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Mar 15, 2014 11:49 AM

Restaurants in Bellows Falls and Rockingham VT Claremont to Mass. Border NH - Connecticut River Valley

We have already eaten at Leslie's in Rockingham VT and Burdicks in Walpole NH both of which were wonderful surprises - off the beaten track, yes, but truly excellent food and both had a friendly, pleasant atmosphere. We have also tried Luca's and Nicola's in Keene as well as Waxy O'Connors in Keene (the pub attached to the Best Western).

We are looking for suggestions for restaurants along those lines on either side of the Connecticut River without going into Keene. If you start at the border of VT and NH with Massachusetts and go North, say to about Claremont NH are there similar restaurants we should try?

Note that I am not looking for Manchester, Concord, Nashua or Lebanon/Hanover/White River Junction since they are a longer drive.

Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thanks and good luck!

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  1. I used to live in Keene, now live in a smaller NH town closer to Brattleboro, so our eating out tends to happen in the area you outlined.

    First, Popolo ( in Bellows Falls is a must try. Their brunch, now on Saturdays and Sundays, is always delicious, and you can't go wrong with dinner any night of the week. They also have a lot of themed dinner nights (i.e., they're now doing "New South" Sunday dinners, featuring food from Mexico and other Latin American countries), movies, live bands, etc. Check their website for their events calendar. They also have a regularly updated Facebook page.

    Sounds like you have not been to Brattleboro much, but if you are willing to go that far south, there are good options. My favorite casual/week night options:
    1. Fireworks ( Fresh, local, well-prepared. Can't go wrong with ordering from any section of their menu. Interesting drinks, decent beers. Friendly staff. They update their Facebook page almost every day with the daily specials. The Fireworks team is also about to open a new Mexican-inspired place just up the street (should be opening any day now?) called "Milagros Mexican Kitchen". High hopes it will be as good as their other restaurants. Speaking of, I know you said you didn't want to go into Keene, but note there is also now a Fireworks in Keene- the menu is different, but the head chef/owner is the same, and they have the same beautiful pizza oven.
    2. Three Stones ( Mexican/Mayan food. Don't go without a reservation, and know that their hours/days of operation are a bit quirky. But, food is delicious, not like anything else in this area.
    3. Flat Street ( Upscale pub food, featuring local ingredients. I wish their menu was a little more diverse, but the atmosphere is great, friendly staff, their beer list interesting and ever-changing, and their nightly specials are always a great pick.
    4. Thai Bamboo. (They don't have a website, but here is the menu: OK, this is not world class Thai food. But for this region, it's solidly good, and very consistent. Great vegetarian options. Tasty curries. They are closed on Wednesdays.

    Also in Brattleboro, as much nicer "special occasion" options- reservations a must at either
    1. Peter Havens (
    )2. TJ Buckleys ( Menu changes daily

    2 Replies
    1. re: erin_grogan

      I recently had lunch at Whetstone's in Brattleboro which overlooks the river. My grilled cheese w/ bacon was great as was a friend's amazing BLT (the bacon is excellent). They have a million beers if that's your thing, and a fireplace which is a nice touch. Nothing earth shattering going on but good decent food.

      1. re: Joanie

        I really liked them when they first opened, but I got sort of turned off by it, or maybe not even turned off, just not really inspired by anything in particular to keep going back. I almost felt like they changed their menu TOO often, and didn't keep a lot of the things that had potential to become old favorites while still trying something new. I never really found anything to be super excited about with them. I also got a little tired of paying $10-12 for a tiny salad. I appreciate the use of local ingredients and am prepared to pay more- but the salads, which I would often get as a non-meat-eater, were really underwhelming and really overpriced.

        I also found that the place was taking on a bit more of a "frat boy" atmosphere than I enjoy.

        I do think that in the warmer months, when people can spread out more on the deck and enjoy the river, it might be a place I go to again occasionally.

        And, I totally agree with Joanie that for someone just passing through Brattleboro and wanting a good lunch or dinner with a great view, this place would fit the bill. It's just not a place I want to keep going back to.

      1. re: SP1

        Ah, yes, the Joy Wah! I forgot to note that we have eaten here; thank you for the information SP1. We not only go there for a lunch or dinner but have tried their Sunday brunch, a good selection of very good food.