Friday, July 29, 2016

Weekend in Portsmouth

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- New / Old in New Hampshire

While returning to Boston's Logan Airport from a fantastic trip to Maine last year we decided to stop in Portsmouth for lunch. Cool town. More going on here than I thought. I saw on twitter that Row 34 was worth checking out so we decided to do so. It's owned by the Island Creek Oyster people in Boston which is one of the city's most popular spots. Row 34 is equally as popular in these parts.

 Located in Portwalk Place 

Apparently Island Creek and the Row 34 in Boston are so popular and thus hard to get into that people from there are driving out here just to get some of their stuff. I can see why. The oysters were saltier than normal this time of the year but I had no problem with the ones rec'd. I pretty much enjoy all cold water oysters and Row 34's selection from around these parts impressed.

 East Coast Oysters 

As far as bottom to top goes this was probably the best place we ate at all trip. The cocktails were easily the best and we went to all the hot spots in Portland, ME. The menu has probably changed but I doubt the overall product is any different. The brunch menu was on display for Labor Day so a few breakfast options were available including one of the best hashes I've ever had. Masterfully smoked pulled pork was matched with golden crisped potatoes and a perfectly poached egg. Fried Oyster lettuce cups with pickled onions were a winner as were the lobster tacos with mango salsa served in fresh fried mini tortillas. Go here if you're ever in the area.  We cant wait to go back.

Lobster Tacos. Fried Oyster Lettuce Wraps. Smoked Pork Hash. 

The lady was getting a little restless with all my food stops, as this was our last day, so I knew a trip to the local hot dog landmark Gilley's would have to be snuck in. Lucky for me it's right around the corner from Row 34 and there was a parking spot right in front and I had already dropped her off to put our name in. This was my chance.

A local downtown institution 

This place has history going back to 1912 when it was just a hot dog cart that parked in the center of town later at night. Something commonly found all over New England at the time. In 1940 a dining cart was built by the Worcester Diner Co. of Worcester, MA. Gilley's is one of just five that were built then, and it's the only one remaining in full operation today. At first the diner was hauled into Market Square each evening and parked in front of a Church in preparation for the evening's business. Originally it was towed by horse, then tractor, and finally by truck. Today it rests in the same place at all hours. Stepping inside is as close to time travel as we have. Just slide the front door open.

View from my front (Top) - View from my back (Bottom)

 As you can see in the pics it's one of the smallest eating establishments out there. Just eight seats. I ordered a wiener with everything and took one of those seats to enjoy a near flawless example of an All-American hot dog. Extra snappy wiener, I didn't ask what they were made of, goes into a soft New England Style bun and gets topped with your choice of stuff. Chili, with tons of kidney beans, and sauerkraut are popular options but I wanted to try the original on my first stop in. It was one of a few top notch hot dogs that I tried on this trip. New England knows wieners. Cool spot. I might do a night in Portsmouth mixed into a Boston and or a Maine trip next chance I get. I had forgot how much I like visiting New England when the weather is warm. As always, more to come.

 Hot Dog with Everything (Mustard, Relish, Onion)

Row 34
5 Portwalk Pl
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 319-5011

Gilley's PM Lunch
175 Fleet St
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(603) 431-6343

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