Portsmouth is known for its robust dining scene, and the managers at our Portsmouth boutique hotels are constantly helping guests find the best Portsmouth restaurants for brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner. Two Portsmouth restaurants in particular rise to the top as places we constantly send our guests: Moxy and The Franklin. Both are owned by chef and New Hampshire native Matt Louis, who opened Moxy in 2012 and The Franklin two years later. Dine at either when you're visiting Portsmouth and you'll see why we consider them two of the best Portsmouth restaurants.
Moxy, located only a few blocks from Ale House Inn, serves American-style tapas, meaning small plates made with local and farm-fresh ingredients. There are cheese boards and cured meats plates, sure, but Chef Louis and his team show off their chops with dishes like beef short rib marmalade—shreds of slow-cooked beef piled on grilled bread and topped with pickled red onions and bleu cheese. Many of the dishes have roots in traditional New England foods like the johnny cake community, a larger entree perfect for sharing. Diners build their own wraps in thin cornmeal cakes with pulled pork, crispy onion, pickled cucumbers, and a number of barbecue sauces. With plenty of vegetarian options too, you're sure to enjoy something from the menu that you'll be thinking about for days and weeks to come. Don't miss dessert either, with enticing options like mini whoopie pies and fried dough with caramel, chocolate, and fruit dipping sauces.
Moxy's sister restaurant The Franklin (formerly known as The Franklin Oyster House) is a short walk from The Hotel Portsmouth. Like Moxy, the menu is playful and uses many New England products, but focuses more heavily on seafood. While the drinks are spectacular at Moxy, they literally take center stage at The Franklin, where a large horseshoe-shaped bar is the center of attention. In addition to a great craft beer and wine selection, the cocktail list is full of inventive combinations that always take us by surprise. Coconut oil washed Scotch and pineapple in the Ko-Ko? Yes, please. Enjoy your drink with a plate of freshly shucked local oysters and you've got the start of a great meal. We tend to snack our way through the menu, never missing the Thai-flavored steamed mussels, the Vietnamese roasted Brussels sprouts, and the fish tacos. Whether you end up at Moxy or The Franklin, you're guaranteed to enjoy a great meal at one of the best Portsmouth restaurants.