When you think of places to dine in Massachusetts, you’re likely to immediately start browsing restaurants in Boston and nearby neighbourhoods known for culinary excellence like Cambridge, Somerville, and more recently, Seaport. However, if you want to branch out, or if your New England travels have you seeking reservations elsewhere, it’s important to remember that you can find hidden gems and popular hotspots all over the Bay State.
Read on for our list of the top restaurants outside the city, serving up everything from ocean-fresh seafood to authentic Portuguese cuisine, Asian fusion innovations, and more.
If you’re traveling along the Cape, it’s important to make a stop or two for traditional and always quality New England eats. What’s more important is your choice in the matter. For an undeniably satisfying option, visit Skipper Chowder House for some serious seafood sandwiches like the Friendly Fisherman, a fresh cod filet stuffed into a toasted brioche roll and accompanied by lettuce, tomato, red onion, and tartar sauce. You’ve heard of lobster rolls, sure, but Skipper Chowder House has all kinds-including a Clam Roll, Calamari Roll, Fried Oyster Roll, and more. How can you go wrong? How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Yet another seafood goldmine hailing from the Cape, Lobster Pot serves up a mix of the finest and freshest catches around while incorporating Portuguese specialities, vegetarian items, steaks, and of course, a mean cuppa’ chowder known as Tim’s Clam Chowder. In fact, the chowder’s a four-time grand prize winner at the Cape Cod Chowder Festival and three-time grand prize winner at the Boston Chowder Festival. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Widely acknowledged as one of the best places to dine on the North Shore, The Blue Ox is an upscale-yet-casual American restaurant brought to you by chef-founder Matt O’Neill, a Swampscott native with an impressive resume working alongside stars like renowned Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch. While there’s plenty to choose from, the Sin Burger, featuring applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, truffle aioli, and Swiss cheese, stands out from the rest. The burger’s a known fan favorite among New Englanders, winning Boston Magazine’s “Battle of the Burger” in 2013, 2014, and 2015. How to book: Reserve via Resy.
Influenced by owner Deo Braga’s native Azores, Azorean Restaurant & Bar draws inspiration from its Portuguese roots, with traditional ingredients incorporated into dishes from soups to salads to steaks. Start with one of the Cataplanas, an entire meal served in a classic piece of Portuguese cookware spanning Spanish Paella, Fish, and Seafood options. How to book: Reserve via Yelp.
Andover, Burlington, Concord, & Westford
With its first location opening up in Westford in 2006, this award-winning Asian fusion operation eventually expanded into three additional locations, known for top-notch sushi and cocktails that perfectly pair with plates. But that’s not all they do. Karma simply has it all-just flip through the digital menu to see all the choices. And if you’re overwhelmed and looking for direction, you can’t go wrong with the Peking Dumplings, Duck Bao Buns, or Tuna Pizza to start. How to book: Stop by the nearest location for first come, first served seating.
Nestled in the rolling hillsides of Groton, this bastion of farm-to-fork greatness from chef Tom Fosnot is part of the 300-acre Gibbet Hill Farm compound. They source as much produce as possible (namely heirloom tomatoes, peppers, onions, greens, and beets) from their own fields in order to alter your conception of freshness with creations like Zucchini Fritters and crispy Potato-crusted Cod. A root cellar and winter greenhouses expand their growing season to bring year-round New England flavour. How to book: Reserve online.
Inspired by his grandfather (of Boston’s famed Lombardo’s) as well as his extensive travels through Northern Italy, chef-owner Brett Williams gives you a taste of Piedmont without the pricey flight. Scarf your way through razor-thin Beef Carpaccio with Lemon Aioli, Madeira-kissed Drunken Mushroom Pizza, and Braised Short Ribs with Gnocchi and Parmesan Cream. The wine list is also worth browsing, featuring Piemonte regional favourites. How to book: Reserve via Yelp.
This quaint, historic charmer in Mattapoisett Village stands as America’s oldest seaside inn still operating in its original structure. Take in the ocean views as you work your way through fare like Gouda and Parmesan Béchamel Mac & Cheese, and classics like Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Fish & Chips, and Lobster Rolls. There’s also a list of 12″ grilled pizzas to choose from like the Holy Shiitake, Margherita, and Popeye, smothered in garlic oil, spinach, Italian sausage, and ricotta. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
Brodie’s bewitches Salem’s historic Pickering Wharf with both crispy seafood creations like a golden-fried Atlantic Haddock and land-based fare like their signature Steak Tips. Their handhelds make it even harder to decide, with picks like the Surf & Turf burger or the Cowboy, a ground sirloin beef patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon, onion rings and a drizzle of BBQ sauce on a buttered bun. And if you’re looking to dance your dinner off, expect live bands every Saturday. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
You’ll be starving after time-travelling around Old Sturbridge Village all day, so let Cedar Street Grille return you to the present with contemporary shareables like Mussels Dijonnaise, Mojo Pork Sliders, and Fried Goat Cheese. There are also four types of Mac & Cheese on the menu including the standard plus Buffalo, Pork Belly, and Truffle Mushroom for some added variety. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
Wellesley & Worcester
Launched in 2006 inside of a rehabbed Canal District factory space, Bocado is Worcester’s first Spanish restaurant, sporting a variety of tapas including Gazpacho, Sweet Potato Ricotta Dip, and a spicier take on Avocado Toast. There’s also an exhaustive lineup of imported meats and cheeses on the menu’s charcuterie and queso list. As a testament to the restaurant’s success, Bocado expanded to Wellesley in 2014, and coming in fall 2021, there will be a second central Massachusetts location in Leominster. How to book: Reserve via Resy.
Perched on a hilltop with sweeping vistas, J’s is another embodiment of farm-fresh sustainability. Once you’ve peeled your eyes away from the view, order the Bolton Beer Works-steamed Count Neck Clams to start followed by the Wild Knight Mojito Swordfish. And don’t forget dessert, with Red Velvet Cake, Tiramisu, and New York-style Cheesecake topping the list. Bonus: All wines and micro-brews are produced on site to optimize pairing possibilities. How to book: Reserve via TableAgent.
Take another journey back in time at Salem Cross Inn, a 1700s-era homestead surrounded by 600 acres of working New England farmland. Sourcing from their own gardens and other nearby farms, current seasonal provisions include Succotash Stuffed Pepper, Salem Cross Farm Burger, New England Baked Haddock, and Crispy Fried Sea Scallops. They also fire up the 17th century roasting jack (the only one still working in the US) for occasional distinctive dinners featuring prime rib and other choice game. How to book: Call 508-867-2345 to reserve.
This farm-to-table gem led by executive chef Brian J. Alberg serves a contemporary regional lineup anchored by dishes like Red Lion Inn Turkey Dinner, Shrimp Bucatini (better known as Shrimp Scampi), and fresh Halibut. Sommelier Dan Thomas focusses their 400-bottle collection on family-owned wineries and Northeastern vineyards, having earned accolades including Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Essentially, that means you win too. How to book: Call 413-298-5545 to reserve.
At The Federal, chef Michael Presnal presents his interpretation of New American cuisine with Italian and French influences. The selections range from elevated comforts like their famous Bucket of Balls, a heaping helping of risotto balls laced with black truffle butter and snipped chives, or The Federal Crab Louie, a little gem salad dotted with avocado, tomatoes, asparagus, hard boiled eggs, and fried potato crisps and drizzled with green goddess dressing. For the creative diner, head to the “You Be The Chef” section and assemble a plate with your choice of meats, sauce, and two sides. How to book: Reserve via Resy.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.