Summertime and the Eatin’s Easy: Seacoast Outdoor Dining
With summer approaching, these Seacoast restaurants provide the perfect warm-weather dining options
Overboard Pub & Grill — Seabrook
Music, the ocean and great food is a hard-to-beat combination, and Overboard offers all of that and more. Owner Jim Censabella wanted a “fun, neighborhood pub,” and, noticing a shortage in Seabrook, decided to bring back live music and entertainment with Overboard. The result renders a meeting place for both locals and tourists to gather. Live music fills the air four days a week, including open mic nights on Mondays, reggae/Jimmy Buffet fare late Saturday afternoons, Sunday “Blues & Brunch” and great dance tunes in the evenings.
“This is a place where everyone feels welcome and comes together to have fun,” Censabella says. “At Overboard, you feel like part of the family, and there’s always something going on. We do comedy nights and trivia nights and have seasonal parties for all of the holidays. It’s a warm, happening place.”
While the music is a huge draw, so is the food, and the menu is 70 percent gluten free. “My daughter has celiac disease, so it was important to have food that people with gluten issues can eat — and is really good,” Censabella says. “Everything in our fryer is gluten free and it’s all fresh.” Among the favorites are bang bang shrimp — coated with sriracha and sweet chili mayo garlic sauces — nachos, the lobster sushi roll, the spring tuna sushi roll and the lump crab cakes, which are drizzled with lemon aioli. Censabella credits chef John Nemr for creating innovative, quality food and general manager Brielle Gardiner for taking things to the next level.
Although Censabella is new to the restaurant business, he learned from his Greek grandfather who ran restaurants in Boston. “He told me, give people good food, reasonable prices and pay attention to the details, like how you present the food and the quality of the experience,” Censabella says. “That was his recipe for success and, so far, it’s working for us as well.”
This summer, Overboard promises even more entertainment, with live music on Friday and Saturday nights, a hot dog eating contest and the Sunday Funday wind-down from 5 to 9 p.m. with classic “beach music.” They also offer a vast cocktail menu featuring specialty martinis, buckets of “Pirate Punch” and original cocktails like the Peached Whale, Sunken Treasure and Tropical Relaxer. If you’re looking for some beach-time fun, you found the right place.
Stroll Café & Wine Bar — Portsmouth
Located in the city’s Portwalk Place district, Stroll Café & Wine Bar is literal steps from downtown, the waterfront and Prescott Park. The all-day café is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and is a popular destination for both residents and visitors. Much of the food is “grab-and-go,” making Stroll a great option for picnic supplies, a shopping lunch break or a tasty supper while watching shows at Prescott Park.
“We are part of the neighborhood,” says owner Stacy Moore. “There are a lot of people living nearby in apartments and condos, and they pop in daily for meals. In summer, the hotels are full, and tourists love that we’re nearby. Our food is fun, easy and tasty.”
Notables include the Stroll grilled cheese, with brie, green apple, honey mustard and ham; and the Islington Italian, featuring Genoa, capicola, ham, provolone, green peppers and banana peppers. There is also a soup, stew or chowder of the day.
Stroll offers an extensive breakfast menu with everything made-to-order. All the classic bacon-and-egg options are there, as well as new favorites like salmon, capers, red onion and cream cheese on a bagel; ham and Swiss on a croissant; and Vermont cheddar, spinach, egg and tomato on a ciabatta square.
Stroll offers a wide selection of curated wines year-round, as well as low-alcohol and no-alcohol cocktails perfect for sipping in the afternoon. With outside seating returning for the warm weather, this makes for a relaxing way to wind down the day. Stroll also offers catering for up to 40 people during the summer season.
The Hungry Lobster – Rye
The Hungry Lobster comes from a tasty pedigree. Sharing owners with the esteemed Rye Harbor Lobster Pound, a 25-year Seacoast seafood icon, The Hungry Lobster focuses on quality, small-batch cooking designed for patrons to take with them. The ocean-adjacent eatery is cozy, with murals of the sea and a few tables on-site, but most entrees are heading out the door, purchased by diners eager to picnic on the shore.
Owner Sylvia Cheever is an award-winning chef whose seafood creations have won prize after prize at the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival. Lobster mac ’n cheese, mini lobster rolls stuffed to bursting, hot lobster bisque and “fluffy” lobster chowder are among the menu’s favorites. The “fluffy chowder” alone disappears fast; a New England-style cream chowder topped with lobster in a butter-sherry sauce, the dish strikes a unique and memorable chord. Their Montauk seafood salad offers another great taste of the sea — a cold salad combining shrimp, scallops and mussels all tossed with a lemon-thyme vinaigrette. The light, fresh combination captures the essence of the ocean and is well suited to hot summer days.
“We know seafood,” Cheever says. “My dad Nathan Hanscom and I have been running the Rye Harbor Lobster Pound for more than two decades. Preparing top-quality seafood is in our blood.”
With summer back in full swing, The Hungry Lobster is also open for catering, featuring their unique seafood creations and a number of new sandwich offerings. Everything is cooked and prepared in-house. “We roast our own beef, and our new sandwiches are almost as popular as our seafood,” Cheever says. Try the Tommy Boy, a thick-cut roast turkey sandwich with homemade stuffing and cranberry mayo; or the Holy Cow, featuring roast beef, arugula, horse radish and capers.