Unique Restaurants on the North Shore: 12 Incredible Places to Eat

by Jen
Unique Restaurants on the North Shore
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Are you searching for the most unique restaurants on the North Shore? From historic taverns to vibrant fusion eateries, here are 12 of the coolest places to eat north of Boston.

As a Massachusetts local, let me take you on a tour of the North Shore’s most unique restaurants. This place is a foodie’s dream, bursting with one-of-a-kind eateries that are as much about the experience as they are about the food.

From hidden gems tucked away in quaint streets to vibrant spots with stunning ocean views, the North Shore is full of surprises. I’ve loved discovering these places, each with its own special story and flavor.

Get ready to explore the unique side of the North Shore’s food scene. Whether it’s a historic diner with a twist or a seaside restaurant with breathtaking views, each spot on this list is a must-visit. Here are twelve unique restaurants that truly define the culinary spirit of the North Shore!

The top restaurants to visit on the North Shore right now

Unique Restaurants on the North Shore

Ready to discover the culinary gems of the North Shore? There’s a diverse array of dining experiences waiting for you, from seaside eateries with stunning views to cozy diners steeped in history. Join us as we explore the best places to eat on the North Shore.

Are you in the mood for a historic tavern where American revolutionaries once dined? Or perhaps you’re seeking a modern, vibrant spot where the flavors of Asia come alive? No matter your dining preference, the North Shore has it all. Here’s your ultimate guide to the most unique restaurants on the North Shore. Prepare to turn every meal into an unforgettable experience!

1. Kelly’s Diner

In the heart of Somerville, Kelly’s Diner is a local secret that’s all about classic American comfort food. For years, this diner has been a beacon for those seeking a taste of nostalgia mixed with delicious flavors.

Kelly’s, with its retro 1950s decor, feels like a time capsule. It’s small and unassuming, but what it offers in terms of flavor is anything but. Regulars and newcomers alike flock here for the legendary breakfasts – think perfectly fluffy pancakes and eggs done just right. If you’re feeling carnivorous, I highly recommend the Linguica breakfast plate.

The star of the show is their homemade corned beef hash. It’s a dish that perfectly captures the essence of traditional American cooking – simple, hearty, and utterly satisfying. Each bite is a delightful mix of crispy and savory. It’s a must-try for anyone visiting the diner and a highlight among the best places to eat on the North Shore.

Kelly’s Diner, a true hidden gem restaurant on the North Shore, offers more than a meal – it offers an experience steeped in community and comfort. Whether you’re starting your day or looking for a cozy lunch spot, Kelly’s in Somerville is a must-visit for that authentic diner feel.

Kelly’s Diner is one of the unique restaurants on the North Shore.
Kelly’s Diner is a local secret serving classic American comfort food, a beacon of nostalgia and delicious flavors.

2. Newburyport Rear Range Lighthouse

Get ready for a dining adventure at Newburyport Rear Range Lighthouse in Newburyport, MA! This isn’t your typical restaurant – it’s a lighthouse turned into a dining haven. For $350 to $700, you can book this charming beacon for an evening, complete with your very own wait staff. How cool is that?

The fun part? You get to pick your meal from some of the best restaurants north of Boston. Craving Thai? Brown Sugar by the Sea has you covered. In the mood for fresh seafood? Starboard Galley will delight you. It’s like having the best of Newburyport’s culinary scene served right in a lighthouse!

Imagine sitting inside a lighthouse, surrounded by panoramic ocean views, as you indulge in your favorite dishes. It’s perfect for romantic dates, celebrating special moments, or just having a unique meal with friends. And with the lighthouse’s cozy ambiance, you’re guaranteed an intimate and unforgettable dining experience.

Make sure to book at least 48 hours in advance to snag this exclusive spot. Dining at the Newburyport Rear Range Lighthouse is a festive, one-of-a-kind experience that tops the list of unique places on the North Shore to eat. So, are you ready for an evening that’s as spectacular as the view?

Dine at Newburyport Rear Range Lighthouse, enjoying top restaurant meals within this unique lighthouse setting!
Dine at Newburyport Rear Range Lighthouse, enjoying top restaurant meals within this unique lighthouse setting! | Source: https://lighthousepreservation.org/

3. The Little Depot Diner

Hop aboard the train at The Little Depot Diner in Peabody! This isn’t just a diner – it’s a 1929 Worcester Lunch Car, where history meets delicious comfort food. With only 15 stools, it’s like stepping into a cozy time capsule, complete with original tiles and walls.

The Little Depot Diner, often called the “Cheers of Diners,” is a place where everyone might soon know your name. Owned by the Maxwell Family since 2017, it’s become a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike. Here, cell phones and laptops take a back seat, making way for good old-fashioned conversation and hearty meals.

What’s cooking? Expect classic breakfast favorites, all served up with a side of rockin’ blues. The vibe is as charming as the food is tasty. It’s affordable, friendly, and a perfect spot to unwind with a cup of fresh ground coffee or to dive into a plate of comfort food that’ll leave you smiling.

Located in Peabody Square, The Little Depot Diner is one of the best restaurants on the North Shore, offering a unique dining experience that’s both nostalgic and delightful. Don’t forget to leave your gadgets at the door and get ready for a breakfast experience that’s as much about the atmosphere as it is about the food!

The Little Depot Diner offers a cozy, time capsule-like experience with just 15 stools and original tiles and walls.
The Little Depot Diner offers a cozy, time capsule-like experience with just 15 stools and original tiles and walls.

4. 1606 Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Head over to 1606 Restaurant & Oyster Bar at the Beauport Hotel Gloucester for a dining experience that’s as refreshing as the sea breeze. This fine dining restaurant on the North Shore is a gem for seafood lovers, offering a front-row seat to the ocean’s beauty.

The menu is a celebration of the sea. Dive into their fresh oysters or savor the chef’s creative entrees, each bursting with local flavors. It’s like a culinary tour of the coast, right on your plate.

The atmosphere at 1606 is just as impressive. It’s cozy yet classy, perfect for both laid-back lunches and elegant dinners. Imagine relaxing on their deck, a cool drink in hand, with the ocean stretching out before you – it’s pure bliss!

Open daily for breakfast and with a special Sunday brunch, 1606 is more than a restaurant – it’s a destination. And for an extra dash of luxury, check out the Birdseye Rooftop Pool Bar. It’s the perfect spot for food, views, and good times. Without a doubt, 1606 is one of the coolest places to eat on the North Shore, MA.

Experience a refreshing dining venture at 1606 Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Beauport Hotel Gloucester.
Experience a refreshing dining venture at 1606 Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Beauport Hotel Gloucester.

5. Ipswich Ale Brewery

For a taste of local brews and a lively atmosphere, Ipswich Ale Brewery in Ipswich is the place to be. This brewery is a hub of flavor and fun, where the craft of brewing comes to life.

At Ipswich Ale Brewery, it’s all about the beer. Their lineup includes everything from crisp lagers to rich stouts, each brew telling its own story of craftsmanship and local pride. And let’s not forget their seasonal specials – they’re like a celebration of the year in a glass.

It’s not just the beer that makes Ipswich Ale Brewery stand out. The place buzzes with energy. Whether you’re here for a tour, a tasting, or just to hang out with friends, the vibe is always welcoming and upbeat.

Pair your pint with some tasty pub grub, and you’ve got yourself a perfect outing. The food here complements the beer beautifully, which makes every sip and bite a delightful experience.

Open to beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike, Ipswich Ale Brewery is a must-visit for anyone looking for fun places to eat on the North Shore. It’s simple, it’s lively, and it’s absolutely delicious – a true local gem that’s all about good times and great beer.

Ipswich Ale Brewery: Local brews and a lively hub where brewing comes to life in flavor and fun.
Ipswich Ale Brewery: Local brews and a lively hub where brewing comes to life in flavor and fun.

6. Bob Lobster

If you’re craving seafood with a side of seaside charm, Bob Lobster on Plum Island Turnpike is your go-to spot. Trust me, this place is more than a seafood shack. It’s a local legend where the lobster roll reigns supreme!

Let me tell you about their lobster roll – it’s a masterpiece. Packed with fresh, juicy lobster meat and just the right touch of seasoning, it’s the kind of dish that turns first-timers into regulars. If you’re still hungry, I highly recommend the clam chowder.

Bob Lobster isn’t just about great food. It’s about the whole beachy, breezy experience. Sit back and soak in the views of the marsh, or grab a bite to take to the beach. It’s laid-back, it’s friendly, and it’s quintessentially New England.

Don’t skip their homemade ice cream – it’s the cherry on top of a perfect seafood feast. Open seasonally, Bob Lobster is one of the best restaurants north of Boston. It’s fun, it’s flavorful, and it’s an absolute must-visit for that killer lobster roll.

Bob Lobster is a local legend known for its iconic lobster roll beyond the typical seafood shack.
Bob Lobster is a local legend known for its iconic lobster roll beyond the typical seafood shack.

7. Mission on the Bay

Mission on the Bay in Swampscott is a real treat for your senses. Picture this: sipping a craft cocktail on an oceanfront roof deck, with the Boston skyline in the backdrop. It’s an experience that’s hard to beat!

The vibe here is all about relaxed sophistication. Whether you’re cozying up in the main dining room or chilling at the Ocean Bar roof-deck, every spot offers a stunning view and a laid-back atmosphere. It’s the perfect blend of New England charm and a touch of the exotic.

Now, let’s talk food. Their menu is a fusion of classic New England fare with Brazilian and Asian twists. Each dish is a surprise, a delightful mix of familiar and new flavors. And the seafood? It’s as fresh as it gets, a true taste of the ocean.

Mission on the Bay is a fantastic spot for dinner on the North Shore. If you’re planning a special night out or just want to enjoy some good food with a view, this place has got you covered. It’s fun, it’s flavorful, and it’s definitely one of the most unique restaurants on the North Shore.

At Mission on the Bay, enjoy craft cocktails on an oceanfront roof deck with the Boston skyline.
At Mission on the Bay, enjoy craft cocktails on an oceanfront roof deck with the Boston skyline.

8. Michael’s Harborside

Michael’s Harborside in Newburyport is where the seafood magic happens. This waterfront gem is all about fresh catches, stunning river views, and a vibe that’s as lively as the Merrimack River itself. It’s one of the North Shore’s best restaurants, hands down.

I highly recommend Michael’s Haddock Po Boy. Believe me, it’s something else. It’s packed with fresh, succulent lobster meat – a true New England classic done right. And if you’re into burgers, their juicy ones are a must-try. Pair your meal with one of their signature cocktails, and you’ve got yourself a feast.

The atmosphere here is warm and welcoming all year round. Cozy up by the fireside in winter or bask in the sun on their popular outdoor deck in the warmer months. It’s the perfect spot for any mood or season.

Michael’s is a part of Newburyport’s soul. It’s a favorite among locals, boaters, and tourists alike. Whether you’re there for a casual meal, Sports and Trivia Nights, or just to soak in the waterfront ambiance, it’s a place that always feels just right.

So, if you’re in Newburyport and looking for a spot that combines great food, fun, and fantastic views, Michael’s Harborside is the place to be. It’s simple, it’s upbeat, and it’s delicious – a waterfront dining experience you don’t want to miss.

Michael's Harborside: Fresh catches, stunning river views, and a lively vibe echoing the Merrimack River.
Michael’s Harborside: Fresh catches, stunning river views, and a lively vibe echoing the Merrimack River.

9. King’s Dining & Entertainment

King’s Dining & Entertainment in Lynnfield is a playground for all ages. If you’re looking for fun and unique restaurants on the North Shore, this is your jackpot. It’s where great food, bowling, and arcade games come together for an unforgettable time.

Imagine this: you’re knocking down pins, laughing with friends, and then sitting down to some seriously tasty food. Their menu has something for everyone – from mouth-watering burgers to fresh salads. And the drinks? They’re just as fun as the games!

The vibe at King’s is all about having a good time. It’s lively, it’s buzzing, and it’s the perfect place to let loose. Whether you’re planning a birthday bash, a family outing, or just a night out, King’s has got you covered.

Open late into the night, King’s is where you can rule the night. It’s a spot that’s always hopping with energy and excitement. So, next time you’re in Lynnfield and craving some fun, head over to King’s. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking for fun things to do on the North Shore.

King's Dining & Entertainment is one of the unique restaurants on the North Shore.
King’s Dining & Entertainment is a gem merging great food, bowling, and arcade games.

10. Kowloon Restaurant

Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus, MA, is where Asian flavors come to life. This lively spot blends Cantonese, Szechuan, Thai, and Japanese cuisines, creating a unique dining experience. It stands out as one of the most unique places to eat on the North Shore, perfect for anyone craving diverse Asian tastes.

Dive into the world of taste at Kowloon. Their menu offers everything from expertly crafted Japanese sushi to bold Szechuan spices. Thai dishes bring a zest that’s hard to resist, while Cantonese classics satisfy those comfort food cravings.

Kowloon’s atmosphere is as vibrant as its menu. The restaurant buzzes with energy, ideal for family dinners, date nights, or meals with friends. The welcoming vibe makes every visit enjoyable, turning each meal into a memorable occasion.

Kowloon is a hotspot for great Asian food and good times. Every visit promises delicious dishes in an upbeat setting. Next time you’re in the mood for Asian cuisine, Kowloon is the place to be. It’s an experience that’s as enjoyable as it is tasty, leaving every guest smiling.

Kowloon Restaurant unites Cantonese, Szechuan, Thai, and Japanese cuisines.
Kowloon Restaurant unites Cantonese, Szechuan, Thai, and Japanese cuisines.

11. Nightshade Noodle Bar

Ever dreamed of a place where Vietnamese and French flavors dance together? Nightshade Noodle Bar in Lynn is just that spot. It’s a cozy nook where each dish is a work of art, and every bite is a flavor explosion.

Open for dinner from Thursday to Sunday, Nightshade offers an experience like no other. Their 7 to 14-course tasting menus are a showcase of creativity, blending Vietnamese and French inspirations in seafood and noodle dishes. Chef Rachel Miller crafts each course with your palate in mind, ensuring a personalized and unforgettable dining journey.

But here’s the thing – Nightshade is all about the experience. It’s intimate, it’s unique, and it’s incredibly fun. The atmosphere is just right for a special night out or a culinary adventure. And remember, it’s reservation only, so I recommend planning ahead to secure your spot at this North Shore restaurant.

With its innovative menu and charming ambiance, Nightshade Noodle Bar is one of the best places to eat north of Boston. It’s a place where food meets art, and every visit is a delightful surprise. If you’re in Lynn and looking for something truly special, Nightshade is the place to be.

Nightshade Noodle Bar is a cozy spot where each dish is a work of art, promising flavor explosions in every bite.
Nightshade Noodle Bar is a cozy spot where each dish is a work of art, promising flavor explosions in every bite. | Source: https://nightshadenoodlebar.com/

12. Warren Tavern

Fancy a drink where George Washington and Paul Revere once did? Warren Tavern in Charlestown is a piece of history. Located on the cozy streets of Charlestown, MA, this spot is the oldest tavern in Massachusetts, and it’s brimming with stories.

Walking into Warren Tavern is like stepping back in time. It’s been around since 1780 and was one of the first buildings raised after Charlestown was sacked by the British. Imagine sipping a drink in the same place where our founding fathers once gathered!

The tavern offers a warm, inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for a casual meal or a drink with friends. The menu features classic tavern fare that’s both delicious and hearty – perfect for fueling up after exploring Charlestown.

Warren Tavern is a unique blend of historical charm and modern-day comfort. It’s a staple for locals and a must-visit for anyone wanting to dine and drink in a place steeped in American history. So, next time you’re in Charlestown, make sure to stop by Warren Tavern. Believe me, it’s one of the best North Shore restaurants that you can’t afford to miss!

Warren Tavern in Charlestown: A historic spot frequented by George Washington and Paul Revere.
Warren Tavern in Charlestown: A historic spot frequented by George Washington and Paul Revere.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Unique Restaurants on the North Shore

Searching for more information to help you decide where to eat on the North Shore? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about the North Shore’s best restaurants.

What food is the North Shore known for?

The North Shore is a seafood haven, renowned for its lobster and clams. The lobster rolls here are a must-try. They’re usually served with fresh, succulent lobster meat on a toasted bun, often with a side of fries or coleslaw. Bob Lobster in Plum Island is my top pick for lobster rolls – they’re generous with their portions and the lobster is always fresh. Clam chowder is another local favorite, rich and creamy, often loaded with tender clams. For the best clam chowder, I recommend trying Woodman’s of Essex. It’s a classic spot that’s been serving up chowder for decades.

What is the oldest restaurant on the North Shore?

Warren Tavern in Charlestown is the oldest restaurant on the North Shore, dating back to 1780. It’s a place rich in history, having hosted historical figures like George Washington and Paul Revere. The tavern maintains its historical charm with a cozy, old-world atmosphere. They serve classic American fare which goes well with their selection of local beers.

Warren Tavern's interior: Historic decor and cozy ambiance in Massachusetts' oldest tavern.
Warren Tavern’s interior: Historic decor and cozy ambiance in Massachusetts’ oldest tavern.

What towns are north of Boston?

North of Boston, you’ll find a variety of picturesque towns each with its own character. Salem, famous for its witch trials, offers a mix of historic sites and modern eateries. Marblehead, with its beautiful harbor, is great for seafood dining by the water. Gloucester, America’s oldest seaport, is known for its fresh seafood and ocean views. Each town offers unique dining experiences, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants.

Is it expensive to eat on the North Shore?

Dining on the North Shore caters to a range of budgets. While there are upscale dining options like 1606 Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Gloucester, where you can enjoy gourmet meals with ocean views, there are also plenty of affordable choices. For instance, Kowloon Restaurant offers a wide range of Asian dishes at reasonable prices. The North Shore also has many mid-range options, where you can enjoy good food without a hefty price tag.

Where can I eat with a view on the North Shore?

For dining with a view, the North Shore has several great options. Mission on the Bay in Swampscott is fantastic for its panoramic ocean views and a menu that combines New England classics with international flavors. The outdoor deck is perfect during summer. Another great choice is Michael’s Harborside in Newburyport, which offers fresh seafood with views of the Merrimack River. Their outdoor seating area provides a perfect backdrop for a meal, especially during sunset.

Recap: Unique Restaurants on the North Shore

Exploring the North Shore’s dining scene is like embarking on a treasure hunt, where each restaurant is a unique gem waiting to be discovered. From the historic charm of Warren Tavern to the vibrant flavors at Kowloon Restaurant, there’s a world of delicious food to explore in this picturesque region of Massachusetts.

If I had to pick just one spot for you to visit, it would be Mission on the Bay in Swampscott. The combination of stunning ocean views and a menu that artfully blends New England and international cuisines makes it an unforgettable dining experience. It’s the perfect representation of what the North Shore offers: exceptional food, breathtaking scenery, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Each restaurant we’ve explored brings its own flavor to the table, literally and figuratively. If you’re in the mood for a historical meal at Warren Tavern, a seafood feast at Bob Lobster, or an Asian culinary adventure at Kowloon, the North Shore satisfies all palates. And let’s not forget the fun and games at King’s Dining & Entertainment, proving that dining out can be an all-encompassing experience.

In conclusion, the North Shore, MA, is a haven for food lovers and adventurers alike. Pack your appetite and set off to discover these culinary treasures – each visit promises to be as rewarding as it is delicious!

The top restaurants on the North Shore for all types of travelers
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