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Moving to Marblehead--need chow and food shopping guidance

hello hounds,

I am hoping to take advantage of your wise counsel as we prepare to move from Cambridge to Marblehead in the coming weeks. I love Marblehead but I get the sense that some of the food options there are a bit precious/silly/touristy/overpriced. So, I'd love to hear of any gens you may know of there or in easy driving distance.

We have a toddler and don't really dine out much, though kid-friendly restaurants would be good to know about. In general, I'm really seeking three different things:

--recs for lowbrow awesome chow (roast beef sandwiches, donuts, seafood shacks, ice cream, etc.)

--recs for a Russo's substitute (is there such a thing?)--affordable abundant produce

--CSA/farm stand recs in the area

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Farm Direct Coop for the CSA. They have a waiting list so you might not get in for this year...but IMO it's worth the wait. They work with several different growers, so weren't quite as affected by the bad weather last year - each week their buyer would get whatever was available. The variety of produce wasn't as wide, but I was happy with the quantity (and especially the quality). Most weeks there was a choice available for some items so you didn't have to just take what you get..I don't know how they manage it, but it seems to work out OK.

    In addition to veggie and fruit shares, they offer a cheese share, an herb share, and in some locations a bread share. In the fall they offer late-season and winter shares, as well as extra cheese, honey, and maple syrup. You can also special-order veggies and fruits by the case, which works great for me - I love to pick-your-own but it's not feasible for me, with my hyperactive toddler. IF you let them know what items you are interested in, they will give you the prices and let you know when the items are available.


    1. One of the regulars covers the North Shore in her blog (and please forgive me for forgetting your name) http://www.northshoredish.com/
      If you venture into the wilds of Lynn both The Blue Ox and The Antique Table are worth a visit

      1 Reply
      1. re: bluesjack

        Hey bluesjack, thanks for the mention. There are actually two of us who hang out here on occasion. :)

      2. For seafood, there's a good market; Marblehead Lobster..which is sort of the NW corner of Old Town.

        I've bought some fresh fish and lobsters on the Fish Dock, that's been very reasonable..and of course fresh. Obviously not always available.


        Shubey's is a good gourmet type market..ok prepared foods but good cheese, charcuterie.

        Driftwood does a good breakfast. Barnacle has a nice view but food is nothing special.

        1. Marblehead is pretty rough for food. One real notable is AJ King Bakery in Salem. Excellent breads and superb scones, etc. O' fado in peabody is great for Portugese. A few of the places on the dock in Salem are also good for dining out.

          1. BAgels - Bagel world in Salem (Canal Street)
            Fresh Fruits & Veggies - Marblehead Farmers Market or Salem Farmers Market(I think starts in April/May til end of OCt- Early Nov.)
            Toddler Friendly, good eats - Hurricanes (MHD), Romano's - Pizza (MHD), Red Rock Bistro - Swampscott - 129), Fresh Taste of ASia - Sushi (Salem - Washington St), Passage to INdia (Salem, Washington St), Bella Verona - Italian (Salem), Garden Gourmet in Vinnin Square is not bad (chinese/sushi), Five Guys (burgers) Vinnin Square,
            We go to the above alot with our 3 yr old

            1. Hey butterfat, welcome to the North Shore!

              While Marblehead gets a bad rep for restaurants, there are exciting things happening all the time, and the North Shore food scene has really evolved over the past few years.

              During the summer and fall there is a good farmer's market at the Veteran's middle school, and Salem has a terrific one as well. I haven't done a CSA yet, but I believe there are two different ones- one with M'head pick up and one in Salem. Cape Ann Fresh Catch does a CSF delivery to M'head.

              Nothing here is going to rival Russo's, I'm afraid. :) Shubie's has a terrific wine, cheese and charcuterie selection. Their prepared foods are tasty, but expensive. Fruit of the Four Seasons does decent produce, but the prices don't seem any better than the Whole Foods in Vinnin Square, which has a better selection. Henry's Market in Beverly is terrific, too, with nice produce and a huge specialty foods selection.

              Locals will swear by the old favorites as far as low-brow foods. House of Pizza is the big townie fave with greek-style pies, but Tony's wins out with the family crowd due to a big bright new dining area. Mino's is the place for roast beef. For best doughnuts I'd say Ziggy's, a hole in the wall in Salem. I think Coffey's Ice Cream is better than Terry's, but they're only open spring through fall. Manhattan Sandwich does awesome NY deli style sandwiches. Boston Hot Dog in Salem does righteous dogs.

              Salem is full of excellent places to eat, as is Beverly. I could go on and on... feel free to drop me a line if you have any more specific questions, and I'll try to help you out.


              1. This is the other half of North Shore Dish. Just thought I'd pop in and add Jack Tar, which is in Old Town. Kid-friendly dining room, cozy atmosphere, and a decent kids menu (i.e., more than chicken nuggets). Great deals on pizza (certain nights) and a very nice selection of other dishes.

                1. Thanks SO much for all the great suggestions everyone! I am so excited about this move. Food was the one thing I wasn't sure of because I just have so little experience up in that direction, but you all have made me very hungry!

                  Thanks also for the blog link which I will definitely read faithfully.

                  I am hoping that maybe through one of the farmer's markets I will find a source for great eggs and raw milk, but if anyone has any leads on either of those (or pastured meats) I would love to hear them.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: butterfat

                      Fruit of the Four Seasons in Mhead sells Pete & Gerry's eggs (organic farm in NH, www.peteandgerrys.com). I do not know of a source for raw milk or a meat CSA with pick ups in our area. Doesn't mean there isn't one; I just don't know about it.

                      Stillman's Farm sold meat at the Mhead farmer's market last year, and from the Web site (www.marbleheadfm.com), it looks like they will be back this year. Kellie Brook Farm sold meat last year at the Newburyport farmer's market, don't know if they'll be back. It's a drive, but the market is really fabulous.

                      1. re: Northshoregirl

                        I live in Marblehead. Hubby and I go to Jack Tar's Restaurant all of the time. Great little out of the way place (near Crosby's market). Great burgers, entrees, wine, etc. The owners are wonderful! Very cozy feeling.

                        Our favorite Italian restaurant in Marblehead is Pellinos. Great food and ambiance.

                        Jack Tar Restaurant
                        126 Washington St Ste 2, Marblehead, MA 01945