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Eater Recommends: What to Eat and Drink in Salem

Seek out these dishes on your next North Shore expedition

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Don't have time to read the entire Guide to Dining and Drinking in Salem, Massachusetts before your trip? Here are a few select picks for what to eat and drink in the North Shore city. Feel free to share your own favorites in the comments below.

Looking to head up to Salem from the Boston area? It's very easy to get there, even without a car; grab the Newburyport/Rockport commuter rail at Boston's North Station, and you can be in Salem in about a half hour. All of the spots on this map, unless otherwise noted, are within easy walking distance of the Salem train station.

For a broader overview of dining and drinking options in Salem, check out the full guide.

Map points are listed alphabetically, not ranked. This map was originally published on October 5, 2016; it's updated periodically, and the date of the most recent update appears above. In the most recent update, we've added A&J King Artisan Bakers, Deacon Giles Distillery, and The Naumkeag Ordinary, as well as updated descriptions for Bambolina, Caramel Patisserie, Opus Underground, and Rover Bagel.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. A&J King Artisan Bakers

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48 Central St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-4881
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What to do when faced with piles of beautiful breads and pastries, all of which are probably amazing? Panic and point. It'll turn out ok no matter what you order at this Salem staple, which has been open for over a decade. There's always something new to discover; there are plenty of daily and seasonal variations on the menu as A&J focuses on sourcing everything locally, from grains to eggs to fruits and beyond. In addition to a wide range of breads and pastries, A&J also serves coffee and tea, made-to-order sandwiches, and more.Pictured: a delicate palmier, ordered as the successful result of panicking and pointing at the first thing that looked great.

2. Bambolina

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288 Derby St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 594-8709
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Team Eater has fallen desperately in love with Bambolina's "neo-Neapolitan" pizza, from the wood-fired char on the perfect crust to the fresh mozzarella and excellent toppings. Save plenty of stomach space for pizza (pictured here, the soppressata), but don't neglect the appetizers. Over the summer, for example, there was a mind-blowing asparagus starter.

The Bambolina team's next project, Kokeshi, opened in March 2017 just a short walk away. Give it a try for ramen and more.

3. Bit Bar

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50 Saint Peter St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 594-4838
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Classic arcade games, booze, fun snacks — what more does anyone need? The menu features some over-the-top options, including an elk burger served on a doughssant (doughnut/croissant hybrid) with black garlic icing, but consider keeping things simpler with a dish such as the sesame nori-crusted tuna bits (Sriracha aioli, jalapeño, and sweet soy glaze) and a bit of afternoon gaming.

Bit Bar opened in June 2016 in the Old Salem Jail and features more than 30 arcade games and pinball machines. Most of the games are from the 1980s and 1990s.

4. Boston Hot Dog Company

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60 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-2320
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When your day calls for a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a root beer float, Boston Hot Dog Company is there for you. Served on a grilled and buttered bun, the hot dogs come steamed or grilled, topped in numerous styles. There's the Saturday Night Dog, for example, topped with baked beans, sauteed onions, and bacon bits, and the Taxi Dog — pastrami, Swiss, spicy brown mustard.

Pictured here: the Thai dog, topped with spicy peanut sauce and caramelized onions.

5. Caramel Patisserie

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281 Essex St.
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 594-0244
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Don't leave Salem without stocking up on almost-too-beautiful-to-eat French pastries at Caramel, owned by siblings Dimitri and Sophie Vallier, who hail from southern central France. Dimitri has studied under chefs such as Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud.

Pictured here, an excellent kouign amann. Be sure to try some macarons as well, particularly chocolate mint and salted caramel.

6. Dairy Witch Ice Cream

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117 Boston St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-5413
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Dairy Witch has been serving up ice cream for more than 60 years, and while tales are told of its signature banana whipped frappe, the sundaes are also strong contenders here. Pictured: the top half of the gigantic Reese's Peanut Butter Cup sundae with peanut butter sauce and hot fudge. Vanilla soft-serve makes a great backdrop for all the toppings, but you can choose whichever ice cream flavor you fancy.

While this is technically walkable — it's about a mile from the train station — take a car if possible. It's a bit removed from Salem's store-packed main area, and it's an outdoor ice cream shack with no seating, so those who arrive on foot will find themselves eating a giant sundae on the edge of a parking lot (or while walking).

7. Deacon Giles Distillery

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75 Canal St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 306-6675
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Find your way off the beaten path of Salem's tourist zone and be rewarded by a fun little bar — dubbed the Speakeasy Lab — where you can play boardgames and sip cocktails that feature Deacon Giles' spirits (gin, rum, and spiced rum). Try the Far Side of the Tracks (pictured), made with spiced rum, cider, maple syrup, egg white, and nutmeg. Like Salem's other boozy tasting rooms, Deacon Giles allows kids and dogs to hang out. Currently open Thursday through Sunday, with distillery tours and tastings on Saturdays and Sundays.

8. Far From the Tree Cider Tasting Room

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102 Jackson St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 224-2904
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Far From the Tree's cozy tasting room (and spacious patio) is the perfect spot to try a flight of generously poured ciders in fun varieties, from Lei (pineapple jalapeño) to Ember (toasted chai). Samples and full pours are also available, as are growlers, bottles, and cans.

Well-behaved dogs and children are welcome, per the company's website. While Far From the Tree has a few bar snacks available for purchase (nuts, beef jerky, and the like), customers can also bring food in or order delivery.

9. Jolie Tea Company

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105 Essex St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-5654
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A nearly endless selection of teas, served hot or iced. Tea flights. High tea. Macaron pairings. Bathroom wallpaper that will make you feel like you're Alice in Wonderland. This is Jolie Tea Company, and it is adorable. If you're a tea lover, this is a necessary addition to your Salem itinerary.

10. Melt

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60 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 826-5703
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Just a two-minute walk from the train station, Melt is the perfect spot to hit on your way into or out of Salem (or both, perhaps — there's no shame in a double ice cream day). There's a scoop of salted caramel and sea salt brownie ice cream hiding in this photo. Other fun flavors that have appeared at Melt include potato chip toffee, banana with caramelized white chocolate, peach with blackberry sauce, and strawberry balsamic.

11. Notch Brewery & Tap Room

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283 Derby St Ste Rear
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 238-9060
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After contract-brewing its signature session beers for six years, Notch Brewing finally has its own home, which includes a fun tap room (with skee ball!) and a great biergarten (well-behaved dogs allowed). There are no tasting flights; just grab a full pour (try the Reel to Reel cream ale) and relax. There are also no televisions — all the better for unplugging and socializing.

For snacking, Notch serves pretzels from Swissbäkers, Maitland Mountain Farm pickled vegetables, and German landjäger (sausage).

12. Opus Underground

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87 Washington
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-1100
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Head downstairs to Opus Underground for live music, and you'll also find a psychedelically decorated arcade room and excellent snacks, particularly the pork belly tacos (tamarind barbecue sauce, banh mi pickles, red cabbage, and cilantro). For a vegetarian entree option, try the coconut curry tofu — a giant portion served with scallion ginger rice and seasonal vegetables. And be sure to drink a cocktail or two or explore the interesting beer list. The knowledgeable bartenders are eager to talk about their favorites.

13. Rover Bagel @ Bambolina

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288 Derby St
Salem, MA 01970

Team Eater came up to Salem from Somerville — and found a little bit of Somerville in Salem. At the end of summer 2016, the Rover Bagel pop-up debuted at Bambolina (and the Swampscott Farmer's Market). The people behind Rover Bagel are Kimberly Chaurette (an alum of Somerville's Journeyman, Backbar, and Forge Baking Company) and Alec Rutter (also a Forge alum). They're making Montreal-style bagels from a four-year-old sourdough starter and baking them in Bambolina's wood-fired oven — that's why you see that nice char on the pictured bagel.

Rover will ramble on up to southern Maine to open a permanent location later in 2017 but is currently still popping up at Bambolina, so check out Rover's Facebook page for scheduling updates.

14. The Naumkeag Ordinary

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118 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 744-4968
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Located in the heart of Salem, this gastropub serves up hearty comfort food, from smoked gouda mac & cheese to chicken pot pie. Pictured is the short rib poutine, a hefty snack that pairs well with a sturdy beer on a cold winter's day. The Naumkeag Ordinary is known for its fun cocktail selection as well, but you'll have to visit in the summer to check it out; during the off-season, the restaurant has a beer-and-wine license, not a full bar.

1. A&J King Artisan Bakers

48 Central St, Salem, MA 01970

What to do when faced with piles of beautiful breads and pastries, all of which are probably amazing? Panic and point. It'll turn out ok no matter what you order at this Salem staple, which has been open for over a decade. There's always something new to discover; there are plenty of daily and seasonal variations on the menu as A&J focuses on sourcing everything locally, from grains to eggs to fruits and beyond. In addition to a wide range of breads and pastries, A&J also serves coffee and tea, made-to-order sandwiches, and more.Pictured: a delicate palmier, ordered as the successful result of panicking and pointing at the first thing that looked great.

48 Central St
Salem, MA 01970

2. Bambolina

288 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970

Team Eater has fallen desperately in love with Bambolina's "neo-Neapolitan" pizza, from the wood-fired char on the perfect crust to the fresh mozzarella and excellent toppings. Save plenty of stomach space for pizza (pictured here, the soppressata), but don't neglect the appetizers. Over the summer, for example, there was a mind-blowing asparagus starter.

The Bambolina team's next project, Kokeshi, opened in March 2017 just a short walk away. Give it a try for ramen and more.

288 Derby St
Salem, MA 01970

3. Bit Bar

50 Saint Peter St, Salem, MA 01970

Classic arcade games, booze, fun snacks — what more does anyone need? The menu features some over-the-top options, including an elk burger served on a doughssant (doughnut/croissant hybrid) with black garlic icing, but consider keeping things simpler with a dish such as the sesame nori-crusted tuna bits (Sriracha aioli, jalapeño, and sweet soy glaze) and a bit of afternoon gaming.

Bit Bar opened in June 2016 in the Old Salem Jail and features more than 30 arcade games and pinball machines. Most of the games are from the 1980s and 1990s.

50 Saint Peter St
Salem, MA 01970

4. Boston Hot Dog Company

60 Washington St, Salem, MA 01970

When your day calls for a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a root beer float, Boston Hot Dog Company is there for you. Served on a grilled and buttered bun, the hot dogs come steamed or grilled, topped in numerous styles. There's the Saturday Night Dog, for example, topped with baked beans, sauteed onions, and bacon bits, and the Taxi Dog — pastrami, Swiss, spicy brown mustard.

Pictured here: the Thai dog, topped with spicy peanut sauce and caramelized onions.

60 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970

5. Caramel Patisserie

281 Essex St., Salem, MA 01970

Don't leave Salem without stocking up on almost-too-beautiful-to-eat French pastries at Caramel, owned by siblings Dimitri and Sophie Vallier, who hail from southern central France. Dimitri has studied under chefs such as Paul Bocuse and Daniel Boulud.

Pictured here, an excellent kouign amann. Be sure to try some macarons as well, particularly chocolate mint and salted caramel.

281 Essex St.
Salem, MA 01970

6. Dairy Witch Ice Cream

117 Boston St, Salem, MA 01970

Dairy Witch has been serving up ice cream for more than 60 years, and while tales are told of its signature banana whipped frappe, the sundaes are also strong contenders here. Pictured: the top half of the gigantic Reese's Peanut Butter Cup sundae with peanut butter sauce and hot fudge. Vanilla soft-serve makes a great backdrop for all the toppings, but you can choose whichever ice cream flavor you fancy.

While this is technically walkable — it's about a mile from the train station — take a car if possible. It's a bit removed from Salem's store-packed main area, and it's an outdoor ice cream shack with no seating, so those who arrive on foot will find themselves eating a giant sundae on the edge of a parking lot (or while walking).

117 Boston St
Salem, MA 01970

7. Deacon Giles Distillery

75 Canal St, Salem, MA 01970

Find your way off the beaten path of Salem's tourist zone and be rewarded by a fun little bar — dubbed the Speakeasy Lab — where you can play boardgames and sip cocktails that feature Deacon Giles' spirits (gin, rum, and spiced rum). Try the Far Side of the Tracks (pictured), made with spiced rum, cider, maple syrup, egg white, and nutmeg. Like Salem's other boozy tasting rooms, Deacon Giles allows kids and dogs to hang out. Currently open Thursday through Sunday, with distillery tours and tastings on Saturdays and Sundays.

75 Canal St
Salem, MA 01970

8. Far From the Tree Cider Tasting Room

102 Jackson St, Salem, MA 01970

Far From the Tree's cozy tasting room (and spacious patio) is the perfect spot to try a flight of generously poured ciders in fun varieties, from Lei (pineapple jalapeño) to Ember (toasted chai). Samples and full pours are also available, as are growlers, bottles, and cans.

Well-behaved dogs and children are welcome, per the company's website. While Far From the Tree has a few bar snacks available for purchase (nuts, beef jerky, and the like), customers can also bring food in or order delivery.

102 Jackson St
Salem, MA 01970

9. Jolie Tea Company

105 Essex St, Salem, MA 01970

A nearly endless selection of teas, served hot or iced. Tea flights. High tea. Macaron pairings. Bathroom wallpaper that will make you feel like you're Alice in Wonderland. This is Jolie Tea Company, and it is adorable. If you're a tea lover, this is a necessary addition to your Salem itinerary.

105 Essex St
Salem, MA 01970

10. Melt

60 Washington St, Salem, MA 01970

Just a two-minute walk from the train station, Melt is the perfect spot to hit on your way into or out of Salem (or both, perhaps — there's no shame in a double ice cream day). There's a scoop of salted caramel and sea salt brownie ice cream hiding in this photo. Other fun flavors that have appeared at Melt include potato chip toffee, banana with caramelized white chocolate, peach with blackberry sauce, and strawberry balsamic.

60 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970

11. Notch Brewery & Tap Room

283 Derby St Ste Rear, Salem, MA 01970

After contract-brewing its signature session beers for six years, Notch Brewing finally has its own home, which includes a fun tap room (with skee ball!) and a great biergarten (well-behaved dogs allowed). There are no tasting flights; just grab a full pour (try the Reel to Reel cream ale) and relax. There are also no televisions — all the better for unplugging and socializing.

For snacking, Notch serves pretzels from Swissbäkers, Maitland Mountain Farm pickled vegetables, and German landjäger (sausage).

283 Derby St Ste Rear
Salem, MA 01970

12. Opus Underground

87 Washington, Salem, MA 01970

Head downstairs to Opus Underground for live music, and you'll also find a psychedelically decorated arcade room and excellent snacks, particularly the pork belly tacos (tamarind barbecue sauce, banh mi pickles, red cabbage, and cilantro). For a vegetarian entree option, try the coconut curry tofu — a giant portion served with scallion ginger rice and seasonal vegetables. And be sure to drink a cocktail or two or explore the interesting beer list. The knowledgeable bartenders are eager to talk about their favorites.

87 Washington
Salem, MA 01970

13. Rover Bagel @ Bambolina

288 Derby St, Salem, MA 01970

Team Eater came up to Salem from Somerville — and found a little bit of Somerville in Salem. At the end of summer 2016, the Rover Bagel pop-up debuted at Bambolina (and the Swampscott Farmer's Market). The people behind Rover Bagel are Kimberly Chaurette (an alum of Somerville's Journeyman, Backbar, and Forge Baking Company) and Alec Rutter (also a Forge alum). They're making Montreal-style bagels from a four-year-old sourdough starter and baking them in Bambolina's wood-fired oven — that's why you see that nice char on the pictured bagel.

Rover will ramble on up to southern Maine to open a permanent location later in 2017 but is currently still popping up at Bambolina, so check out Rover's Facebook page for scheduling updates.

288 Derby St
Salem, MA 01970

14. The Naumkeag Ordinary

118 Washington St, Salem, MA 01970

Located in the heart of Salem, this gastropub serves up hearty comfort food, from smoked gouda mac & cheese to chicken pot pie. Pictured is the short rib poutine, a hefty snack that pairs well with a sturdy beer on a cold winter's day. The Naumkeag Ordinary is known for its fun cocktail selection as well, but you'll have to visit in the summer to check it out; during the off-season, the restaurant has a beer-and-wine license, not a full bar.

118 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970

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