I don't suppose anyone needs my help to discover what to eat near Dartmouth College. Hanover isn't exactly the biggest town in the world, and with the vast majority of restaurants located on a three-block stretch of Main Street, it requires only a brief stroll to take stock of most of the options. You'll have tried them all by the end of your Dartmouth career, with or without my input.
But I just did the math, and I graduated twelve years ago, meaning this may be my last chance to hold forth on the culinary scene near campus with any hope of accuracy. So, indulge an aging man in trying to feel connected to his alma mater. And if I'm getting this horribly wrong, well, that's what the comments section is for.
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A diner in the picturesque New England sense of the word, the white exterior of Lou's echoes the architecture of nearby Dartmouth Hall and Baker Tower. Packed on the weekends, and even more so when parents are in town, Lou's serves up standard egg-y fare and boasts a full bakery case. The two meet in the form of Lou's cruller French toast—it's so rich that it always left me feeling a little ill, but that never stopped me from ordering it.
Best Pub Food
The menu at Murphy's has pretensions towards something slightly fancier, but the decor always said "pub" to me, and that's how I treated the place. It's many Dartmouth students' location for their first (legal) drink, and before that it works quite well for a reliable burger. We'd always switch out the standard fries for the sweet potato version, though the online menu isn't showing that as an option these days.
Having a place that will deliver comes in handy in college if you're up late cranking away on a paper. At Dartmouth, there are also those New Hampshire winters to account for, which sometimes render the prospect of walking across a windy Green, even for food, simply too much.
The food at Everything But Anchovies (aka, EBA's) was never anything better than mediocre during my tenure at Dartmouth, but they'd bring it to the dorm late into the night, and thanks to a catchy radio jingle, I still know the phone number by heart.
Their pizza, which comes with these funny little nubbins on the bottom, was the first time I'd seen tomato sauce replaced with barbecue. (Looking at their current menu, it seems they even have a version that uses A1 Steak Sauce.) Their burgers get served on slightly sweet Portuguese muffins that never seemed to be quite big enough to hold in all of the contents. Still, it always did the job. And if you don't want something over-complicated, there's always an order of their massive breadsticks, which will satisfy the nastiest of carb-cravings.
Best Slice of Pizza
If you want some semblance of a NY-style slice in Hanover, Ramunto's Brick & Brew has to be your choice. The place turns out cheesy pies that scratch the pizza itch, and their selection of beers offers a welcome change of pace from the pale, flavorless stuff you get accustomed to drinking in college. The greasy, pungent, I-don't-plan-to-kiss-anyone-tonight garlic knots were also a guilty pleasure of mine.
Best Coffee Shop
When it comes to an off-campus cup of coffee near Dartmouth, the flagship operation has to be The Dirt Cowboy. I remember some tasty hunks of cake and an inviting atmosphere that could get see-and-be-seen crowded in the late afternoon.
By contrast, tucked away behind The Hop, Rosey's Cafe is quieter and feels a bit more sophisticated. That may be why it's often the location of choice for a cup of coffee with a professor, and likely a better option if you actually plan to get some work done.
The Canoe Club appeared after I graduated from Dartmouth, but some young whippersnappers I know told me that it quickly became the obvious spot for date night. It's one of the few places in Hanover you'd think of going for a proper cocktail, which makes it work for that first date situation. And the dinner menu leans upscale enough that The Canoe Club will also work if you're trying to fancy things up a little bit. (Just make sure to wear something nice under your North Face fleece).
When Parents are in Town
Located in Quechee, VT, Simon Pearce offers upscale New American cuisine in an old mill. Book way in advance for parents' weekend, because eating a grilled pork chop while you stare out at the waterfall is the sort of charming New England-y outing that seems just about perfect for when Mom and Dad are around. Chances are that you'll leave with full bellies, and your folks will pick up an armful of hand-blown glassware from the attached gift shop.