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8 Must-Try Salem Restaurants | Where to Eat in Salem MA

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On your way to completing your bucket list of essential Massachusetts experiences? Why not add a visit to Salem?

This charming waterfront city offers many opportunities to dig a little deeper behind the tragic Salem Witch Trials that shocked the area. But even if ghost tours and spooky stuff are not really your thing, Salem is still an interesting destination not only in October but during the whole year.

Regardless of the time of your visit here, Salem will still put a charm on you with its old historic sidewalks and dynamic dining scene. Just make sure to put on your most comfortable shoes since there are so many places to eat and explore within walking distance.

Anything you pick to try from these top dining options in Salem will be totally worth your time, money, and steps. 

Visiting other destinations in Massachusetts? Check out our other delicious guide:

The 8 Best Salem Restaurants

Kokeshi

41 Lafayette St. // +1 978-594-4197

Kokeshi, Salem’s favorite Asian restaurant, serves up strong and savory Asian street cuisine classics, but what makes people rave about this place is the trademark ramen. The ambiance is really modern and friendly, with an industrial yet colorful visual design, but their cuisine is what steals the show.

Speaking of the ramen, it’s served with big chunks of fried chicken and wakame. The dish is completed with Vermont butter, Thai basil, and sambal, which gives it a nice kick of spice. A bowl full of flavors, with unusual combinations and a catchy presentation.

The ramens are sold spicy, so if you choose the one with pork, expect to have a hot meal since the pork is already spicy itself. I find the menu a bit on the pricier side, but the numbers make up with the size of the portions; quite generous and filling. If you happen to visit with kids and family, Kokeshi is family-friendly; just make sure your juniors stick to the kids’ menu if they are spice adverse.

Best Salem Restaurants: Pork Ramen

I would return walking to Kokeshi for the lobster Rangoon with sriracha – ranch sauce or pork and kimchi dumplings; that dish was legitimately the best lobster I recall tasting. 

Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall

43 Church St. // +1 978-745-7665

Turner’s great seafood restaurant is a family-run business inside Salem’s historic Lyceum Hall, which sells its fresh New England catch to customers all over the country. 

It is very hard to miss this place since it looks so appealing with its exterior. One good reason to visit this seafood spot is that it has run for over five decades. I did have my expectations high before visiting, and the whole experience easily exceeded them.

The chefs are making a serious culinary mastery at Turner’s; everything gets prepared with fresh seafood. The oyster bar has sashimi, shrimp cocktail, cherrystones, and, of course, plenty of oysters.

Best Salem Restaurants: Oysters

What does everyone rave for here? The lobster bisque, lobster rolls, and crab cakes. I made sure I went a bit more hungry than usual, so I could try them all, and I haven’t regretted waiting for my perfect seafood meal in Salem. It tends to get crowded and noisy on the weekends; perhaps a group of friends will enjoy this place better than a couple looking for a quiet corner. 

The Adriatic Restaurant & Bar

155 Washington St. # 1 // +1 978-594-1832

Feel like dressing up for dinner? Adriatic is the place to be! It offers a warm, polished vibe with an incredible mix of fresh, beautifully-prepared Mediterranean and Italian cuisine and cocktails.

The Adriatic has a lovely street-side patio where you can relax and dine alfresco. I did enjoy my evening there, sitting in the indoor area, which felt like outdoors since the sliding doors were wide open.

For transparency, the menu is not cheap, so expect to be charged an extra dollar for that delicious but small-portioned food. I still negotiate with myself about whether it was worthy, but when I remember that eggplant Parmesan, and a bag of munchkins with corn and scallion fritters, dressed in spicy sriracha mayo, I believe it was.

Best Salem Restaurants: Eggplant Parmesan

Expect to find an extensive and well-crafted wine list, local beers, and tremendous cocktails. The place is perfect for a work dinner, to catch up with friends, or just enjoyed it alone by the bar. 

Ledger Restaurant

125 Washington St. // +1 978-594-1908

Because it was formerly the second savings and loan bank to be established in the United States, Ledger is housed in a historically significant structure. 

There are many little historical details that Ledger has kept intact in its renovated historical bank vault that complement both the outstanding cuisine and the unique setting. Some highlights include the exposed brick, the black grate on the teller window, and the walk-in cooler in the vault door.

Ledger Restaurant offers its guests upscale New American cuisine from chef-owner Matt O’Neil. A wood-fired grill is used to impart a smoky, rich flavor to meats and vegetables that can only be found in wood-fired grills. So, if you order the Ledger Double Burger, it will be in a class of its own.

Best Salem Restaurants: Maple Glazed Pork Belly

I came here with a friend for a Sunday Brunch, and we both had to agree at the end that this place lives up to its much-deserved reputation in every way. I had the maple-glazed pork belly with grits, and it was so tender, it literally melted in my mouth. It looks like I will have to return to try more of the intriguing food choices on the menu.

Flying Saucer Pizza 

118 Washington St. // +1 978-594-8189

Flying Saucer Pizza is going to feed you the best pizza you’ll ever have. At least that’s what voters said when they made this place The Best Pizza of the North Shore for 2021.

The décor in this place is amazing, and the names of the items are funky and cool. Their pizzas are made with the freshest local ingredients, and they do change their beer and cider selections often, featuring only New England beers.

Appetizers like Spaceballs: The Musical, Pluto, and Vegan Hadouken caught my attention, but I really went there for their pizza, so I chose only the Spaceballs. They came stuffed with pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan in a perfect size not to fill you up but to awaken your hunger even more.

Best Salem Restaurants: Flying Saucer Pizza
Photo Credit: Allan Lim

The appetizer is best followed by what’s called Odinson on their pizza menu. The dough was soft and heavily topped with BBQ base, green peppers, pulled pork, cheddar, and pickled red onions. I loved the thickness of the dough and all the flavors perfectly blended on top of it. 

For those who want to experiment, Flying Saucer Pizza offers you an option to build your own pizza (GF also available) with whatnot! Vegans and vegetarians will find a sea of options as well. 

The Tavern in the Hawthorne Hotel

18 Washington Square W. // +1 978-825-4311

The Tavern’s wood-paneled walls and wood-burning fireplace make this place the warmest atmosphere in town. It’s the ideal spot to enjoy a nice meal in the old-world dining room or a quick cocktail at the bar. 

You can come here at any time of the day for a guaranteed delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or just for a drink or two. The place won me over with its simple yet warm and classy ambiance, personalized service, and really good food.

The Signature Fish Chowder – rich and satisfying – filled with fish, clams, and scallops is their best creation. Of course, I couldn’t try the whole menu (I will probably do so in the future), but I can guarantee this. The menu has varieties of appetizers like cauliflower bites, shrimp cocktail, and quesadillas, and also seriously good burgers and entrees such as steaks, fish, and chicken.

Best Salem Restaurants: Fish Chowder

The fresh fish tacos were a huge serving with excellent, hot, French-fried potatoes that were perfect. I topped off everything well with a nice craft IPA, locally brewed, chosen from a great list of local beers.

Opus

87 Washington St. // +1 978-744-9600

Opus is a great place for diners digging into mostly Asian-leaning dishes with an American twist. The chic atmosphere with an extensive and varied menu with tasty dishes and a wide selection of sushi will satisfy all your senses.

Voted Best Sushi, Best Date Night, Best Bar, and Best Cocktail in the past, Opus unites award-winning cocktails, excellent food, and live entertainment under one roof. 

I enjoyed a wide platter of Genki roll with spicy tuna, tempura sweet potato, avocado, scallion, spicy mayo, sweet soy, and Shady Dog with salmon, mango, and avocado, topped with crab and wasabi aioli. It came as no surprise that this place was awarded so much; they still kept everything on a very high level, service included.

Best Salem Restaurants: Tempura Sweet Potato

It would have been a complete experience if they had sake, but a Bikini Bottom Bonfire — one of their signature cocktails built on tequila and mezcal, did the job, if not even better than a cup of sake.

The place is classy yet casual, buzzing with the crowd enjoying food and live music, and is one of Salem’s hot spots for any kind of outing.

Trattoria Bella Verona

107 Essex St. // +1 978-825-9911

If you’re in the mood for great Italian food, then hit the road toward Trattoria Bella Verona. It has a charming atmosphere and terrific Italian food. They also have an exquisite wine list. 

Lovers of true Italian tastes will be pleasantly surprised to discover such an authentic place in the middle of Salem. The menu has appetizers, meat, fish, and pasta selections. Specialties of the house include linguini with scallops and shrimps, ziti with strips of New York Sirloin, and tagliatelle with strips of veal. 

My visit was more focused on trying the different antipasti they offer, as well as pasta. The baked calamari with garlic and white wine over polenta was what one would expect from them, with just the perfect “chew.” I also enjoyed the toasted garlic bread covered with fresh onions, marinated artichoke hearts, and Tagliatelle Alla Puttanesca. 

Best Salem Restaurants: Baked Calamari

Everything from the first to the last bite was perfectly prepared. Luckily, I still had room for a Tiramisu, which only added to the great feast. I never expected I would have such a great Italian meal in Salem. 

Wrap Up On the Best 8 Salem Restaurants

I know your Salem trip will be a blast since Salem is slowly becoming one of the most popular locations to visit in Massachusetts. It’s famous for its stunning landscape and excellent position in the lush Willamette Valley, and now, I can declare that It is worth the visit if only for its dining scene.

This city’s a must for foodies! With all of these restaurant selections, Salem is the place to go if you want delicious cuisine.

“Still making history” is Salem’s motto, so make it part of your history too!


Which of these Salem restaurants do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!

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