Kittery, Maine, is a few miles downstream from where I live. It’s also across the Piscataqua River from Portsmouth, which is loaded with eateries – maybe as many per capita as Manhattan.
For much of its existence, Kittery has been pretty blue-collar. It’s home to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – the U.S. Navy’s oldest continuously operating yard – and now tasked with the upkeep of nuclear submarines. It’s also home to a lot of lobstermen.
When I first came to New Hampshire, the Kittery Grange Hall was the scene of a monthly contradance – both the grange and the event now ancient history.
Oh, yes, and its strip of discount outlet stores along U.S. 1 is a major tourist attraction. Seriously. As is the adjacent sprawling Kittery Trading Post.
But with Portsmouth booming and the cost of its retail space skyrocketing, Kittery has been undergoing a transformation. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Wallingford Square, which used to be a gritty cluster of bars around one of the shipyard’s two gates. Today it’s been rechristened Kittery Foreside and is the center of some enterprising fine dining and food sellers.
Here’s what you’ll find.
- Anneke Jans. Upscale trendy dining with a devoted following. It’s the culinary anchor.
- Rudders Public House. Specialty: Kittery Fried Chicken.
- Lil’ s Café. Crulers, anyone?
- AJ Wood Grill Pizza. Get the picture?
- Anju Noodle Bar. For that Asian touch.
- Wallingford Dram. Artisan cocktails in “that walk-in closet, timeless gem of a bar,” as one critic describes it.
- The Black Perch. Duck-gravy laden pontine.
- Festina Lente. Rustic Italian.
- Authentic India. As it says.
- Tributary Brewing Company.
Nearby is the Beach Pea bakery, the best baguettes around, and Loco Coco’s Tacos, with its wonderful fine Mexican cuisine.