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Foodie Weekend Suggestions in Portsmouth NH - or should we go somewhere else?

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Hi All,

The wifey and I are thinking about a weekend trip to a new spot in NH or Maine in May or June to eat a few good meals and do a little strolling around and sightseeing.

We've done the Berkshires a bunch as well as Boston, and most spots in RI and CT. We came across Portsmouth NH which seemed to have a lot of restaurants and plenty of trustworthy, affordable hotel options.

Any recommendations for places to eat or things to do? We're big foodies, so anything goes!

Also, are there any other towns or cities that might be better? Thanks

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  1. Visit the farmers market http://www.seacoastgrowers.org/portsm...
    We haven't been to Flag Hill Winery and Distillery in several years but it's not far to drive. Visit When Pigs Fly bakery outlet in Kittery Maine. Also the Stonewall Kitchens store. Go on the inland rivers cruise. If you need some Asian ingredients, Lo's Oriental Market on Woodbury Ave (near Fox Run Mall). I think they get a fresh prepared food delivery on the weekend but not sure when. Fresh produce prices are usually very reasonable plus I've found things like galangal that I can't find elsewhere.

    Portland ME should also be on your list. Last fall we enjoyed the culinary tour of the Old Port Area.

    1. I've always wanted to try this place, but haven't gotten there yet.

      http://www.quicktogo.net/hours_direction

      In Portsmouth, just walking around and visiting Strawberry Bank or downtown is a really nice
      place to go. The restaurants are good, but I don't think exceptional. We usually go to The Portsmouth Brewery for excellent Pub Fare. Jumpin Jays is another good one. The one thing I love to go to is the Wentworth Hotel's Sunday Brunch, its out of this world. More things than anyone can think of, but a little pricey. Aneka Jens is right across the bridge in Kittery, for an excellent meal too.
      Portland, Me. has some outstanding restaurants and nice shops to walk around and see as well.

      Have fun, it's a great area.

      1. There are a ton of good restaurants in Portsmouth...Definitely go over to Popovers for the popovers with maple butter and the desserts...Breaking New Grounds right nearby has fabulous coffee...and honeslty, it just depends on the type and variety of food you're looking for. I'd also say if you're looking for things to do, there are a few cute little shops, and you can always jump on a boat to check out the Isle of Shoals.

        1. I would say if u want a first rate foodie weekend, head to Portland.

          6 Replies
          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

            I agree, Portland is hands down a better town for foodies. We live much closer to Portsmouth, but always end up driving to Portland to eat.

            1. re: bewley

              Portland, for sure.

              1. re: bewley

                Well said, bewley. We also live near Portsmouth and usually drive to Portland or Boston for dinner. The Portsmouth food scene is really quite dismal, dominated by tourist joints.

                1. re: terrystu1

                  Just went to The Black Birch in Kittery for an outstanding dinner, terry. In case you'd like something closer than Portland or Boston.

                  1. re: mcel215

                    Thanks for the tip, I'm always open to saving some gas.

                    1. re: mcel215

                      we went to the black birch w/ an out of town friend a few days ago. excellent food, slightly disorganized service, i wouldn't call it a destination restaurant, but if i were in portsmouth for dinner (are they open for lunch?), i'd happily go again.

              2. I agree that Portland wins this battle (unfortunately for me since I live in Seacoast NH) but I have had very good experiences at Black Trumpet. Since this thread is fairly current...we were thinking of going into Portsmouth tonight. I had been wanting to try Mombo but they are not open on Sundays. I am considering two other places I have not tried--Cava in Portsmouth (some say overpriced?) or the new Black Birch in Kittery. We have been to Anneke Jans and could return but I wanted to try someplace new. One non-meat eater. Any opinions?

                3 Replies
                1. re: 3catsnh

                  Just an FYI regarding the new Black Birch in Kittery. The place is outstanding, albeit small. I hear it's packed most nights. We went around 5pm on a Saturday and it was near empty, but we knew ahead of time that they don't take reservations. The food was excellent though and well worth the odd time, or even a long wait if you don't want the off timing.

                  www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                  1. re: mcel215

                    We finally made it to Black BIrch early in the evening on Tuesday (good time to go apparently) and it was OUTSTANDING. We sat at one of the community tables and ended up in a nice conversation with the group there. I usually order wine but the beer selection was amazing and we sampled some good ones. We started with small plates--the best deviled egg assortment ever, pickled vegetables, beer battered onion rings and then I had the roasted cauliflower and the beet salad and my husband had the poutine which he said compared favorably to what he has enjoyed in Montreal. There is a lot of energy in the place so it is loud, but the service is excellent as is the food.

                    1. re: 3catsnh

                      Taking two friends there Saturday night for an early dinner. So glad you liked it, my son and his friends live nearby and go all the time. They rave..

                      When we went we shared the Kimchee mussels, duck confit, lobster roll with tarragon and a couple of sides. All were excellent.

                      I hear the deviled eggs are a must try and will convince my friends. ;)

                2. Yes, Portland does get more foodie buzz, but I would not discount Portsmouth. It's less than an hour from Boston (kinda). A trip to Portland involves a long drive on the mind-numbingly dull Maine Turnpike. You could do worse than walking around a small, beautifully preserved town that has a gorgeous waterside park (Prescott) and a living historic museum (Strawberry Banke). I can't think of anything more pleasant than sitting on the water at Oar House, looking at a working port complete with tugboats, and enjoying a lobster roll (a B, but not bad). Mombo is great, and if you crave a monster brunch, Wentworth-by-the-Sea has the real deal, complete with raw oysters, champagne and omelet stations. Portsmouth has more than enough for a weekend.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: whs

                    My sentiments exactly whs, love the view from the Oar House. Old Ferry Landing is pretty good too. While walking around, a stop by Cere's Bakery (even their lunches), is a can't miss for me.

                    My picture from sitting outside on the deck at the Oar House last week, tugboats too. :)

                    www.saffron215.blogspot.com

                     
                  2. Portland definitely has more options for foodies but don't dismiss Portsmouth quite yet. We live about 15 minutes from Portsmouth and are there for dinner often. Our favorites:
                    1. Cava - yes, it's pricey but not overpriced. The quality of ingredients is incredible. Wines are reasonably priced and because it's tapas you get to try so many things. We had dinner for two including a bottle of wine for about $125 the other night.
                    2. The Green Monkey - always a favorite. Super friendly staff, small specialized menu. Consistently good.
                    3. Agave - really, really good Mexican.

                    Also, Portland is under an hour drive from Portsouth so you could easily stay in Portsmouth and drive to Portland for lunch and a little shopping, and come back for dinner.

                    Enjoy!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: lily0824

                      Eh. Naw. Go to Portland.

                      1. re: lily0824

                        Thanks, but I live nearby so don't need to stay over--and not a shopper. I still plan to try Cava, but if Agave and The Green Monkey was all Portsmouth had to offer I would drive even more often to Portland. Not impressed.

                        1. re: lily0824

                          I agree, Portmouth is a great weekend destination. Even if you don't want to go to Strawberry Banke museum, it's lovely to just walk around, near the water in the charming old part of town, or Prescott Park gardens. We live an hour away but it's like a world away to visit Portsmouth for the afternoon or the day. If you time it right and there's a festival on the weekend, so much the better - fish festival, chowder fest, etc. The parking garage is cheap, and right where you want to be to start walking around.

                          I don't know why you guys are complaining about the restaurant scene there. We live in Concord which is a chain restaurant wasteland (aside from Sunny's or Granite, yes). We have to travel a lot (ie all over the US nevermind int'l) to get our chowhound fix and we love Portsmouth. You sometimes have to hunt if you don't want to eat at touristy Dolphin Striker or waterfront restaurants (which have perfectly fine seafood). Seriously, only The Brewery, Jumpin Jays and Popovers have been mentioned? That's the best our board hounds could come up with? No one has even mentioned my favorite places.

                          http://streetfood360.com/
                          Street is a great newer place, it has global street food apps and bowls/plates perfect for sharing, in a cool industrial decor interior. You can sit at the bar or at booths. Service is good. The Korean Fried Crack (I mean chicken) is truly addictive, a little spicy with Korean gochujang chili sauce and just a little sweet. Empanadas yummy. Lamb burger with curried shallots and mint yogurt is amazing. Mexican cemita or Vietnamese banh mi or Cubano or Porchetta sandwiches are all great. Various noodle bowls, Korean bi bim bap rice bowl.
                          Drinks and cocktails are great (aperol cocktail, extra bitters is my drink!).
                          They have brunch on Sundays, you gotta try the Sweet Home Alabruncha! Southern pulled pork version of eggs benedict, drooling just thinking of it.

                          Also when you are in that plaza (it's tucked around the back side), a When Pigs Fly bakery is right there, so before dinner sample some breads and olive oils, balsamic vinegars and buy a loaf or two.

                          Black Trumpet is worth a trip. You can read lots of reviews on that everywhere so I won't go into detail.

                          http://www.thefriendlytoast.net/
                          For breakfast you must try Friendly Toast, the decor and collections are as big a part as the food. Yes, it is now known on TV, but if you don't live in the area and have never been before, it is AN EXPERIENCE. I mean, if you google "funky breakfast portsmouth" and only Friendly Toast comes up, what other recommendation do you need? Have some fun. It's also OPEN 24 HOURS from Friday am until Sunday 9pm on weekends. Good late night food.

                          http://pinkbamboocafe.com/
                          There is a new Hot Pot (Chinese, or Japanese call it shabu shabu) restaurant, everyone at the table can share a hot pot of broth to cook on the table hot plate, with whatever meats, seafood or veggies you want and flavor it however you want. It's fun and the broth at the end tastes great. There aren't many places you can do shabu shabu even in big cities in the US.

                          (I would have added 106 Kitchen to the list but they are already closed, bummer).

                          http://www.reddoorportsmouth.com/
                          for evening, go to red door lounge, (upstairs kinda unmarked but with a red door), good martinis and other cocktails. Faves: "Thai martini" - I love the "buddha's hand" citron, plus lemon, ginger; or the "V" which is made with caipiroska, veev acai, muddled lime, hibiscus rose. Check out the music calendar so you can time when to go.

                          We love Gus and Ruby Letterpress for browsing, the shell and rock emporium at a corner on Daniel (forgot the shop name, Scallops? or something

                          )

                          Enjoy!

                          1. re: starvinginNH

                            I too am surprised at everyone ragging on Portsmouth (but agree that Portland is great). Had a wonderful meal at the Black Trumpet, in an interesting historic old room. Friendly Toast is fun altho I can see why people complain about it too. I'm adding the Red Door and Streetfood 360 to my list for a visit next month. I've done a weekend spending one nite in Portland and one in Portsmouth, best of both worlds.

                            1. re: Joanie

                              I think you meant ragging on Portsmouth.

                              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                I went back in and edited in between my and your post. Yep. It's all good IMHO.

                        2. Any updates on this thread/subjectt? We want a romantic celebration dinner one night this week in Portland (or Portsmouth), and as usual we are planning on heading up to Portland. Fore Street is always a favorite fallback destination for us but we have never tried Bresca (and know it is very small so we might not get a reservation) or Cava. Also have not been to Mombo in Porstmouth yet. I am not a meat-eater. Any new feedback on wonderful dining experiences the Porstmouth/Kittery/Portland area? Thanks!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: 3catsnh

                            We ate at Mombo just before Christmas. Lovely atmosphere, piano playing and service was fine. The food however, while very appealing sounding and looking, was the saltiest food I have ever eaten! (swordfish and truffled mashed potatoes). Maybe someone had a heavy hand just that night. We will try again.