I just happened upon this restaurant, Texas Roadhouse while in New England and thought I had discovered the mother lode. What a fun place, where one can eat peanuts and just toss the remnants onto the floor and listen to country kicking music and yell "ye ha" every hour! If you go, you must try the rattlesnake bites, which are out of this world; not even chili poppers, so popular in So. Cal. come close to these! The steaks were cooked to perfection, the fresh hot bread is really something else (while trying to cut down on bread) served with cinnamon butter as well as, the daily assortment of awesome fresh veggies.
So for a fanatic against chains...I have to admit, this one has got me changed along with RiRa (Irish pub and grill -FAbULOuS food and cocktails)! This is one amazing restaurant and bar serving perfect Irish fare (try the Reuben with their homemade corned beef), great hand cut fries and since I was in New England, had to try their clam chowder finding it to be just perfect (as well as their potato leek soup). Most of these pubs have taken over old historic buildings and while maintaining the decor as it was when it was either a bank (or something else), they have transformed these into working bars and restaurants while preserving a part of our past, fantastic!
One last recommendation before I have to run out the door here, is Jumping Jays Fish Cafe! This is located downtown Portsmouth, NH and was the best meal I had in the 3 week vacation. The fish was unbelievable; ultra fresh, prepared with a choice of sauces and each one done to perfection. The martinis were good, the bread superb and the caesar salad was (finally) the way it should be, just olive oil, lemon, garlic, anchovy and parmigiano (nothing saucy or over dressed)! Mind you to eat here on a Friday or Saturday, you MUST make a reservation way in advance otherwise forget it. Even during the week you should make a reservation especially during the tourist season.
Portsmouth offers wonderful coffee houses, fabulous bakery items and oodles of Italian restaurants as well as the classic pub, brewery and chowder houses. The one thing I did not do with my other half was go to a great martini bar (I was told by an insider it has the best). The Red Door Martini Bar and martinis are not all they serve, check out their music line up, damn wish we had found out this little tip earlier, before we had to leave (guess I have a good excuse to go back)! ;-)