Despite the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, a large number of restaurants opened and eventually thrived, finding ways to live freely and thrive. From a serious commitment to takeout and outdoor dining to limiting hours and social distancing, everyone has found a way to continue serving the public. Now it’s your turn to get up off the couch and dine out. Yes, many doors are open, but the final hurdle is finding staff to maintain the service. Get more details on Facebook for opening days and times, and be patient and courteous. All are doing their best.
food at Axel’s house Nashua is mostly snack food, but if you feel like throwing an axe, this is the place. No, you’re not aiming for a simple straw target. This state-of-the-art parlor in Nashua features 15 throwing lanes and your choice of digitally projected zombies, ducks and more to hone your skills without even hurting a pixel. Mondays and Tuesdays are reserved for private reservations.
Bellissimo Italian Steakhouse opened in 2022 in the former Fratello’s on Main Street. They specialize in Italian dishes while their signature steak fillet is served on a hot stone. There is entertainment from Thursday to Saturday.
bluAqua Restrobar has been around for almost 10 years in one form or another. The first was the Salzburg Square location in Amherst, where the chef was Chris Noble. After a brief stint in Nashua, the Nashua site has closed. Finally, after many delays, the bluAqua Restrobar opened on Manchester’s Elm Street in January 2020. Not the best timing, but the place has survived and thrived thanks to the chef’s Southern-inspired cuisine Noble, special events, wine dinners, entertainment offers. and a very special aquarium.
new roots opened in Manchester at the end of 2020 offering vegan meals with a delivery service.
The Enrights have closed their Roots Café in Hooksett at Robie’s Country Store, but now run their Local Roots Food Truck at Ordione State Park in season and a coffee in Newmarket Mills out of season.
Grand Kahuna Cafe in Merrimack opened a smokehouse this summer in Hooksett on Hooksett Road near the Gunners’ Outpost, offering smoked meat dishes and breakfast items.
Mama McDonough’s Irish pub moved from its Hillsborough location to Keene’s Dillant-Hopkins Airport in July
of 2021. They are still offering their hearty pub fare along with trivia, entertainment and karaoke. Plus, their Irish-inspired breakfasts are served daily instead of just on weekends. Watch the planes land while enjoying their succulent burgers
and homemade desserts.
Watkins Inn and Tavern at Walpole opened last year by partners Eric Brandolini and CJ Lederman. They renovated a historic 1788 property with an attached golf course. The tavern, with a panoramic view of the course, offers a nice range of craft beers as well as a short but sweet list of bites. Find regular entertainment in the tavern and occasional events on the golf course, including night golf and winter snow activities.
Piedra Finaa Latin-inspired restaurant in Marlborough, fell victim to the COVID crisis in the spring of 2020. Today, this architecturally interesting building houses The smoking trout with a gastropub-style menu offering burgers, steak frites, poutine and Faroese salmon, but no trout. It doesn’t pass the chef’s call as a sustainable fish.
Downtown Keene now has a seafood restaurant. Laughing Gull Seafood Bar & Burger recently opened, offering fresh and fried seafood, oysters and even a lobster and clam pizza. There are also smash burgers for seafood phobics.
The root opened about a year ago in the former home of Kindred Spirits in Temple on Route 101A. It has been renovated to add more light. The barn-like space contains a space for children to play while their parents eat, a large table to encourage community, a small produce market, and local bread offerings. The cafe is run by Christie Reed, former owner of Hilltop Café in Wilton. She brings him homemade croissants and vegan pastries, and is helped by her children Maija and Kaiden Massey.
The Dublin Road Dining Room and Restaurant at Shattuck Golf Course in Jaffrey opened in the spring of 2020 just as the pandemic was heating up. They made it through the year with great deals on 24 draft lines and memorable pub food. Now find it all with great views of the course and Mount Monadnock beyond. In winter, they prepare the course for cross-country skiing, making the terrace the best place to warm up in the sun and warm up with a cold beer in hand.
In Peterborough, Vital Provisions opened this spring and offers gluten- and dairy-free (vegan and non-vegan) “nutrient-dense” sandwiches, acai bowls, organic vegetable salads, and a creative and ever-growing list of tasty smoothies, including a peach cobbler with roasted peaches last August.
The Milford Oval now has Extension 101 in a former tug station offering a great selection of draft and canned craft beers in a 1950s gas station atmosphere. The Riverhouse, also on the Oval, known for its great breakfasts and burgers, has moved to the old pizzeria and a new restaurant is planning to move to its old location.
At Concorde, The pass kitchen opened in 2020 in the former Willows Plant-Based Eatery but recently underwent a minor renovation to add more seating. This menu is also strictly plant-based and offers vegans and adventurous eaters a wider range of choices, from cauliflower wings to chickpeas from the sea.
The Littleton Freehouse dining room and restaurant brings them in with creative offerings, including fries served with a choice of eight toppings, Reuben duck sandwiches, an Argentinian power bowl in addition to burgers and salads.
A trio of friends – Bob Manley, Ken Hardcastle and Chuck Lawrence – at Hermit Woods Winery and Restaurant on Main Street in Meredith have opened a full-scale restaurant in the second floor space. Called The Loft, it also serves as an event venue. Previously, a deli space offered snacks to wine tasters in the tasting room, terrace and garden area at this charming facility. The winery specializes in award-winning fruit wines fermented with local fruits and berries.
Amy LaBelle LaBelle Vineyard in Amherst has gone big again, opening a new restaurant, Americus, and a new reception space in the former Brookstone events center in Derry. There is plenty to do here including a 9 hole golf course, miniature golf, market and tasting room. Find a host of events planned throughout the year, including cooking classes, tribute bands and comedians. From November to January, the fairways of the golf courses are lit for seasonal walks.
Hare from Dawg Bar & Grill opened in January 2022 in Derry city centre. The pub serves pizzas and typical pub fare, including tater tots as well as creative salads and daily specials like smothered steak tips. Dogs are invited to join their masters to eat on the sidewalk.
In Exeter, Kath Gallant sold Blue Moon Evolution last spring to Jay McSharry, where he opened another Street, featuring street food from around the world. He bought Street 360 in Portsmouth several years ago and has kept a similar menu at this popular restaurant.
Anatolia Mediterranean Restaurant opened in Somersworth and offers doner kebab, hummus, tabbouleh and many more Turkish dishes. Oh, yes, and there’s belly dancing on Thursdays.
Entrepreneur Joe Faro of Tuscan Kitchen has just completed the redesign of the former Rockingham horse racing grounds in Salem into a living, dining, shopping, playing and working environment called Tuscan Village. Tuscany’s flagship market opened amid the pandemic, and it’s a sight to behold with stunning high-end architecture and a lawn/patio for games, fire pits and more. Other restaurants on the property include Crumbl Cookies, Chipotle, The Beach Plum, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-A. Yet to open is the Artisan Hotel with a rooftop restaurant. Oh, and one more. Faro also opened Toscana Italian Chophouse and Wine Bara steakhouse concept offering signature chops in Portsmouth city center in autumn 2021.
Troy’s Fresh Kitchen and Juice Bar opened in Londonderry, offering healthy lunch options, cereal bowls to juice
breakfast shots blurs.
Pepper’s Landing Lobster Co., a small Maine-based chain, opened in Rochester. They focus on fresh, local seafood, including lobster and lobster rolls served five ways.