shacketts patio in downtown bristol nh

Great Places to Eat in Bristol, NH

October 19, 2021 9:01 am

For a small town, Bristol has a big food scene. You’ll find traditional New England favorites, fine dining and authentic ethnic cuisine. Whether you’re looking for fun and funky or romantic and intimate, Bristol has a little something for every kind of outing and every palate. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but simply a local favorites list to get you started on your culinary tour of the town.

Homestead Restaurant & Tavern

If you’re dining with a group that has many different tastes, head to the Homestead Restaurant & Tavern–it’s got it all. Steaks, seafood, burgers, pasta, pizza, and a recently renovated outdoor dining area, bar and lounge. With two locations, Bristol and Merrimack, and run by the same owners as Fratello’s in Manchester, the Homestead has a reputation for consistently good food and service with an extensive wine and cocktail list. Located on Summer Street as you head from I-93 into Bristol, the Homestead is a great place to end the work week or meet up with friends. 

The Homestead Restaurant & Tavern service dinner nightly starting at 4 p.m. and is open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Cielitos Mexican Restaurant

If you love truly authentic Mexican cuisine, head to Cielitos, which has sister sites in Texas and Massachusetts. The food looks as great as its tastes here, perfectly prepared with fresh ingredients. There’s Mexican favorites, like fajitas and enchiladas, as well as some dishes you may not have tried, like Diablo shrimp or chochinita pibil–a slow-cooked pork in a special marinade, served with tortillas, pickled onion and jalapeno.  

Located on South Main Street near Central Square, it is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, serving late on Friday and Saturday. This is a local favorite for nightlife, with a long list of inventive margarita and specialty cocktails, as well as a selection of premium and organic tequilas. Enjoy a summer evening there in the new outdoor seating area.

Kathleen’s Irish Pub

If you’re looking for an authentic Irish pub without traveling across the Atlantic, head to Kathleen’s Irish Pub on Lake Street. It’s won WMUR’s Viewers Choice for NH’s best Irish pub for the past seven years and boasts the state’s largest Irish whiskey list. You’ll also find live traditional Irish music, your favorite dishes from the Emerald Isle, and dart boards. The atmosphere, like so many local pubs in Ireland, is warm and welcoming.

Open Wednesday and Thursday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday open at 1 p.m to 9 p.m., Saturday noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.

Basic Ingredients

Fresh baked bread is a true pleasure and Basic Ingredients bakery on Lake Street has some of the freshest, most delicious bread around. Even if bread isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of delicious food found here: muffins, sticky buns and what might be the best egg sandwich in the state. Beyond breakfast they have plenty of meals to go: sandwiches made on their own bread, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, paella, salads, and tuscan style pork tenderloin. Don’t forget the pies for dessert!

Open seasonally, Basic Ingredients is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

Looking for a traditional diner breakfast? 

We’ve got plenty of delicious options. You’ll find pancakes, bacon, eggs and more at places like Gina’s, Gilly’s, and Bristol Diner. Learn more about each of these breakfast restaurants on our Great Breakfast Spots post here.

The Big Catch

One of the best parts of any New Hampshire lake vacation is that there’s always a great seafood restaurant nearby. Bristol’s got a few places to get fried clams and lobster rolls, but if you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant overlooking Newfound Lake with a relaxed, island vibe, look no further than the Big Catch. Located on Shore Drive, you’ll find delicious fresh seafood, tons of salads and sandwiches, and a big list of frozen drinks and island-themed cocktails that will make you truly feel like you’re on vacation. Open daily for lunch and dinner during the warmer months.


Another great place to grab fried clams or a haddock sandwich is Shackett’s, a summertime favorite for lake goers. This drive-up restaurant is across the street from Shackett’s Supermarket, which has been supplying residents and visitors with lake camp necessities for more than 70 years. If you’re still hungry after your meal, grab an ice cream cone for the road. Located on West Shore Road.

Very Excellent

We love our locally-owned Chinese food spot for its fresh, high-quality ingredients and authentic preparation. You haven’t tried General Tso’s chicken until you’ve tried it here! You’ll find homemade crab rangoon, pad Thai, pu-pu platters and even Peking duck on the menu. They offer online ordering for takeout and catering if you’re feeding a crowd. As the website says, Very Excellent offers “a fresh, ethical, and modern take on the comfort foods that you know and love.” 

Located on Lake Street, Very Excellent is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.


Looking for big meaty sandwiches dripping with melted cheese and tangy sauce? It’s hard to beat Lin Cross. Run by New Jersey natives who hail from the Philadelphia area, you’ll find authentic cheesesteaks (some say the best north of Philly), juicy burgers, house-made pulled pork, and fresh-cut roast beef sandwiches. Sports fans will love that they show the local sports teams here, even if they are Philadelphia Eagles fans. In 2020, Restaurant Guru named LinCross the best takeaway restaurant in Bristol. 

Located on Pleasant Street, they are open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Pizza Bene

Every town needs a good pizza place and Bristol is lucky enough to have Pizza Bene–it’s even in the name! With a wide range of toppings from anchovies to zucchini, you’ll find classic favorites along with inventive pies. Whether it’s New York style, deep dish or gluten-free crust you prefer, Pizza Bene has you covered. This family owned business proudly serves Italian favorites in addition to pizza, as well as salads, chicken fingers and wings.

Located in Central Square, it is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. If you’re looking for a late family dinner, this is a good spot, taking orders until 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday night.

Bristol House of Pizza (BHOP)

Speaking of pizza, did we mention Bristol has lots of options? This family owned and operated restaurant has a loyal following thanks to their tasty pizza and calzones with homemade sauce and dough, fresh seafood, and homemade Italian and Greek dishes. A true community hangout, they’ve been serving pies to residents and lake visitors since 1978. Eat in and enjoy beer with your pizza or order take out. They even deliver!

Village Pizza

If you love a Greek pizza spot, head to Village Pizza. You’ll find delicious pies along with subs and wraps, pasta dishes, salads, fried seafood and homemade spinach pie. The menu is extensive, with just about something for everyone, including the kids. If you’re really hungry, try the homemade lasagna or if you’re looking for something lighter, try a Greek salad with grilled chicken.

Located on Lake Street, it is open for lunch and dinner daily, serving until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Village Pizza also hosts weekly “Cruise Nights” every Friday in the summer, so stop by if you love classic cars.

Newfound Country Store

Just over the line on Route 3A in Bridgewater is the Newfound Country Store, which offers breakfast sandwiches, fresh donuts, burgers, and deli sandwiches that will satisfy even the hungriests in your group. This is a true country store, with groceries, penny candy, ice cream cones, clothes, outerwear, gourmet food, and other goods to make lake visitors feel right at home. Shop for a Newfound Lake sweatshirt, a new pair of boots, or a souvenir koozie while your food is being prepared. 

If you love craft beer, make sure you check out their extensive offering of New Hampshire and Maine beer, cider and wine.

Open every day at 5 a.m.

Cardigan Country Store & Barbeque

Located on Lake Street, the store features products from the Cardigan Mountain Orchard in nearby Alexandria as well as products made by local artisans and craftspeople. Here you’ll find mouth-watering barbeque alongside fresh apple cider donuts. Stop for a quick bite with some pulled pork nachos, or dive into a plate of ribs. There are plenty of sides to choose from, including baked beans, mac and cheese and German potato salad.

Store opens Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., with lunch served noon to 4 p.m.  

Ledge Water Steakhouse

If you’re looking for fine dining with a view, head to the Ledge Water Steakhouse on Ravine Drive. There you’ll find enormous steaks, classic seafood dishes, generous sides, and a lengthy dessert menu. With dining outside on a large veranda overlooking Newfound Lake, it’s a popular spot for a romantic night out or a celebration with family and friends. Open daily for dinner.

Purple Pit Coffee Lounge

This is a classic coffee house, with a cool vibe and jazz on Saturday night. But it’s so much more! Located in Central Square, the Purple Pit Coffee Lounge has ice cream, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, serves beer and wine, and on top of all that was voted best coffee in New Hampshire by New Hampshire Magazine in 2014. With the same owners as Pizza Bene, the Purple Pit was originally located in Concord. Now this coffee shop is a local favorite for meeting a friend, grabbing lunch or a quick cup of coffee in the morning.

Open daily, the Saturday night jazz shows are held in the back room at 7 p.m.

As you can see, Bristol has a lot of great places to eat to offer residents and visitors for a town its size, including nightlife. If you’re interested in joining our culinary scene and opening a restaurant, or other business, here in Bristol, let us know! Our town staff can help

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