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Ravenous in Salem? Visit one of Salem MA’s Best Restaurants!
Are you on your way to cross a visit to Salem off of your essential Massachusetts bucket list? Great! While this little waterfront town offers plenty of opportunities to learn about and better understand the historical tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials, and even more opportunity to dive into the haunted lore and witchy associations of this area with ghost tours and lots of witch-related things to do and see in October….there is more to Salem than just spooky stuff to see and do!
No, but really, Salem has more than just spooky sites to see around town: they also have a pretty awesome little restaurant scene! Check out our list of the 10 best restaurants in Salem MA to find your next favorite grub spot.
Village Tavern serves up a healthy helping of New England staples like creamy New England Clam Chowder and buttery Lobstah’ Mac n Cheese alongside hearty cuts of meat like their signature slow-roasted Prime Rib. Also on the menu is a weekly rotation of game nights, live entertainment, and a game room that features skee ball, air hockey, dartboards, pool tables, and more! Village Tavern has a full bar and indoor and outdoor seating, so whether you’re in the mood to quietly sip your cocktail as you eat your Prime Rib French Dip and people watch from your open-air table, or you’d rather drink your beer and munch on your 10-Spice Dry Rub Tavern Wings while the game plays in the background, you can do it all at Village Tavern on Essex.
Howling Wolf Taqueria
In the mood for some margaritas and Mexican? Then you need to check out Howling Wolf Taqueria on Lafayette, where flavorful and fresh made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine is served in a sleek space punctuated with colorful and creative art pieces that add to the ambiance of this southwestern fare restaurant. Hand-made flour and corn tortillas mean there is no such thing as a bad taco or burrito at Howling Wolf Taqueria. Tortilla chips are also fried up fresh throughout the day, so even the chips and salsa are out of this world spectacular. Whether you decide to sit inside or out on the adorable patio, don’t forget to order up an expertly-mixed specialty margarita to accompany your Howling Wolf Burrito; word on the street is that Howling Wolf makes a mean Jalapeno Margarita… Margs and Mexican really never get old, do they??
O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant
Got a craving for a pint of Guinness? If you don’t already, walking through the door of O’Neill’s Pub might just put you in the mood for a little taste of everyone’s favorite Irish stout! You’ll find standard pub fare served up in a fun atmosphere that will have you feeling the “wicked good craic” O’Neill’s says they strongly believe in (translation: great conversation and entertainment!) They take their craic seriously, too, with a full calendar of live entertainment, trivia nights, game nights, and more! Irish pub classics like Bangers & Mash and Shepherd’s Pie accompany New England classics like Clam Chowder, and if it’s a well-made cocktail you’re after, you can order from the full bar or make it yourself at the super hooked up Build Your Own Bloody Mary station! You’ll be feeling like you’ve got a little Luck o’ the Irish yourself when you visit O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant on Washington.
Another Washington Street gem, Ledger Restaurant is a must-visit restaurant with a uniquely interesting take on their fabulous fare; not only is everything masterfully hand-made in-house, but Ledger also takes traditional 19th-century favorites and updates them with a lot of 21st-century love. For example, wood-fired grills are used to artfully infuse meats and vegetables with a smoky richness that can only be found in wood-fired grills, so that Ledger Double Burger you’ve ordered? It’s going to be in a class of its own! Brunch is almost more popular than dinner at Ledger, with their Mystery Mimosas being a major hit around town. Plus, Ledger is located in a historically significant building, because it was formerly the second Savings and Loan bank opened in the US! The exposed brick, the teller window with its black grate window, and the visible bank vault door that now houses the walk-in cooler are some of the neat little historical touches that Ledger has retained that will have you reveling in both the deliciousness of the cuisine and the uniqueness of the setting.
Red’s Sandwich Shop
Winner of the “Best Breakfast on the North Shore” for 24 years in a row, Red’s Sandwich Shop on Central is both a local favorite and a tourist draw, with Red’s historic building having previously been the Old London Coffee House, where the Revolutionary forefathers met often in the 1700s. Red’s menu is comprised of traditional American breakfast and lunch fare with a New England flavor, of course, with everything prepared fresh to order and in generous portion sizes with budget prices! Open from 7am-3pm daily, Red’s Sandwich Shop is a brunch favorite, but whether you’re in the mood for a hearty Kielbasa & Cheese Omelet or the traditional Roasted Turkey Dinner, consider ordering the Ultimate Bloody Mary to go along with… it pairs nicely with just about everything on the menu!
Flying Saucer Pizza Company
Gourmet pizzas served with a side of geeky fun? SIGN ME UP! Flying Saucer Pizza Company is the go-to in Salem for delicious ‘za in a fun atmosphere, with Flying Saucer Pizza describing their schtick as “nerdvana,” with décor and food themes that include Star Wars, Doctor Who, and basically all things sci-fi, like their Spaceballs: The Musical meatball appetizer, their Soylent Green spinach and artichoke dip, and their major crowd favorite specialty pizza, the Nick Fury, a super spicy pizza with cream sauce, buffalo chicken, sriracha, mac n cheese, bacon, and scallions… sounds amazing, right? They have lots of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, too, so there’s really something for everyone here. They are located on Washington Street, right behind the Bewitched Samantha statue, and there is outdoor seating available also. The theme is cool, the food is fabulous, and oh yeah, did we mention there’s a full bar too?
The Adriatic Restaurant & Bar
Looking for an excuse to get dressed up for dinner? The Adriatic is it! This beautiful restaurant offers warm, polished vibes and an incredible menu filled with fresh, beautifully-prepared Mediterranean cuisine, so come ready to spend some time enjoying the impeccable service and the delicious offerings of this Washington Street favorite. Seating is also available on their lovely street-side patio if you prefer to dine al fresco and people watch. Pair an expertly mixed cocktail or bottle of wine from their extensive wine list with the creamy Risotto with Shrimp, a house favorite. Certainly, do eat to your heart’s content, but don’t forget to save room for The Adriatic’s delectable homemade Tiramisu; you won’t be sorry!
The Tavern at Hawthorne Hotel
Located at what is considered both one of the best places to stay in Salem and one of the most haunted locations in town, The Tavern at Hawthorne Hotel gives off more quintessential New England tavern vibes than it does creepy haunted vibes! Oak-paneled walls and a wood-burning fireplace make The Tavern an irresistibly cozy spot for a nice meal in the gorgeous Old-World dining room or a quick cocktail at the beautiful bar. Food is wonderful and well worth those Restaurant-At-The-Hotel prices, especially if you choose to sample their hearty signature Seafood Chowder with shrimp, scallops, haddock, clams, and potatoes… YUM! Plus, you really never know… maybe you’ll end up seeing or sensing a little of the paranormal activity that makes The Hawthorne one of the Top 20 Haunted Hotels in America. “There I was, enjoying my seafood chowder when…” Wouldn’t that make for a great Salem story to tell when you get home??
Salem’s favorite Asian restaurant Kokeshi serves up bold and flavorful Asian street food staples and their signature selection of delicious ramen. Located on Lafayette, Kokeshi also has a storefront at their Italian sister restaurant, Bambolina on Derby. Kokeshi’s vibe is very hip and welcoming with an industrial, yet colorful, visual aesthetic, but as cool as their vibe is, their food is clearly still the star of the show. Appetizer options like savory Osaka Street Corn, and Ramen choices like Pork Belly and Colonel Sanders Fried Chicken will have you feeling the commitment that the owners have made to infusing unique flavors with versatile Asian staples, and why they believe Kokeshi is “comfort food with soul” at its finest! If you’re feeling daring, try out the Octopus Hot Dog with some of K’s Kitch’n Sriracha… you might just find your new favorite!
Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall
Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall is a Salem staple, no doubt about that, and no visit to the waterfront town of Salem could be complete without swinging by Turner’s for some of the freshest, most delicious seafood you’ve ever had. As the folks at Turner’s like to say, “Anything fresher still swims!” Their full menu of classic New England seafood staples includes essentials like their Maine-style cold Lobster Rolls and their award-winning Lobster Bisque that brings all the boys- and girls- to their yard. Turner’s is one of those places where both the indoor and outdoor seating capture that historical New England vibe (without feeling stuffy) with beautiful exposed brick and tiled ceilings indoors and a lovely little bistro setup in the courtyard. In the mood for seafood? Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall should be the first spot on your list!
Salem is one of the best places to visit in Massachusetts, and we know your Salem getaway is bound to be a good time regardless of where you decide to stay, but don’t forget to check out some of the enchanting Airbnbs Salem has to offer. Salem’s town motto is “Still making history,” and now it will be a part of your history, too!
Amy is the founder of New England with love. A proud Vermonter, she hopes to share her love of New England and help you find the best adventures in the region. Amy is also blogger/founder at Two Drifters, where she writes alongside her husband about romantic and couples travel, relationships, honeymoons, and more. When not working on websites, Amy is probably reading, cuddling with her husband and cats, & drinking a maple latte.