Pickering Wharf in Salem, Massachusetts, is a 1970s-built waterfront district with a 19th-century feel.
It boasts a marina, boutique shops selling everything from the obligatory witch kitsch to bags made from recycled sails, and lots of restaurants featuring an array of fabulous fresh seafood. Here are my favorites:
Sea Level Oyster Bar offers so much more than oysters. A stand-out dish is the Baked Seafood Pie, which is less like a pie and more like an indulgent version of bouillabaisse, with tender lobster, scallops, shrimp, and mussels swimming in a rich sherry cream sauce atop a bed of mashed potatoes. If you’re looking for creatively prepared seafood classics, Sea Level is a great choice.
Finz Seafood & Grill‘s extensive menu covers everything from Maki Rolls to Paella. I veer toward the grilled sword, with a simple lemon beurre blanc sauce, but you can choose from fresh options like salmon, scallops, cod, tuna, and shrimp, prepared with seasonings like Caribbean Jerk or Basil Oregano Gremolata. They also have several non-seafood items, making Finz a good place if you have a large group including fussy kids or land-lubbers.
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Regatta Pub at the Salem Waterfront Hotel & Suites offers standards like clam chowder and shrimp cocktail, but my favorite item on the menu is the Lobster Caprese Salad, with the expected tomato and mozzarella, drizzled with a rich balsamic reduction, alongside greens topped with a generous portion of claw and tail meat. Regatta Pub is a comfy spot after a day of shopping and site-seeing.
bonus: If you’re looking for something sweet to top off your meal, head over to Ye Olde Pepper Candy Companie, for some Black Jacks, which are molasses sticks, or Salem Gibraltars, the first candy to be commercially sold in the United States. Both are still made according to the shop’s forebears’ 19th-century recipes. But don’t worry if you prefer the more modern; the shop has plenty of fudge, salt-water taffy, and other contemporary treats.
And by all means, enjoy walking your meals off along Salem’s spectacular waterfront.