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Best beach town for chow within 1 hr of Boston?

Have an out-of-town guest coming in this weekend and would like to take her to a nice beach town...friends have recommended Scituate and Manchester-by-the-Sea, but I obviously rely on you guys though for where the best food is. We've been to Newburyport and Ipswich already so would like to try something new. Please let me know your thoughts for towns along with where to eat. Many thanks as always...

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  1. Cape Ann!
    Gloucester - Alchemy or The Franklin
    Essex, The Village - Tried and True, standard menu but very good
    MBTS - Calas - See other reviews, a personal fave of late.

    1. For food I would highly recommend Hull, My first choice would be Bridgemans; other recs would be Saporitos, Mezze Mare, and Tosca (nearby in Hingham).

      1. Scituate is a pretty fun town, and it has some nice beaches nearby; Manchester has nice beaches, but it's more a residential town than a beach town.

        I'd say that Gloucester and Rockport are both good options, since each town has a number of beaches and there are plenty of decent restaurants in the area (The Causeway, Lobster Pool, Alchemy, Top Dog, My Place By The Sea, etc.). Essex is nearby, too, and although it is not really a beach town, there are some great seafood shacks there.

        1. Yankee Homecoming starts this weekend in Newburyport and there should be a lot of activity going on unless your trying to aviod that. There will be a lot of outside food vendors, music, and sightseeing.


          1. Near the one hour mark will get you to the Ogunquit, Maine area and there's dining options from lobster pounds to Oarweeds to MC Perkins Cove on up to Arrows - assuming you don't mind the ~60 degree ocean water....

            1 Reply
            1. re: steve999

              We have summer house in Ogunquit and I must say it has never taken us less than 1.5 hours to get there even speeding (dont tell). However, it is worth the extra 1/2 hour for the places mentioned as well as Barnicle Billy's in Perkins Cove. MC Perkins Cove is wonderful- with beautiful view of the ocean. It has always been good but now that Clarke, one of the chef owners of Arrows is pretty much in charge in the kitchen, the food has taken on a very high quality.

            2. Hull, as already mentioned before; you could also stop in Hingham on the way back for lobsters at Hingham Lobster Pound.

              I also really love the Lobster Pool up in Rockport. Rockport is an adorable "touristy" town with small beaches and some good chow. A word of warning about Top Dog: do not get anything with cheese on it - it's the type that comes out of a pump. Uck. Their fried clams are nice though.

              You could also make it to part of Maine, as noted above.

              3 Replies
              1. re: gini

                Essex is a short drive to Crane Beach in Ipswich, which also has good food at Ithaki and Zabiglione. Gloucester has Good Harbor Beach, Wingaersheak Beach, Cressy beach at Stage Fort Park, where the Cupboard serves awesome clam frittes. Rockport beaches are stickah-only as is MBTS unless you get there way early for one of the few paid spots.

                1. re: ipsofatso

                  I would NEVER go to Zabiglioni.

                  A few years ago my wife met a friend there on a hot summer midweek evening. The place was mostly empty, it was maybe 6PM. My wife's friend told the wait person she wanted just an appetizer or two because she wasn't that hungry, and got the response that restaurant policy demanded she order a full meal. My wife's friend asked sweetly if she could talk to the chef/owner/ to see if he would allow her to order as she wished. The chef/owner came out of the kitchen and refused, not too nicely.

                  The 2 women ordered dinners, drank a glass or 2 of wine and before they had finished their wine and coffee the wait person came over and told them they had to leave as the restaurant needed their table. There were many empty tables. My wife, who likes standing up for herself, refused to leave and told the waitress they would leave when they had finished. The 2 women remained talking and finishing for another 10 minutes, then left.

                  Cut to 11:30 that night. Our phone rang, waking my wife -- the owner/chef had gotten the phone number from the reservation sheet and was calling from the restaurant screaming at my wife that she could never set foot in his restaurant again. I happened to be on the line, too, so I heard everything. This guy was nuts. We debated calling the cops but imagined him showing up at our house with a cleaver in hand -- I am not making this up.

                  Go to Zabliglioni at your own risk

                  1. re: rmbelson

                    WOW!!!! I've had 3 weird experiences w/restaurant owners being rude, but nothing at that level!!!! There is a part of me that WANTS to go there now, to needle the guy.

                    I second the Westport/Horseneck rec, and will add Bayside, hard by the beach - never been, but it was just recommended by a coworker whose opinion I trust. http://www.thewestportbayside.com/

                    Don't leave the area w/out a wine tasting at Westport Rivers....their sparkling wines were served for state dinners at the Clinton White House. I've been to 15+ New England wineries and this is my favorite.

                    20 minutes from there is Tiverton RI, for homemade ice cream at Gray's.

              2. From Boston, it's about an hour to Westport, MA, the beautiful Horseneck Beach, and hard by, the great Back Eddy restaurant for dinner and a sunset: http://www.thebackeddy.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: janeer

                  I totally agree with janeer - go to Westport and the Back Eddy. Westport has a huge public beeach with nice warm water to swim in (unlike Hull and Cape Ann). Plus, it is very easy to drive to Westport from Boston.

                2. Lot's of good recs so far so I'll just answer the OP's question. If you rule out having actual beaches, then it's not even close, Essex, Ma.