New Hampshire is the kind of state you either happen to be driving through while going somewhere else, or will never leave because you have generations of family scattered along the coastline. I would know, because for a while it seemed like I'd end up in the latter position (until I escaped to the midwest for college).

It's not that New Hampshire isn't worth visiting; its gorgeous scenery and New England charm is reason enough to make it a destination. However, growing up thirty minutes away from the nearest town with any worthwhile social events, and two hours away from the nearest major city—Portsmouth and Boston, respectively—made me a bit antsy to experience something other than miles of trees and the stereotypical suffocation from a small town. 

Now that I've moved away, it's much easier to appreciate New Hampshire for all of its hidden gems—most of which are unknown to the non-New Hampshirite. Each visit home is jam packed with trips to my favorite beaches, boutiques, and, of course, restaurants. In order to highlight the food closest to my heart, I recently documented the New Hampshire restaurants that should be on everyone's bucket list. Don't miss these eight eateries on your next trip to the Shire.

1. The Big Bean

Beka Barski

I might have to label The Big Bean as my all-time favorite. This little joint in Newmarket, NH is famous among locals, which guarantees an impressive line that often stretches to the curb. Their extensive breakfast menu never fails to disappoint, with classics like the Hippie and Down East French toast pictured above. If you're looking for a unique, yet reliable breakfast, The Big Bean is for you.

2. La Festa

pizza, pie, crust
Beka Barski

Where do I even begin to profess my love for La Festa Brick and Brew? Over the years, I discovered the best pizza I have, and will ever, scarf down is in Dover, NH. La Festa specializes in wood-fired brick oven pizzas, which you can order by the slice or customize to your liking. They also sell "knots,"—pieces of dough rolled into a little bundle with either garlic and spices, or cinnamon and sugar—essentially, heaven. My favorite pizza, seen above, is the white buffalo chicken pizza, without the chicken (because I'm vegetarian), with extra bleu cheese dressing and buffalo sauce and a garlic knot crust. 

3. Dos Amigos

salsa, corn, tortilla chips, salt, chips
Beka Barski

You may be beginning to see a theme here; if you want to experience the best burrito ever crafted, pop into any of Dos Amigos' four locations. The restaurant offers many options for burrito fillings that cater to meat lovers, vegans, and guacamole enthusiasts alike. Dos Amigos uses fresh ingredients that genuinely improve the quality of their food, like in the delicious sweet potato burrito shown above.

4. The Green Elephant

fish, vegetable
Beka Barski

The Green Elephant in Portsmouth, NH is the perfect place to satisfy your craving for Asian cuisine. With an entirely vegetarian menu and many vegan options, every dish is thoughtfully prepared with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Even though The Green Elephant is relatively new to the area, I have been countless times and can never bring myself to choose any entree besides the peanut curry (which is not pictured above, because I was too excited to eat it).

5. Colby's

scrambled, egg, bacon, cheese
Beka Barski

If you want the quintessential New England breakfast experience, then you need to eat at Colby's. This restaurant is often overlooked because it doesn't have a website, and is located on a side street in Portsmouth with its entrance off of an alley. I love Colby's because they have somehow made a menu of breakfast "basics" distinctly New England; for example, by providing vegetarian replacements for meat, and adding blueberries wherever possible. I also love any restaurant that can put all of my favorite breakfast dishes on one plate.

6. The Fresh Press

chocolate, cake
Beka Barski

I could justify spending all of my money at The Fresh Press because everything they make is both irresistible and healthy. From their signature cold-press juices to their acai bowls, The Fresh Press offers all things organic, good, and instagrammable. Featured above is The Arnold acai bowl, with "frozen acai blended with almond milk, peanut butter, and banana; topped with raw cacao nibs and gluten-free granola."

7. Lexie's

cheese, french fries, poutine, pasta
Beka Barski

Just when you thought I was a complete health nut. My brother introduced me to Lexie's this summer, and I'm positive that I had never truly tasted french fries until that point. The glorious sight on the left are Lexie's Hot Fries, made with Sriracha ketchup, Sriracha aioli, and jalapeños. On the right are the Bistro Fries, topped with herbed aioli, parmesan, and herbs (they also usually include bacon, but, again, vegetarian).

8. Breaking New Grounds

coffee, beer
Beka Barski

Last but certainly not least is my beloved coffee shop. I first discovered my obsession with coffee at Breaking New Grounds in Durham, NH. Locally (and affectionately) known as BNG, this quaint café brews amazing coffees and teas, experiments with fun seasonal drinks, and bakes the best pastries in town. Living in New Hampshire would not have been the same without my vanilla chai latté and poppyseed muffin from BNG.