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For the twelfth year, Restaurant Week returns to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for ten days of celebrating the Portsmouth restaurant scene. From April 20 through April 29, twenty-nine of Portsmouth’s restaurants offer special three-course pre-fixe menus for $25 per person for lunch or $48 per person for dinner.

Often overshadowed by foodie destinations like Portland and Boston, the seaside city on the border of Maine has a robust lineup of food and beer spots, with a few chefs like David Vargas, Matt Louis, and Evan Mallett even racking up James Beard nominations. There’s no better time than Restaurant Week to head up to Portsmouth and try the restaurant scene for yourself—and maybe even make a weekend of it. Visitors to Portsmouth will also find plenty of shopping, walking trails, arts offerings, and historical sites. 

Ben VanCamp, president of the Portsmouth Chamber Collaborative, says that Restaurant Week draws attention to the thriving culinary scene in the city, and brings much needed business to downtown Portsmouth during its shoulder seasons. The city runs Restaurant Weeks every April and November. 

“It started as a way for the restaurants to recognize and thank the community,” says VanCamp, “and now it’s evolved into a mutual appreciation with both residents and visitors coming out to support the restaurants.”

The week is for locals and out-of-towners alike. Residents of Portsmouth and the surrounding area can support some of their favorite spots or take the opportunity to try someplace new. And folks from out of town have a perfect excuse to finally take a trip up to the portside town to experience the restaurant scene, where you’ll find a range of culinary styles, from seafood to BBQ and from pasta to tacos, along with lots of seasonal offerings.

Chef David Vargas of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth and Ore Nell’s Barbecue in Kittery, Maine says that Restaurant Week brings a lot of new folks into town each year. “We find that people are eager to travel to enjoy the menus offered,” says Vargas. “It adds an energy to the town.”

Vargas was a semifinalist for this year’s James Beard award for Outstanding Chef for his Vida Cantina, which will be participating in Portsmouth Restaurant Week alongside other favorites like Ristorante Massimo, Moxy, Black Trumpet Bistro, and Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe. Find the full lineup of participating restaurants, along with their special menus, here.

Chef Rachel Miller of Nightshade Noodle Bar in Lynn is now one of five finalists for the James Beard Outstanding Chef award, the winner of which will be announced in June. 

Both Vargas and VanCamp say that they’re excited to see all the new folks heading to Portsmouth next week to sample the restaurant scene. VanCamp notes that restaurants will see a “tremendous increase in business” during the initiative, so be sure to book your reservations soon.

“It’s always great to see new faces try us out, and to welcome old friends,” says Vargas. 

This year, Portsmouth celebrates its 400th anniversary with community events happening all year long. The city has a rich history from its roots as the home of Wabanaki tribal nations to its colonization by Europeans in 1623 to its current place as a cultural hub of New England. Many restaurants will offer historically themed cocktails this Restaurant Week in honor of Portsmouth NH 400 celebrations. 

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