6/13/2013 - Every year,the Hippo asks readers to pick the things they like best about life in southern New Hampshire — best restaurant, best local band, best hiking trail. The results of the 2013 Readers’ Poll were published back in March, but this year, the Hippo is giving some extra love to certain categories that deserve a little more attention. Throughout the coming months, the Hippo will re-discover some of the top vote getters in a few select categories, starting this week with Best Outdoor Deck. Our annual look at your 50 Favorite Restaurants ran in the April 17 issue and you can find all of the winners of the Best of 2013 in the March 21 issue, both available at hippopress.com.
You can’t always get away to a tropical locale for some relaxation, but with the help of some of New Hampshire’s restaurants’ outdoor decks, you’re sure to feel the breeze and take in the view—and perhaps a live band—while you relax and sip away at a frozen drink. Here’s a look at the top 10 vote-getters in Hippo’s Best Outdoor Deck category.
1. The Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880, thederryfield.com (Best of the Best) The 3,200-square-foot deck is the place to eat and the place to take in some live tunes. It’s also the place to grab a great view of the golf course, which the deck overlooks. The Derryfield features live entertainment on the deck every day of the week. Restaurant manager Andy Suttner said the deck, which includes an outdoor bar, is extremely popular with customers. “People love the atmosphere and the live entertainment,” Suttner said. The restaurant extends the outdoor season out on the deck by using space heaters, Suttner said. The deck is open for lunch and dinner daily.
2. Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm St., Manchester, 644-3535, murphystaproom.net (Best of Manchester) The combination of having the largest deck and the largest beer selection has helped the two-story deck at Murphy’s grow in popularity, said owner Keith Murphy. The deck can fit 356 people and features live events during the spring, summer and early fall. “The fact that it’s two levels adds a lot in terms of atmosphere and people watching,” Murphy said.The deck overlooks downtown Manchester, the Verizon Wireless Arena and the city’s gas light district. The deck features flat screen televisions and the restaurant’s full menu. “If you’re sitting outside on the second level of the deck, drinking some rare beer that’s available here and nowhere else, it’s hard to duplicate that anywhere else,” Murphy said. The deck, which typically remains open through the last week in October, features live music seven nights per week. The deck’s outdoor bar has seating for about 40 people.
3. The Pasta Loft Restaurant, 241 Union Square, Milford, 672-2270, pastaloft.com (Best of Nashua) In Milford, restaurant decks aren’t all that common, said Rob Weddleton, restaurant manager. That makes the deck at the Pasta Loft a big draw. Patrons are drawn to the deck’s promotions, its full bar and its music system, Weddleton said. Occasionally, the deck features live music as well. During the summer, the deck highlights a Sam Adams promotion in which the price of the beer drops as the temperature rises. “It’s a real mix of things that draw people,” Weddleton said. The Pasta Loft added the deck about three years ago and it’s been popular ever since. While sipping a beverage, patrons can take in the Milford Oval. “It’s just great for social gatherings,” Weddleton said. “It makes them feel like they’re on...a cruise ship or on a vacation. It just takes you away from Milford for a bit.” The deck stays open from April to November—the restaurant relies on heaters to keep it warm out on the deck.
4. Drynk, 20 Old Granite St., Manchester, 836-5251, drynknh.com
At Drynk, the deck or patio is all about sophistication. First of all, it’s a four-season area, featuring an ultra lounge, a sophisticated sound system, a state-of-the-art design and VIP areas, said Drynk owner Thomas Alexander. The club uses the patio, which is named Ivy, to showcase live bands, as well as DJs. He flew in world-renowned designer Kevin Durand from Florida to piece the patio together. “It has a real Miami feel out there,” Alexander said, adding a couple weekends ago, when temperatures soared into the 90s, Ivy was the place to be. “We try to incorporate more of a tropical feel.” Alexander imported plants and flowers to make the decor match the atmosphere. “People love it,” Alexander said. “Ivy is a big attraction for us. They love the ambiance. The love the design. They love the sophistication, especially the ladies.”
5. Wickets on the Green at Hampshire Hills, 50 Emerson Road, Milford, 673-7123, hampshirehills.com Patrons can choose between three tiers on Wickets’s mahogany deck, which features live music every Friday, and frequently on Thursdays and Saturdays as well. From the deck, customers can take in the shuffle board court, the club’s greens, a croquet court, as well as a waterfall, said Wickets bartender Dave Bourgault. “The fact that you’re not just sitting out in a parking lot...,” Bourgault said. “It’s off the beaten path... You actually have a view.” Out on the deck, which seats about 100 people, patrons can choose from the restaurant’s full menu. The top level features an outdoor bar, which Bourgault said was packed last week for Bruins games. Staff will turn on space heaters during chilly nights to extend the outdoor season. Parents will come in and sit down, while kids go play on the greens. “It’s nice for parents to come out there, have a seat, be comfortable, and watch their kids while they have something to eat and drink.”
6. The Draft Sports Bar and Grill, 67 S. Main St., Concord, 227-1175, draftsportsbar.com (Best of Concord) Set on the rooftop, the deck at The Draft is the place to go to relax, to get above the fray, said owner Laurie Sanborn. “There’s a nice breeze up there,” Sanborn said. “You can just take it all in.” She said a lot of restaurants will add seating out on the sidewalk, but sometimes it feels too close to cars and the street noise. “Up on the roof, you’re just above all that,” Sanborn said. “It’s just calming and relaxing to look up and down Main Street.” The deck has been open for two years and it’s become popular, Sanborn said. “We kind of call it a staycation around town,” Sanborn said. Deck patrons can enjoy the restaurant’s full menu, as well as its extensive draft list.
7. KC’s Rib Shack, 837 Second St., Manchester, 627-7427, ribshack.net
A couple years ago, KC’s owner Kevin Cornish was on vacation in Key West, Fla., when he realized there wasn’t really any place in the Manchester area with a Key West vibe. So last year, Cornish built out tiki bar in the backyard of KC’s. Throw in a couple dozen real palm trees, which Cornish brings in each year, and a slew of different colored chairs, and the outdoor patio transforms into Key West Side, as Cornish calls it. “It really does have an awesome Caribbean vibe to it,” Cornish said. There are other quirks soon to be added to the outdoor atmosphere, including an massive adirondack chair and a Gilligan’s Island-style exercise bike, which Cornish is turning into a blender. Cornish said he is lining up live entertainment as well, most likely acoustic acts.
8. Makris Lobster & Steak House, Route 106, Concord, 225-7665, eatalobster.com
To refer to the patio at Makris Lobster & Steak House as just a patio is really a disservice. It’s closer to an activity area. The outdoor area features fire pits, a deck bar, a band stage and a sand volleyball court. The outdoor area features live entertainment and plenty of fun. Owner Greg Makris said it’s the only establishment in Concord that has beach sand. “We plan our whole summer around the outside,” Makris said, adding the restaurant is a big attraction during Bike Week and race week with its proximity to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. For Bike Week, Makris said he brings in bands from Daytona Beach, as well as motorcycle stunt drivers. Makris is lining up a mother’s lunch promotion so that moms can come in and grab a bite to eat outside, while their kids play in the activity area.
9. Portsmouth Gaslight Company, 64 Market St., Portsmouth, 430-8582, portsmouthgaslight.com
The deck at the Gaslight is all about music. Its deck is the only one in Portsmouth that features live music, said Caitlyn Hassett, events coordinator. She said beginning this week, the restaurant has live music scheduled every night of the summer, weather permitting. Patrons enjoy the live entertainment, as well as the deck’s diverse menu and drink and appetizer specials, she said. “People love it,” Hassett said. “It’s one of the larger decks around.” The deck is open for lunch and dinner. “At 9 p.m. on any given night, it’s packed, people are standing and having a great time,” Hassett said. “It’s just a much different atmosphere than anywhere else in Portsmouth.” The restaurant’s happy hour which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, is a big draw, Hassett said.
10. Penuche’s Ale House, 4 Canal St., Nashua, 595-9831, Find Penuche’s on Facebook.
The restaurant’s deck features the city’s largest courtyard venue. “It’s huge,” said Paige Houltman, Penuche’s manager. “It’s brand new. We just built it last year. There’s lots of seating. It’s great for people watching.” Nice and shaded, patrons have a view of all of Canal Street in Nashua, as well as the intersection of Main and Canal streets. Patrons can eat on the deck or take in live music. The raised deck, which is open year-round, also has speakers and a jukebox. Houltman said before it was just a section of the parking lot. It’s become a hit with customers, she said. “They love it,” Houltman said.