All of the New England states combined might make up a smaller land area than some states make up on their own, but what they lack in land, they make up for in character. Each state definitely has its own personality and one of the best aspects of New England is that since the states are so small, a little driving can go a long way.
Another NE perk is that we’ve got some of the best universities in the country. If you’re lucky enough to go to school up here you know that there is so much to see, do, and most importantly eat. There’s absolutely no doubt that everyone who grew up in the Northeast is proud as hell, and we’ll defend that honor to our graves.
So grab your friends and set off on the ultimate foodie experience to check out these 30 restaurants you’ve gotta hit in New England before you graduate.
Magnolia Bistro – Burlington, VT
I am going to tell you that Magnolia’s will feed you the best breakfast you’ll ever have and I will defend that statement until another restaurant can prove me wrong. Located less than a minute’s walk from lively Church Street, Magnolia is Vermont’s first green-certified restaurant and it’s one of the coolest little spots, with a funky style and tons of local art covering the walls.
They’ve got so many options for all types of diets, from vegan to gluten-free to local and organic to a meat-loving paradise and it’s all amazing. They put their own twist on classic dishes, like incredible oatmeal pancakes (VERMONT SYRUP!!!) with homemade jam, Bloody Marys loaded up with tons of garden fresh veggies, and eggs Benedict with homemade cayenne hollandaise (you can make your own spicy Benedict with this recipe). Guaranteed you’ll leave happy and full if you eat at Magnolia.
Henry Street Deli – Burlington, VT
Henry Street Deli might look like just another street-side sandwich shop but ask anyone in Burlington and you’ll learn that it’s the ultimate locals’ favorite. They sell nothing short than some of the best sandwiches, for both lunch and breakfast, in New England and the people who make them will no doubt brighten your day every time.
They continuously take normal ingredients and put them together in ways that prove sandwiches are anything but boring. Locals legitimately make room in their work and school schedules to stop by a few days each week, so if you want something fast, you’ve got to swing by and check it out for yourself and definitely make sure to order a bacon egg and cheese.
Sweetwaters – Church Street, Burlington, VT
Sweetwaters is a Vermont staple and anyone in Burlington will definitely attest to that. Located on Church Street, there is never a dull moment, especially while sitting at one of its many outdoor tables or in its atrium. The inside of the restaurant resembles something you’d see on a corner in Europe, while still offering a comfortable and relaxed environment.
They’ve got a variety of different foods that will please even the pickiest of eaters and their Nachos and Brick Chicken are definitely two must-tries. You’ve got plenty of time to visit also because they’re usually open until midnight on weekdays and until 1:30 am on weekends.
VT Brew Tours – Burlington and Surrounding Area, Vermont
If Vermont’s got one thing figured out (besides skiing and syrup), it’s beer. The craft beer industry is growing each day and Vermont has been ahead of the game from day one. If you’re 21+ and love beer you absolutely have to do a Brew Tour to get up close and personal with the companies that make the liquid gold we all look forward to on weekends.
The tours are all-inclusive and will pick you up right at your door – all you need is a minimum of three other friends and you’re set. The Classic Tour stops at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, the east coast’s oldest brew pub and one of America’s 25 best breweries as told by America’s Best Brews, Fiddlehead Brewing Company, a 15-barrel brewery where you will eat lunch, Switchback Brewing Company, where you will get the chance to meet one of the chief brewers, and Magic Hat Brewing Company, where you will be amused by its whimsical atmosphere, get to watch a brewing line, and will get a taste of their sampler bar. It’s lit.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory – Waterbury, VT
Ben and Jerry’s saves lives worldwide on the daily… I mean come on, it’s pretty much everyone’s go-to brand for quality ice cream. So it’s pretty much necessary to visit the homeland at least once and see where the frozen happiness is made. There are factory tours that will show you around to where the magic happens and will teach you about the ice cream manufacturing business. Oh, and did I mention that it smells like absolute sugary heaven in there? You’ve got no excuses now that there are vegan and dairy-free flavors, so go get yourself a few scoops.
Street – Portsmouth, NH
Street is hands down one of my top 3 favorite restaurants anywhere. The atmosphere is unlike any other – chalkboard walls, graffiti as decoration, local art – it’s truly a unique place. Its menu has some of the most popular dishes from all over the world, so you can satisfy any possible craving (Mexican, Asian, you name it) for a reasonable price. All of the dishes are packed full of vibrant, flavorful ingredients that will leave you way too full, but you won’t be able to stop eating because everything is that good.
They also offer a list of some of the most creative and delicious cocktails you’ll find. Thanks to Street, you’re able to get your hands on the best street food from around the world in the comfort of the lively little city of Portsmouth. The Korean BiBimBap and Mexicali Bowl are my two favorites (pictured above) and I promise you won’t be disappointed by this eclectic joint… you’ll probably be planning your next trip before you’re even done with your meal.
Gilley’s – Portsmouth, NH
Gilley’s is an absolute classic and if you don’t go at least once you’re lame as hell. The food truck itself was built in Worcester, Mass. in 1940 and is now stationary for all of us to enjoy right in the heart of downtown Portsmouth.
They’ve been serving up OG burgers, dogs, and fries for decades and I’m telling ya it’s the best late night food you can find. The people working there are hilarious and will always make your day while serving you food in paper trays in a truck that can fit probably 10 people max. Sounds weird, but it’s the best place ever and it’s SO CHEAP; your money goes a long way here.
It’s hard to tell you how cool Gilley’s is… you really just have to experience it for yourself (specifically a cheeseburger and chili cheese fries). It’s really one of a kind. They are one of the Food Network’s top places to eat and they won the Phantom Gourmet’s hidden gem – check out their review here.
Thirsty Moose Taphouse – Portsmouth, NH
The Thirsty Moose pretty much embodies everything that New Hampshire is about – good beer, good food, good company, good times. This definitely isn’t your ordinary bar for a few different reasons: the food is really, really good and it’s all made from scratch, they have all different types of live music from reggae to country (Cadillac Three played here), the owners are a ton of fun and they’ll be drinking at the bar with you.
Oh, and did I mention they have 116 beers on tap? You read that correctly: one hundred and sixteen. It’s no wonder why their motto is “Live Free, Drink Beer.” You’ll never be bored when you visit the Moose and they’ve got locations in Dover and Manchester now, so get thirsty and expand your beer palate past your typical Thursday night Rolling Rock.
Tuckaway Tavern – Raymond, NH
Attention meat lovers: if you haven’t been to Tuckaway yet, you’re really missing out. Tuckaway Tavern is New England’s meat hub and I’m not the only one who’s obsessed – they won Best Steakhouse and Best Burger by the New Hampshire A List and they’ve been featured on the Phantom Gourmet.
Their menu features 15 creative burgers, four different types of mac and cheese, incredible chicken pot pie, and so much more; this is the ultimate comfort food getaway. If you’re feeling particularly hungry they’ve even got a Big A%* Burger Challenge which gives you the chance to win a free dinner.
Now that’s not all – attached to the Tavern is the Tuckaway Butchery, AKA food heaven (it’s also a total dad store). They sell crazy amounts of meat fresh cut daily, homemade sausages with some of the most unique flavors you’ll ever find, steak tips, fish, and an assortment of stuffed chicken (you can literally get mac and cheese stuffed chicken, people!).
They also sell a ton of fresh fruit, veggies, homemade dips, cakes, pastries, salads, etc. There’s a whole room full of craft beers made locally and across the country and a ton of delicious wine. Each bottle of wine is under $10, so even poor college kids can afford it. They actually have everything and I’ve never been more in love.
Las Olas – Hampton, NH
To put Las Olas in a way you can understand just think – it’s basically a local, fresh, cheap Chipotle with way more options. Yeah, I know, it’s a total game changer. Located minutes from Hampton Beach (and with other locations in Exeter, New Hampshire and Wells Beach, Maine), it’s the perfect chill getaway with amazing eats.
If you love Mexican, you’ll love this place because you can customize your order to make it as spicy or sweet as you want it. Get burritos, bowls, quesadillas, nachos, you name it. Ever had sweet potatoes and pineapple chipotle salsa in your burrito? You’re going to want to try it. Grab some Las to go and eat it on the Wall at North Beach, perfect night I’m tellin ya.
#SpoonTip: Get a quesadilla – you still get to pick all of the toppings like you would if you were getting a burrito and they don’t actually go in the quesadilla itself. You basically get a cheese quesadilla and a burrito bowl for the price of one.
Red’s Eats – Wiscasset, ME
From the outside, Red’s might look like just another food stand, but if you’re looking for the best lobster roll you’ll ever have this should definitely be your stop. Located in coastal Wiscasset, which has also been dubbed “Maine’s prettiest village,” Red’s is not only a local favorite, but people from all over the country will stand in line for hours to get their hands on one of these rolls.
Red’s has been around since 1938 and they’re no joke, just ask the Phantom Gourmet. You can get lobster rolls pretty much anywhere on the East Coast, but this one is unbeatable and there’s some awesome hiking in the area too.
Miyake – Portland, ME
What’s up, sushi lovers? Miyake will serve you some of the best sushi in New England, which is pretty damn impressive due to the incredible seafood area in our corner of the country. These world class Bento boxes and sushi are made with fish fresh out of the Maine seaport or flown in fresh from Japan, the native country of the prestigious restaurant’s owner, Masa Miyake, “the sushi whisperer of Portland.”
This is no doubt a local favorite, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed by outside foodies – it’s been praised by the New York Times, Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, Bon Appetit, and the Travel Channel. This is the real deal and you need it ASAP.
Congdon’s Doughnuts – Wells, ME
Congdon’s Doughnuts is one of the best family-owned doughnut shops on the east coast and it has been a part of the Wells community since 1955. People today drive hours just to try the honey-glazed donuts that Nana Congdon perfected back in 1945, and they even sell ones that are 12 inches long if you need that extra fix.
They’ve got a ton of cool flavors like Maple Creme, Apple and Blueberry Fritters, Buttercrunch, and their Jellies are the best around.
Maine Diner – Wells, ME
The Maine Diner is for sure the Maine’s main diner. It’s been featured on the Phantom Gourmet, the Today Show, and Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and boast’s “world famous food like grandma used to make.” They’ve had over 6 million customers throughout the years and are famous for their Lobster Pies, Chowder, and their Blueberry Pancakes. Did you know Maine produces more blueberries than any other state in the U.S.? You’ve gotta stop by.
The Goldenrod – York, ME
The Goldenrod is candy shop, ice cream shop, and restaurant on Short Sands Beach in York, Maine. It’s been open since 1896 and is an iconic part of a classic beach town. They’ve got great fudge and an awesome penny candy counter, but one of the coolest things about The Goldenrod is that they make saltwater taffy that is to die for and you can watch them make it through the window. If you’re in New England, Maine saltwater taffy is a MUST.
Clam Box of Ipswich – Ipswich, MA
Ipswich, Massachusetts AKA “Clam Central USA” is where most of the clams you’ll eat anywhere in the country are caught. Opened in 1938, the Clam Box chefs have perfected the recipe for fried clams and they’re a nationally recognized landmark because of how delicious they are.
Located 30 miles north of Boston, the historic seaside town draws people from all over looking for the best of the best when it comes to seafood. In other words, if you want some fresh out of the water eats, swim on down to the Clam Box. You won’t be disappointed.
Fenway Park – Boston, MA
Okay, hear me out – this might not be your typical fine dining experience, but it’s definitely something you have to do if you’re in the area, whether you like sports or not. It’s no secret that Boston sports fans are a little crazy and considering the fact that Fenway has been the home of Boston baseball since 1912, it’s definitely our pride and joy (My dog is even named after the park, that’s how much we love it.).
There are few things that can beat it’s old school charm, especially when all 37,000 people in the park are on their feet singing along to Sweet Caroline during the 7th inning stretch and you might as well forget your diet for the day, because a cold beer and a Fenway Frank are 100 percent necessary.
Mike’s Pastry – North End, Boston, MA
The North End is Boston’s oldest residential community, having been settled in the 1630’s. Home to predominantly Italian-Americans, its crooked cobblestone streets and gorgeous brick buildings boast some of the best authentic Italian food on this side of the Atlantic.
You can find tons of pastas, breads, and the works, but if you’re looking for some old school cannolis, Mike’s is your place. Around since 1946, the bakery is famous city-wide for its traditional Italian sweets and you absolutely have to stop by and grab a box of their cannolis, made however you like. If you want more cannolis here are some more awesome places to buy them.
#SpoonTip: They also offer unbelievably fluffy black and white cookies that will change your life.
Carmelina’s – North End, Boston, MA
Carmelina’s is right down the street from Mike’s, so stopping here to get your daily dose of comfort food before you get dessert will make for one hell of a night for your tastebuds. It’s only been open since 2012, but it didn’t take long for the owners to build a name for themselves and their trendy little restaurant.
Carmelina’s boasts “traditional Sicilian comfort food with a Mediterranean twist,” and everything on the menu is truly a work of art. All of the dishes are modern twists on Chef Damien DiPaola’s oldest family recipes. With his main guy, Chef Di Cucina Michael Hollenkamp, they come up with some of the best plays on pastas, seafood, and sauces around. The restaurant was even named after Chef DiPaola’s mom and I’m sure she’d agree that you should stop by, because nothing warms the soul like a good tomato sauce.
The Paramount – Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
The Paramount is one of the most famous restaurants in the entire city of Boston and with good reason. It’s been in beautiful and historic Beacon Hill since 1937 and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to fuel everyone in the area. It’s family friendly, without compromising atmosphere or quality, proving to truly be the best of both worlds.
This hole-in-the-wall is nothing to walk past, because I swear you can buy some of the world’s best brunch here; the fresh caramel and banana french toast is out of this world. Savory options include an exquisite plate of huevos rancheros, among many other choices. They’ve even got a location in South Boston now (which is delicious as well) but Beacon Hill is definitely the OG.
The Engine Room – Mystic, CT
Mystic, CT is a must visit New England town and The Engine Room is a must visit restaurant in Mystic. Located right on the Mystic River in the old Lathrop Marine Engine building, it’s been named one of 2016’s best restaurants by Connecticut Magazine.
They’ve got some of the best burgers you can find in the state, not to mention the largest bourbon selection in the area, craft cocktails, an impressive wine selection, and 16 craft beers on tap. The Mystic Seaport is a beautiful part of Connecticut and has a pretty cool aquarium too, so come check it out, because now you know where to get some good eats.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – New Haven, CT
Pepe opened his pizzeria in 1925, having barely to his name, illiterate, and simply trying to make it in America after immigrating from Italy. It’s now expanded into a small, local chain, with locations all over Connecticut and New York. New Haven Wooster Street is the original location and everyone knows that New Haven is home to some of the best pizza in the country. Pepe’s is the best of the best, no doubt.
This stuff is authentic Italian and will make your taste buds straight up dance, so, if you’re too poor to physically travel to Italy (like me), definitely stop by and grab a slice… or three.
Bodega Taco Bar – Fairfield, CT
If you love tacos even a quarter as much as I do you’ll love Bodega. They serve “modern Mexican with an urban beach vibe,” but they’re so much more than that. The owners of Bodega’s really pride themselves on doing their own thing and being creative, which ties into their mouthwatering menu featuring 10 different types of tacos, a whole page dedicated to tequila, tortas, salads, platos, S’mores Fundido – basically s’mores nachos. Oh, and did I mention bacon guacamole? I mean come on, that’s an absolute dream.
So next time you’re trying to get some good Mexican and are willing to venture outside of your Chipotle bubble, this is the place for some guaranteed good eats. They also have a location in Darien and they have a taco truck that you can find at various events throughout the state.
Hoodoo Brown BBQ – Ridgefield, CT
Hoodoo’s is an up and coming restaurant that will instantly make you the hit of your friend group. It’s been given titles like “Best New Restaurant” and has bee dubbed the best BBQ in CT and beyond by magazines and writers such as Connecticut Magazine, OmNom, CTBites, Food Dudes, and Adeline.
Heavily influenced by Texas BBQ, the owner, Cody Sperry, has crafted a menu serving up some of the best wood smoked foods you’ll be able to find this side of the Mason-Dixon, including outrageous ribs and brisket. Hoodoo’s first birthday is coming up on May 22nd and what better way to celebrate than eating your weight in five different kinds of smoked chicken wings?
Cafemantic – Willimantic, CT
Willimantic is a little town in rural eastern Connecticut that boasts the perfect retreat for college students of any type. Cafemantic is a great option for people looking for an trendy date night with some friends or a significant other but are ballin on a budget.
They have an awesome assortment of dishes, ranging from Hand-Rolled Potato Gnocchi and Five-Cheese Mac and Cheese to an Aged NY Strip and Caramelized Sea Scallops and nothing is crazy expensive. Cafemantic has also been voted top restaurant in Connecticut overall by CTNow and they were even reviewed by the NY Times, so quality is nothing you should worry about.
It’s got a fun atmosphere and they have special events throughout the year, featuring things like live music, art exhibits, NYE parties, events with local breweries, etc. And, if you can’t make it for dinner they have equally delicious lunch and weekend brunch as well. It’s definitely a must-visit and they change their menu frequently so it never gets boring.
Allie’s Donuts – North Kingstown, RI
Allie’s Donuts brings so much more to the table than just a really, really cool name. A local favorite, the bakery has been opened since ’68 and is very well known throughout New England for their sweet treats (donuts, muffins, etc.) especially their Boston Creams and their Sprinkled.
One time, Narragansett Brewing Company made a special Allie’s Donuts Chocolate Porter… yes please. They’ve been named one of America’s best donut shops by Thrillist and it’s pretty clear why. I mean come on, they make custom donut cakes. Donut. Cakes. Enough said. Want more doughnuts? Check this out.
Crazy Burger – Narragansett, RI
DO NOT be fooled by this name: Crazy Burger is way more than just burgers, it’s actually got the most versatile menu on this list. They do have some of the best burgers around, including chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, vegan, ostrich, turkey, buffalo, you name it. They’ve also got gluten-free options, breakfast, a smoothie bar, an espresso bar, tacos, a chai bar, crepes, wings, milkshakes, chowder, and the list keeps going.
This place is seriously insane and Guy Fieri can back that up because he hung out here on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Their food is delicious and with so many options you can please anyone in the group, not to mention it’s right in the middle of the beautiful beach town of Narragansett. What are you waiting for?
Mission – Newport, RI
Rhode Island really knows how to do a good burger and Mission delivers on that. Their motto is “Good grub. Good beer. Good vibes.” So what’s not to love? They’ve mastered the different variations of burgers, dogs, and falafel and their Mission sauce, bacon, and sweet pickles are absolute must-have toppings. Also, their fries must be made with a whole lot of love because they’re some of the best you’ll ever have. It should be your mission to get down to Mission.
Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House – Warwick, RI
Iggy’s Doughboys is a Rhode Island icon and one of the states most famous landmarks. The Narragansett building was built back in 1924 and is now the oldest beach stand in the state. They now have a newer, bigger restaurant in Warwick and the best part about the Warwick location is that it’s open year-round.
Iggy’s is famous for their doughboys, chowder, clam cakes, and fried seafood meals and when you get your hands on some you can totally tell why. They were even featured on CBS’s A Taste of America’s episode for best chowder. Treat yo self.
Olga’s Cup and Saucer – Providence, RI
If you can’t tell by this list, I’m a brunch fiend. Nothing beats brunch and nothing beats Olga’s bread. This trendy little breakfast and lunch joint opened first is ’88 as a bakery on a small farm, but in ’97 it moved onto the Providence restaurant scene and has been making people’s days with farm-fresh, local foods ever since.
All of their artisan breads are handmade each morning and it’s honestly the best bread you’ll ever have, they won the 2013 Edible Rhody Award for it. And do you know what yummy and fresh artisan bread means? Fancy delicious french toast, duh. If you love breakfast and carbs as much as me this place is a dream come true.