Chances are if you’ve been to the New Hampshire seacoast region, you know Markey’s and Brown’s. Two restaurants directly across the street from each other on Route 286, who do the exact same thing and are perpetually mobbed. The only real difference is that Brown’s is BYOB and Markey’s serves.
Both offer fresh seafood either steamed, boiled or fried at comparable prices. Both are very casual, only take cash, and function on a ‘place your order, find a table and wait for your number to be called system’. I’ve eaten at both and couldn’t tell you the difference in the food. So that brings us to what makes Brown’s different–the ability to BYOB, which is a gift and a curse. Respectful patrons can plan ahead, bring a few beers or a bottle of wine and hang out while enjoying their meal. But then there’s the others who believe this is an open invitation to rage with wheeling coolers and thirty-racks under each arm, camping out for hours with domestic light beer and fried clam strips. The BYOB policy is nice if you respect it; but when it’s taken advantage of, I’d rather cross the street and pay that three bucks for a Sam Adams with the civilized folk.
Other than the beverage policies, the only other problem are the crowds and subsequent waiting. Go off hours, say between 11 a.m.-12 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.. Skip the fried food line and hit up the steamers/mussels/lobster stations. For whatever reason, people love fried seafood and will wait for a minimum of 20 minutes before even getting to the counter. Seriously, it’s fried fish–relatively unhealthy (and slathered with tartar sauce), somewhat bland and could easily be reproduced in your own kitchen for half the cost. I’m not hating on the fried line, as I rock the fish sandwich frequently, but I’d rather spend my time eating than waiting.
That brings us to the verdict: Brown’s or Markey’s? It really doesn’t matter. They’re exactly the same restaurant with different ownership so it depends on your intentions. If you want to get smashed and make a day out of it, hit up Brown’s. If you just want to eat and enjoy the beachy atmosphere, see whoever has the least cars in the parking lot.