Parker's Maple Barn Restaurant in Mason, New Hampshire
Head into southern New Hampshire on a weekend morning during maple season and you’ll probably find yourself drawn, as if by a large maple magnet, to Parker’s Maple Barn Restaurant in the woods of Mason for a breakfast of famous proportions.
What began as a small sugaring operation by the original Parker family grew into the Parker’s Maple Barn restaurant during the late 1960′s. Today it’s known for serving up breakfast (including a pancake and stuffed French toast of the month) and lunch with plenty of their pure maple syrup in a country setting just over the Massachusetts border.
Once inside you’re immediately hit by the smell of breakfast — pancakes, butter, syrup, eggs, bacon, sausage — you know, the good stuff. Wooden floors, walls, and beams surround you, and a maze of tables in several rooms are full of couples and families sipping coffee (they bring a carafe right to the table) and digging in. Servers weave around like bees, fetching more coffee, pushing carts piled with plates, and keeping the steady throngs of visitors moving along without rushing them — no easy feat, I’m sure.
I headed there early on a recent Sunday with my sister Courtney and brother-in-law Jon. We knew we needed to get there early to get a seat, but fortunately, few things get me out of bed faster than the thought of a good breakfast. Jon was feeling ambitious and went for the Parker’s Special — a whopper selection that comes with two eggs, two pancakes, ham, bacon, sausage, and toast. Courtney and I opted for omelets and home fries with a single blueberry buckwheat pancake apiece. You can’t go to Parker’s and NOT have something on which to drizzle some of their complimentary pure maple syrup! Normally in my family we smuggle small jars of Grade A into restaurants in our purses — none of that maple-flavored corn syrup for us!
As usual, I kicked myself later for not ordering the maple frappe, which always sounds delicious, but maybe not at 8:00 AM. I can never bring myself to head to Parker’s for lunch — why would I??
If you dilly-dally on the weekend and arrive at Parker’s when the line is already long, you can wander through the small covered bridge and check out the Corn Crib gift shop next door to the restaurant. Inside you’ll find everything maple for sale (syrup, sugar, candy, cream, etc.) along with penny candy, gifts, toys, and more.
During maple season (roughly February through April) you can also participate in a small tour of the maple syrup production from sap buckets to syrup bottles. The gentleman working the large wood-fired evaporator boiling the sap down was kind enough to swing the door open for me to show me the blaze inside.
Additionally, if you’re hungry or need a jolt of caffeine, you can head to the Outpost for a donut (plain or maple), coffee, hot chocolate, or cider. You can also consult one of the many trees surrounding the property decked with arrows pointing to distant cities and how many miles it would take to get there.
An additional parking lot is across the street for busy weekends, and they sure do need it. Parker’s reputation draws large crowds, which aren’t limited to cars. Plenty of motorcycles bring hungry visitors to Parker’s thanks to the many scenic back roads in the area, and the restaurant has responded with a special spot just for them to park their bikes — motor vehicle drivers be warned!
Parker’s Maple Barn is open 7 days a week from mid-February through mid-December.