Family Dining in the Seacoast Region
The Seacoast region is known for two things: seafood and beer. You'll be able to indulge in both, and to treat your family to some very memorable dining experiences, while you vacation at the New Hampshire shore.
Don't miss the affordable Lobster Clambake dinners piled high on paper plates at the casual and fun Little Jack's Seafood Restaurant (539 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach, 603-926-8053). Go for the Triple Lobster Dinner if you're really hungry, or save room for some of the other sea specialties including clam fritters, scallop rolls, fisherman's chowder, seafood stew, crab legs, and fresh fried salmon. Prefer your seafood au naturel? The Sea Ketch Restaurant & Lounge (127 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach, 603-926-0324, www.seaketch.com), a waterfront restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is home to the Ketch 22 Raw Bar. Families also flock to La Bec Rouge (73 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach, 603-926-5050, www.labecrouge.com) for everything from traditional clambake dinners and baked lobster pie to cider-glazed pork chops. Kids will find satisfying choices on the “Small Fries” menu.
For upscale seafood dining, consider The Oar House (55 Ceres Street, Portsmouth, 603-436-4025, www.portsmouthnh.com/oarhouse), located in the city's historic Merchant's Row building overlooking the old harbor. In season, you can choose to dine on the restaurant's outdoor deck.
Casual Food and Brews
Portsmouth is home to the East Coast operations of Redhook Ale Brewery (35 Corporate Drive, 603-430-8600, www.redhook.com). Explore the beer-making process on a guided tour — they're offered daily and end with a sampling session for adults — then stop into the family-friendly Cataqua Public House for tasty, pub-style eats and more crafted — in — New Hampshire beers.
Portsmouth Brewery (56 Market Street, Portsmouth, 603-431-1115, www.portsmouthbrewery.com) is the region's original brewpub. In addition to beers brewed on the premises, you'll also find selections brewed at the brewpub's sister company, Smuttynose Brewing Company, plus pub-style food and kid-pleasing Squamscot sodas, bottled in Newfields, New Hampshire, since 1863.
Want ice cream for breakfast? The University of New Hampshire Dairy Bar housed in the old Durham train station (Depot Road, Durham, 603-862-1006, www.unh.edu/dairy-bar) is open year-round, except during school breaks, as a training facility for restaurant management students — and yes, ice cream is served during all hours of operation.
At lunchtime, kids will get a kick out of selecting from the menu of more than 125 star-inspired selections at Celebrity Sandwich (171 Islington Street, Portsmouth, 603-433-7009, www.celebritysandwich.com), where almost every sandwich can be ordered kid-size for those tykes who are ready to order something more adventurous than the Barney (peanut butter and jelly) or the Kermit the Frog (bologna and mustard).
Isles of Shoals Steamship Co. (315 Market Street, Portsmouth, 603-431-5500 or 800-441-4620, www.islesofshoals.com) and Foster's Downeast Clambake of Maine have teamed up to offer cruise passengers a true New England dining experience. Reservations are required for their lobster clambake dinner cruises; children's dinner tickets include barbecued chicken instead of lobster.