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The Honey Paw (Portland, ME)

Despite Maine being only one state away, it’s just far enough of a drive that we don’t often seem to get over that way to explore. However, recent efforts in our household at car shopping had us doing several visits to dealerships in Portland, and after some test driving and a visit to nearby Mast Landing Brewery in Westbrook, we had some time to go find a light dinner in Portland before heading back to NH. We originally set out to visit Eventide Oyster Company, but upon finding the waiting list to be rather long (they were estimating an hour), we instead inquired next door at the sister restaurant, The Honey Paw, and found a much shorter wait of 20 minutes. Settling in across the street at Tomaso’s Canteen (who deserves a writeup of their own at some point), for a beer while we waited. A mere 10 minutes later, we got a page that our table was ready.

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Travel Guide Review: Only in Boston

From time to time, I do review travel guides, and as you can read from my review of Only in Edinburg, I’ve become quite a fan of the Only In Guides by Duncan J. D. Smith, primarily since he isn’t trying to provide a general purpose travel guide geared to the basics of how to use the bus, where to stay, and which museums to visit, but instead focuses on the unique and hidden attractions of a city. This makes it a particularly good travel guide if you find yourself visiting a city that you already know well (for example, I got his London guide after a solid decade of touring about London myself, and still found a lot of good recommendations). So, with that in mind, I was pleased that Duncan recently published a new guide, Only in Boston. Yes, I bought a travel guide for a city that only 2.5 hours away and that I’ve visited probably a hundred times.

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Rickie’s Indian Restaurant (South Barre, VT)

One of the whole reasons I started this blog is that, living in Northern New England, we don’t have a lot of options when it comes to ethnic food. Indeed, for some options like “Vietnamese”, “Indian”, and “Cuban” being the most notable, there can literally be hundreds of miles from one restaurant of that ethnicity to the next. This is particularly the case with Indian food; over the entirety of VT, I can count the entire population of Indian restaurants on one hand (and NH, with twice the population, doesn’t have that many more). So, when I actually hear of an Indian restaurant that I haven’t been to before, it’s notable. In this case, it was about a year ago I first heard of Rickie’s Indian Restaurant in South Barre, so when some recent travels ended up with my passing through Barre around dinner time on a Saturday, it was worth my time to stop by the Citgo station in South Barre on Route 14 to try out their Indian food.

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Sunshine Cookshop (Claremont, NH)

A byproduct of several of my projects at work is that we regularly have to visit Lakehurst, NJ. Between schedule and flexibility, we almost always end up driving down there and back with an overnight stay (having tried almost every route between here and there, we’ve got it down to a fairly reliable 5 hour trip each way). We usually carpool, rendezvousing at the Ascutney, VT exit off of I-91, and that’s given me more than a few opportunities to check out a few of Claremont, NH’s more obscure eateries on my home. In this case, my last trip had me arriving in Claremont around dinner time, and that was a great excuse to pay a visit to Sunshine Cookshop, a Jamaican place on South Pleasant Street.

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Wild Willy’s Burgers (Rochester, NH)

As I discussed in the previous review of Hop and Grind, I’ve been rather craving some good burgers recently, and another place that came up as a recommendation (from scooterboy at TCF) was Wild Willy’s, a New England chain with a handful of locations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. While the original location is in York, Maine (and, unfortunately, is now closed and for sale), their Rochester location was only about a 10 minute detour since I was already in Durham, so I decided to swing by and give them a try.

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Hop & Grind (Durham, NH)

Several of my online friends recently got into a heated discussion about which fast food places have good burgers, and there was a rather heated discussion that followed about whether or not Five Guys is overrated. For the record, I think 5G is overrated, but that’s a topic for another day, but there were two takeaways from the conversation: one being that I now had an immense hankering for a good burger, and the second that I had gotten a refresher on some of the better options for burgers when I was going to be around the NH seacoast this last week judging a FIRST Robotics competition. One of the places that came out of the discussion (and subsequently recommended by another of the robotics judges, Reif as well) was Hop & Grind, a short walk away from the UNH Durham campus. So, after my judging responsibilities were done, I headed over to check out Hop & Grind.

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Pressed Cafe (Nashua, NH)

During my recent stay in Nashua, one morning I found myself with a breakfast craving: I was specifically craving a breakfast burrito. While in many areas of the country this isn’t much of a problem, up here in Northern New England, what few burrito places we have mostly don’t serve breakfast, or serve up some sort of bland imitation of a breakfast burrito with some tired scrambled eggs and maple breakfast sausage. But luckily, a few online searches later, and I discovered that I was right down the street from a small, local chain that among its many breakfast offerings were several decent-sounding burritos: Pressed Cafe.

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Samurai Soul Food (Fairlee, VT)

A little over a year ago, the small town of Fairlee, Vermont had a noticeable shift in the dining scene. The little restaurant right next to the town’s Whippi Dip creamee stand, which has been one of those restaurant locations that’s chronically failing (having at least 4 different restaurants in my years living here) had again re-opened, this time with rave reviews from most of the people I know living over Vermont. Furthermore, this time, the newcomer was definitely run by some good talent, the owners both came from the kitchen at Worthy Burger. So for a good chunk of the last year, Samurai Soul Food has been on my hit list, and a bit over a week ago I was finally able to work in a visit on my way home from Hill Farmstead.

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815 (Manchester, NH)

Since I enjoyed my little speakeasy excursion in Nashua, on another recent trip down to the area, I decided to go with my coworker Jed to another of the area’s speakeasies, 815. Not as well disguised as CodeX, 815 (named after the address, 815 Elm) hides primarily just by having nothing apparent by the “entrance” other than a phone booth. Calling on the phone, you need a password to get in (I’ll leave to my readers to figure out that detail), although rumor is that really good knock-knock jokes or hula dances may work as well, your mileage may vary.

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CodeX (Nashua, NH)

Every year I spend the better part of a week in Nashua assisting in a FIRST Robotics competition, and as a tradition, after we’re done with the event several of us go to (rather good) El Colima in Nashua to celebrate. For the last two years, I’ve noticed that the space next to El Colima appears to be some sort of used bookstore, but since I’m visiting in the evening, it’s not surprising that they aren’t open. But recently, I found that the bookstore, Codex, is much more than it appears to be. There are a few clues that something’s afoot: first of all, while there are books in the window, you can’t actually see inside. The “main entrance” has a “closed” notice on it, along with a copy of the 18th Amendment, and looking at the various books in the window, you can see a distinct alcoholic theme involved. The door also has a handwritten “enter around the side” notice on it, and, going in through the side door, there’s little in there other than a stairwell, a door for the “Youth Council” (which is apparently exactly that), and a bookcase. I’m sure you can guess where this is going…

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