“I’m hungry … let’s find someplace to eat!”
Anyone who’s spent a little time cruising the pristine waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, whether chasing the wily perch, dragging the kids on tubes or skis, or just puttering around enjoying the mountains, the shore, the other boats and boaters, will eventually hear about someone’s hunger pangs and realize that it’s mealtime.
Luckily, since Lake Winni is a tourism Mecca, there are plenty of places to enjoy a casual breakfast, lunch, cocktail hour or dinner at the various towns grouped along the lake’s shoreline. And many places, right on the waterfront, offer docking privileges for customers who arrive by boat.
So here are some of our favorite stops for meals along the lake, places that our friends and customers also have patronized for years.
One word of warning: at this writing, all these places are open or say they will be open for the summer season of 2021. But that danged Covid-19 has upset many a business plan in the past year, and may well do so in the months ahead. So it’s always a good idea to make a call ahead to make sure the place you want to visit is still open and operating.
Tie your boat up on the docks and enjoy either the sandy patio shaded by trees, picnic tables under umbrellas, the lakeview deck or even air-conditioned inside dining. Owned by New Hampshire’s popular Common Man chain of restaurants, Town Docks offers casual summer fare: lobster rolls, seafood platters, burgers, sandwiches and salads, as well as its own home-churned ice cream. Friendly staff makes this a great place for lunch, dinner or cocktails. Call ahead at (603) 279-3445.
Just a few miles from our BoatYard on Varney Point, the Ames Farm Inn has been owned and operated by the Ames family since…well, the first Ames arrived in 1777, and James Noah Ames bought the Inn property in 1890. There are several docks and launch points along the lakefront where guests are invited to tie up, and it’s just a short walk up to the old farmhouse building where the restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining options and a great all-day menu. We’ve been known to stop in for blueberry pancakes in the morning, but lunch or dinner are equally good here. They say they hope to open again by Father’s Day, so call ahead for the latest info: (603) 293-4321.
This excellent seafood restaurant is located in a body of water separate from Lake Winni known locally as the Back Bay, but listed as Front Bay on most maps. Hey, it’s New Hampshire! Nevertheless, once you duck under the low bridge on N. Main Street (Rt. 109) you will find the Wolfetrap docks on the left and can tie up. Again, there’s a choice between the outdoor patio dining (very popular and tends to get crowded fast) and the indoor space. But both places offer excellent seafood dishes, from the raw oysters and clams, to delicious shrimp, lobster and fish entrees. There’s also an adjacent Fish Market so you can buy a live lobster and take it home for dinner! Call ahead for the latest hours: (603) 569-1047.
Another longtime family owned establishment, the Naswa Resort has been in business since 1935 (the name refers to the NAtural Spring WAter the original owners found along the lakefront). To find it, take the Weir Channel underneath the Route 3 bridge. Dock assistants will help you tie up and you can grab a beachside table on the sand or in a covered patio and enjoy the Caribbean-flavored cocktails and a casual menu featuring homemade guacamole, calamari, coconut shrimp, nachos and fish tacos, lobster rolls and wraps and much more. The place gets jumpin’ during the cocktail hour. For finer dining, try the resort’s Blue Bistro. Info: (603) 366-5731.
This is a popular lobster joint in the Laconia part of Lake Winni: the beasties are fresh and the prices not bad. Boaters can tie up at the Weir’s beach public docks, a short walk down Lakeside Ave. Great seafood, burgers, sandwiches, Gifford’s ice cream and more! For the latest info, call them at (603) 366-9101.
If you’re boating anywhere near Weir’s Beach, look for the Lili’s dock if you have a hankering for some good, old fashioned homemade ice cream. They make their own here, and the flavors vary by the day, but everything they make is sinfully delish! Nice little patio and beach, wonderful views across the lake, and they also make wonderful coffee, too! They’re planning to open for the season on May 21, but call first to make sure: (603) 366-9323.