For a small town, Hanover's got some big eats. Four years as a foodie in a small town in the middle of nowhere will really teach you to appreciate the things life has to offer - including the best gelato in America and food fresh from the farm. I've given you the lowdown on my all-around favorites. There are other options in town, which are good, and there are certain places that are my go-to for when I'm craving something or looking for a specific vibe, but this list is really what you need to know.
I landed my dream job at Morano Gelato senior year and contemplated failing my last class so I could stay in Hanover and keep working there. Morano was named the best gelato in America by Forbes Magazine and they are 100% right. I've had gelato across the country (as well as throughout Italy) and I am telling you, nothing I've had in the U.S. even comes close to Morano, and there are many gelato shops in Italy that don't live up to the standards of high quality ingredients made fresh every morning. As someone who has been obsessed with Morano since arriving on campus (I have been known to get two gelatos in one day when there are just too many good flavors to choose from and have notifications set on my phone to alert me when we've posted our daily flavor list on our Facebook page), working there only affirmed my feelings that gelato doesn't get any better than this. Our founder, Morgan Morano, studied under a gelato master in Italy and brought back the secrets of the trade. There are about a half a dozen flavors that are staples every day, including sweet milk, dark chocolate (our most popular flavor by far), and stracciatella (chocolate chip) plus a rotating array of flavors that we make fresh every. single. day. including cookie, pistachio, rose, and salted caramel as well as sorbets like strawberry, lemon, banana, and more. Being downstairs in the production laboratory is tantalizing, because you're hit with smells of decadent melted chocolate or cinnamon or freshly squeezed oranges. While we generally stick to traditional flavors found in Italy, holidays at Morano are always a treat - featuring specialty flavors like s'mores and apple pie on Fourth of July to avocado on Cinco De Mayo to Guinness stout on St. Patrick's Day. Morano has cultivated a loyal following among locals and students alike that it well deserves. Hanover has been blessed with a true gem, and I have been blessed by the fact that Morano's second location recently opened in Chestnut Hill in Boston, meaning I don't have to wean myself off my gelato addiction now that I've graduated. Thank goodness. Pro Tip: We make gelato cakes. Like gelato. Plus cake. YES. Call in advance.
Lou's is what I always miss most about Hanover when I'm away (now that I'm lucky enough that there's a Morano in Boston). I am obsessed with corned beef hash and order it anywhere that professes to make theirs homemade - and nothing has come close to Lou's corned beef hash. I think I've ordered The Doc's Favorite on 90% of my Lou's visits - two poached eggs over corned beef hash with baked beans and a blueberry muffin. I can eat for days off this stuff. Lou's is also well known for their pancakes (make sure you get them with Vermont maple syrup. We don't joke around up here.) and their rotating list of weekly specials - I've seen everything from Strawberry Margarita pancakes on Cinco De Mayo (awesome, if you were wondering) to S'Mores pancakes to Carrot Cake pancakes to specialty Eggs Benedict loaded with local ingredients from nearby farms. If you're looking for a sweet treat, get the Cruller French Toast - Lou's amazing glazed doughnuts turned into french toast, topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. They also serve lunch and a massive variety of baked goodies - apple cider doughnuts are a must in the fall, and they're famous for their homemade pies. I've caved on a few weekend breakfasts and ordered a sliced warmed up with a scoop of ice cream on top just because they're that. good. Since Dartmouth's term schedule ends the day before Thanksgiving, we would load up apple, chocolate cream, key lime, and mixed berry pies into the back of our car and drive the three hours home to Connecticut with Thanksgiving dessert already made. Be warned, lines can get long on weekend mornings (no reservations), but it does move fast, and you can order to-go (and sit on the Dartmouth Green and enjoy breakfast outdoors!) If you need a birthday cake in town, also the place to go - here's a secret: ask for vanilla cake with whipped cream frosting and fresh strawberries. It's not on their cake menu, but it's fresh and to die for. Super pro tip: Morano makes doughnut gelato on the Fourth of July using Lou's cider doughnuts. DO NOT MISS THIS.
There are plenty of places for dinner in Hanover and I've tried them all, but Murphy's continues to be my stand out favorite. They have the best burger in town (The Murph Burger) and a list of always-rotating specials. I'm a huge fan of their appetizers - especially the nachos and freshly fried calamari. They make a beet salad that I've tried to replicate and just can't, since whatever they're doing is just magic. The pulled pork sandwich is on the cheaper end of options and is tangy and sweet in all the right ways. I've had simple, melt-in-your-mouth good homemade gnocchi there and the service is always solid. The bar area is always busy and they have a good assortment of rotating beers on tap. The price range is reasonable enough to be affordable for a night out to dinner with friends, but also up-scale enough to take your parents if they're visiting. You can know that you'll get really good food for what you're paying, too, which is always a deal-breaker and not always guaranteed in Hanover. If you're looking for dinner in town, there's no question that Murphy's is the move. Pro-tip: they take reservations.
In a town with one main street, Hanover somehow has three Thai restaurants. Tuk Tuk is by far the best - both in food and in service, a fact agreed upon by all of my friends and, it seem like, the majority of the students at Dartmouth. Their curries are fantastic and come in large portions. My boyfriend Matt is obsessed with the drunken noodles. He will be seriously depressed without direct, immediate access to them. I think Tuk Tuk is also underrated as a place to grab drinks - fun mixed drinks are significantly cheaper than other places in town, and they're strong. Like, really strong. In a good way, of course. As for the service, it's crazy how fast they are - your food comes out in minutes, and ordering takeout is actually faster than waiting in the notorious dinnertime lines for the college dining options. I went to dinner here with a large group of my friends and my parents (they take reservations which is awesome!) and it was a great experience. I'm already dreaming of their Mango Curry and sticky rice.