The Best Restaurants & Bars in Salem, MA (Part 1)

In continuation of my Salem, MA Visitor Series, I have compiled a list of the best restaurants and bars in the historic Witch City.  I hope that this helps the fellow traveler in deciding where to eat and drink during their next vacation.  Since the list is rather long, this specific hub is Part 1 and contains numbers 1 through 10.

Happy Eating!!

1. 43 Church

This beautiful, historic-looking restaurant has some of the best food in Salem. The atmosphere is cozy, romantic, and somewhat-casual. The food is to-die-for. They usually have live music on the weekends. There is a large function room upstairs (consisting of 2 connected rooms) that has fireplaces, brick walls, high wood-beamed ceilings, and a private bar, and is the perfect location for a wedding reception, shower, or company function. This restaurant was featured on the show Ghost Adventures (on the Travel Channel); according to historic legend, the restaurant is built on haunted land. 43 Church is located at 43 Church Street (of course).

January 2014 Update: Unfortunately, this restaurant has closed. I will update ASAP!

2. Red's

Located in the Old London Coffee House, which dates back to the 1700's, Red's is Salem's most popular restaurant, serving award-winning breakfast and home cooked meals for over 50 years. The yummy and reasonably priced food has won many awards over the years - most notably for the North Shore's best breakfast, best luncheon, best coffee and best bagels. Red's also won the Heritage Days' Chowderfest and has been praised on the Boston Globe's "Cheap Eats" and on the Phantom Gourmet's "Hidden Jewel". Red's has also won the "Best Breakfast" for 21 consecutive years. Red's has been featured on Chronicle and was Awarded "Travel Magazine" Best Restaurant North of Boston. Located directly in the downtown area, it's the perfect place to go on your vacation. Red's is located at 15 Central Street.

Visit www.redssandwichshop.com or call 978-745-3527 for more information

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3. Gulu-Gulu Cafe

This european-style cafe located in downtown Salem is funky, unique, friendly, and comfortable. Their menu has breakfast items, appetizers, paninis, crepes, wraps, espresso, desserts, wine, and beer. They do not sell any liquor, or cheap beers, but the beer they do carry is some of the best beers in the world and with the highest alcohol-content. They pretty much carry the most luxurious, and expensive, beers in the world, so if you are a beer lover then definitely try this place. They also have live music Wednesday - Saturday evenings, and local artists' work on display for purchase. Gulu-Gulu Cafe is located at 247 Essex Street.

Visit www.gulu-gulu.com or call 978-740-8882 for more information

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4. Finz Seafood & Grill

Finz Seafood & Grill is located along the water, directly in the Pickering Wharf area. They have some of the best seafood in the city. With modern and elegant furnishings, Finz has a dining-room area, a bar, a fire-side lounge with sofa seating, a built-in raw bar, and a cute outside patio. They also have an open and sunny function room upstairs with a private bar. They have live music every Thursday and Friday night. Finz is located at 76 Wharf Street.

Visit www.hipfinz.com or call 978-744-8485 for more information

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5. The Lobster Shanty

Located on "Artist's Row" in downtown Salem, The Lobster Shanty has some of the yummiest seafood in the city. This restaurant is known for its "Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Surly Waitresses, Rude Bartenders, Cranky Cooks, Rowdy Regulars, and Nervous Lobsters". This isn't true (of course)...but it is written in colorful writing on their outside sign. It's what makes this restaurant popular with the regulars because of its fun atmosphere. They have live entertainment on various days throughout the week, but the best is on Sunday. On Sundays, bands set-up outside and customers enjoy the music on the patio. You can hear the music no matter where you walk in the area. This restaurant is open seasonally from April 1st to January 15th. The Lobster Shanty is located at 25 Front Street on "Artist's Row".

Visit www.lobstershantysalem.com or call 978-745-5449 for more information

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6. The Great Escape

The Old Salem Jail was recently renovated; the building was converted into upscale condos and this unique restaurant. To keep the feel of the historic Salem building, some of the original architectural details remain intact. This restaurant has an interesting menu, a nice bar, and an outside patio. The Great Escape is located at 50 Saint Peter Street.

January 2014 Update: Unfortunately, this restaurant has closed. I will update ASAP!

7. Sidelines Sportsbar & Grill

This restaurant/bar is super-casual and the perfect place to go to watch sports games.  The bar is pretty large, there is a jukebox, and the food is really good for such a low-key venue.  Sidelines Sportsbar & Grill is located at 105 Canal Street.

Call 978-745-5870 for more information

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8. Rockafella's

Rockafella's is located directly in the downtown area, has live entertainment weekly by local artists, has a large patio, and has some of the best food in Salem. Their new Colonial Hall, located upstairs, is a large, gorgeous function room perfect for weddings, birthdays, corporate meetings, etc. Rockafella's is located at 231 Essex Street.

Visit www.rockafellasofsalem.com or call 978-745-2411 for more information

9. Engine House

Established in 1979, this tiny restaurant is located between the downtown area and the Pickering Wharf area. They definitely have the best pizza in the city. Engine House is located at 71 Lafayette Street.

Visit www.enginehouserestaurant.com or call 978-745-1744 for more information

10. Howling Wolf Taqueria

Howling Wolf Taqueria, a new restaurant in downtown Salem, serves authentic mexican cuisine. With colorful décor and a laid-back atmosphere, this is a great place to visit. Apparently, they have the best margaritas in town. And live music is played most days of the week. Howling Wolf Taqueria is located at 76 Lafayette Street.

Visit www.feedyourwolf.com or call 978-744-9653 for more information

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