Lunch with Swift

Roaming southern New Hampshire's Monadnock Region and beyond — visiting unique places and tasting the local flavor..

Hillsborough Corner Store



Here is a place that is so unpretentious that you would never dream of uttering the word unpretentious there.  When you enter into the veranda, before you actually go in you can first sit and rest in some benches which are old school bus seats.  Above the benches, there are announcements for archery tournaments, and snowmobile drag races and a supper at the VFW.    But most people don’t stop there.  They head on in and either sit at the counter at a vinyl stool or head over and pick a drink out of the refrigerator.    And then sit down at the counter.    There are racks of chips and Dinty Moore stew and SOS pads and newspapers and white bread between the drinks and the counter.  You have to move a bit slower than you probably have been going so you don’t knock things off.  The main event is the counter.  That is the alter.


Something about the place works perfectly.  It is a deer check in station so you can always see who shot what and how many points it had.    So there is that.  Over half of the people there are regulars.  Since it’s at a crossroads, it brings different kinds of people together.  Folks south of Route 9 live on the low hills or on plains above the Contoocook River.    Those on the north side toward Washington live in the rocky upland.   Regardless, everyone wears flannel and jeans.  Sorels in the winter, timberlands in the summer… Sunday included.


It is not so easy to talk to the people on the right side of the counter when you are sitting on the left side but they do anyway so it can get loud in there.  The counter wraps around in a squared off semicircle.  Many people at the counter at noon will know each other.  And they will chat.  About who couldn’t get their motor going if its cold.  And who is getting the hay in when its hot.  Who shot what in the fall.    And the how bad the mud is in the spring.  All while waiting for the best hamburgers in town.    Everything on the menus is up on plastic signs with black plastic letters.


You order and nobody writes anything down.  I’ll have a Texas.  And potatos.     Then they go to work.  I used to like it when my friend Kurt was around.  He would say “Swifty get some potatoes they are the best around, Vivian will make ‘em up for you.”  And she does and they are… great. 


So when the burger comes it is on a tiny paper plate.  In front of you are all of the condiments.  One thing I haven’t seen anywhere else is sweet pepper relish.     These are another local treat that you can always expect great quality control and no surprises.  They ask for how you want it and give it to you that way.   It smells great in there.    You put all the stuff you want on.    You just stay there for a little while on those stools.     Its great and fast.  It is way better than the national place up the road with the arches.  


When you are done, you go the register and tell ‘em what you had.  Don’t forget the drink you pulled out of the refrigerator.    While you are checking out you can get a cookie, which was made within the last few hours. 


Then you move slowly out to your car and maybe say good by to the folks you ate with.  Everyone gets in their pickup trucks full and goes off to run their yellow machines or whatever.  See you tomorrow. 



8 thoughts on “Hillsborough Corner Store

  1. Now you are on a roll.

  2. Corner Store grilled cheese. Mmmmmm……….been thinking about that since we almost but then didn’t go to lunch there last Sunday after skiing. Let’s go back soon.

  3. Swift & Jamie, this could so easily evolve into a much enjoyed Yankee column — so original and very New Englandyish, so to speak. Original, quirky observations & writing. Each entry just makes me smile and even laugh out loud!

  4. Yes, we are grooming Swift as a Yankee columnist. Because at this rate he will burn through all the Monadnock Region convenience store dining opportunities by Sept. 2013

    • There are a lot. The mission can get stretched and woven around the shadows of convenience stores too. I thought about this when I did the plowshare piece. But when else do I get to get a nice fois gras for lunch and calm down a nicotine starved horseman at the same time?

  5. Great post Swift, the next best thing to being there. A great blog concept! I will be back for more.

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