Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Northern New England >
Jan 27, 2008 05:15 PM

Best Seafood in Portsmouth, NH

We're heading to Portsmouth (from NC) for a romantic, yet chilly, weekend getaway. We're staying downtown and prefer to walk to places since we won't have a car.

Good seafood is what we're looking for. Where are are best bets for fresh, preferably local seafood?

Also, any suggestions for good pubs & taverns are welcome!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Good food at the Portsmouth Brewery, love their Salmon Sandwich (can't eat it on bread, it's huge), mussels, beer!

    Don't go to the fancy places, but hear that Pesce or Jumpin Jays are really good for seafood.

    When I am in town, and it's warmer, I head to Poco's, Ferry Landing, or the Oar House. They have outdoor seating (water view), and good seafood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcel215

      The fried fish (haddock?) sandwich at the brewery is really good, too.

    2. I love seafood and really enjoyed Jumpin Jay's.

      Haven't been in a while but there used be a great sushi place, maybe Sukora?

      1. The whole concept of local produce is a pretty new concept in the restaurants here. The only restaurant I can think of that prides itself on that is the Dunaway House. I've never been there. But I do know that there is a relatively new chef there, and I've heard mixed reviews lately. Maybe worth checking out though. And they have an inexpensive three course dinner at some point.

        There is seafood everywhere here. The only restaurants that are fish-centric are Pesce Blue and Jumpin' Jays. Both are very good. Pesce Blue is better, but a bit more expensive. But I think on Sunday nights they do a three course dinner that is a good deal.

        Black Trumpet is my favorite in Portsmouth, and is mentioned on this board a lot. They use a lot of local ingredients, when they can. There is a cool little bar upstairs, and a few tables. Downstairs is a bit less casual and they'll take reservations.

        Isis does a good Sunday brunch. And the Gaslight is good for lunch and dinner.

        For bars....the brewpub is ok. If you eat there, stick with the burgers, mussels, etc. Half the time I go there the beer is flat. Spring Hill Tavern is a cool little place. It's below the Dolphin Striker. They have good local music with no cover every night around 9:00.

        Poco's has a nice bar downstairs. Packed on weekends. Do not eat there.

        Molly Malones is an upstairs bar with good burgers. Fat Belly's has great burgers, steak sandwiches, and chili cheese fries, with lots of tv's. The Press Room is a great bar with decent food and lots of good bands who play upstairs. Coat of Arms is a decrepid looking English bar, which I love. Way off the tourist map. It's upstairs. Good bangers and mash. Amazing beer. They even have a rotating cask conditioned ale on tap. I was there a couple weeks ago and it was Old Thumper, which is from Portland, Maine.

        If you're interested organic, check out Flatbreads. Excellent pizza and social conscience. Very laid back/loud/cool place. Good beer on tap.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChrisB

          Dunaway and Mollie malones are both closed.

        2. I also recently enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Blue Mermaid - looks like a fun place at night too with entertainment!

          2 Replies
          1. re: lexpatti

            I second the Blue Mermaid - good food, good beer.

            If you want the New England fish experience - then I am thinking maybe something like Petey's or Capn Simeon's - neither of the in Portsmouth - Petey's is in Rye and Capn's is in Kittery but both are on the water and will do the fried fish, lobster, etc. They may be seasonal though so call before going.

            Jumping Jay's is gret, Pesce is great too.

            1. re: bergzilla

              Petey's has great seafood, but they are closed for the month of February. They should be reopening the weekend of March 7th i believe.

          2. I have to second the rec. from ChrisB on Black Trumpet as my favorite in town. We usually do raw oysters only at Jumpin Jay's than to BT for dinner, although others like the entrees at JJ. I'm hearing good things about the new chef @ Dunaway. I'd give Pesce a nod as well. If you are full up on Seafood, try out Cava tapas or Four- both new places. Finally, I'd say you enjoy the Green Monkey.
            For a Portsmouth experience, you must try a late night hot dog at Gilley's trailer (near the parking garage) total dive, but cool. Enjoy the weekend!

            9 Replies
            1. re: t..

              Tried Pesce Blue recently and found it to be thoroughly mediocre. The sea bass was mushy as though it had been frozen at some point, and the pasta dishes were very bland, no interesting flavors.
              Don't bother.

              1. re: derekj

                Chilean sea bass is always previously frozen. It's just the way it is. Be skeptical if you see it labeled as Fresh Chilean Sea Bass. It most likely IS NOT fresh but has been refreshed (i.e. frozen then thawed.)

                When they catch Chilean Sea Bass, the fishermen immediately freeze it at sea to preserve quality and taste, and then send it to the processors. There the fish are carefully thawed, filleted, and shipped out refrigerated. It has to be frozen at sea... Something to do with the amount of time it takes to go through customs, etc.

                1. re: snopromofo

                  Yes, I'm aware of that, sno, to be more precise, what I meant was re-frozen. Very often "frozen at sea" fish thaws partially at some point in the process, and is put in the freezer to re-freeze, causing a mushy texture.
                  This is my second bad experience at pesce blue, as I always believe in giving a restaurant a second chance, but I won't go back again.

                  1. re: derekj

                    I recently had a similar experience at Pesce. Their seafood just doesn't seem very fresh, and I don't believe they would stay in business if not for the tourists.
                    We were there on a Saturday night and ate on the patio, which was full. Then I went inside to use the bathroom and not one table was occupied. Very bad sign.
                    Plus, I see that they are now offering coupons on, which is basically the last stop for bad restaurants.

                    1. re: terrystu

                      These are all very nice, but why not get your moneys worth, too? The two places to really try are Newicks, just across the bridge to Dover, and, Warren's across the bridge into Maine. Both have great water views and fantastic New England style seafood dinners. Warren's has a great salad bar and a pretty good burger for the fussy nonseafood eaters.
                      Both use fresh caught seafood.
                      If you have time for a drive, check out Foster's Clambake in York, Me.

                        1. re: bewley

                          Ate at Newick's (outside of Portsmouth in Dover) this past Friday. Disappointing. Overpriced for what you got. Large lobster roll was $20 and should've been under $10. I had a Red's Eats roll the day before for $18.99, I think it was, and it was 10Xs better. My wife got the haddock special in pesto & parmasian; the picture looked great but the dish didn't look anything like the pic. Six specs of pesto & no parmasian. The haddock was fresh & tasty enough but nothing remarkable & likewise should've been priced at about $10 instead of $16. I think you have to know what to order there, The fried clams looked good. Overall though there are plenty of other places to go at a much better value. It struck me as a New England tour bus stop ("okay everyone -- come on in and get your "authentic" New England seafood meal and then we'll be on our way again") type of place.

                          1. re: Eaterouter

                            It is a tour bus stop I believe. No locals go there that I know.

                            1. re: mcel215

                              It's not the same Newicks that it was in the 60s. We were especially disappointed in their new restaurant in Concord NH that opened last year. It used to be a big treat to go there. Now we avoid it.