Recommendations for Boston area
Gloucester has some great spots. Head to Bear Neck to be by the water. I enjoy the raw bar at Rudder, but haven't had much more there after a bad dinner years ago - I'm sure it has improved, but a great spot to watch the boats and enjoy a few bivalves. We really like Franklin Cafe on Main, and for family dining Causeway is excellent. You can always order a fried seafood platter to go and have a picnic on the waterfront.
In the Essex/Rockport area I would recommend the following:
Ipswich Clam Box ( Ipswich)
Village Restaurant in Essex
If you are looking for a great place to have breakfast in that area..you won't find better than Village Pancake House in Rowley ( about half hour from Rockport...10 minutes from Ipswich Clam Box). Don't let the name fool you ..it's very pretty and the breakfast is excellent.
Had one day in Boston and wasn't anticipating a lunch. Family and friends were depending on me for a recommendation, so I quickly glanced at this post and went to the Daily Catch for seafood. This was one of the most disappointing dining experiences I've had. I let down everyone.
The food was below mediocre. We ordered calamari, which arrived over fried and mostly with bits of batter. I had the house specialty of the puttanesca black pasta with scallops. The scallops were nicely cooked, but the black pasta seemed to be made with a pound of salt. The broiled fish was insipid and the accompanying vegetables were burnt rather than broiled. Shrimp was fine but forgettable.
The decor and service of the restaurant were mundane. The restaurant is tucked away in an office building without much ambiance.
All in all, I would not ever recommend this restaurant to anyone. There must be better food in Boston!
Is the North End location consistently much better than the courthouse/waterfront location? How about the Brookline location? I've only been to the waterfront location, where the food was just ok and the service despite an empty house extremely slow and rude. Best experience was at the Kendall Square location, decades ago.
In regards to clam shacks, although I mentioned the Causeway, it is not a true clamshack in the sense of the Essex County Clamshack Competitors, but serves up well executed fried food and lots of other great family friendly food.
People have their favourites, but I have found thru years of research that one place that may be great one month may suffer another month due to the lacking skills of the fry chef/staff/oil. I find it always best to order just one platter for the fam, and see how it goes. If it goes well order a second plate. Most Fisherman's Platters etc, can feed a family of four.
for your 4 days in boston, hope this is helpful:
Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:
Boston Magazine 11/11 issue: 50 Best Boston Restnts. This list is a very comprehensive and convenient reference list for brief restnt. descriptions, essential info, website links of the 50:
as to Gloucester,Rockport area, I'm working on putting together something for that area and will post a link to it when i do. You might want to do a CH search for 'North Shore' as well as the individual towns, because you may find more posting there.
There's never 100% CH consensus but many, me included, laud The Clam Box in Ipswich as having the freshest cleanest frying around. It is about 1/2 hr west of rockport harbor.
In Salem, the best casual but lovely No.Italian food can be found at 62 Wharf, which also may be continuing their neighborhood prix fixe next summer , which is a great deal. There is also a funky Lobster Shack there that some people like, but i've never been. Howling Wolf is a good Mexican place in Salem for tacos-type Mexican food .They are open all day and not many good Salem places are.
when you start planning the Boston part of your trip, let us know where you're staying, if you have a car or are planning certain activities, and what you're seeking food wise- so we can give you the most relevant suggestions. Welcome in advance!