10 Great Places to Eat in Salem

This historic North Shore city has countless dining options within its downtown area and along the water

Ledger Restaurant / Facebook

The Greater Boston area includes some communities that have so many restaurants that it can be nearly impossible to decide on just one.

Salem is one such spot, as this historic North Shore city has countless dining options within its downtown area and along the water, while also having some neighborhood eateries hidden away outside of the center. And because Salem is in the heart of the North Shore, you’ll find some great seafood along with roast beef sandwiches, the latter of which is a big regional favorite as you head north of Boston.

Located on the southern edge of the downtown area, Adea's Mediterranean Kitchen (90 Lafayette Street) is a quick-service Kosher eatery that focuses on Israeli fare and is a very popular local spot for takeout.

A Mediterranean meal at Adea's Mediterranean Kitchen. Adea's Mediterranean Kitchen / Facebook

Adea’s is all about reasonably-priced freshly-made Mediterranean dishes, including such tasty options as shakshuka, hummus, falafel, babagbanoush, Israeli salad, stuffed grape leaves and Jerusalem bean soup, while Israeli coffee is also available.

Salem is a rather quirky city in some ways, and The Lobster Shanty (25 Front Street) is certainly an eclectic little spot that adds quite a bit of character to the downtown section of the city.

You can either dine indoors or out at The Lobster Shanty, though sitting on the patio is the best way to do some people-watching while dining on such dishes as clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese, a fried scallop roll, lobster casserole, poutine and burgers.

You can find a lot of cheap-eats spots and ultra-casual takeout places in Salem, but if you’re looking for something more upscale, Ledger Restaurant (125 Washington Street) is a great option not only for its delicious New American fare but also for its atmosphere, as it is located inside an historic bank building.

Ledger—which also offers curbside pickup along with full-service dining—serves such items as spicy pork belly, local oysters, lobster spaghetti, pork tenderloin and a variety of cocktails.

It’s not always easy to find wood-fired pizza in the local area, which is a shame because having it cooked this way adds a lot of flavor to the pies, and Salem is fortunate to have Bambolina (288 Derby Street), a laid-back downtown spot that focuses on the type of pizza that you might find in Naples.

Pizza at Bambolina. Bambolina / Facebook

Bambolina offers indoor dining, outdoor dining on a patio, and curbside pickup, and its menu also includes pasta dishes, soups, salads and more along with pizza—and wine is available as well.

Another place in Salem where you’ll find some local character is Gulu-Gulu Cafe (247 Essex Street), a cozy little coffeehouse by Lappin Park that has a real artsy feel to it, and has also been known in part for its live music.

Gulu-Gulu is really part coffeehouse, part, café, part sandwich shop, and part beer bar, with its menu including marinated brie, pickled eggs, soft pretzels, goulash, vegan burge and crepes, while also offering some terrific craft beers and ciders, and, of course, coffee. 

Speaking of beer, one of the best local breweries can be found right in the heart of Salem, and Notch Brewery & Tap Room (283R Derby Street) also happens to have one of the nicest beer gardens in the Greater Boston area thanks to its location along the South River basin.

While the taproom at Notch is currently closed due to the pandemic, the beer garden is indeed open, and you can enjoy some pretzels and sausage there while drinking some truly fantastic European and New England-style brews.

While the weather is indeed starting to get warmer, we’re still seeing our fair share of chilly days, which is the perfect time to go to New England Soup Factory (140 Washington Street), a comfy little downtown spot that is all about comfort food in a bowl.

The options for scratch-made soups here are endless with about 150 varieties (and 10 on a given day), and some of the more popular ones include clam chowder, lobster newburg, chicken vegetable, chili and corn.  

Salem has some old-school dining and drinking spots here and there, and Olde Main Street Pub (121 Essex Street) just east of the Peabody Museum has the feel of a classic Boston-area watering hole.

Steak at Olde Main Street Pub. Olde Main Street Pub / Facebook

This place gets a lot of its charm from the dark woods and exposed brick inside along with a comfy little bar area, and the pub serves up a mix of classic and New American fare including duck wings, beer-battered haddock, steak tips, pan-roasted salmon and half chicken. 

Venturing outside of downtown Salem will bring you to some real hidden gems such as Dube's Seafood (317 Jefferson Avenue), a well-worn wood-paneled spot south of the center that has been a popular local hangout for 60 years.

As you might have already figured out, Dube’s is all about seafood dishes, including some of the best fried clams you’ll try anywhere, but it’s also tough to go wrong with their fried scallops, seafood stuffed shrimp, seafood stew and fisherman’s platter.

Much of Route 107 between Salem and Lynn is a busy commercial strip, and buried within the sprawling Shaw’s Plaza is a roast beef joint called Londi's (7 Traders Way), which may look like your basic takeout spot but features some outstanding roast beef sandwiches.

Options include a junior, big, and super beef, with the super having an onion roll, and yes, ordering your roast beef three-way (sauce, cheese, mayo) is the way to go.

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