Many restaurateurs are groomed for their career path from infancy, growing up in kitchens where they bonded with family over lovingly prepared meals. Not Mario Herrera. He entered into the restaurant industry out of necessity, not nostalgia, tackling dishes by the sink-full as he earned money to put himself through college. And though he took the job for financial reasons, he soon found himself falling in love with it, unexpectedly nourished by the smiles of well-fed patrons. Mario began taking on different positions in the restaurant, serving meals and pouring cocktails until he learned the ins and outs of the entire process. Eventually he opened his own place, The Red Iguana, and he does everything he can to make the place feel like a second home for his staff, guests, and talking cartoon plates.
It's only natural: you'd almost have to live there to get through the menu's extensive selection of hearty Mexican dishes. There's a mix of tacos, burritos, and fajitas, of course, but it's his own creations that set the place apart. Unique appetizers play on traditional favorites, such as mole chicken wings or grilled-veggie nachos. The entrees—which are conveniently categorized by protein or veggie—include pork tenderloin with adobo sauce and grilled chicken topped with chorizo and pineapple. The camaron al mojo de ajo is a perennial favorite, a spread of shrimp sauteed with wine and garlic, all served atop rice and avocado salad.
Husband and wife Peter D. and Brenda Oldak didn't have any specific plans when they moved onto a 12-acre New Hampshire farm in 1977. A few years later, though, Mr. Oldak began experimenting with growing grapes. Through a decade of trial and error, he began improving his techniques, and when he won his first few medals in 1992, he decided to bring his operation up to the commercial level. Peter and Brenda are still hard at work perfecting their wines as the owners of Jewell Towne Vineyards, a boutique and community-supported winery occupying the former farm. Daily tours lead visitors along the sunny riverside slope where more than 20 varieties of American and European grapes now grow, and into the processing, fermentation, and barrel rooms. During said tours, guests follow the same path as the wines, all of which are made entirely from Jewell Towne's grapes. These libations are also available for sampling in the rustic post-and-beam tasting room that, along with an art gallery, fills the former farmhouse.
The chefs at Acapulcos Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina aim to cook authentic Mexican dishes unaltered by any Tex-Mex influence. Their recipes reach back generations within the owners' family and several miles into their underground tortilla vaults. Spanish-speaking servers deliver simple combinations of protein or veggies, topped with vibrant sauces: carne asada steak dressed in green pepper and guacamole, tender pork loin in tomatillo sauce, chicken in chocolate mole. The chefs' adherence to tradition doesn't preclude experimentation. Case in point: the dessert burrito, a lightly fried tortilla wrapped around apple-cinnamon or creamy cheesecake filling.
Both the menu and the decor change slightly from location to location—a painting of Mexico here, a tiled mosaic there. Each one, however, has a full bar where bartenders mix margaritas and flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports overhead.
Floor-to-ceiling windows frame crashing ocean waves on the Hampton Beach sands at Breakers Restaurant & Bar. Local fishermen deliver many of the catches that end up in Executive Chef Derek Kucharski's kitchen from those waters, from the Maine lobster meat in his lobster rolls to the local haddock in his Sam Adams fish ‘n’ chips. Beyond seafood, his dinners include a variety of favorites such as, Apple Braised Pork Osso Bucco, Grilled Statler Chicken Breast and Roasted Eggplant Roulade.
Along with lunches and breakfast on select days of the week, dinnertime feasts unfold amid custom millwork, a raised stone-hearth fireplace, and a granite-topped bar that wraps around the entire dining area. The Restaurant is situated in the 1912 built, Ashworth by the Sea hotel and includes a large dance floor, which draws in large crowds each Friday and Saturday night when DJ’s spin classic tunes.
Ashworth by the Sea is a picturesque getaway spot, enhanced by views of the ocean and imbued with a relaxing, traditional New England vibe. Rooms can fit two city escapees or suburban fugitives, and may come with two queen or one king-sized bed, plus a balcony ideal for silent, romantic stargazing or pedantically pointing out made-up constellations. On the night of your arrival, you’ll receive a $20 voucher toward dinner for two in Breakers Restaurant, which features coast-appropriate fare such as the lobster roll ($18) or the Atlantic haddock beach special ($10.50); the next morning’s meal will come with a $10 voucher for a breakfast of $20 or more. You and your significant other, family member, or strange traveling companion with a handcuff bracelet can enjoy the heated waves of Ashworth’s indoor pool, or bask in the electric glow of the wireless Internet.
As golf carts putter across the lush, manicured grounds of Exeter Country Club, chefs are hard at work in the kitchen of the club's onsite restaurant—Grill on the Hill. They cut french fries by hand, blend fresh sauces, and regularly fold themselves into the refrigerator crisper so they can better empathize with the produce. The restaurant's crispy wings get tossed in chili-lime marinade, lemon garlic butter, and buffalo sauce, and the eight-ounce black angus burger is layered with bacon and caramelized onions. Also available: custom wraps and panini, which you can get filled with selection of meats, cheeses, and toppings, and various kid-friendly dishes, including hot dogs and chicken tenders.