Making the Upper Valley a Foodie's Haven


Submitted 7 months ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

We have lots of pizza and lots of coffee, plus plenty of wonderful restaurants.  What niche are we missing to make the Upper Valley a real foodie haven?  Facebook Upper Valley VT/NH created a poll a couple months ago and came up with some interesting results.

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Top Upper Valley Foodie Recommendations

Homemade, Fabulous, and Unique

The results and conversation were fun and enlightening.  They definitely showed consumer's opinions on places that already existed and highlighted gaps in the area where investors could start a great food business.  People most responded to a unique offering the Upper Valley doesn't have like a Vegan restaurant or better quality of what we already have like seafood.  Maybe it'll spark more conversation to improve upon the great foodie culture we already have in the Upper Valley.  

The suggestions that got the most attention and comments were a bagel place, NY style deli, and frozen yogurt shop.  People lamented over the loss of the Bagel Basement, the sandwich shop Gondola, and the TCBY that used to be in the Panera plaza.  

More Authentic Ethnic Foods

The Upper Valley has its share of Thai, Chinese, and Asian fusion restaurants.   We also have a variety of unique and highly rated ethnic food options in the Upper Valley: Nepalese, Japanese, Indian, Mediterranean, and Carribean, which you can read more about here: Sample the World: International Cuisine to Try.   Everyone has their own favorite.  There have been numerous Facebook forum debates about the best Chinese in the area too.  You can read about top Chinese recommendations here.   
Still, there are other ethnic food restaurants people want to see like Jewish, Greek, Vietnamese, French, Puerto Rican and African.  Diversifying our restaurant selection would certainly make our area more of a foodie capital.

Specialty Foods and Experiences

People are looking for restaurants that cater to specialty diets like vegan, vegetarian, keto, and gluten free.  How about a bakery that specializes in gluten free or low-carb products? One person recommended an Asian vegetarian chain, Green Elephant.  You can help make vegan food come to life in the area by supporting the Upper Valley Vegan Food Truck gofundme page.

I particularly liked the creative suggestions of a dinner theatre, movie theatre pub, wine bar, and restaurant with rooftop terrace.

A New Food Chain

Recommendations for various food chains abounded like Sonic, Texas Roadhouse, Red Robin, Arby's, Red Lobster, Dave and Busters, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chic-fil-a, and IHOP.  I'd never even heard of some: Steak n Shake, a burger and shake place, and sweetFrog, a frozen yogurt chain.  I'm surprised no one suggested Cold Stone Creamery, and only one person recommended Krispy Kreme donuts.

Chain recommendations were not all well received.  People commented on the need for locally owned places, mom and pop stores, not big box chains.  The Upper Valley is a mix of different towns' unique flavors and contributions and locally owned food establishments are at the heart of its culture. However, some may argue that chains are able to offer more selection at a lower price because of its size and scale.  

Maybe the Upper Valley is big enough for both?

Upper Valley Options to Fill the Need

Don't fret.  If you're looking for good bagels though, people recommended  Dan and Whits and the Coop for Goose and Willie's bagels.  While Goose and Willie's cafe in Orford closed, you can still get them locally.  Price Chopper also has good bagels people say.

A good NY style deli was a hot topic.  People craved a good roast beef sandwich or a good corned beef on rye with matzo ball soup remiscient of places they've visited in the past.  You can find a great sandwich at the Marsh Brother's Deli on School St.: "They're the [real] deal. Deliciousness," one poster commented. If you're looking for a litte drive, another person recommended Marzelli's in Newbury.  You can also find a list of great  places to grab a tasty sandwich here.

I love a good smoothie and frozen yogurt.  If you're craving one you can head to the Swirl and Pearl for their self serve frozen yogurt bar in Hanover in the same building as the Noodle Station.  Try a tasty smoothie or shake at Nutrition on the Green.  I used to have these Herbalife shakes as a treat when there was a shake place in Claremont.  Such tasty flavors like Butterfinger, cookies and cream, and pina colada.  A juice and smoothie cafe will be coming to White River soon called Juel, how exciting!

Looking for a real Mexican restaurant?  People recommended Revolution Cantina in Claremont.  I love the food and service there and would highly recommend it.  I've enjoyed all my meals at Gusanoz too.  Of course, I'm not a Mexican food connisseur, nor have a I traveled to big cities and eaten 'real' Mexican food.  So some people had mixed feedback on this suggestion.

Final Thoughts

The Upper Valley is a wonderful place to live, and a place I'm proud to call home.  I love the plethora of restaurant selections that provide excellent food and friendly service.  

It's my hope that in the future the Upper Valley can  be known as the foodie capital of New Hampshire, maybe even the tristate region and out proform Portland...

Maybe we could try for one of these awards or be featured in one of these magazines/websites:

Sperling's Best Places

Yankee Magazine , New Hampshire Magazine, Fresh New England, or Foodies of New England.

More food inspiration?  Check out the top food instagrammers here.  

You can also read my previous food related posts here by searching food.  

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