Salem for Halloween
My friends and I are going to Salem for Halloween and we would love to know some of the great places to eat. If you don't mind, please specify the prices as low, med, or high. I would love a great sandwich (b/c as everyone knows Texas doesn't make sandwiches like ya'll do) and delicious pizza. But any variety of food that is really good be sure and list for us.
No one mentioned Gioia on Washington St. Med priced good Italian food. Was there last Thursday and got their dinner for 2 for $22.95 - special menu of about 10 items, salad included as well as 2 glasses of wine. I had chicken marsala that I loved and my husband had chicken, broccoli and ziti and said it was good - not in a heavy cream sauce, but an olive oil/garlic dressing.
Was at Taste of Asia last weekend for some suburban sushi. Practically no fish to choose from, and way too many rolls with mayonnaise and other gloopily-sweet sauces. The vegetable tempura appetizer was huge and had a good fry job on it though. The service was some of the worst I've seen - forgetting to bring cutlery, forgetting to enter two of the dishes we ordered, asking us 6 or 7 times what we ordered so he could put it in the system. Wish I had checked this thread before heading up there.
Re: all the recommendations for Cilantro: I just ate there Sunday and received truly horrendous service and unspectacular food.
The service might have been forgivable if they were busy, but we were one of only two occupied tables. (It was early and the crowds hadn't found it yet.) The waitress abandoned us and our drinks went dry. We finally politely asked the other waitress to please tell our waitress that we would like some refills. Rather than doing so, in a surly manner she refilled only my glass, with only tea, no ice, so that it wasn't cold. She ignored the other empty glasses, and then left and didn't fetch our waitress. We didn't see our waitress until she brought our food, and I politely asked her to refill my wife's tea, and to please add some ice to my glass, which was now half empty. As if to spite me, she did precisely what I asked, adding ice to my glass, but not bothering to top off the tea--she actually brought back a half empty glass! On a future round of refills, which we again had to specifically request, she again refilled only my glass. When she returned, my wife asked "me too," and she *still* didn't think to check whether our companions' glasses were empty (they were), so that for the final round of refills alone, we had to make 3 requests, and she made 3 trips. We just had to marvel at how actively hostile our waitress was--I don't think she was clueless enough for any of this to be accidental, and I swear we were not difficult or rude in any way. I think she just hated people, and the other waitress seemed to have the same attitude. I took the rare measure of writing "lousy service" on the cc slip and only tipping 10%, and then kicked myself for giving her way too much. (They did not charge for refills, so that does not explain the workflow.)
Also, the food was good but not good enough to justify the high price. The "large" guacamole was quite bland, and seemed more like a "small" to me. The first couple of bites of my sea bass seemed great, but then I realized it was one of those over-seasoned dishes that taste great for about 2 bites and then get really old really fast. The flavor was basically a *lot* of Lawry's Seasoned Salt, or close equivalent. I love flavorful food, but 6 tablespoons of Lawry's Seasoned Salt doesn't count as "good." The mole and cheese enchilada were good but unremarkable, and the 4th dish must not have been very special because I can't remember what it was.
We didn't even consider getting dessert, and the waitress didn't offer it--it was clear that she considered "customers" to be far too big an aggravation to do anything to prolong their stay.
Salem is, in my experience, not blessed with loads of chow-worthy options. To my way of thinking, these are some of the best, all relatively expensive:
Grapevine (American fare, open for dinner only)
Finz (seafood, lunch and dinner)
Cilantro (Mexican, dinner only)
Cilantro does have a cheap take-out sister spot, Taste of Cilantro, which may be open for lunch.
For really cheap and OK diner food, one can do worse than Red's and Boston Hot Dog does a serviceable dog and draft root beer.
As for other places, I'd avoid Strega (Italian) and Lyceum (American food), where I've found both the eats and service substandard. Both Dodge Street Grill and Salem Beer Works do unremarkable pub grub, though the beer is supposed to be good at the latter.
I live in Salem and the best place to eat (in my opion) is Bella Verona. Consistent, good service, delicious, and cheap.
That said, the city is mobbed, especially on Halloween itself and weekends. Absolutely make a reservation for dinner and plan your lunch ahead of time. Be prepared to wait for food and bars, as most will have lines on Halloween night, particulalry downtown. Take the train into Salem if you can. Driving isn't worth it. They close down several roads and the traffic is insane. Not that there will be anywhere to put your car if you do get in. Don't worry about the train leaving before last call, the Boston horse police and about 10 other towns sweep the streets at 11:00, so plenty of time to get to the station. You may also be able to take the Salem Ferry, if it's still running
Have a good time, bring a camera with fresh batteries. If the lines are too long, this year they have plenty of street vendors for fried dough, sausages, fries, etc.
Here is the Haunted happenings website. Some, about a third, of the places to eat are down the bottom.
You might also want to consider Asahi for good sushi and Japanese food.
I like Cilantro for Mexican and Brother's Deli for just regular deli/greesy spoon type food.
You might also want to consider Dodge Street Grill. Decent bar food, sandwiches, salads, burgers. It's been ages since I've eaten there but I distinctly remember them having yummy waffle fries.
Grapevine is a medium-priced restaurant but yummy food.
Also, to experience a nice New England place with working fireplace, head into the Hawthorne Hotel for at least a drink. It is right where all the action is.
Also, if you like consignment stores and finding lots of unique things, head into Witch City Consignment Shop on Essex Street in Salem - right downtown.
Welcome to Boston, y'all. Have a wonderful experience in Salem, You will see such neat costumes.
I can't judge if Cilantro is authentic but my wife says it is.
Oh there's the Edgwater Cafe which is a Salsa and chips kind of mexican place, i was not impressed at all by the place.
Also I'd be somewhat remiss is I didn't mention the best burger place in Salem, Major Magleashes, which is also a dive bar kinda place. Just up the hill on lafayette street and across the little park.
There's Strega as well, not related to Boston's Strega, I never actually eaten there though I have tried to a couple of times. I've heard that the drinks and the pizza are good, and they might not be as snooty as they started out.
There's also somekind of Jamaican or similar ethnic food place just up lafayette from Wendy's. I've heard decent things about them but have never been there.
Thanks for the responses. I am going to print these out and take them with me. Is the Mexican food restaurant really an authentic restaurant? I've tasted Salsa from the north and it tastes more like marinara than salsa. Of course, you guys have the sandwiches, pizza and seafood there so everything can't be perfect.
The first thing to consider is if you are here for halloween night or Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings previous is that there will be so many people that almost all eateries will be jamed packed. Make reservations or otherwise you will be out of luck.
Cafe gulu gulu - Unique and good sandwhiches and beer. med $
A new upper crust is just next door - Haven't tried it yet high$
Taste of Asia is pretty good, also next door. med $
Rockafellers is OK, I find both the food and especially the service lacking. low-med $
Cafe Gratziani - Itilian, excellent reccomnded - low $
Bella verona - small place very good italian- low $
Passage to India - reccommended - med$
Beer works - Infested with familes and young kids, service poor, not reccommended - low$
finz - nice if you like seafood - high$
Victoria Station - med$
Capt's - Serice can vary High Dollar
pigs eye - service poor IMO, med$
witches brew - service can vary but the food is good, low$ to med$
Cilantro - excellent reccomended for mexican high$
Cafe Jaho - good coffe house fair med$
Grape vine - fancy italian, it's OK IMO, high$
Both Hotels downtown have pubs, both are pretty decent, med$
Front st coffee house -Popular with the younger cafe crowd, I don't much care for the food. med$
Borther Deli on Derby across from beerworks - Pretty good food, but adds up fast, lines can be long - med$
Thai in the walking mall, pizza in the walikign mall - poor not reccommened
I've posted these recommendations before, but since I was just in Salem last week I feel comfortable recommending them again. The Old Spot near the Peabody Essex Museum has good pub fare, with the ploughmans lunch being my personal favorite. Great place to hang out and enjoy a few drinks, prices are in the mid range. Finz near Pickering Wharf is a little more expensive, but I love the water views and the raw bar. Try the Rasberry Stolie Wasabi Oysters $13.99 for 6 or go with the seafood assortment which has 2 regular oysters; 2 stolie oysters and 2 shrimp. They also serve lobster mac & cheese, perfectly golden fried clams and a great baked stuffed lobster.
I heartily second the Finz rec. I admit I have had a few misses there, but overall for the view and the (mostly great) food, it is really a fine place. We had our wedding reception there, and my guests still talk about how good the food was. The staff is also very nice and the room is really nice. The oysters are always fresh and delicious and they make a very good mignonette - in my mind - key to the oyster experience - must use a good vinegar - and they do!