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Roundabout Diner in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Brings Classic Diner Concept to Deliciously New Levels

Roundabout Diner dining room, Portsmouth NH

by Eric Hurwitz. Created 4/13/2017. Photos, courtesy of Roundabout Diner.

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There's this myth that a diner has to be located in a historic dining car to count as a real diner. Let's just say that we need to make that theory history.

The Roundabout Diner and Lounge in Portsmouth, N.H., disproves this outdated sentiment, but, yet, respectfully does so with a true ode to prototypical, historic diners with its classic comfort foods, coffee always on the burner, neon, chrome, booths and counter with stools, and inviting sense of community amongst staff and customers. What elevates the Roundabout beyond typical diners, however, resides in its 21st Century culinary innovation, vision and creativity by using locally-sourced ingredients, whenever possible, and putting a twist on the typical diner fare. For starters, bread comes from the amazing When Pigs Fly Bakery in nearby Kittery; sausage from a farm in Vermont; and cheeses from local farms.

Love club sandwiches? Sure, the Roundabout has favorites like turkey, burger and tuna, but also brings this genre to the next level with a lobster club sandwich made with 100 percent Maine lobster meat (as they do, also, in its amazing lobster roll).  Many enjoy fried haddock sandwiches at a local diner, but the Roundabout smartly utilizes its coastal area location by sourcing fresh, local haddock. The BLT gets a wonderful upgrade with sugar-cured bacon, green leaf lettuce, tomato and mayo on grilled sourdough bread with the option to add cheddar and avocado. Burgers take on mountainous proportions with the peak being The Pile-Up Burger with a one-half pound burger, pulled pork, turkey, ham bacon, cheddar cheese,, egg, cole slaw and Russian dressing. The Grand Mariner French Toast is a masterpiece with When Pigs Fly Bakery Challah bread griddled with cinnamon batter and added powder sugar, whipped cream and warm syrup.

Then there are the desserts -- made-from-scratch and to die for...

Mouthwatering desserts from the Roundabout Diner in Portsmouth NH
Roundabout Diner desserts: artful and delicious! Photo, courtesy of Roundabout Diner.

Owner Dan Posternak told me that while his diner isn’t exactly out of the historic Worcester Dining Car mode, the respect to old time diners lives strongly and faithfully at the Roundabout.

“We play 50s music in the background, have neon, checkerboard floors, booth seats, a dessert case, waitresses wearing t-shirts with diner lingo,” said Posternak. “So many of the food items are diner staples like our corned beef. We do it better, though, as we grind it ourselves, slow cook it and offer a thick cut... I have been in the restaurant business for 40 years, but this is the most successful one yet. It’s not just about the food, it’s also about appearance, decor, service, cleanliness and, really, the overall experience. If you have a good product people will come to you.  We have 200 seats, so there’s little room for error.”

The Roundabout also has a lounge that is quite popular by featuring local beers, martinis, an international wine list and, also, flat screen TVs.

This is a seriously good diner, and clearly one of the best I have been to in New England. Having recently written an ebook, The Best Diners in New England, I had varying experiences at local diners over the past several years and only included the Top 50. The Roundabout clearly ranks near the top of that list -- noteworthy, since there are so many phenomenal diners in New England.

While the Roundabout Diner might be one of the newer kids on the block when it comes to diners, it comes across as a serious contender as a top local diner -- and preferable over most full-service restaurants I have been to in the New Hampshire Seacoast area. They aren't kidding when stating in its motto, "The Best Food Around"!

The Roundabout Diner is located at 580 US Highway 1 Bypass (Portsmouth Traffic Circle) Portsmouth, NH. Tel. 603- 431-1440. Log onto the Roundabout Diner web site or Roundabout Diner Facebook fan page
for more information and updates.

Editor's note: VisitingNewEngland business partnerships started on Jan. 30, 2017, and differ than feature articles previously posted on VisitingNewEngland. Businesses pay a small, one-time fee to have pages like this appear, and first must be accepted by editor and publisher, Eric Hurwitz, as a business he approves as part of "real New England travel" to keep the integrity and authenticity of the site intact. Businesses that sign up for business partnerships receive priority by receiving more social media exposure and link placement on Contact me if interested in forming a business partnership.

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Related article: How to find the best diners in New England

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