Andy Schachat's On the Run: A good restaurant and a good road race
Most runners and triathletes who live in cold climates get through the doldrums of winter in part by counting down to big races in warmer temperatures. While yours truly can't wait for the snow to melt and the race schedule to heat up, I have more than running, biking and swimming on my mind.
With each new event schedule comes a fresh itinerary of dining at some great establishments around New Hampshire and beyond. My countdown is to the times ahead when my taste buds will be treated to some of the best delights available through my participation in road races and triathlons.
So here's a rundown of some of the places you can find me on the night before or after some of the events I'll be attending in 2014. As the list makes clear, fine dining is not the main objective.
-- Antonio's Restaurant, New Bedford, Mass. (New Bedford Half Marathon): It is crowded and loud - in other words, perfect for the eve of one of America's best half marathons. Antonio's specializes in Portuguese cuisine, with seafood items the most popular. Any I-am-on-a-diet attitudes must be checked at the door. The portions are plentiful, as are the beer selections available to wash down dinner. Antonio's is legendary in Southeastern Mass., and has been named one of the best ethnic restaurants in New England by Bon Appetit magazine. The best way to enjoy this experience is to bring along friends or family and make it a group outing.
-- The Lobster Shack, Cape Elizabeth, Maine (Beach to Beacon 10K): This is a seasonal restaurant - and with good reason. Most of the seating is outside, under the sun during the day and the stars at night. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this place, but nobody cares. Outdoor seating is at picnic tables, with dining parties occasionally sharing a table. The Lobster Shack is located right on the water at the Two Lights section of Cape Elizabeth. At sunset the view of the ocean is breathtaking. Oh, yeah ... the food. Take your pick from a variety of seafood items that are served as sandwiches, boats or full plates. There are a few non-seafood items, but ordering them seems inappropriate for this locale. It's also BYOB, so make sure you stop by the local grocery store before arriving. The only drawback is limited parking which may require waiting for a spot to open. The wait will be worth it.
-- The Burren and Redbones BBQ, Somerville, Mass. (Jingle Bell Run 5K): These two establishments, within walking distance of each other, make for an interesting experience. After working the Jingle Bell Run, my post-race experience begins at the Burren with lunch and a drink or two. Once the party ends there, it's time for dinner. That's where Redbones comes in. Ribs or a spicy BBQ sandwich make for a great way to cap off the day.
-- Social 24, Manchester (any number of Manchester races): A tip of the hat to the good folks of the Queen City. Over the past few years, a number of great restaurants and bars have opened in downtown Manchester, making it a fun place to hang out. Any number of places could have made this list. Why Social 24? Three reasons: The food is awesome; it's spacious enough for the type of crowd that congregates after a race; and the bartender is a lovely lady named Cara who thinks I am awesome.
-- The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern, Concord (Rock N Race 5K): Location, location, location. After a night of working the Rock 'N' Race 5K at the State House, the Barley Pub is literally across the street, making it the nearest food-and-beverage establishment for a post-race gathering. A disclaimer: I've heard the Barley House serves great food but I have know firsthand knowledge of that. The Rock 'N' Race has the biggest and and best post-race food spread of any race in New Hampshire, so after stuffing myself there, my sole reason for going to the Barley House is to enjoy a cold one, or two, with the race organizers. I am too full to eat.
-- Eagle Mountain House, Jackson (Mount Washington Road Race): It's not often that I truly appreciate ambiance, but this is the exception. Designated a Historic Hotel of America and listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Eagle Mountain House offers quaint amenities in one of the most exquisite locales in the region. For dining, guests can choose between the restaurant or lounge, with either choice sure to be a winner. For years, the Eagle Mountain House served as headquarters for the Mount Washington Road Race, which made for a lot of fun the night before and night after the race.
-- The Pizza Grand Slam - Boston, Mass., Portland, Maine, Portsmouth, and North Conway: Pizza is a favorite of mine, and I am lucky enough to have found four great pizzerias scattered through New England that are far above the rest in a class by themselves.Working from south to north: Regina Pizzeria, in Boston's North End, is legendary. Regina is now a chain, but the North End location - the original - is by far the best. In Portsmouth, Ken's West End Pizza serves New York-style, thin-crust pizza. Tell the owner Andy sent you. In North Conway, I highly recommend Elvio's. And, in Portland, Otto Pizza is my choice. Good eating, everyone!
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Running shorts: Congrats to former UNH runner Erica Jesseman, now living in Maine and named 2013 New England Female Runner of the Year by New England Runner magazine. ... Hopkinton's Christin Doneski and Concord's Sarah Prescott were among the three finalists for USA Track and Field-New England's 2013 Female Athlete of the Year award. Stephanie Reilly of Massachusetts won the honor. ... Since you aren't as excited about Feb. 2 as you would have been had the Patriots beaten Denver, you can make the day more fun by running the 4th & 4 Super Bowl Race in Concord.
Andy Schachat's column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.