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Spending a Few Days on the North Shore

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I'm spending a few days on the North Shore. I need some recommendations. I already have a trip to Woodman's of Essex and Nick's Roast Beef penciled in. I'm looking for a few of the following:

1) Good, cheap lobster house- some place with good charachter

2) Nice, cozy, romantic restaurant (preferbly on the water) to celebrate Anniversary dinner.

3) Any other must-stops while I am up there!

Thanks!

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  1. Conomo Cafe in Essex is on the water and has consistently great food and reasonable wines. Very low-key not-a-scene atmosphere this time of year. Try the lobster hash appetizer, the grilled pear salad and fried oysters over wilted spinach and pernod creme. This is the one place that is consistently vibrant with main courses. 1Crispywife says its "got a well-executed california/new-american fusion thing happening" so be adventuresome. Avoid the ostrich with wasabe glaze - but nearly everything else is a sure bet. The warm apple dumpings and vanilla ice cream is a great 'sharing' dessert. DO call ahead for a window seat and P.S. the sun is down at 6:00 letely so go early for the view. If you go totally wild, you might spend a bit over $100/couple. Just lovely.

    - - Avoid Tom's Shea's in Essex and Circolo in Manchester. --

    15 Replies
    1. re: 1crispydude

      OK, I'm being difficult here, but when did Cape Ann (Gloucester, Ipswich, Essex, etc.) become part of the North Shore? Cape Cod isn't the South Shore. Sorry, couldn't help myself.
      Anyway, if you end up in the Saugus area, which IS the North Shore, DO NOT go to The Hilltop, I repeat, DO NOT go to The Hilltop!

      1. re: AlanH

        Sorry, I'm just visiting the place. Someone gave me bad info!

        1. re: AlanH

          I always thought of Ipswich and Essex as being on the North Shore..as did the NY Times in their recent article on Ipswich clams.

          I think of the South Shore as extending to Plymouth..just because the South Shore doesn't include Cape Cod doesn't mean that the North Shore doesn't include Cape Ann.

          I suppose Saugus is probably considered the North Shore, but where's the shoreline in Saugus?

          I don't know that labels like North Shore, South Shore, Western suburbs, etc are hard and fast regions..like state or county lines.

          Link: http://www.nytimes.com/ads/336x280Bos...

          1. re: 9lives

            Yes Cape Ann is the North Shore. Like GG I am also from the North Shore. Actually the Gateway to the North Shore as the sign said as you entered Revere from Chelsea. Saugus does have a shore. The Saugus River flows through and opens into a harbor. Does anyone remember Heck Allens on the harbor. I went there as a kid for fried clams. Not too far from Kane Donuts. Any way there was an active lobster fleet in Saugus. I believe it is still there. Just look off of rt. 107 and you can see the Saugus shore.

            By the way just back from "the North Shore", beautiful day for a ride which started with cidar donuts at Russell Orchards in Ipswich then fried clams at Essex Seafood. Great time for the North Shore.

            1. re: chuck s

              I'm just back from the North End..not as scenic as the North Shore..got a little jump on the pizza crawl..If Jimmy the Greek is handicapping this event, Reginas is an early favorite.

              1. re: 9lives

                Now, now, this is a friendly competition, no wagers, please!! (Altho why we're even GOING to Santarpio's is a mystery... ;) )

                1. re: galleygirl

                  Don't forget Bianchi's.

                2. re: 9lives

                  Hey! Everyone who buys a vote gets a vote. And those who buy more than one can stuff the ballot box (as well as themselves.) If more Santarpios fans turn out that day, the thing could swing the other way. Isn't this the way Boston elections go? So, you Santarpio's fans might want to get on board early and often.

                  Link below to the Pizza Crawl notice....

                  But, Regina's DOES kick ass.

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            2. re: AlanH

              How funny, of course Cape Ann is the North Shore! In fact, I lived in Essex for many years with a friend that was born and raised there, as were his grandparents and parents (as are most of the locals). Everyone refers to the area as the North Shore.

              1. re: Rubee

                No, not EVERYONE. I have friends who grew up there and they certainly go out of their way to seperate Cape Ann from the N. Shore (Saugus, Lynn, Swampscott,etc). What can I tell you? No big deal. The North Shore, as the name implies, USED to refer to the towns immediately north of Boston, on or near the water, just as the same was true of the South Shore. Now people seem to refer to much larger geographical areas.

                1. re: AlanH

                  funny....... I lived in gloucester and always called it the north shore.... hmm come to think of it most people I know call saugus-newburyport the north shore....

                  1. re: AlanH

                    "The North Shore, as the name implies, USED to refer to the towns immediately north of Boston, on or near the water, just as the same was true of the South Shore. Now people seem to refer to much larger geographical areas."

                    Well, I beg to differ, but the North Shore refers to that "larger geographic" coastal area from Boston to the New Hampshire border, as specified at the link below - from Revere to Salisbury. Maybe the towns your friends lived in were being elitist and trying to appropriate the geographic name for themselves, but the entire geographic area is considered the North Shore - and that's the way I've always heard it referred to.

                    Link: http://www.state.ma.us/envir/mwrp/nor...

                    Image: http://www.state.ma.us/envir/mwrp/nsm...

                    1. re: Linda W.

                      The map is, of course, for environmental purposes, so I should note that, as a practical matter, the term "North Shore" functionally often includes towns (or portions of towns) that adjoin the towns shown on the map.

                      1. re: Karl S.

                        Yup - Peabody isn't on the map, but I've always thought of that town as part of the North Shore.

                        1. re: Linda W.

                          um.... boring. If you guys have seen Jim Leff's latest posts about the increasingly HUGE bandwidth bills the site is recieving, you'd stop the banter about North Shore now and get on with dishing the chow.

                          Sorry if this seems I'm being bossy (as always), but c'mon guys...

            3. Sadler,
              In our Clam Crawl, and surrounding research, we decided that Essex Seafood was the best up there (and BTW, I grew up there, and North Shore is just fine!) for steamers, lobster rolls and CHEAPO LOBSTAHS!!!
              The Clam Box in Essex won for fried clams...

              One of my favorites, in Peabody, is O'Fado, for homestyle Portuguese food...

              From an earlier Cfox post;"Essex Seafood is open daily, year-round, 11am-9pm. Turn off 128 onto 133, and follow 133 into Essex.
              The Clam Box, according to their website, is open March
              7th- December 8th this year. In October they'll be closed Tuesdays and open 11-8 the rest of the week. For the Box, forget 128, stay on Rte. 1 into Rowley, take a right onto133 at the Agawam Diner. ..If you plan to hit both ....connect the dots by following 133 through the centers of Ipswich and Essex."

              And, NB, Essex Seafood is BYOB!

              Also, for fresh, plain, cheap seafood with NO view, hit the Sea Witch on Rt.1 in Peabody. great deals on lobstahs and lobstah bakes...Whatever you get, get steamers....

              1. Grapevine in Salem is wonderful.