Best Restaurants for Dietary Needs
Dining out can be challenging when you have dietary restrictions. Here are the restaurants meeting those needs, from gluten-free to vegan, with delicious results.
A note from New Hampshire Magazine: This issue of the magazine was in production when the scope of the novel coronavirus pandemic was just being understood and, while it’s not clear when such common joys as dining out will once again be restored, we will keep this guide refreshed with takeout and delivery information as it becomes available. We hope it may also provide a chance to plan ahead for when we’re able to once again venture out into the world. You can also see our ever-growing list of restaurants, breweries and wineries that are offering takeout, curbside pickup and delivery. Support your local restaurants and stay healthy!
It’s hard enough to avoid dairy, stick to your gluten-free diet or eat vegan while at home, but it’s more challenging than ever when you’re dining out with family and friends. The good news is a restricted diet doesn’t mean restricted dining options. There are plenty of local restaurants that are dedicated to sustainability, locally sourced ingredients, and vibrant food that reminds us that we don’t have to sacrifice flavor for eating good food that is also good for you. Whether you are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, special dietary restrictions don’t have to keep you from eating your way around New Hampshire’s best restriction-friendly restaurants.
You might not think of a tavern as a place where you can find many specialized dishes, but think again. The Railpenny Tavern in Epping is a family-friendly gastropub that features a diverse American fare menu complete with seasonal, local and fresh ingredients. The large, open dining room and rustic bar gives it a welcoming neighborhood vibe, and the menu is just as welcoming and down-to-earth. Vegetarians and vegans will be delighted to find items like crispy sprouts, tavern fries, a poblano bean burger and a coconut green curry rice bowl to name a few, while those with gluten allergies can indulge in rosemary panko-crusted salmon or pan-seared sea scallops. Their tasty variety, from unique, delicious food and beverages to their comfortable atmosphere, means that your vegan friend and gluten-free family member can all enjoy a meal here together. Note: The Railpenny Tavern is temporarily closed, but they are offering gift cards for sale online. They will donate 40% of gift card sales to restaurant staff.
With locations from Stratham to West Lebanon, 110 Grill focuses on this same idea of dietary inclusivity with their seasonal menus that feature fresh ingredients and a range of gluten-free options. They pride themselves on creating a comfortable and upscale-casual atmosphere that comes complete with open kitchens, horseshoe-shaped bars and outdoor patios with fire pits to set the mood. Their separate gluten-free menu illustrates their commitment to accommodating all guests’ allergen needs. Enjoy an appetizer of crab rangoon dip and then move on to a buffalo chicken flatbread or Cajun salmon burger for your main meal. Note: 110 Grill locations are temporarily closed. Visit their website for updates.
Eating fresh food doesn’t have to be boring and tasteless — a practice that you can also taste for yourself at Laney & Lu in Exeter.
The cozy atmosphere at Laney & Lu will make you want to stay well after you finish your turmeric latte and fiesta quinoa bowl. The café was founded as a way to celebrate community and the connection that food has in creating a more healthy, joyful life, and the menu is built around a simple concept: serving vibrant, real food. They source from ingredients grown or responsibly produced, and buy local and/or organic whenever possible. Their plant-centric and gluten- and dairy-free friendly menu includes organic, fair trade coffee and tea, delicious smoothies and smoothie bowls, bright salads, warm rice or quinoa bowls, and savory sandwiches and toasts, all centered on their mantra to “eat consciously and live vibrantly.” The eatery combines a cool, chic environment with a locally sourced, sustainable, nutrient-dense ingredient list that reads like a garden — beautifully healthy. Note: Laney & Lu is offering online ordering, pickup and free delivery.
Live Juice in Concord was created with the same intention of catering to the health-conscious by providing raw vegetable and fruit juices, smoothies, whole grain bowls, wraps and salads. The open space, complete with exposed brick walls, features shelves stocked with a variety of fresh foods. Their wide array of options, made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients, is what makes their menu appealing for those with and without dietary restrictions. A gluten-free LJ western wrap is the perfect option for breakfast on-the-go, while an island breeze smoothie (dairy-free) and farmhouse salad or BBQ chicken bowl make for a delicious lunch. The staff also focuses on education, and likes their guests to understand the full capacity of raw fruits and vegetables, as well as the reasons why people eat them. Be sure to ask about the health benefits of the spinach in your salad or ginger in your smoothie the next time you visit. Note: Live Juice is offering online ordering (or you can call 603-226-3024) for pickup, curbside pickup and delivery. Order online here.
Greenleaf in Milford takes the same seasonal approach as Live Juice. The team at this farm-to-table restaurant is inspired by the changing of the seasons, and sources from local farms, foragers and fishmongers.
Greenleaf is located in the historic Souhegan Valley Bank building, which dates back to 1865. The restaurant’s name is a nod to Boston-based architect Luther Greenleaf, who renovated the bank in 1907. His original blueprints are framed on the walls. Eat in the charming dining room or at the intimate chef’s table, where you and five guests can sit in front of the open-concept kitchen. Enjoy gluten-free dishes like potato and leek soup or the vegetarian-friendly veggie wrap. Note: Greenleaf is open for pickup and delivery. Visit their website for the menu and to place an order.
It’s all about community at the 130-seat Molly’s Restaurant & Bar, a favorite spot of both Dartmouth students and locals. The walls at this timeless college bar are decorated with Ivy League memorabilia, local sports photos and artifacts. In warm weather, the outdoor patio is a welcoming place to take in the college town atmosphere. The gluten-free friend in your group will enjoy items like the superfood salad, brick oven nachos, steak and zucchini noodles, wood-fired stir fry, maple ginger salmon or the wood-fired pizza. It’s the perfect neighborhood restaurant, much like Chef’s Bistro in North Conway. Note: Molly’s is temporarily closed.
“Local fresh fun for everyone” is the motto at Chef’s Bistro. The restaurant is located on Main Street in the center of North Conway village, where you and your vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free best friend are served fresh, local and tasty food in a warm atmosphere. The menu is anything but boring and tasteless, with tasty options like fried cauliflower, sweet potato black bean chili, a vegetarian burger or assorted items on the charcuterie board. There are also small plates in case you just need a nibble. Note: Chef’s Bistro is temporarily closed. Visit Facebook for updates.
At The Downtown Grille Café, good food and lovely water views come together. Take a seat at a table in the Lakeside Room or relax on the deck overlooking Wolfeboro Bay and Cate Park. Their breakfast and lunch menus offer a wide range of options for vegetarian and gluten-free guests, including breakfast wraps, sandwiches, waffles, soups and a variety of hot dogs. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a waterfront meal. Note: They are open for takeout and delivery (within a 10-mile radius).
At these restaurants and others around the state, those with dietary restrictions are much more than an afterthought. In fact, all the chefs at the locations mentioned here prove that vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals can be just as satisfying and delicious as other foods. Perhaps the next time you dine out, you’ll be inspired to try something new — you might just be surprised.
More noteworthy places:
50 Commercial St., Manchester
Offering a limited takeout menu
Black Forest Café & Bakery
212 Route 101, Amherst
A variety of grab-and-go options are available. See the website (though it’s best to call for up-to-date information) for what’s available. Tuesday-Sunday from 12-6 p.m. Closed Monday.
Willows Plant-Based Eatery
55 S. Main St., Concord
Call to place an order.