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If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Exeter NH, you have a delicious time ahead of you! Exeter is one of our favorite small towns in New Hampshire’s Seacoast region, and home to one of our favorite downtowns in the the Granite State.
Whether you’re coming to Exeter to drop your kid off at Philips Academy, attend a political event, visit Water Street Books, or check out the Sea Dog, one of our favorite New Hampshire breweries, Exeter has plenty of good food waiting for you!
Here are our picks for the best Exeter NH restaurants, from local and seasonal fare to fine Italian dining, from sumptuous Thai eats to comforting breakfast dishes. Whether you’re craving a charcuterie plate or some killer French toast, you’re going to love these restaurants in Exeter!
This post was most recently updated in May 2023.
4 Front St, Exeter, NH // (603) 580-1705
In the heart of downtown Exeter you’ll find an idyllic dinner spot loaded with character. Attached to the lovely Inn By The Bandstand, Otis Restaurant occupies the former Otis Sleeper Jewelry Store, built in 1910. The original details of the historic building have been kept intact, including beautiful crown molding, the original ceiling and floors, and large windows overlooking the Exeter bandstand.
Otis Restaurant offers a seasonally rotating five-course tasting menu, which changes weekly. Seatings are offered at 5:30 and 7:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday evenings, and their Modern American style cuisine highlights ingredients from local farms.
Grab one of the four seats at the chef’s counter for an intimate experience watching your food being prepared, or sit by one of the gorgeous windows and soak up the views. With just 28 seats, it’s the perfect place to experience warm hospitality and a delicious meal in a charming and historic space.
What to get at Otis Restaurant: Something unique about their weekly rotating tasting menu is that patrons get to choose between 2 options for each course! They happily accommodate food allergies/preferences, and aim to provide simple and elegant dishes for all guests, regardless of dietary restrictions.
Favorites from past menus have been dishes like duck breast with confit tortellini, crispy chicken rillette, and a delectable stone fruit galette for dessert.
Vino e Vivo
163 Water St, Exeter, NH // (603) 580-4268
On the narrow walkway between the river walk and Water Street, you’ll find Vino e Vivo. Inspired by the charm and communal elements of European wine bars, the space features lots of windows, light wooden hues throughout, and warm lighting. Reviews from critics agree that Vino e Vivo has achieved the European wine bar feel!
Offering 20 different wines by the glass, and more than 50 by the bottle, the beverage selection is unparalleled! Their dinner menu is an eclectic mix of Modern American dishes created by one of New England’s fine dining scene veterans, Executive Chef Paul Callahan.
The intimate dining room offers warm and inviting table service, and they also have a popular riverside patio which is open when weather permits. If you’re looking for an especially unique dining experience at one of Exeter’s best restaurants we recommend their third dining option: a 5-course tasting menu at the chef’s table!
What to get at Vino e Vivo: Make sure to start with cheese and charcuterie paired with one of their numerous wine offerings! The duck fat beignets will be popular with sweet-toothed diners of all ages, and are even served with a small side of duck fat for extra flavor. Castelvetrano olives bring a burst of flavor and brightness with lemon and tarragon, and the duck breast with coffee rub is mouthwateringly tender.
82 Lincoln St, Exeter, NH // (603) 815-4181
Their website name says it all, “peace, love, burgers.” Lexie’s is the burger joint brainchild of KC and Lexie Cargill, and is the go-to spot for a burger and good times in Exeter. Lexie’s has the nostalgic charm of an old-school burger shack, with modern flair!
The dining room is bright and inviting, with colorful wood panel accented walls, murals of their motto, bright red chairs, and a gorgeous vintage red ceiling so don’t forget to look up! They’ve also got plenty of seating outside with more signature red chairs.
Order at the counter, and make sure to read the chalkboard menu with that day’s specials. They usually have a special burger, side item, and beverage daily. They’re always coming up with something new and fun to taste!
What to get at Lexie’s: The truffle fries and sweet + salty milkshake are must haves for adventurous palates. Obviously the burgers are amazing, but another crowd favorite is their fish tacos with spicy aioli.The build your own burger option is very popular, too. You can choose a beef patty, vegetarian black bean patty, or fried chicken with all your favorite toppings!
Capital Thai Kitchen and Bar
97 Water St, Exeter, NH // (603) 580-2921
Located on Water Street just about one block west of String Bridge, Capital Thai Kitchen and Bar offers authentic Thai food, including traditional street food dishes, from Wednesday to Monday.
Serving lunch and dinner, their welcoming space features light fixtures reminiscent of Thai floating lanterns and exposed brick walls creating a warm and inviting space!
The dining room is outfitted with banquette seating along the walls, and a bar offering boba tea as well as a full liquor menu. Known for their classic Thai dishes, accommodating dietary restrictions, and warm hospitality, Capital Thai Kitchen and Bar is one of the go-to Thai restaurants in Exeter!
What to get at Capital Thai Kitchen: The vegetarian crispy rolls and chicken satay are standouts on the starters menu. The drunken noodles and spicy pad thai always hit the spot, and don’t forget their take on classic vegetarian tom yum soup. Yum is an understatement!
Oba Noodle Bar
69 Water St, Exeter, NH (603) 693-6264
Another Water Street gem, Oba Noodle Bar specializes in both ramen and classic Thai cuisine. Serving a blend of traditional and modern Thai and Japanese ramen dishes in a cozy atmosphere.
Oba isn’t just a noodle shop, though. They offer extensive wine and beer lists, as well as cocktails and other beverages to accommodate patrons of all palates and ages.
Their friendly staff, welcoming environment and array of Asian comfort food dishes create a memorable and comforting dining experience. They’re sure to fill the ramen shaped hole in your heart, AND they offer delivery!
What to get at Oba Noodle Bar: Seaweed salad and edamame are must-haves to start your meal. Their namesake Oba ramen is rich and flavorful, served with your choice of chashu pork, shrimp tempura, or no meat, and the kimchi udon soup is just right for diners who like something extra fiery.
Sea Dog Brewing Company
9 Water St, Exeter, NH (603) 793-5116
Sea Dog Brewing is a popular brewery with locations throughout the Northeast. Their Exeter location is a fast favorite in the area! Pub food can be one-dimensional, but Sea Dog has crafted a menu of creative American classics that not only pair well with their beers, but impress foodies from all walks of life.
Sea Dog Brewing offers award-winning beers and creative pub food in a bright 2-floor waterfront space on Water Street in downtown Exeter. They also host live music, trivia nights, and fundraising events periodically.
Sea Dog is a great spot to stop by for lunch and a beer, but they also have spaces for private events of up to 50 guests! Their inviting space is perfect for a drop by, or end-of-school-year group celebration!
What to get at Sea Dog: The soft pretzels and buffalo chicken wings are predictably delicious and perfect for pairing with your brew of choice. The “choose your mussels” is a great option for sharing! We recommend ale steamed mussels specifically. Wok seared brussels sprouts with cremini mushrooms, and the steak tip poutine are other stand outs!
42 Water St # A, Exeter, NH // (603) 772-8888
One of Exeter’s best restaurants for over 25 years, Szechuan Taste offers delicious traditional Chinese food seven days a week. Located on the south side of Water Street near numerous local businesses, it’s a great spot to stop in for lunch while exploring Exeter.
Their dining room features large low-top tables with comfortable chairs, several booth seating options, as well as bar seats. It feels like a classic Chinese restaurant and will feel familiar and welcoming to new guests.
Serving classics like General Tso’s Chicken and lo mein, they’re also known for their lunch specials served Tuesday-Saturday. Their all-you-can-eat buffet lunch from 12:00 PM-3:00 PM on Sundays is popular with locals and students alike!
What to get at Szechuan Taste: The vegetarian specials are standouts! Especially the Moo Shi vegetables. Pork lo mein, General Tso’s chicken, and coral shrimp are very popular with regulars. And don’t forget about dessert! Fried ice cream, anyone?
66 Lincoln St, Exeter, NH // (603) 580-4086
In West Exeter near the train station on Lincoln Street, you’ll find Trackside Cafe. Open Wednesday-Sunday, this local family owned diner serves breakfast all day, plus a tasty lunch menu.
Located in the rear of a convenience store, Trackside Cafe is a bit off the beaten path but you definitely want to make your way through Gerry’s Variety Store and find a stool at the old-fashioned diner counter. Friendly service and delicious home cooking will quickly follow.
Serving up nostalgic charm daily, they offer classics like french toast fresh off the griddle, and roast beef sandwiches. Alongside the diner essentials on the menu you’ll also find more modern offerings like breakfast burritos, and a great Greek salad!
What to get at Trackside Cafe: French toast or pancakes made fresh on the griddle are definitely something to write home about! Perfectly cooked omelets, eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce, and club sandwiches are other popular staples with the local crowd.
90 Front St, Exeter, NH // (603) 778-3762
Located in the historic Exeter Inn in the center of the Philip Exeter Academy Campus, Epoch Gastrobar serves up modern classics and global flavors in their newly renovated space. They offer dinner service Wednesday-Saturday 5:00-9:00 PM, though the bar is open until 10:00 PM.
Epoch offers an intimate and fun dinner experience inside with warm and lush furnishings and decor. They also have a lovely patio under twinkling lights with expansive outdoor seating available, weather permitting.
Their New American inspired menu features a mix of small plates, sandwiches, sides, large plates, and desserts, showcasing local seasonal ingredients. Similarly, their beverage menu focuses on cocktails made with local spirits, local beers, and hand selected wines to pair with the menu.
What to get at Epoch Restaurant: The crisped brussels sprouts with guanciale are absolutely delicious! Other popular favorites include fish & chips, spring chicken, and burrata salad with fresh local arugula.
1 Portsmouth Ave, Exeter, NH // (603) 418-7380
Exeter loves Thai food, and Khaophums II on Portsmouth Ave. is another of the best restaurants around. Known for their great food and classic Thai dishes, they’re a staple lunch and dinner spot in the Exeter area.
With marigold-colored walls and warm maroon vinyl booths, Khaophums II is warm and cozy inside. Elaborate art pieces with gold foil dragons add character and make you feel like you’ve stepped out of New Hampshire and into Thailand for a moment.
They also offer picnic tables with umbrellas on their patio, and are known for great takeout orders! Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, Khaophums II is a must-visit spot for Thai food lovers!
What to get at Khaophums II: The crab rangoon is perfectly crispy and flavorful. For fun entrees, try the crazy noodles or mango curry. And of course, classics like green curry (all curries are easily prepared with vegetables or tofu for vegetarian diners!) and green papaya salad hit the spot.
11 Water St, Exeter, NH // (603) 580-4604
Il Conricello is Exeter’s Italian restaurant of choice, serving Italian eats, drinks, and gastronomic treats Wednesday-Saturday for dinner. A Cornicello is an Italian amulet worn to protect against the evil eye or bad luck in general: to bring good fortune…so maybe if you eat enough of their delicious food you’ll be protected! It’s worth a try, right?
Paying homage to rustic roots, their seasonal menu is a creative and fun take on Italian cuisine using fresh local ingredients. A thoughtfully curated Italian wine list, craft cocktails, and river view dining room are the cherries on top of one of Exeter’s best restaurants!
Il Conricello is an intimate and small restaurant in a house with large and inviting windows and emerald green awnings. You’ll find comfortable bench seating with cushions and warm earthy tones throughout the space. Looking out at the Exeter river is a highlight of the dining experience. You might just forget you’re not relaxing in Italy after your first few bites!
What to get at Il Conricello: Definitely order some wine from their beautifully curated Italian wine list. For ultimate Italian comfort food energy order the bolognese. The linguine all’ aragosta fra diavolo features fresh Maine-caught lobster, and vegetarian diners will love the ziti con crema di porri e funghi, made with king oyster mushrooms.
6 Front St, Exeter, NH // (603) 772-7673
The beautiful Inn by the Bandstand is one of the most popular places to stay in the Seacoast region, and home to Ambrose, as well as previously mentioned Otis Restaurant. Ambrose is named after Exeter area philanthropist Ambrose Swasey, an important figure in the rich history of this Seacoast town.
This upscale tapas restaurant offers a variety of seasonal flavors using locally sourced ingredients, creating a fun-to-explore-and-share fusion menu! Their elegant and intimate (six tables!) dining room has a fireplace and views of charming downtown Exeter. They also have a garden patio for al fresco dining, weather permitting! Open Wednesday-Saturday for dinner only, reservations are highly recommended!
Their fine selection of wine, beer and craft cocktails pays homage to local purveyors and pairs wonderfully with their small plate offerings. Executive Chef Stanley Arnoldo Orantes’ passion is dessert, so make sure you leave room for something decadent.
What to get at Ambrose: The menu rotates frequently, but always features excellent small plates with in-season ingredients. The truffle burrata is a standout on their summer 2022 menu. The deconstructed patatas bravas served with housemade harissa is a delicious and fun-to-share dish, the sesame centric pollo en chica is an explosion of flavor, and don’t forget the ever-rotating and creative dessert list!
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