Where To Eat In Portsmouth, New Hampshire

These are our favorite restaurants, bars, and cafes in Portsmouth.
Where To Eat In Portsmouth, New Hampshire image

photo credit: Anne Cruz

Portsmouth, New Hampshire is up there when it comes to peak New England towns. The city has lots of history like Boston, trendy vintage shops à la Portland, and plenty of adorable colonial homes that look like they should come with a lighthouse.

It might be a small city, but Portsmouth has a number of restaurants that’ll please any kind of traveler. Settle in for refreshing cocktails and classic bar bites at one of the gastropubs, swing by a Vietnamese takeout spot for a quick bánh mì you can enjoy along the water, or grab a scoop of ice cream to cool down while strolling through Market Square.

Located just south of the Maine/New Hampshire border, Portsmouth’s historic downtown is filled with water-side taverns and home goods shops, making it both a charming weekend getaway destination or a solid pit stop if you’re just passing through on your way up to Maine. Whatever you do, make sure to take advantage of New Hampshire’s sweet lack of sales tax before you head out. 


photo credit: Anne Cruz


$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsDrinks & A Light BiteDate Night
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Take a break from the tourist crowd at Moxy, a tapas spot where you can sip on a Wallflower cocktail with smoked tomato and dehydrated hot sauce salt, and snack on some lentil duck fritters. The portions are on the tinier side of the tapas spectrum, so you’ll want to order basically the whole menu, especially the crispy pork belly gems that explode and melt in your mouth. Enjoy those are you admire the sea of wood surfaces and inspirational quotes from—checks notesMark Twain and Julia Child printed on the walls in sans serif fonts. The indoor balcony seating also gives you a bird’s-eye view of any shenanigans happening down at the bar.

photo credit: Anne Cruz



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Raleigh Wine Bar gets tons of natural light that you can soak up while you eat coal-roasted vegetables and drink a glass of barbera. The food includes wine bar standards such as house-cured charcuterie and a basket of sourdough with a pot of red wine butter. You can also get larger plates like Maine halibut that’s perfectly moist and tender, and lamb sausage tagliatelle with grassy fiddleheads. There’s lots to choose from on the beverage list, from natural wine to a summery gin cocktail with rhubarb shrub and apple blossom.

Grab a spot on River House’s outdoor patio along the waterfront for some prime views of the harbor and its tugboats tugging along. The seafood-heavy menu includes all the oceanic hits: lobster rolls, chowders, and a raw bar with oysters, shrimp cocktail, and crudo. If you made the mistake of trying to snag a table during peak sunset hours, opt for plan B, which is squeezing onto the cocktail deck with a round of blood orange gin spritzes until something opens up.

If you want to watch boats bop along the Piscataqua River, Rio Cantina’s deck is the perfect place to park yourself. There are plenty of umbrellas that’ll keep you cool under the hot sun while your cottagecore-obsessed cousins wander Portsmouth’s artisanal soap shops for a few hours. A nice break from the typical New England surf and turf, the chili lime shrimp tacos pair wonderfully with margarita flavors like strawberry, passion fruit, and blood orange.

You can sit inside or outside at this bit-of-everything spot on Market Street, but if the most important member of your Portsmouth vacation is your Pomeranian with separation anxiety, plan on grabbing a table on the dog-friendly patio. The menu here covers every section of the American food pyramid—think big salads, burgers, wings, and a surprisingly solid lobster roll for a spot that’s not actually on the water. 

However, most people come here for the pizzas, which you can only order (and eat) inside. The Gas Light with pepperoni, Italian sausage, and ricotta is as fantastic as it is simple, but if you’re the type who’s more determined to make history rather than read about, you can pick from tons of bases and toppings on the menu to build your own.

The Scantron ordering slips at Barrio might take you back to the standardized testing days, but you’ll be navigating endless taco options instead of trying to figure out some arbitrary math puzzle. Get at least one taco with a green goddess tortilla, which you might think involves salad dressing, but is actually just a combination of a hard and soft shells with queso and guac sandwiched in between. There are also a dozen different margaritas with flavors like strawberry-pear, lychee, and mango-thyme, and you can get a flight to mix and match your favorite flavors, salt, and sugar rims. 

Come to this international street food restaurant with a group so you can split some subarashii fries drizzled with scallion mayo and kimchi ketchup, or the bibimbap with crispy sticky rice that’s served in a piping hot cast-iron skillet. You can definitely have a really nice meal here for under $30 a person. The atmosphere is lively enough that you’ll probably want to stay for a few rounds of drinks, but it’s not so loud that you can’t hear your table’s conversation.

Botanica might not look like much from the outside, but once you get into the dining room, the restaurant and gin bar feels like a place where you either could dress up or arrive in your comfy joggers and not feel out of place. The menu is French with lots of local produce, and includes dishes like duck confit with Parisian gnocchi and a risotto with tiny gems of seasonal vegetables. Pair it with an Empress gin and tonic that magically changes from indigo to pink as you swirl it, making you feel like a fancy scientist.

When you need something quick, Nikki’s Banh Mi is ideal. You can definitely grab a couple of to-go sandwiches, but the interior is cozy enough to enjoy your meal at the counter with a beer or Vietnamese coffee. You can customize your spice level on the sandwiches, and the bánh mì tacos made with pillowy flour tortillas are also great.

There’s a surprising amount of nightlife in Portsmouth, and this gastropub in the heart of town is exactly where you should end a day of tax-free shopping. The dishes, like the short rib poutine and hot chicken sandwich basket, are also exactly the types of things you might enjoy after a few drinks. Cocktails like The Sneerwell, made with chai bourbon, black cardamom syrup, and whiskey barrel-aged bitters, and the Killah Bee, which features gin, mead, and honey, both go down like water.

This scoop shop is right along Portsmouth’s main street that leads to Memorial Bridge and across the state border into Maine. They have classics such as vanilla and espresso fudge ripple, but their other flavors rotate often. Seasonal options such as honey lavender and blueberry maple jam taste like the epitome of summer—if you see them, get them. We’re hoping to come back soon to try their ice cream sandwiches, which are made with either brown butter chocolate chip cookies or ginger snaps.

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