Essential Eating Guide to Salisbury Beach
I grew up going to Salisbury Beach so I feel like writing the essential eating guide to Salisbury Beach is my destiny. My family had a beach house there where I spent most summers. And while the landscape has changed a lot since we were kids and teenagers, the food choices have pretty much remained the same. Over the last several years, great strides have been made in reinventing Salisbury Beach which had fallen on tough times. Much money, time and effort has gone into the redevelopment of the area.
Many new condos have been built, decrepit buildings on the water were torn down and a brand new boardwalk meanders along the ocean. A permanent stage sits in the middle of the main drag to accommodate weekly entertainment. New tables and benches make eating in the center a lot more pleasant. For the first time in years, it seems vibrant with families enjoying once again all it has to offer. I have been a fan of and spent over 40 years researching places to eat at Salisbury. I hope you too will have a chance to sample some of the best the beach has to offer.
There are many places to get pizza at Salisbury center. Most of them are the square beach type pizza, a fairly bland slice with not a lot of sauce and cheese. The best of this type is Cristy’s. The dough has some oil in it so it has a nice chew and flavor, the sauce is not too sweet and the cheese is full fat. The best way to have it is to add a slice of provolone cheese to the top as it gives it a nice little bite. In second place is Tripoli’s. I am loyal to Tripoli’s as a bakery, but I am not fond of the sweet sauce which Tripoli uses. The crust has very little oil, if any in it so it is a bit drier. The meat pie at Tripoli is the bomb though. It has nice chunks of pork in it, onion and seasonings that stands up to the crust.
If round pizza is your thing, then give Jilly’s a try. She always has at least 3 or 4 different pizzas ready for slices in addition to selling whole pies. But the real reason to go to Jilly’s is for the Pepper rings and Onion rings. They are deep fried pillows of heaven. Both are batter-dipped and fried to order. The batter is the perfect consistency and thickness. If you have never had pepper rings, then you are in for a treat. So much better in flavor than onion rings. Jilly’s also has hand-cut fries which are quite tasty.
Happy’s is a fascinating building that causes much speculation. There is a castle apartment above the food stand that the owner lives in. However, one thing is for certain, Happy’s serves the best fried dough. Dough is stretched perfectly and fried in the right temperature oil which ensures a fully cooked piece of fried dough. I hate when fried dough isn’t cooked all the way through. Happy’s also has German Fries served with or without cheese sauce. Well that’s what the menu says. I say with cheese sauce. The best fries hands down. 40 Broadway, Salisbury
Willey’s Handmade Candy is in Salisbury Beach Center. They are a third generation candy company using their own ORIGINAL RECIPES to make exceedingly well-crafted chocolates, candies and confections. Willey’s still makes their candy using the original equipment and not mass-produced in a factory. Their candy tastes the way you remember hand-crafted candy tastes. Willey’s offers all kinds of chocolate candies, homemade caramel corn, sugar free candy, taffy and sugar free taffy, caramel apples, homemade brittle, fudge, homemade peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter, roasted nuts and ice cream. Willey’s will ship candy to you or as a gift to someone else and you can order online. www.willeyshandmadecandy.com
Lee’s is located on the side of Joes PlayLand and offers some of the best fried seafood you will find anywhere. We have to get an order of fried clams every time we go to the beach and often times will drive up just to get the fried clams. The batter is light, not greasy and flavorful. The clams are fresh and you get a good selection of size in each order. The best thing is the tartar sauce is fantastic. Places that serve great fried clams and sub-par tartar sauce do not receive a return visit from us. Half the point to fried clams is the tartar sauce. Surprisingly, Lee’s also has a pretty decent burger and onion rings. The ring batter has a bit of cornmeal in it so it’s kind of a hybrid. Also, they offer several picnic tables to eat at.
Lena’s Seafood is a no frills spot on Rabbit Rd, just off Route 286. This is our favorite place for fried seafood. They have a Captain Hook Platter for 2 that includes fried clams, shrimp and scallops, haddock, flounder, smelts, French fries, onion rings, coleslaw and rolls. One of the best things about Lena’s is that you can order things with a beer batter instead of the cornmeal breading. We always get the fish and shrimp with beer batter coating. The plate really does feed 2 people for a mere $35 and there are plenty of clams and scallops on it, something most places skimp on in a fisherman’s platter. However, we usually do supplement it with a small order of rings. Tartar sauce is good and plentiful, you help yourself.
These are two long term staples Salisbury/Seabrook line. Just a few minutes from the center by car, the 2 rival seafood restaurants sit across from one another on Route 286. Our favorite is Brown’s. Brown’s is cash only, BYOB, and has indoor and outdoor seating right on the marsh where you see people fishing. The item not to miss here is the steamers. They are so sweet you really only need the broth to dip them in and rarely if ever sandy. Steamed lobsters is another favorite. They do them well and you will see lobsters at almost every table. The one caveat is that they have multiple order lines so most likely you will end up needing to go in more than one line. The steamers are a line by themselves and you can’t order anything else at that window. Markey’s is cash only, they have indoor and outdoor seating and they do serve wine and beer. They are also known for the steamed lobsters, clam chowder and clams.
There are several places that offer a casual waiter-service or fine dining.
Located right on Salisbury Beach, in the center, Seaglass offers fine dining and perhaps the best views of the ocean. It is a beautiful space and once inside you will completely forget about where you are. Seaglass serves lunch and dinner daily with brunch on Sundays and during the week, they offer several specials and discounts on dining. The dinner menu is fairly large with many fish and seafood entrees along with steak, ribs, chicken duck and lamb entrees. They do not have a fryalator and do not offer fried foods. The Jumbo Maryland crab cakes, clam chowder, filet mignon and haddock Oscars are amongst the favorites. 4 Oceanfront North, Salisbury www.seaglassoceanside.com
Capri is across the street from Seaglass, is primarily an Italian restaurant and they are only open for dinner. They serve a lot of the Italian favorites in addition to some new takes on classic dishes. Capri has a well-rounded antipasto plate that serves 2-4 people. Not as expensive as Seaglass. 3 Central Ave., Salisbury www.capriseaside.com
Vasa Waterfront Kitchen and Bar is in Salisbury just across the bridge from Newburyport. They are open for lunch and dinner and offer indoor and outdoor seating. Vasa is a chef-driven restaurant therefore the menus change seasonally to account for what is available to the kitchen. The menus feature plenty of seafood, salads and sandwiches with a good amount of gluten free options. 17 Bridge Rd., Salisbury www.vasawaterfront.com
Just a few minutes down Route 1A is the Hungry Traveler. This by no means a fancy restaurant; it is solid home cooking with large portions. Owned by the same family for over 40 years, the Traveler has been here as long as I can remember and has not changed either on the inside or the outside. The menu is full of old-school favorites: Veal Oscar, baked stuffed clams, Haddock Au gratin, Rack of Lamb, Lobster Pie, Prime Rib, Baked stuffed Lobsters, Escargot, Fried Seafood and French Onion Soup. Yes the place needs a face lift, but the prices are food and the food is always good. 98 Beach Rd., Salisbury www.hungrytravelerrestaurant.com
For Just drinks…
Surfside 5 has one of the best views and outside deck on the North Shore. Perched directly over the beach and ocean, the deck has sweeping views. Nothing compares to the location. They are in the old 5 O’clock club location and the inside is not a very welcoming spot but you only go here for the fantastic outside location. At night, Surfside becomes a nightclub with live bands. The deck is crowded and a little rowdy, but if live music on the water is appealing to you, they also offer reggae Sundays. The doors open at 4pm, a DJ starts at 5pm and live music starts at 6pm. They do serve appetizers/snacks, sandwiches, salads and hotdogs. It’s probably best to stick to the simple here and do your main eating somewhere else.
In The News
There’s a new player in the home delivery meal system and this one is for people who REALLY don’t cook. Tovala sells healthy pre-prepped dinners that you cook in their $400 smart oven. Each meal has a barcode on the package that you scan with the oven. Rather than you following instructions for cooking, the oven reads the code and then applies a combination of cooking methods for that product. The oven will steam, broil and bake the food according to pre-determined specifications. Once the meal is finished cooking the oven will send you a phone message.
The downside is it is probably the most expensive home delivery meal option as first you have to purchase their $400 oven and then a package of three single-serving dinners costs $36. Like most of the other services, Tovala offers meals with quinoa, faro, and other fancy ingredients. But the upside is that after trying Tovala out, Wall Street Journal reporter Geoffrey Fowler declared that all the dishes were “at least diner-quality and most better than that.” You can check this out at www.tovala.com
Expected to open in Medford in the next couple of weeks, Semolina Kitchen & Bar will offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The forthcoming restaurant’s Instagram feed shows an array of items, including pizza, cinnamon rolls, and black pepper salmon with Iggy’s bagels and eggs. The restaurant will also have a full liquor license. Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Somerville, a popular food and wine shop in Somerville brings us Semolina. They offer cooking classes, hearty sandwiches, and fresh pasta. Semolina will serving Pasta from its sister restaurant plus coffee, and a market with items available for takeout. 572 Boston Ave, Medford www.semolinakitchen.com
Yankee Homecoming BrewFest Fundraiser, Newburyport Saturday July 29th from 5:00pm – 9:00pm
The Yankee Homecoming BrewFest is on for Saturday, July 29th and will once again serve as the final fundraiser for this year’s festivities. All proceeds will go back to Yankee Homecoming. BrewFest will take place rain or shine, under a gigantic tent, on the waterfront and adjacent to the boardwalk. Participating Breweries include Allagash Brewing, Baxter Brewing, Blue Point Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Downeast Cider House, Down the Road Brewery, Global Beer Network, Goose Island, Ipswich Ale, Kona Brewing, Redhook Brewing, Riverwalk Brewing, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, Troegs, Wachusett Brewing, Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer, Nauti Seltzer, New Belgium Brewing, Newburyport Brewing, , Omission Beer, Shiner Beer, Smutty Nose Brewing, St. Killian Crabbie’s and others.
Freevolt will provide the soundtrack for the evening, and food will be available for purchase from Domino’s Pizza and The Deck. General Admission costs $35 and the first 200 guests to enter the event will receive a free Yankee Homecoming BrewFest koozie while supplies last! A limited number of non-drinker tickets are also available for a $15 donation. www.yankeehomecoming.com/event/brewfest-2