Although it’s far from an international dining hub, New Hampshire has a long tradition of local cuisine and eating well. You can expect to find rustic American cuisine in most of the state’s restaurants and great seafood along the coast, with ethnic options in the larger cities like Manchester, Portsmouth and Concord. Entertainment in New Hampshire follows the same pattern. Most of the bars are laid back local watering holes with nightclubs nearly non-existant. The focus is on kicking back with a craft beer after a hearty meal, but overall your budget will stretch far in the bars and restaurants.
Bars and Pubbing in New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s capital of Concord isn’t any more exciting than the state’s other towns. In general, if there is any kind of tourism or university scene there will be a decent selection of nightlife. Portsmouth is one of the top spots, with really charming New England-style taverns in its historic downtown such as the Spring Hill Tavern (15 Bow Street, Portsmouth) and Coat of Arms (174 Fleet Street, Portsmouth). Live music is common in most New Hampshire pubs, which typically have last call around 12:45 a.m. and close at 1:00 a.m.
Manchester is another town with a decent nightlife, especially around the Elm Street neighborhood. Strange Brew Tavern (88 Market Street, Manchester) is good for music while Billy’s Sports Bar (34 Tarrytown Road, Manchester) is the quintessential pub to watch sports and toss back a cold one. Often the drinking and dining go together in towns like North Conway where Moat Mountain Smoke House & Brewing Company (3378 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway) is one of the best spots for dinner and brews.
Dining and Cuisine in New Hampshire
Dining in New Hampshire is also a very casual affair, defined by friendly local diners and cozy cafés where the food is all-American and usually quite cheap. Hanover’s reigning spot for all-day breakfast and yummy lunches is Lou’s (30 S. Main Street, Hanover), which has been around since the 1940s. There is also plenty of fine dining, usually located at historic inns like the Daniel Webster Room (2 S. Main Street, Hanover) where colonial New England dicatates the ambiance and menu.
In Portsmouth there are several high-end seafood restaurants, including Pesce Blue (103 Congress Street, Portsmouth) and Black Trumpet Bistro (29 Ceres Street, Portsmouth). This charming coastal city has one of New England’s most exciting café scenes as well as a thriving coffee culture. Just cruise the historic downtown where a dozen cool coffee houses like Breaking New Ground (14 Market Square, Portsmouth) await to caffeinate the students. As with most parts of the world, look for where the locals are crowding and you won't go wrong.