Since I live in Grantham, if I feel the need to duck out for a quick bite, it’s often easier to drive down to Newport, NH than the Upper Valley proper, since (a) it’s closer (9 miles vs 16 miles), and (b) there are actually some interesting places to eat in Newport. Indeed, among other places, it sports a good (and reasonably authentic) Mexican place (the oddly-named Lil’ Red Baron, which for some items I prefer it to Gusanoz), a pretty good tavern (Eagle Tavern), and a drive-in complete with carhops. I’ll focus on the last one for this review (since I ate there today).
If you’re not in Sonic territory, the authentic drive-in where you can be served in your car by an actual carhop started to fade out decades ago, and there are few places that still use carhops. One of the remaining ones if the Fabulous 50s Drivein (although I’ve never been one for eating in the car, so I used the picnic table), on Rt 103 east of downtown Newport, on the Sugar River. Menu is your basic 50s diner/drive-in fare (burgers, fries, hotdogs, ice cream, etc), with a lot of 50s motif thrown around for effect (Happy Days mementos, 50s songs playing on the speakers, etc).
Overall, the menu items don’t really jump out at me (not bad, but not noticeably different than other places), but I’ve found two items that I like enough to recommend. In particular, I recommend the chicken sandwiches (fried or grilled), since they seem to be of better quality and better cooked (fully cooked, but not overcooked), served on a nice toasted bulky roll. They also have someone on the staff who is also a hot dog aficionado like myself, since they have quite a few hot dog variations there, including some you never expect to see on a NH menu, like the “slaw dog” (pictured). I don’t think I’ve ever seen this outside of the south. However, they apparently need to find some footlong buns to go with their footlong dogs.
So, if you find yourself in Newport (riding the Sugar River bike trail, for instance, or paddling said River), and are looking for a quick meal, this is a pretty good place.