Here’s where to eat and drink in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, written by a Lakes Region native and traveler! Includes a map and an invitation for suggestions!

Expectations for the Lakes Region

Dear Reader, I’ll admit it—when I arrived back in my New Hampshire hometown after living in the Boston area for fifteen years, including three in the Porter Square neighborhood that makes national lists for cool little restaurants and bars, I’d assumed that I’d returned to a dining desert. My memories of places to eat and drink in the Lakes Region were biker bars and a few decent places, but nothing terribly special. Good ice cream. Kickass donuts, and, in recent years, the coffee shop that I’d always wanted growing up. Granted. But someplace I’d really want to eat? I doubted it.

There’s so much to eat and drink in the Lakes Region!

In other words, Dear Reader, I was an idiot. New Hampshire’s Lakes Region has gotten a bit of a glow-up over the last few years (even the Boston Globe noticed). New restaurants and bars have cropped up, and there were a few treasures that I just didn’t know about. A dear old friend of mine moved back to the area recently, and she opened my eyes to some great places. She inspired me, and I have done some delicious research of late. I thought that I’d share what I’ve found with you.

Eat & Drink in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire

A running list of my favorite bites and sips in the Lakes Region

This post is going to be a bit different than my usual Eat & Drink posts I do for a given area, because normally when I write those, I’ve visited an area and then left. I’m still around, so this is going to be a work in progress. While I’ll include places that are on my radar that I have yet to visit, I’m also actively seeking suggestions, so please drop them in the comments below!

As New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is well, a region, instead of just one town, I’ll list these by community. Do be sure to subscribe for my upcoming Lakes Region guide!

Defining the Lakes Region—Winnipesaukee & Squam Lakes

Depending on who you ask, the Lakes Region can be defined a couple of different ways. It’s most often meant to encompass the towns surrounding Lake Winnipesaukee: Alton, Center Harbor, Gilford, Laconia, Meredith, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, and Wolfeboro. However, I include Squam Lakes when I think of the Lakes Region, so I am also including Ashland and Holderness.  At some point, I might expand this to cover Winnisquam as well, but the list was getting a bit long.

The Lakes Region covers a large area, and driving around lakes can take longer than you’d think, so be sure to consult the map before setting out.

Eat and drink in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire

Without further ado, here’s my picks for what to eat and drink in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region! As with all of my Eat & Drink posts, a listing here means that I liked it and that I think you will, too. And, as with these posts, these are not sponsored, and I have not received any free food or drink as part of creating this post.

I’ve divided the listings into the following categories:

  • Cafés and all-day cafés: Not just coffee, but also food and sometimes alcohol, and usually food of some kind
  • Restaurants and bars: Primarily serving food and/or alcohol
  • Ice Cream: I’ve focused on homemade, with a few nostalgic exceptions 
  • Bakeries and donuts: A few exceptional places for sweet treats
  • Specialty shops, farmstands, and farmer’s markets: I’ve focused on ones that feel like destinations and have great food

Solo travelers and eating and drinking in the Lakes Region

I’ve visited these places solo and considered the solo traveler experience as a significant factor in inclusion on this list.

Your suggestions welcome!

This is a running list, so I have included what’s on my radar. These include a few places that I’ve been to, but that it’s been so long that I want to go back before I recommend them to you. Please add your suggestions in the comments!

Look for the star!

Entries are in alphabetical order, but I’ve marked places I consider worth a special trip with a star.

Cafés and all-day cafés in the Lakes Region

A growth in cafés in the Lakes Region makes me incredibly happy. This list includes coffee shops as well as cafés where you would have breakfast and/or lunch. Several also sell alcohol, so they’re here for your all-day café enjoyment.

70 North—Weirs Beach

I waffled a bit on where to put 70 North, but since it operates like an all-day café, I’ve included it here. Don’t let the outside fool you. It might look like an old seafood restaurant, but inside is a delightful café and specialty market, with an event space for cocktail tastings and special dinners.

Everything made from scratch

Do yourself a favor and get a sandwich or pastry here. They make all the food in house, from scratch, including the roast turkey and roast beef. The coffee is from Wayfarer, and outstanding local roaster (see below). The wines come from small producers and are not your typical glass.

Tip: If you sit out on the patio, you’ll get a view of the Lake, which, while a bit obstructed, is still exceedingly pleasant.

NEW: Roof Top Wine Bar for summer!

Opened just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, 70 North will have a roofdeck wine bar, late afternoons to evening on Thursday through Sunday. I went for their soft opening and enjoyed it very much. Good view of the lake, lovely wines and snacks. You’ll find me there often, methinks.

Harmony Coffee House—Wolfeboro

If you’re looking for specialty coffee in Wolfeboro, Harmony Coffee House is an excellent choice. A relative newcomer to Wolfeboro, Harmony Coffee House is a welcome addition with its really good coffee.

Identity Coffee—Meredith

I’ve always enjoyed wandering around Mill Falls Marketplace, and Identity Coffee is a good place to get a pick-me-up while you’re there. The coffee is good, and they have plenty of seating. If the weather’s fine, though, grab your coffee to go and head across the street to the park!

Gusto Italian Café—Center Harbor

Gusto Italian Café checks bunch of boxes, and it feels weird putting a place that serves homemade pasta in the café category, but I don’t want you to miss their really good coffee and delicious pastries.

Head to Gusto’s for breakfast and lunch, or for a coffee or a glass of wine. Just go. You will not be sorry.

Tip: Gusto’s have recently opened the Tap Room, which functions as more of a restaurant and bar. It’s on my radar for restaurants!

Wayfarer Coffee Roasters—Laconia

I love Wayfarer. The coffee, which they roast themselves, is outstanding, and the space, especially at their flagship location in downtown Laconia is cool. It opened in 2015, and I think that it brought with it a vision of what this area could become. I’d dreamed of this kind of café growing up here, and I am so happy to see it thrive.

Based in downtown Laconia, they also have a cozy café in Lakeport. The food is good and they serve alcohol at the Laconia location, but the real draw here is the coffee.  

Tip: You will also find Wayfarer’s coffee at area businesses—always a good sign.

Lakes Region cafés on my radar

  • Seven Suns Café, Wolfeboro—I’ve heard good things about their coffee and crepes.
  • Baked & Brewed Café & Food Truck, Alton—They roast their own coffee, which I always love.

Restaurants & Bars

I’m still discovering more of what the Lakes Region has to offer for restaurants, but here’s a list of my favorites thus far. You won’t go hungry or thirsty in the Lakes Region!

A note about bars

Do note with bars—having a car in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is pretty much a requirement. While there are a few taxis around, you’re pretty much on your own for getting back to where you’re staying. Please plan accordingly.

Common Man—Ashland

If you’ve been to New Hampshire, chances are you recognize the Common Man name. In the years since the original restaurant opened in Ashland in the early 1970s, outposts have exploded. I don’t necessarily recommend all of them, but I do recommend the original restaurant.

Located in an old house in a cute New England town not far off of I-93, the original Common Man restaurant was a bit of a pioneer in its day, with lots of kitschy old-time decor and American food done really well. The prices are reasonable, and it can serve everything from a casual drink in the lounge to a cozy occasion dinner. 

TIP: They do not take reservations, and it’s a popular spot on weekends and during the summer months. Plan accordingly.

Frog Rock Tavern—Meredith

I resisted going to the Frog Rock Tavern, because it sits in the building of one of my very favorite old restaurants, For Every Season. Alas, For Every Season has been gone for years, and I finally got over my grudge. I am glad that I did.

Sit in the back when you duck into this tavern on Main Street in Meredith—the back room overlooks a little stream, and it’s cute. The pub grub is good—I had the hot honey chicken sandwich—and the beer is cold. On a rainy day, you could do worse than to pass the time over a pint or two.

Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery—Meredith

You don’t exactly associate New Hampshire with wine country, and it isn’t, for grape varietals, that is. Hermit Woods Winery makes wine using classical methods but with locally sourced fruits. The results will surprise you.

At least they did me. I’ve had fruit wines before that I called “interesting” to be polite, but Hermit Woods makes some  delicious wine. The food is good, too.

TIP: Hermit Woods hosts wine tastings and they do winery tours.             

O’s Steaks & Seafood—Laconia

This was my lesson in not assuming. With my shellfish allergy, places with Seafood in the name are often off limits. Well, O’s Steaks & Seafood, one of the best restaurants in the area, can easily accommodate a shellfish allergy. If you like steak, you have arrived at the right place. The food here is delicious, and I have my friend to thank for coming here.

Suitable for a range of occasions

A great thing about O’s is that it also accommodates a host of occasions. You can sit outside and have a quiet drink looking out at the water, sit in the bar for a drink and snacks, or have a special occasion dinner here.

TIP: You definitely need a reservation here, and it’s popular enough that even the bar’s usually full. My one quibble with O’s is that they do not have an online reservation system. You have to call. I know. It’s worth it.

The Town Docks in Meredith, New Hampshire, is one of my favorite places to eat and drink in the Lakes Region. The image shows a beach bar with umbrella covered picnic tables and the lake beyond. People are sitting at one of the tables in the, and there are trees shading them.

Town Docks—Meredith

Part of the Common Man empire, Town Docks is fun. Sit on a picnic table right on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee and eat casual food done right and sip on a yummy drink. There aren’t a lot of places on the lake like this, and it’s where I take friends visiting for the day.

They have a gluten-free menu upon request, and they can accommodate shellfish allergies (there’s a fair amount of seafood on the menu).

TIP: Afterwards, grab an ice cream cone at the window and eat it sitting on the docks. The ice cream’s homemade!

Trillium Farm to Table—Laconia

On a sunny day, order your lunch at the counter at this cute little downtown Laconia eatery and then sit out back on their lovely little terrace. It’s delightful.

Trillium Farm to Table makes all of their tasty food from scratch, and they have a nice selection of wines and cocktails. It’s one of my favorite places for lunch.

TIP: In the summer Trillium’s open for an early dinner or drink before a show at the Colonial Theatre, but I would check, as the hours can change. Lunch is a safer bet for consistent hours.

Walter’s Basin—Holderness

Even if the food at Walter’s Basin was terrible, I’d still tell you to go there for a drink and look at the lovely view of Little Squam Lake. The food, however, is delicious, and the drinks nice, too, so you can enjoy a great meal with a view. 

The menu is more casual at lunch and a bit more inventive in for dinner. Save room for dessert! They’re homemade and scrumptious. 

TIP: Walter’s Basin is a popular spot, so be sure to call for reservations (again, I know). In the summer, they have a great beach bar that’s a more casual affair. It, too, is popular, in part because of its perfect location on the water.

Lakes Region restaurants and bars on my radar

  • Pavilion, Wolfeboro—This restauranter behind this newish restaurant in Wolfeboro is currently a finalist for a 2024 James Beard Award. It ranks #1 on my list of restaurants I need to get to.
  • Canoe, Center Harbor—This is run by the same people who run O’s, and I have heard good things.
  • Dox, Laconia—This new Weirs Beach restaurant is the second outpost of a popular waterfront spot. I’m looking forward to checking out the view form the Pier.
  • Elacoya Barn & Grill, Gilford—I’ve heard good things.
  • Gusto’s Tap Room, Center Harbor—If it’s anything like their café, I am all in.
  • Koung Sushi Mart, Laconia—I have to be super careful about sushi with my shellfish allergy, but the same friend who helped inspire this project tells me that this has to be on the list!
  • Squam Lake Inn Kitchen & Bar, Holderness—It looks lovely.
  • Twin Barns Brewing Company, Meredith—It’s often crowded and sounds good!
  • Vida, Meredith & Weirs Beach—Hoping for some great Mexican food!
  • Witches Brew Pub, Weirs Beach—Named for “The Witches,” a particularly treacherous point on Lake Winnipesaukee, this brew pub has a devoted following, and I want to check it out!
Make-your-own sundae creation with sprinkles and a flag at the Kellerhaus in Weirs Beach

Ice Cream in the Lakes Region

What’s a vacation without ice cream? Terrible, if you ask me. Luckily, the Lakes Region has a number of excellent ice cream outposts. Here I am focusing on homemade ice cream, with a couple of nostalgic exceptions.

Bailey’s Bubble—Wolfeboro

Bailey’s Bubble has served up ice cream cones and sundaes with homemade sauces since forever. The lines are long, the servings big. While they don’t make their own ice cream, Richardson’s is some of the best ice cream in New England.

TIP: They recently got a glow up, as the old window was in need of a little love, but don’t let the new look fool you. Bailey’s remains a classic ice cream stand.

Happy Cow—Laconia

You aren’t going to find many tourists at Happy Cow. This is where Laconia locals get their ice cream. The lines are long, the portions huge, and the list of flavors is immense. It’s a classic ice cream window, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Kellerhaus—Laconia

Make your own sundaes at Kellerhaus! Located in Weirs Beach, this old-fashioned ice cream parlor, gift shop, and candy counter is a must while you’re in the area. I included it in my Weirs Beach guide for the homemade goodness and nostalgic fun.

I had birthday parties here when I was a kid, and I still have fun making sundaes here as an adult.

Red Hill Dari—Center Harbor

I don’t consider a summer complete without at least one soft-serve cone, and Red Hill Dari is where I usually go to get it. Right on the main drag, it’s classic soft-serve—get it with sprinkles, or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, with one of those newer fangled swirls. I go with the sprinkles.

TIP: I’ve never eaten a full meal here, or, at least not in a very long time. I’ve heard that it’s good, but it’s a clam shack, so my shellfish allergy dictates that I steer clear these days.

Social Club Creamery—Laconia

I was so excited about this place that I showed up on opening day. Here you’ll find incredible homemade ice cream that’s on another level. Social Club Creamery has a rotating list of seasonal flavors as well as standbys, all made in house and so incredibly good.

TIP: 

Get the homemade waffle cone and then pick up a cookie to go. Soft and chewy and loaded with goodies, these cookies are some of the best I have ever eaten. Thank my friend for this tip.

Bakeries & Donuts in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region

I love me a baked good or donut.  Here you’ll find my favorites in the Lakes Region.

Boro Bakery—Moultonborough

Jennifer Clifford, Boro Baking Co’s owner, appeared on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Challenge before opening Boro Baking Co in Moultonborough. Here you will find delicious baked goods and rotating specials.

Open for breakfast and lunch, they specialize in pastries and sandwiches, with everything baked in-house. The service is sparkling, and I think you’ll love what you eat there.

TIP: Be sure to pick up something to bring home!

Goody Good Donuts—Laconia

In an age of gourmet donuts, sometimes you just want a classic. Goody-Good Donuts is your place for old-school donuts, and don’t let the humble looking building fool you. Goody-Good has one of the best honey-dipped donuts I’ve ever had.

TIP: Go early or call ahead. They sell out fast, and you don’t want to miss them! No seating here and get your coffee somewhere else (like nearby Wayfarer).

Lakes Region bakeries & donuts on my radar

  • Yum-Yum Shop—Wolfeboro. It’s been so long since I’ve been here that I need to go back to this super cute bakery.
  • There are a few bakeries that appear only do catering that look fantastic. I am going to do a little more digging.

Lakes Region specialty food markets, farmer’s markets, and farm stands

The Lakes Region boasts some amazing farm stands and farmer’s markets, along with a couple of delightful specialty food shops. Be sure to visit them, especially if you have access to a kitchen!

Butternuts Good Dishes—Wolfeboro

This specialty shop is just fun to shop in. Butternuts Good Dishes is one of those cramped, New England shops full of kitchen goods, and a specialty shop that’s perfect for grabbing something for a picnic. I always take people there when visiting Wolfeboro.

The Italian Market—Laconia

Hand-filled cannoli, cheeses, sandwiches, and homemade sauces await you at the Italian Market, a welcome addition to the Lake’s Region’s specialty food scene. Don’t let the humble exterior fool you, because there’s nothing humble about this Italian delight. 

Moulton’s Farm—Meredith

Moulton’s Farm is my go-to market in the summer and autumn for fresh produce and specialty goods like dairy, wine and beer, and unique little treats. Moulton’s corn is the best I’ve ever eaten, and they have a great selection of in-season berries and fresh fruit. They sell their own produce as well as some from area farms. Look at the signs to know what’s what.

TIP: Especially if you’re there in late summer or early autumn, stop for a cider donut at the little shed to the back of the shop.

The Old Country Store & Museum—Moultonborough

Technically speaking, the oldest country store in America (as they claim) is not a specialty food shop, but since I always go there for cheese and candy, it’s making the list. They have a lot of cute little kitchen goods and a few specialty items. It’s a fun little shop to wander through.

It’s all about the cheese

When I go to the Moultonborough Country Store (officially known as the Old Country Store & Museum, but no one I know ever calls it that), I almost always pick up a wedge of Cabot cheddar cheese. This isn’t the Cabot cheese that you get in the grocery store, and you’ll know the instant you take a bite. If you want to be a real northern New Englander, have a slice with some apple pie. Or just have it with a glass of something nice and some snacks.

Nostalgic candy counter

And, Dear Reader, I get myself some Willy Wonka Bottle Caps from the nostalgic candy counter. Maybe some peppermint puffs, too, but always some Bottle Caps. Tastes like what being seven years old feels. Chances are, they have your favorite childhood candy, too.

Lakes Region farmstands and specialty markets on my radar

  • Beans & Greens, Gilford—This farmstand isn’t run of the mill. Beans & Greens also has a biergarten serving Notch beer, which is a great session brewery, open in the summer. The produce is excellent, and their baked goods worthy of a trip. While I have had green beans from Beans & Greens recently, it’s been a while since I have been out there and have not yet experienced the biergarten.
  • Ellacoya Country Store & Deli, Gilford—I’ve heard good things.
  • Front Four Cellars Tasting Room, Wolfeboro—I’ve walked past this cute little shop, but I have yet to stop in. On the list for this summer.
  • Wolfeboro Farmer’s Market, Wolfeboro—This always looks so cute, and I’m stopping this year.

Seeking suggestions for places to eat and drink in the Lakes Region!

This post is a work in progress, and I am actively seeking suggestions for it. Please drop your favorite Lakes Region, New Hampshire spot for eating and/or drinking in the comments!

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