New Hampshire

Where to Eat in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Dining out in the hip, seaside city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire has never been more delicious.

By Amy Traverso

Sep 14 2015


Moxy Restaurant

Photo Credit : Courtesy of Moxy Restaurant

Portsmouth is New Hampshire’s hippest town, with a food scene that hits every of-the-moment note: cold brew coffee, hyperlocal oysters, Asian street food, seasonal macarons. It’s also geographically condensed, with many worthy options—particularly seafood options—in close proximity. How to choose? We’re partial to Moxy, a warm, lofty spot not far from the Old Harbor where chef Matt Louis’s team does global small plates with a New England accent: pan-seared Maine feta with sumac vinaigrette ($8), a deconstructed boiled dinner of corned brisket, pickled carrot and crispy potatoes in cabbage leaf wraps ($14), brown sugar-glazed pork shoulder served on Johnny cake ($14). Always on trend, Louis accents his food with house-made charcuterie, pickles, and jams and eschews round plates and stacked food for wood planks and neat rows. But there’s a real sense of place here. Louis worked for Thomas Keller in the Napa Valley and New York, but ultimately returned home to New Hampshire, where he ran culinary operations at Wentworth by the Sea before going out on his own. So there are whoopie pie sliders ($8) for dessert and a tasting flight of Granite State beers served in 5-ounce canning jars.

Moxy Restaurant
Moxy Restaurant
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Moxy Restaurant

The food at Moxy is ambitious, earthy but multilayered. And the vibe is warm: exposed brick walls, terra cotta and olive-painted walls. Candles glow. Friends share plates, spot their neighbors across the room and say hello. At some restaurants, you can find plenty of ambition but little in the way of comfort. Here you get both. —Amy Traverso

106 Penhallow St, Portsmouth, NH. 603-319-8178;

Johnny Cakes from Moxy Restaurant
Johnny Cakes from Moxy Restaurant
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Moxy Restaurant


Black Trumpet Bistro
Elegant, carefully sourced seasonal fare, expertly rendered. Don’t miss: Anything with mushrooms (chef Evan Mallett is a forager). Entrees: from $17.

Franklin Oyster House
Seafood tapas and large plates from the team behind Moxy. Don’t miss: Any of the small plates listed under “Sea Fare.” Entrees: from $

The Friendly Toast
Perpetual retro breakfast favorite. Don’t miss: Coconut pancakes, egg scrambles. Entrees: from $5.

Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe
The granddaddy of gourmet seafood, raising the bar since 2000. Don’t miss: the crab cakes. Entrees: from $22.

Row 34
The wildly popular Boston oyster house, now closer to the source. Don’t miss: The lobster rolls (served “creamy” or with butter), “Row 34” Duxbury oysters. Entrees: from $15.