Whether you're visiting Keene, New Hampshire or live here year round, there is no shortage of restaurants from which to choose for a great weekday lunch!
In selecting these particular restaurants for review I used the following criteria: It had to be a local restaurant as opposed to a commercial chain, it had to be dine-in and they needed to serve lunch quickly and at a reasonable cost to accommodate the average working person's schedule.
Warning-many restaurants are closed on Monday in Keene. You may want to check the businesses' websites for hours of operation.
Amicci's offers the best New York style pizza (and as a former New Yorker, I consider myself an expert!) in Southwestern New Hampshire. Chewy crusts, gooey cheese, foldable, as a slice is meant to be eaten and a wide variety of toppings and styles. Amicci's also has lighter fare offering crisp, fresh salads from the traditional chef and Greek salads to the spicy Buffalo tender salad. Prefer a sandwich? Choose from a selection of hot or cold submarine sandwiches or better yet, have a calzone.
Amicci's is a family owned and operated business and the owner, Ken Jessup, often greets customers by name. He has a rotation of video games and screens playing sports channels, making it the perfect place to bring your kids or for nearby college students to grab a quick bite.
Best bet: As a traditionalist, I go for the pepperoni pizza slices. There's plenty of both cheese and pepperoni and the pizza has a firm, chewy crust with just the right amount of sauce. At $2.00 for a generous slice, one slice is enough for most people, though I'm greedy enough to always want two!
Cherry Garden offers a lunch menu Monday through Saturday that has numerous offerings at very reasonable prices. The business moved to their Main Street location two years ago and is suitable for a casual lunch date or a more formal business lunch. The service is surprisingly fast and efficient. One caveat: with the generous portion sizes that include soup and rice with most dishes, you will probably want a take out box. Be sure to check your food after it's been packaged. On a recent visit, we had our bento box leftovers wrapped and the California roll was missing when we arrived home.
Best bet: Try the ginger chicken with string beans ($6.95) with chicken tender enough to cut with a fork, crisp green beans and strings of ginger speckled with chilli flakes. It had a kick that offered some welcome warmth on a winter's day. Skip the lackluster fried rice for the white rice and do have the wonton soup with a flavorful broth.
Technically Local Burger is a chain as it has another location in Massachusetts. However, it would be a shame to pass up the phenomenal burgers they make here. They have a large variety of burgers and they are made on the spot. Burgers come out fresh, hot, juicy and delicious.
They offer some unique sandwiches, but they know they excel at burgers and let them shine! Be sure to check out the specials board for some interesting combinations. A basic burger is pretty inexpensive but you are probably going to want some of their doughnut-like beer battered onion rings or amazing hand cut fries to go with your burger. Sides are generous enough to share with a friend. If you are dining in, bring your jacket. In nice weather, you may choose to sit outside at one of the provided tables, but in colder weather I've found the restaurant to be consistently on the cooler side even seated indoors. Also, depending on what you order, it may take some time, so don't go when you are in a rush. However, the Juicy Lucy is completely worth the wait.
Best bet: I'm a fan of the Teriyaki burger ($6.89) with its teriyaki sauce and grilled pineapple, while my husband gets the ginormous "Local" burger ($12.99) with its 12 ounces of beef, cheddar and American cheese, bacon, mushroom, onions and red peppers. We split the onion rings($5.39) and usually don't eat dinner on the nights we've had lunch at Local Burger.
Living in New Hampshire over a decade Thai Garden is my family's version of the neighbourhood restaurant. On many, many (oh so many!) visits, we've had delicious, fresh Thai food with beautiful presentation. It also a favourite lunch date for my husband and myself.
There is a large selection of lunch specials, served quickly in a serene setting. If you are not familiar with Thai food, do ask for a recommendation as the staff has never steered us wrong. The setting is clean and classic and lends itself equally well to a lunch date, family outing or business lunch.
Bet Bet: Lunch Monday through Friday begins with the complimentary soup, which is the perfect appetiser. However, my husband, cannot resist the fresh roll while I always begin with the fried dumplings. A hearty, flavorful lunch dish is the crispy yellow noodle with chicken. The noodles are both crispy and slippery, served in a rich brown gravy with slices of tender chicken and crisp-tender broccoli florets on top. For soup, appetisers and lunch entrees for each of us, the meal consistently costs less than $30.
As the professional blogger of The Flight Deck, I've tried dinners, lunches and breakfasts on the weekend. The Flight Deck specialises in seasonal comfort food. Think warm sandwiches, chilli and soups in the winter and fresh salads, and light, crisp fare in the summer. All year long, the restaurant offers a magnificent setting with Mt. Monadnock in the distance and planes ascending and descending right outside the window of the restaurant as well as easy and plentiful parking.
The staff is friendly and accommodating and happy to make any changes you might request to your meal. They know the menu and can make great recommendations as the specials change frequently. With generous portions, it will be difficult to leave room for dessert, but I urge you to try. Desserts are home-made and luscious. Cupcakes also change seasonally and should not be missed.
Best bet: Nobody does pork like The Flight Deck. I am a sucker for the oink n cluck: It's 2 slow roasted hog shanks and 3 wings in the sauce flavour or your choice. It comes with celery and carrot sticks, and although billed as an appetiser, makes a great lunch for just $8. My son, on the other hand, can't resist the pulled pork sandwich-big, sloppy, topped with coleslaw and served with fries for $12 and sizable enough to fill up even my 6'4" teenager.
The Spice Chambers offers both vegetarian and meat and seafood Indian dishes. At lunch, there is a buffet available and it offers all you can eat for approximately $11. The all-you-can-eat option means it can easily serve as the main meal for the day. There is always fresh naan and an assortment of dishes. There is almost always tandoori chicken, perfect for those first trying Indian food. I've also seen at the buffet palak paneer, chicken tikka masala ( a favourite of mine!), vegetable samosas, fresh salad and rice pudding for dessert.
While the Spice Chambers offers a variety of delicious Indian fare, it is a difficult place to eat if you have dietary restrictions or are unfamiliar with the dishes. The service tends to be indifferent with no one answering questions or recommendations about the food. Best bet If you are familiar with Indian food, there aren't too many surprises at the buffet and the food is good. If you are trying Indian food for the first time, order from the menu as it has detailed descriptions. Although I am an affirmed omnivore who loves to eat meat, the paneer tikka masala with cubes of soft cheese in a creamy and aromatic tomato gravy is dreamy. Order extra naan to soak up the sauce!