffet: Sabor Brasil Restaurant has been serving Brazillian chow on the same spot on Canal Street in Nashua for a couple of decades, but a new family took over about 12 years ago and really earned the trust of diners who love savory meats. The lunch buffet sells for $7.45 a pound (or $20.95 for all you can eat). Don’t miss the picanha (sirloin top butt) and Brazillian sausage and save room for their popular flan for dessert. And if it’s a laid-back lunch, order a caipirinha, a delicious mixed drink featuring Brazil’s “51” rum.
Cajun Spirit: The very idea of Cajun food can be off-putting, suggesting exotic spices and ingredients, but any real Cajun knows the primary ingredient for a meal is joy — both in the preparation and in the tasting of the food. Madear’s on Hanover Street in Manchester is the kind of Cajun joint you might find in Opelousas or Lafayette, unselfconciously authentic. The food is rich and tasty ranging from gumbo and étouffée to small plates of braised collard greens and fried okra. Try the boudin balls and ask for a little history. The owners have their recipes down so they can tend to the spirit of the place, which is a bit like a nightly Mardi Gras.
Culinary Fellowship: The Friendship Dinners at the Turkish Cultural Center in Manchester are just one of many outreaches there (along with festivals, performances and talks), but what better way to achieve understanding between the diverse neighbors of the Queen City than sitting down for a meal together? Even something as simple (and rich) as a cup of Turkish coffee can become the spark of an intercultural dialogue — especially when paired with servings of the Turkish specialty Noah’s Pudding, a sweet porridge of grains, fruits and nuts, traditionally served on the 10th day of Muharram. A large community of Turkic Americans lives in New Hampshire, so this is a way to get to know some neighbors and explore a culture that is at once so distant and so near at hand. Information on meals and other outreach can be found at tccnh.org.
Italian Restaurant: Nicola’s Trattoria in Keene has always impressed, but lately the food has ascended to new heights. A recent addition to their housemade pasta selections is a classic Roman cacio e peppe made with shepsog cheese from Vermont’s Grafton Village. In fact, these days many of their regular dishes and seasonal specials feature local and regionally grown produce and products, and a number of other items are made in-house, such as the bread that’s baked daily or perhaps sausage for the pizza special. All told, this is elegant, simple — yet flavorful — Italian food made even better with the focus on keeping it local whenever possible.
Mexican Gem: Tucked away in a house in Wolfeboro is the cozy and authentic Mexican restaurant El Centenario. The Lira family’s recipes are all worth trying, but you’d be remiss not to start with the tableside guacamole. Skipping to the end, save room for another tableside creation — the fried ice cream, which is lit on fire right in front of you. Fans of real mole sauce should not pass up the mole poblano. Other signature dishes include familiar favorites such as tamales and enchiladas, plus cochinita pibil, slow-cooked Yucatan-style pork, and chiles en nogada, a picadillo stuffed poblano with a creamy walnut sauce.
Mobile Artisanal Pizza: Without a speedy delivery service, pizza off-premises can be a disappointment — especially for an occasion. But thanks to Farm to Fire Mobile Pizza in Monroe, lava-hot wood-fired pizza can be the centerpiece of your North Country event. They specialize in artisanal thin-crust pizza fired to perfection in their mobile unit. Though they also have the typical pizza lover’s menu, their signature pie —the maple bacon —takes the cake, with garlic oil, green apple, bacon, caramelized onion, shredded cheddar, mozzarella, spinach and maple syrup for a real taste of New Hampshire fresh from the fire. Also find them at the Sugar Hill Pizza Night one Thursday night a month through October.
Taco Tuesdays: Family-owned Fiesta Jalisco in North Conway may look like just another strip mall restaurant, but the inside is a piece of Mexico — the type of place where you can practice your Spanish. The beef and chicken tacos (hard or soft shell) are only $1.25, which is a good thing because you’ll want way more than one (or two or three). Throw in chips and salsa and a couple of margaritas, and you’ll be saying muy bien in no time.
Tacos al Pastor: When it comes to great taco trucks, the Granite State is a far cry from sunny California. Thankfully, the Taco Time food truck out of Milford is giving hope to taco lovers in the Monadnock Region and southern New Hampshire. They serve authentic Mexican food, including burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, nachos and, of course, tacos, but one of the best items on the menu is the classic taco al pastor. Simple but tasty, the marinated pork on a corn tortilla is topped with onion, cilantro, salsa roja and grilled pineapple. Follow them on Facebook to see where they’ll be next.
Thai Noodle Soup: Americans are catching onto the idea of ramen and other Asian noodle bowls as comfort food. At Hana Japanese Restaurant in Merrimack, find a whole tour of Asian soup that includes Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. For those looking for an introduction, this is a great place to sample a wide range of dishes. A good place to start is the Thai versions — the boat noodle or tom yum soups. The first is for meat lovers — it has stewed beef, beef meatballs, thinly sliced sirloin steak, rice noodles, bean sprouts, spinach, garlic and cilantro. Tom yum might be more familiar — it comes with rice noodles, ground pork, a homemade pork patty, fish meatballs, ground peanuts, scallions, bean sprouts, spinach, garlic, cilantro and is topped with a crispy wonton. Next time you feel the need for food therapy, consider one of these filling, satisfying, spicy bowls of noodle soup.