Where to Eat and Drink in Salem, Massachusetts

Go for the ghouls, stay for the very good food.

The Roof
Photo: Tammara Flanagan

While Salem, Massachusetts, will be forever famous for the 1692 witch trials — and its associated spooky attractions — the culinary scene has also become a highlight. Here are the beverage spots, bakeries, and restaurants to check out next time you're in town.

The Roof at The Hotel Salem

When The Hotel Salem opened its doors in 2017, it had a draw for locals, too: Salem's first-ever roof deck, with views of the harbor, church steeples, and historic rooftops for miles around. Open through the end of October (request a blanket from a host if you get chilly), The Roof keeps the warm weather vibes going with a Mexican-inspired food and drink menu, including margaritas and tacos. In colder months, retreat downstairs for a double burger from the open-concept lunch and dinner bar, Counter.

Kokeshi

With its flashy atmosphere complete with graffiti-lined walls and colorful paper umbrellas hanging from the rafters, Kokeshi is nothing if not vibrant. Head here for Asian-inspired street food like an octopus hot dog sprinkled with daikon slaw and comforting bowls of rice noodles and ramen, including the Colonel Sanders ramen topped with fried chicken. If you're in the mood for pizza, try the Neapolitan-style pies at Bambolina, Kokeshi's sister restaurant, which is located under the same roof.

Ledger Restaurant & Bar

A circa-1818 former savings bank found new life when chef-owner Matt O'Neil oversaw its thoughtful transformation into the gleaming Ledger Restaurant & Bar. Rustic touches like exposed original brick, a wall of repurposed deposit boxes, and a long, wooden communal table sit alongside more polished elements, including a sweeping open kitchen with a custom wood fire grill and a dramatic, oversized chandelier over the bar. The menu has a contemporary New England vibe, with seasonal and locally sourced sides like cornbread and succotash, and hearty mains like a Berkshire pork chop with marinated peaches.

Life Alive

Long before going plant-based was trendy, Life Alive was spreading its version of veggie love in the Boston area in the form of nutrient-packed smoothies, salads, and grain bowls (try the Green Goddess bowl with ginger soy sauce and sprouted legumes). Now with more than eight locations, including an outpost in Salem, this organic café serves up the type of clean eats you'd expect to find at a pricey yoga retreat.

Far From The Tree Cider

When you need a break from the witch museums and haunted graveyard tours, retreat to Far From The Tree's decidedly more mellow taproom. Pull up a stool in the rustic indoor space or perch on a picnic table on the patio outside, and sample hard ciders that run the gamut from off-dry heritage blends and Citra-hopped versions to out-there creations like limited edition Ecotoplasm, a bright green sipper spiked with jalapeño and green pepper.

Notch Brewery & Taproom

Notch Brewery is an ahead-of-the-curve session brewer specializing in low-alcohol German and Czech-style lagers and ales. Their Salem location constantly rotates what's on tap but you can't go wrong with their signature session IPA, Left of the Dial, and even more quaffable Zwickel pale ale. In between rounds of Skee-Ball in the taproom, also check out Voll Projekt, the brewery's foray into full-strength brews.

A&J King Artisan Bakers

Master makers of all things crusty and buttery, artisan bakers Jackie and Andy King have earned themselves a cult following in the city. Stop by A&J King Artisan Bakers' original location in downtown Salem for a flaky apple tart or cinnamon bun. Then, fill your arms with as many rustic loaves of sourdough and baguettes as you can possibly tote home.

Caramel French Patisserie

French-born and classically trained pastry chef Dimitri Vallier makes some of the best treats in town — apparent by one glance at his picture-perfect pastry case. His elegant sweets, including Paris-Brest eclairs and triangles of caramel mousse with poached pears, are simply transportive. The only sign you're still in Salem? Alongside the more traditional almond and rose macarons, you'll find orange and black ones, too.

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