Two Granite State downtowns are inviting folks to stroll from shop to shop and sample bites from area restaurants, cafes, bakeries and wine shops.
Starting things off, Great American Downtown presents the 22nd annual Taste of Downtown Nashua on Wednesday, June 1.
“I believe this is the oldest in New Hampshire, if not New England,” Paul Shea, executive director for Great American Downtown said in a phone interview. “[It] has only grown throughout the years and here we are today with 28 stops, which is the largest we have ever held.”
The idea is to spotlight downtown eateries and shops, bringing in folks who may be unfamiliar. Recently, many new restaurants have been opening downtown, none of which need much convincing to be part of the popular event.
“It’s really a great opportunity to connect with new potential customers for the new restaurants that come in and of course an opportunity for event attendees to try food from one of the new places,” Shea said.
This year’s newcomers include Taj India, The Thirsty Turtle, The Bale House Tavern & Restaurant, Codex and Main Street Gyro. All of the participating vendors are from the downtown area.
“The restaurants are asked to bring a dish for folks to sample that showcases some of their best work,” Shea said. “It’s a great opportunity for the chef to show off. … It’s not every day that they get to feed 600 people and see them as they dig in for a bite.”
During Taste of Downtown Nashua, eateries are paired with a retailer, so folks can sample and shop their way through the evening. Shea said having businesses partner for the event is an example of the community coming together to promote the downtown.
Held throughout the Oval, the seventh annual Taste of Milford is happening Friday, June 3, also pairing local retailers with restaurants from Milford and the surrounding towns.
“We do Milford area … so I invited Hilltop Cafe because they don’t have a main street organization to promote them,” said Wendy Hunt, executive director of Milford Improvement Team. “The focus is Milford, but we do invite the outlying areas. I feel like if one business succeeds, we [as] neighbors are going to succeed as well.”
Over 30 eateries will join in for this year’s Taste of Milford, including Union Coffee Co., Carole’s Cake Creations, The Happy Butchers and Giorgio’s. Each vendor brings about 300 samples to share with the hundreds of guests who will make their way through the Oval and vote for their favorite appetizer, entree, dessert and presentation.
“They do do a beautiful of job of arranging on the tables. … It’s almost like if you went to a beautiful restaurant,” Hunt said.
Each category’s winner receives a plaque as well as bragging rights. The Happy Butchers has won best entree for the past two years, Hunt said, and proudly displays its plaque in the shop.
While formatting the event like a restaurant week has come up, Hunt said having business owners and chefs work side by side for one night, chatting with people as they come through the Oval, is what works best for Milford.
“It’s a nice break and a very social event, even if you don’t know people,” she said.