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Where Nashua once dined

As we do today, Nashua had a host of places to dine back in the 1960s and 1970s. Some were more well-known than others and depending upon your palette, they offered a variety of menus. Let’s hop into the old Chevy and take a virtual ride around town to reminisce.

Heading downtown to West Pearl Street, we stop at The Modern Restaurant. For many years, it was one of the most popular eateries in Nashua. There, we get what is as close to a home cooked meal as possible without being in our own kitchen. Meatloaf is one of my favorites, along with the seafood menu. After placing our orders, we listen for that familiar voice to call out the server’s number when the order is ready: “Three please, three!” Where else can we get bread pudding for dessert? (As a kid, I lived directly behind the restaurant and would often hop the fence dividing our properties to pick up my Sunday dinner, a pint of French fries and a pint of onion rings. Now there’s a dinner that would make any health-conscious Mom of today cringe).

In the immediate vicinity, for those with less need for a full course meal, we can also stop at Pizza by Charles, at the end of the block on West Pearl, Al’s Pizza, also on West Pearl Street, The Skillet on Chestnut Street, Santoro’s on Walnut Street and Yvonne’s Fish and Chips (on a former section of West Pearl), where we can get real English style fish and chips, if willing to wait on a Friday night in a line that often spans around the block.

As we drive south on DW Highway, we arrive at The Green Ridge Turkey Farm, another icon in the city where on any given day of the year, we can have a full course turkey dinner with all the fixin’s. The only thing missing is the Macy’s parade and a noon time football game. The turkey is always fresh, the mashed potatoes smooth and the stuffing just like Grandma’s.

In the same lot as the Green Ridge, we come upon the Old Coach Inn, another well-known restaurant and one of the city’s upscale spots to dine. It’s a bit pricier, but fine steaks and seafood are on the menu and enjoyed by many. (I can remember my sister giving Mom a special treat, making reservations there on Mother’s Day).

In the mood for seafood? Let’s cross over the bridge to Hudson towards Rte. 102 and stop at Goodwin’s Fried Clams (across from St. Patrick’s Cemetery). Smell the aroma of those clams, onion rings and French fries pumping through the unique turbine fan mounted on the roof? It’s a classic example of, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Clams are a specialty, but ice cream is also available for dessert. Some folks eat at the picnic tables outside, some in their cars and some just do take out.

Haven’t had your fill of seafood yet? Then we can head down Rte. 111 towards Benson’s Wild Animal Farm and stop at The Meadows. Another example of being able to enjoy your meal hundreds of yards before arriving, just by taking a deep breath. The Meadows has everything from fresh seafood and burgers and fries to ice cream. And I believe it’s one of the few places that includes smelts (those sardine-like fish) in the seafood platter. Delicious nonetheless! On a nice day, part of the experience is enjoying our food at one of the many picnic tables outside.

Ok, we need to stop at just one more place on the way home for the total experience. We’ll swing back around to Rte. 102 and stop at Connie’s (the building that now houses Rocco’s). The seafood platters there are to die for (and eating too much deep fried, we just might). It’s a true seafood “platter.” The plate is gargantuan, and it seems like each section of food is layered on the plate. Rarely does one finish this behemoth, but it’s certainly fun trying! Yum!

Well, time to head back home before we run out of gas, both literally and figuratively. Not sure about you, but after all this food, I am stuffed! Time to stretch out on the recliner and take a nap! Enjoy!

Don Canney is a freelance writer and professional voice artist. He was born and raised in downtown Nashua with great interest in Nashua history circa 1950-1970. He now resides in Litchfield.