While Manchester, NH is known as the Queen City, we think it’s tops because it is the largest city in the state and home to a thriving metropolitan area of diverse experiences, tastes and cultural events. We have the pleasure of meeting people every day who are visiting the city and asking for insider info about the best places to eat, shop and have fun in Manchester. Many of these folks choose to live in the city too. We’ve picked out the best places for you to know about in this great city. Let’s get started with our Ultimate Guide to Manchester, NH.
Best Place for Morning Coffee: If you need Java to start your day, Café La Reine at 915 Elm Street is the place to go. Robust coffee, delicious pastries and sandwiches, comfy chairs and free Wi-Fi are just what you need. Set just a few yards from City Hall, this location is convenient to all that is happening downtown. You can also try their new location at 53 Hooksett Rd too.
Best Boozy Brunch: From 10 to 3 on Sundays, Firefly regulars converge to take advantage of one of the most expansive specialty brunch menus around. Located at 22 Amherst Street in Manchester, Firefly has an eclectic and appealing menu. Omelets and (lobster) benedicts, soups and salads, sandwiches and steaks–everyone in your party is sure to be satisfied. But if you ask us, the real highlight of Firefly’s Brunch is the “Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar.” The possibilities are truly endless. We’re talking dozens of fixings including: roasted garlic, green beans, jalapeños, horseradish, raw egg, wasabi, slim jims, and every hot sauce you can think of! Oh and by the way, for $1 each you can toss on some shrimp, bleu cheese stuffed olives, bacon, and our personal favorite… a whole crawfish!
Best Quick and Affordable Lunch: El Rincon Zacatecano Taqueria is found at 10 Lake Ave in Manchester. Its location near the Verizon Arena is convenient and easy to walk to from downtown. The neat and colorful interior has lots of fun ethnic decorations. Service is prompt and friendly. The guacamole was fantastic and the shrimp tacos were flavored perfectly with fresh shrimp and a side of rice. The place is small and cozy and it is BYOB! This restaurant is reasonably priced and open Tues-Sat from 11am to 9pm and Sun from 11am to 6pm.
Best Leisurely Lunch: Have some time on your hands or just want to enjoy a long relaxing noon time meal with a good friend? Then Restoration Cafe is the place to have lunch. The Cafe offers a relaxed and peaceful interior with a cool vibe. If the weather is nice, opt for a table on the patio. It is a quiet haven that makes you feel far from the maddening crowds. Fresh and creative lunches are delicious. We cannot make a trip here and not have the Turkey , bacon and Avocado sandwich. Enjoy a healthy smoothie or a high powered energy drink with your lunch. All are made to order.
Best Deck Dining with a View: The winters are long and cold in New Hampshire so when the weather turns warm we all love to be outside. Dining on a deck is the way to accomplish this. It’s even better if there is a great view. We recommend the Foundry Restaurant at 50 Commercial St in Manchester. Set along the Merrimack River in a historic mill building the deck has a view of the waters just south of the falls. Sandwiches and meals are portioned to please even the heartiest of appetites. After dinner take a walk along the Riverfront walkway and enjoy more scenic views.
Best High End Dining: The Hanover Street Chop House is Manchester’s best elegant and upscale steakhouse with a rich and romantic supper club feel. Service is over the top good and attentive. The steaks are the show stoppers here and they are juicy and delicious. The chef offers a complimentary chocolate truffle to you at the end of the meal. It’s a great place for a special occasion or celebration so make your reservations early for a booth.
Best Place for Sweets: Enjoy an ice cream at Ben and Jerrys! This ice cream parlor offers all your favorite flavors. Pile on the toppings you like and have a custom designed ice cream sundae or a waffle cone. Walk to this location from anywhere downtown.
Best Burgers: You must go to the Tap House located at 1292 Hooksett Road in Hooksett, just one town North of Manchester. The Tap House is a locally owned pub that makes everything handmade using local food suppliers, they have a farm to table philosophy. Their burgers are sky high and topped off with an onion ring on top! From the buns to the burgers everything is freshly made in house daily. Our favorite burger here would be “The Popper Burger” with jalapeno poppers and jalapeno jack cheese this is a great little kick to your meal.
Best Place for Pizza: There are many great options for pizza in Manchester, NH and one of our favorites is the Elm House of Pizza on South Elm Street in downtown Manchester. This pizzeria is much more than dough and sauce. The menu carries a wide variety of classic sandwiches, wraps, salads and pastas too. Enjoy the patio seating in the warm weather.
Best Place for a First Date: is a speakeasy at, you guessed it- 815 Elm Street. You must know the secret password to enter and once you do, get ready for classic cocktails and bar food. The atmosphere is fun and flirty and something to get the conversation started on a first date. Locally crafted beers are a highlight at this establishment. Don’t be shy to talk to the bartender. He knows his booze and how to make interesting drinks. Ask him for something that is not on the menu and you will get a drink with a story.
Best Place for Happy Hour: Downtown Manchester, particularly Elm Street, is a bargain boozer’s paradise. One of our favorite spots to get our liquor on the low is at the recently opened Thirsty Moose Taphouse. Located on the corner of Elm and Merrimack at the former home of JW Hills, Thirsty Moose is quickly becoming the place to go for unique beers and yummy food to match. Happy Hour specials are offered almost every day!
Best Dog Friendly Hang out: Take a stroll down Elm Street and visit your favorite dog-friendly restaurants and their outdoor patios. You and your pup can enjoy the sunshine with some delicious downtown cuisine. It’s hard to pick just one so here are our top 10 favorite dog friendly restaurants!
Best Brewery Tour and Tasting: Don’t miss the Great North Aleworks. The company website states, “Great North Aleworks is a 20 barrel production brewery located in Manchester, NH. Founded by Rob and Lisa North, the brewery’s goal is simple – to craft flavorful, food friendly beers, while maintaining a fanatical devotion to quality.” They have hit the mark with their brews! The offerings vary from time to time so when you go you’ll get to try the latest ones. We tried a sampler that included Chocolate Milk Stout, Robust Vanilla Porter, Smokin Rauchbier, and Amber Larger. All had a great taste and range from 5.5% to 7.0% ABV. The tasting room is large and modern and is open on Thurs and Fri from 3pm to 7pm and on Sat from noon to 5pm. Free tours of the brewery are offered on Saturdays at 1 and 3pm. The Great North Aleworks is located at 1050 Holt Ave, Unit #14 in Manchester.
Best Wine Tour and Tasting: LaBelle Winery at 345 Route 101 in Amherst, NH is the place to go for a wonderful wine tasting experience. It’s Southern New Hampshire’s Winery with a Twist. Go for the marvelous wine tasting but stay for the delicious cuisine or special winery events that happen year round at this beautiful location. Amy LaBelle has been crafting wines since 2000. Her dream was finally realized when the state of the art winery we see today on Rte 101 was opened in 2012. Enjoy a tasting of their varieties for $8.
Best City Park: Pulaski Park in Manchester, NH is located on Bridge Street, and is an excellent place to sit and relax with your family while you take a break from the city. The lush grass fields are inviting, and are very well maintained. The aesthetics of the park make one want to sit and have a picnic, toss a Frisbee around, or relax under the shade of one of the many trees. The park also has a basketball court, and many benches for sitting and relaxing. The park is used by people both young and old as a relaxing retreat.
Best Family Day Trip: We love the White Mountains of New Hampshire and a top destination for a day trip is to The Mount Washington Cog Railway in Bretton Woods. This train ride is a one of a kind experience where you ride to the top of Mount Washington, NH’s highest peak. Don’t let the steep grades and coal engine fool you, this is lots of fun! Other family friendly Train rides to check out include the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway and the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad in Meredith. Both provide a train ride with old fashioned charm and entertainment and take you around northern NH and the lakes region.
Best Shopping Experience: It takes just 13 minutes to travel from Manchester to Exit 10 in Merrimack NH. It is here that you will find the Merrimack Premium Outlet Mall. Shoppers find more than 80 stores at this location. They offer a wide variety of clothing, footwear, kid’s toys, luggage and food products at discount prices. There is plenty of free parking on site. We love the food court here and the open areas with outdoor fireplaces, park benches and kid friendly play areas.
Best Art Gallery: The Currier Museum of Art. This north end oasis on Ash Street opened in 1929 and has remained a vital part of the city for all these years. The quality of art is amazing here. You can view works by Picasso, Monet, Turner and Matisse. Sculpture, furniture, paintings and glass are just a few of the media forms that art takes here. As you walk to the Museum from their parking lot you are greeted by a massive red and black sculpture called “Origins” by Mark Suvero. It is impressive. The Museum has a revolving menu of exhibits that change throughout the year. One of my favorite pieces in the museum is the Zimmerman House. It is a Frank Lloyd Wright house and is open for tours in the warmer months. It is a treat to see.
Best Kid’s Museum: The SEE Science Center at 200 Bedford Street in Manchester is a kid’s dream. Children love the many interactive displays, the replica of the Manchester Millyard built with Lego blocks, exhibits on light and electricity and rotating science displays. All are designed with a curious mind as the main audience. Kids of all ages will love it here. The Center is open 7 days a week and prices are reasonable.
Best Place to Live for History Lovers: Do you like an apartment with a historic setting and all the modern conveniences you crave? Then an apartment at the Opera Block or the The Lofts at St. George School are for you. Enjoy beautiful architecture, high ceilings, large windows, wood plank flooring and free parking. Close to downtown’s restaurants, bars and shops for a convenient lifestyle.
Best Place to Live for Pet Lovers: Your furry friends are important to you. Red Oak Apartment Homes offers pet friendly apartments at Sunset Ridge Apartments or 409 Elm Street for dog owners whose pets are under 25 pounds, and at 875 Elm Street or Redstone Apartments for pet owners with larger dogs. Would you like to live in the country? Then bring your large dogs to Milford Trails Apartments in Milford New Hampshire. These properties offer studios, 1 and 2 bedroom styles that are conveniently located. At this location we even have a pool, walking trails, playgrounds, storage options and a dog park.
Best Place to Live near a Manchester College: We offer many apartment choices that are situated near UNH Manchester, The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Southern New Hampshire University, St. Anselm College and the Manchester Community College. The Village on Second Street features Studios and 1 to 4 bedroom styles might be your choice. Many offerings include some utilities. Enjoy free parking, on-site laundries, updated kitchens and many with the convenience of city bus service. Cats are welcome at these locations.
Best Place to Live outside the Center City of Manchester: Red Oak’s Eagles Landing Apartments are located just 5 minutes to downtown Manchester in a quiet country setting. One and 2 bedroom styles offer free heat, large floor plans, air conditioning and manicured grounds. This location is a commuter’s dream with easy access to the Manchester-Boston Airport and Exit 13 from the Everett Turnpike.