EPPING, NH – The Railpenny Tavern might just be the ultimate local restaurant. The ingredients are local; the dining room is filled with locals; and the owner is just about as local as you can get.
Located in Epping, New Hampshire, The Railpenny Tavern is one of those places you just wish you had in your town. The menu is filled with the tastiest versions of all the foods you love; the bar is always packed with plenty of familiar faces; and the owner treats every customer like friends and family.
After running successful restaurants in Portsmouth for more than a decade, Kate McGrath decided to come back home and open the Railpenny about two years ago.
“I grew up five minutes down the road and my family actually still lives there,” she shared.
When it came to decorating the dining room, Kate wanted her love for her home state on full display. Even the name of the restaurant pays homage to a little local history.
“We talked to some locals who have grown up in the area and they reference coming to this spot where the trains would come in and out of town, and they’d put their pennies on the tracks,” Kate said. “So this is why we’re called the Railpenny.”
When it comes to the food at The Railpenny Tavern, simply put, it’s the kind of stuff you love to eat.
“It’s tavern food,” Kate said. “We try to take our classics and then twist it and make it a little bit interesting, make it our own.”
Appetizers include PEI Mussels with white wine, butter, garlic and a spicy serrano chili kick; handcut Tavern Fries loaded up with lots of bacon, melted cheddar, and malt vinegar aioli; and Crispy brussel sprouts that even the haters will love.
“We have amazing brussel sprouts. If you don’t like brussel sprouts, I guarantee you try ours and you will love them,” Kate said. “We deep fry them so they have an awesome crisp on them. We then toss them in a garlic vinaigrette and finish them with Parmesan cheese, and they are just delicious.”
If you are looking for a Fried Chicken Sandwich, theirs is big in size and even bigger in flavor, featuring a thick thigh topped with Napa-apple slaw, pepper jelly, and Carolina Barbecue sauce. Of course, a great tavern must serve a great burger, and here, the Farmer’s Burger definitely delivers.
“The Farmer’s Burger is phenomenal. It has American cheese, a sunny side up egg, Sriracha, and pesto,” Kate said. “So you’re getting the clean brightness from the pesto, the Sriracha is really hot and spicy, the egg is creamy and gives you that sort of extra layer to the burger itself. It’s super juicy. When you bite into it it’s just an explosion.”
Entrees at The Railpenny Tavern include upscale options like Pan Seared Sea Scallops atop a butternut squash puree, and perfectly grilled Flank Steak drizzled with chipotle aioli. But what you really ought to try is the Mac and Cheese – available four different ways.
“We have our Mom’s Mac and Cheese, which really celebrates mom and her good old home cooking. We have our Dad’s Mac and Cheese, which is bacon and scallion added to the Mom’s. We have a Sister’s Mac and Cheese with pesto. And we also have our Brother’s Mac and Cheese with good old Maine lobster,” Kate said.
While that Lobster Mac and Cheese may be deliciously decadent, naming it Brother’s is a bit deceiving.
“I actually don’t even have a brother, but if I did I imagine that’s what he’d like to eat,” Kate laughed. “Maybe a brother from another mother.”
Rounding out the menu are some sweet desserts, like Ricotta Doughnuts, Bananas Foster, and a rich creamy Chocolate Caramel Budino.
Every Sunday, The Railpenny serves brunch. The inventive indulgences include Eggs Benedict with thick cut pork belly, an Elvis Burger topped with peanut butter, bananas and bacon, and something called the KFC Waffle Sammie, which happens to be Kate’s favorite.
“It’s super weird, and it’s definitely worth trying. It’s Korean style chicken that we have fried. It is sandwiched between waffles. There is American cheese, a cabbage slaw, and cilantro on it,” Kate said. “So you’re getting this cheesy, crispy, gooey, flavorful weirdness. It’s delicious. It’s amazing. It’s actually my favorite dish here, by far the best menu item we have.”
Whether you come for brunch, dinner, or drinks, say hello to Kate, who’s happy you’re here, and happy to be home.
“I’m so proud to be able to be a part of this community, and to be able to come back and take the skills that I’ve learned at other restaurants and establishments and bring it home,” Kate said. “Being able to run into old teachers and friends has really been a remarkable sort of experience.”
You can find the Railpenny Tavern at 8 Exeter Road in Epping, New Hampshire and online at railpennytavern.com
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