July Trip Centered Around Dover, NH
My wife and I will be spending a week in July using our friends' home in Dover, NH, as a base of operations, but free to travel by car (or otherwise) to places of interest in the surrounding area, which can include overnight stays elsewhere. So, I want to get a sense from a CHer's perspective of what the must-try places are, from joints to fine dining. Given that we are coming from the middle of the country, fresh seafood is a no-brainer. My wife eats no meat but can generally find something to eat and is usually willing to indulge me when I insist upon satisfying my inner carnivore.
If you live somewhere with no good, quick burrito/taco joints, you should go to Dos Amigos. Get a burrito, or get two soft tacos [half the size of the burrito]. The fish tacos are really good, and so are the veggie options.
Dover is right near Portsmouth and Kittery, so I would recommend checking the board for postings regarding those places. Also, if you're here in summer, make sure to go to Hampton Beach. So deliciously trashy!
I'm going to reply to this more than once, seeing as how I live so close and I enjoy the local mom and pop restaurants. Here's one in Rollinsford that I wrote something up about:
Black Bean Cafe
20 Front St
I'll admit, I've been going out to eat a lot this weekend, and I totally blame Yelp for it. That, and I've been depriving myself of going out lately, and I just needed a weekend like this to try a few new things. On to the review...
Before today I had never been to Rollinsford before. It's a hamlet of a community, and it's not near anything I regularly go to, so the opportunity has never arisen. My girlfriend (SB) and I decided to go on an adventure today, so we struck out for the Black Bean Cafe and their homemade baked goods. Thank you, Jennifer W, for writing a review about this place and introducing me to my new favorite breakfast spot. The BBC is a lovely little one room restaurant (cafe really works for this place) that's probably no bigger than my meager living room. What they lack in size, they make up for in warm wood floors, fresh baked breads, and beautiful local art. It's so charming and cute, it makes other establishments pale in comparison.
What else makes other breakfast joints pale in comparison? Their food. We decided on opening with some brioche, then closing with huevos rancheros and an egg scramble. Sadly, by the time we actually got around to going out for breakfast, other folks had beaten us to the other specials.
The brioche was, in a word, ridiculous. It was an apple, raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry concoction of mouth watering excellence. The bread itself was light and buttery in flavor. The inside texture was soft and chewy, while the outside was just slightly crunchy, like a well baked bread should be. The berries were the perfect balance of tart and sweet, and I'm pretty sure I could have eaten six servings all by my lonesome. This bread may very well go on my deathbed wish-list... it's that damn good. Seriously, if you go there, try it because, as I said before, it's ridiculous.
I ordered off the specials menu and got the last remaining huevos rancheros (huepa!). It featured a large, wheat tortilla, sprinkled inside and out with cheese, then griddled. It was topped with warm refried black beans, sour cream, a nice, fresh pico de gallo (or salsa fresco, whatever), and a whipped guacamole. It was wonderfully fresh tasting, and while huge, hearty, and very filling, it did not leave me feeling sickly full. I clean my plate less often than you'd think, and this time I definitely cleaned it.
SB had an egg scramble of sausage, cheddar, broccoli, and onions. The eggs were moist and buttery. The sausage flavorful, the broccoli perfectly done (as in not too mushy, which happens all too often). Her homefries were good, but needed salt. We split a side of bacon, as I enjoy meat with breakfast, and it was perfectly cooked.
All in all, I know I'm going to be going back to the Black Bean Cafe frequently. It's just too damn delicious to pass up. And while it may not have a huge menu, what they do serve is all quality, which is what's most important. Chances are, if you go there, you'll find something you like.
P.S. If there was one thing that was bad about the size of the place, it was that you couldn't avoid listening to the kids who were left to run amok by their inattentive parents. Seriously guys, you can be comfortable in a place, but be respectful of the other patrons. Even if the staff doesn't mind, that doesn't mean you should let your kids run around unchecked.
If you enjoy good beer, you would be remiss in not stopping in at the Barley Pub, right in the heart of Dover - http://www.barleypub.com/
The same must be said for the Portsmouth Brewery - http://www.portsmouthbrewery.com/
Also, take the 5-minute drive to South Berwick and enjoy whatever local stuff Lyndsey has on his menu at the Pepperland Cafe.
I highly recommend La Festa in Dover for pizza. Wish I had discovered it prior to senior year of college. I haven't found anything comparable since!
Hodgies II I think is in Seabrook on Route 1. Definitely worth a stop for ice cream. If you like sushi and don't mind an hour drive, check out Dynamite in Hudson, NH on Lowell Road. It's worth the trip. If you are heading up north Polly's Pancakes is fun too.
There's not much in Dover, IMO, besides Silver Moon Creperie (odd hours however, check before you go). My husband and I think the Barn Tavern is OK. Other than that, seriously, there is not much for a hound in Dover.
A Dover institution is Newick's. You sit commune style. They do a lot of typical fried seafoods and steamed lobster diners. No frills sort of place. It's on the bay. Decent fried clams.
Outside of Dover is The Three Chimney's Inn in Durham (next town over). It's above average food for the area, although nothing that will blow you away. The draw for us is the atmosphere. It's in a really old historical building. They do have a nice terrace and a good wine selection. http://www.threechimneysinn.com/4-1_tavern.html
Your best bet for good cuisine is to go to Portsmouth which is about 15 minutes south. There, I would suggest the Oar House which is hidden in an old historic building downtown. Really great food and service. You could get a good steak there, as well some seasonal fish specials. They also have outdoor seating right on a little wharf. My second recommendation in Portsmouth would be the Black Trumpet Bistro. It's a little wine bar with great eclectic cuisine. It's one of our favorite places when my husband and I visit my family in Dover.
For a real New England Seafood experience, I would suggest Chauncey Creek in Kittery Point, Maine. You order your food and then sit out on the water on picnic tables. In the past, we have brought nice bottles of wine to go with our lobsters and chowders. Check and see if they still let you do that. Highly recommend it.
I hope this helps. I am a native of Dover, NH but have lived in NYC for 15 years and over the past years have built up my favorites in the seacoast area from many visits to my parents. It's really pretty in NH and Maine, with great folks. If you can, try to get to the Isles of Shoals for a day trip. Much history and definitely an experience. Have a great time!