Portsmouth, New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s charming coastal enclave is a veritable dining and drinking destination.

  • Current
    Weather

Clouds & 58°

  • When to
    Visit

Year round

  • Population
     

Approx. 22,000

  • Founded
     

1623

By Catherine Smart

Just an hour north of Boston, quaint Portsmouth, N.H., is a no-brainer for a quick New England getaway. The charming coastal town, settled in 1623, is the nation’s third-oldest city and has the knee-weakening architecture to prove it. Though there’s no shortage of shopping or weekend visitors, Portsmouth is no resort town; it’s a small but vibrant city that has seen its dining and drinking scene explode in recent years. You expect the seafood and tugboats—but craft cocktails, global small plates, and microbreweries worth driving across state lines for? You bet.

Just an hour north of Boston, quaint Portsmouth, N.H., is a no-brainer for a quick New England getaway. The charming coastal town, settled in 1623, is the nation’s third-oldest city and has the knee-weakening architecture to prove it. Though there’s no shortage of shopping or weekend visitors, Portsmouth is no resort town; it’s a small but vibrant city that has seen its dining and drinking scene explode in recent years. You expect the seafood and tugboats—but craft cocktails, global small plates, and microbreweries worth driving across state lines for? You bet.

The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Ceres Bakery

Ceres Bakery

Ceres is pure Portsmouth: Unchanged and uncompromising, it’s been serving up quality baked goods since 1980, long before craft cocktails and Boston-level rents were a thing in this quaint Seacoast city. Regulars and tourists alike head here for comforting lemon cookies, decadent coconut cream cake, and fresh sandwiches piled onto next-level cornmeal molasses anadama bread (the embodiment of New England in a loaf). Overwhelmed by all the delightful carb choices? Look to the specials scrawled on the blackboard (quiche, soup, burrito bowls, etc.)—just don’t forget to pick up something sweet. Take me there.

Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop

Geno’s Chowder & Sandwich Shop

You know that classic, coastal New England restaurant that you think might only exist in your mind, on postcards, and in faded pictures of you sitting on Grandpa’s lap wearing a scrunchie? That’s Geno’s. This family-owned lunch spot—tucked away on the picturesque back channel of the Piscataqua River—has been serving seafood and sandwiches since 1965. You’re here for rolls: fresh picked crab and whole-tail lobster (mayo or a buttered bun, your choice). And they’re so sure you’ll love the chowder they offer a no-commitment taste before you order, just like those old mail-in magazine subscription deals (we told you this place packs in the nostalgia). For those who don’t do seafood—get out of here! Just kidding; Geno’s has great BLTs and all kinds of freshly baked pies—but nothing beats the whoopie, so just go for it. Take me there.

The Wilder | The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The Wilder

It was only a matter of time before the owners of acclaimed Kittery spots Anju Noodle Bar and The Wallingford Dram came across the bridge. The Wilder serves the best craft cocktails in town—which is what brought us here in the first place—but we couldn’t stop eating the bar snacks. From Thrice Cooked Potatoes with Anju kimchi aioli to an excellent version of kale salad with anchovy dressing and tomato, everything is extremely flavorful. Those dishes can stand up to inventive cocktails like the tropical Welcome Trolley: lemongrass-infused blanco tequila, pineapple, and chickpea water—which lends foamy, egg-white-like oomph—plus cardamom and lime. When you’ve had your fill of lobster rolls and cold beers on the city’s many decks (it can happen), step inside The Wilder and be transported into the kind of gastropub that could compete in any American city. Take me there.

Black Trumpet Bistro | The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Black Trumpet Bistro

This harborside spot is on hallowed Portsmouth restaurant ground as the former site of nationally-acclaimed, and legendary, Blue Strawbery. Since opening Black Trumpet in 2007, chef Evan Mallett has carried on the torch with rustic dishes infused with global flavors—Yucatan Pork Chop with borracho beans and masa dumplings; Pan-seared Ike Jime from the Gulf of Maine with black venus-pine nut rice, sweet potato caponata, and fried local dulse—becoming a five-time James Beard Award nominee for Best Chef, Northeast in the process. Black Trumpet is where locals and in-the-know tourists go for date night. Food is thoughtful, service is warm, and the cozy exposed-brick building, peering out onto the water, feels haunted by all the best ghosts of Portsmouth past. Take me there.

Moxy | The Best Restaurants for a Weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Moxy

New Hampshire native and chef Matt Louis has some hard-won bragging rights at his restaurant, Moxy: He’s a four-time James Beard Award Best Chef, Northeast semifinalist and a three-time Food & Wine nominee for The People’s Best New Chef. Sample his super-flavorful and unexpected New England-style tapas, and you’ll taste what all the fuss is about. From all-leg Jonah Crab Fritters made with locally grown and milled cornmeal to Herb-Brined Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs served as lettuce wraps with pickled ginger, cilantro, crispy onion, and crème fraiche, you’ll never get a boring bite. Stop in for a drink and snack, or a parade of small plates you can call dinner—it’s always warm service, good vibes, and a pleasant sock to the taste buds. Take me there.

Earth Eagle Brewings

Earth Eagle Brewings

If a biker bar run by hipsters and a New England beach shack had a baby, you’d get Earth Eagle Brewings. The place doesn’t take itself too seriously—“earth eagle” is just another term for a turkey, after all—but the lengthy, ever-changing, award-winning beer list and substantial food offerings are no joke. Drink down a flight of beer ranging from a crisp Czech-American lager (Michlik) to a bright and citrusy IPA (New England Gangsta’) to even a boozy and rich coconut white stout (Brethren Code). Chase it with a beefy burger or loaded hot dog (with turkey and veggie options, too). Topped with the likes of goat cheese, caramelized onions, jalapeños, and crushed kettle-cooked potato chips (Buttercup burger) or spicy pepper relish and pineapple (Cujo ‘dog), the snacks are sure to satiate—and leave you thirsty for more. Take me there.

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