The Top Restaurants In Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth, United States
Portsmouth, United States | Photo by Steve Lussier on Unsplash
Graziano Scaldaferri

There are many reasons to visit Portsmouth, and its dining scene is not the least of them. Restaurants can be found at every turn here, with the historic New Hampshire downtown particularly ripe with must try eating spots. From international cuisine to local joints and fine dining restaurants, dining out in Portsmouth certainly doesn’t pose a problem of available options. Read our updated guide to the 10 best restaurants in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Black Trumpet Bistro

The Piscataqua River and the many bustling harbours found along its shores are a quaint landmark and a top attraction in Portsmouth. Restaurant Black Trumpet Bistro offers beautiful views of the river and the ports, including the iconic tugboats floating on the waters. A family-owned restaurant, Black Trumpet Bistro is situated on two levels. The first floor hosts a cosy restaurant where customers will have a chance to try the lovingly crafted recipes of Evan Mallett, a chef with an experience in the food industry of over 30 years. Mallett revisits the menu every six weeks to reflect seasonal availability of the produce. Upstairs, the restaurant’s wine bar quenches the thirst of its guests on a first-come, first-served basis.


You know you’ve reached Cava when you see quaint layers of greenery sprawling over a brick wall building in historic downtown Portsmouth. The vertical garden is Cava’s signature mark, but what patrons love the most about the restaurant is its ever-evolving but ever-delicious menu of both modern and traditional Spanish tapas. Choose between Cava gazpacho and white corn shot; patatas bravas, garlic aioli and fried herbs; or the piquillo peppers with Andalusian mackerel, gremolata and migas. A special space in restaurant Cava, called the Wine Cave, was especially designed to provide a sophisticated ambience, and is equipped with a packed wine bar; but in warm months, the outdoor patio right beneath the vertical garden becomes the restaurant’s best quarter.


A highlight of North America‘s indigenous patisserie and particularly common in New England, a popover is similar to muffins in shape, and to its British cousin the Yorkshire pudding with regards to preparation. The name derives from the fact that, during baking, the top part of the pastry literally pops, revealing its hollow inside, and is later topped with cream or marmalade. Portsmouth’s café and bakery Popovers offers an irresistible array of cakes, pies, and pastries – including mouth-watering popovers, of course – and is a popular spot among locals for a finger-licking breakfast or the occasional sweet treat. The cafe also prepares soups, salads, sandwiches and small plates to cater to brunch hunters.

Portsmouth Book and Bar

Portsmouth Book & Bar, Portsmouth

No matter how shiny and fashionable iPads and Kindles can get, there will always be people who won’t renounce the primitive pleasure of reading an actual book. Three of them, the founders of Portsmouth Book and Bar, renovated a historic space in Portsmouth, the Custom House, and converted it into a store of hand-picked used books and hand-crafted shelves. With the intention of creating a community around the bookshop, a bar was also opened in the store, which serves tasty and lovingly prepared sandwiches, salads and simple pastries, a great snack to bite while neck-deep in your reading. A haven for book lovers, also watch out for Book and Bar’s programme of cultural events.


Part of a chain of restaurants initiated in 2002 in Nashua, New Hampshire, Surf popped up in Portsmouth in 2011, and quickly became a cherished destination for the city’s seafood lovers. Benefitting from Portsmouth’s close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, every morning Surf’s men head out to the local piers and bring back to the restaurant’s kitchen super-fresh fish and seafood. Later, from the heights of his double decade long professional experience, owner and chef Michael Buckley starts rustling up the produce into the exquisite dishes which will eventually be served to the hungry guests.

Ristorante Massimo

Ristorante Massimo recreates in Portsmouth the distinctive, enchanting ambience of Italian tavernas. Wood beams, brick and stone walls, fresh flowers and beautiful paintings of Italy’s landscapes are the rustic backdrop to a sumptuous meal of traditional Italian fare. Every dish here is exquisite, but the pastas, made from scratch in house, are especially recommended. On the second level is found Upstairs, a very classy bar which customers can join for drinks and smaller plates and appetizers, prepared by the same expert hands, and with the same delicious results. Massimo’s award-winning wine list includes a rich selection of Italian bottles as well as wines from California’s Napa Valley and other US regions.

The Gas Light

Portsmouth’s The Gas Light is situated in a 1837 building which used to be home to the city’s first Gas Light Company, hence the name. The restaurant is a unique mix of ambiences and atmospheres. The core is The Grill, on street level, where customers can enjoy delicious pub fare (clam chowder, grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, among others) in a relaxed and fun setting. Downstairs, at Downtown Pizza, a wood-fired oven churns out mouth-watering pizzas and calzones. Third Floor is a hip, trendy night club – come here for a few, lush drinks and perhaps a snack from The Grill’s or Downtown Pizza’s menus. Finally, in summers The Deck also opens in the courtyard, one of the city’s largest. A popular spot in a prime location, The Deck frequently hosts live music performances by top regional artists.

5 Thai Bistro

Thai food junkies in Portsmouth have their Mecca in restaurant 5 Thai Bistro. A blissful blend of fast food service and refined ambience, this spot celebrates Thai food in all its rich flavours and textures. Rolls, dumplings, salads, soups, curries, rice dishes – gourmets can sample the entire breadth of Thai cuisine, including the world-popular pad Thai, the khao pad (fried rice with egg, tomatoes, onion, scallions and cucumber slices) and the pad khee-mao (rice noodles sautéed in chili-garlic sauce with red and green peppers, bamboo and carrots). The menu includes a whole section of vegetarian-friendly eats, and any particular dietary requirement is promptly met by the restaurant’s friendly staff.

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