America’s oldest fishing port is clearly a destination for seafood of all shapes and flavors. But once you start exploring the city, you discover there’s far more to the dining scene than fried clams and lobster rolls. Here are some of our favorite places to enjoy the flavors of Gloucester:
There’s two reasons to lunch or dine at the Seaport. First, there’s the food, a collection of classic dishes prepared with care and served in generous portions. Then, there’s the location: The waterfront restaurant boasts two sprawling decks overlooking the harbor.
6 Rowe Sq., 978-282-9799, seaportgrillegloucester.com
The Causeway Restaurant
The Causeway is a Gloucester institution for a reason: They don’t skimp on quantity or quality. Heaping platters of golden-fried seafood challenge even the heartiest of appetites and the freshness of the fish and clams makes every bite a joy.
78 Essex Ave., 978-281-5256, thecausewayrestaurant.com
For a lunchtime sandwich alternative, try Breakwater Poke. Heaping bowls of steamed rice topped with shrimp or sushi-grade salmon or tuna; decked out with bright, fresh toppings like seaweed salad, mango, cucumber, avocado, and pickled ginger; and then laced with savory spicy sauces.
7 Pleasant St., 978-559-7335, breakwaterpokeco.com
Owner Anthony Caturano, founder of Boston’s Prezza, brings his North end cred to Gloucester with an Italian menu that strives to highlight to best of local ingredients and freshly caught fish. The atmosphere is elegant enough for a special occasion, but inviting enough for a family dinner.
2 Main St., 978-879-4795, tonnorestaurant.com
1606 Restaurant and Oyster Bar
The food and the atmosphere at 1606 are both upscale and relaxed. A newly renovated oyster bar serves up the freshest local shellfish and an extensive seating area on the deck lets diners enjoy views of Gloucester Harbor while they eat.
55 Commercial Street, 978-491-5090, 1606restaurant.com
Franklin Cape Ann
Dark wood and warm lighting create a cozy intimate ambiance, and a lineup of perfectly prepared classic dishes – from pan-seared cod to filet mignon – cement the inviting and comfortable atmosphere.
118 Main St., 978-283-7888, franklincapeann.com
Mile Marker One
Located at the Cape Ann Marina Resort, Mile Marker One is a favorite with visitors and locals alike for its lively atmosphere, river views, and fresh, flavorful food that ranges from standard favorites to more adventurous fare – octopus salami anyone?
75 Essex Ave., 978-283-2122, capeannmarina.com/dining
As its name suggests, Passports offers up a menu full of consistently delicious global influences and fusion flavors, from seafood gumbo to Thai red curry. The out-of-the-box approach applies even to the bread: Instead of standard slices, Passports serves up warm popovers before your main meal.
110 Main St., 978-281-3680, passportsrestaurant.com
With choices including sushi, Mexican street corn, and pasta Bolognese, Minglewood’s menu reflects a wide diversity of culinary inspirations, executed with flair. The cocktail list gets in on the act as well, incorporating innovative ingredients like yuzu liqueur and hibiscus and rose-hip vodka.
25 Rogers St., 978-281-0223, minglewoodharborside.com
Short and Main
Started by two chefs trained by farm-to-table pioneer Alice Waters, Short and Main creates wood-fired pizza with crisp-but-chewy crust, unexpected toppings, and impeccable flavors. And the chefs remain true to their roots: Almost all of the vegetables the restaurant uses are from local farmers.
36 Main Street, 978-281-0044, shortandmain.com
Bravo by the Sea
A roaring wood-fired oven and a focus on high-quality ingredients make the pizzas from Bravo by the Sea stand out in a city crowded with pizza options. Keep it classic with a basil-laced margherita pizza or experiment with more innovative options like chicken bacon ranch or fig prosciutto.
131 Main St., 978-879-4522, bravobythesea.com
Surfside is only open seasonally, so take advantage of the summer months to experience some of Gloucester’s best pizza and subs. Bring your appetite because the subs are well-stuffed and the pizzas only come in one size – enormous.
147 Thatcher Rd., 978-281-1700, surfsidesubsgloucester.com
The reliably delicious sandwiches at Virgilio’s are made from meat cut to order stacked thick on bread that is made fresh daily in the in-house bakery. Glass cases loaded with tempting piles of Italian cookies, cannoli, and other pastries make it easy to give your meal a sweet finish.
29 Main St., 978-283-5295, virgiliosbakery.com
Yella on the Water
This small waterfront restaurant is airy and inviting, with seating both indoors and on the deck. The carefully curated menu has been influenced by both owner Carlo Berdahn’s Lebanese roots and the Gloucester location, creating can’t-miss dishes like the catch-of-the-day fishermen’s taco topped with tahini and crispy onion.
25 Western Ave., 978-491-5334, yellaonthewater.com
This tiny storefront is a mostly takeout experience, but what it lacks in frills it makes up for in flavor. The menu is packed with Lebanese staples like spiced, stuffed flatbreads, kabobs, and falafel. Even the rice and simple salad that come with dinner plates is exceptional.
338 Main St., 978-283-3500, markoukbread.com
Part market, part bakery, and part breakfast and lunch joint, the Willow Rest combines attention to quality and flavor with an old-fashioned charm. Enjoy eggs and pancakes at rustic wooden tables surrounded by piles of produce, or grab a a stuffed signature sandwich to go for a world-class picnic.
1 Holly St., 978-283-2417, willowrest.com
Sugar Mag’s, as the locals call it, elevates typical breakfast and lunch fare with choices like banana-stuffed French toast, grilled salmon served atop scratch-made corn chowder, and their signature pineapple fritters. You’ll want to try to lemon-ricotta pancakes, but careful: Even a single pancake might be a challenge to finish.
112 Main St., 978-281-5310, sugarmags.com
Mexican/ Central American
A small, casual eatery tucked away just beyond downtown, Tacos Lupita makes some of the tastiest most authentic Mexican and Central American food to be found in the region. The menu ranges beyond the taco-and-burrito basics with mouthwatering gorditas, huaraches, and pupusas on offer.
63 Washington St., 978-282-9600, facebook.com/LupitasGlosta
Machaca Taco and Tequila Bar
With 13 different options, Machaca has a street taco for every taste, from standards like chicken tinga or al pastor to more adventurous options like cactus tenders or chorizo and potato. Fillings are prepared fresh daily and the corn tortillas are made in-house. A comprehensive margarita menu and a lineup of 25 tequilas make it easy to wash down your tacos.
14 Rogers St., (978) 865-3669, themachaca.com
The menu at Talise is small and changes daily as Chef Joshua Smith learns what fresh local ingredients are available that day. And the experience is as pleasing as the food: Located in a modest shingled shack on the Annisquam River, the restaurant has a casual elegance and unbeatable sunset views.
33 River Rd., 978-515-7814, taliserestaurant.com
The Azorean Restaurant and Bar
The Azorean’s food is so authentically delicious that it has become a destination for Portuguese families from around the region. Generous, well-priced meals feature lots of fresh seafood, linguica, and Portuguese molho vilao sauce, but there are plenty of burger and pizza options to suit all tastes.
133 Washington St., 978-283-5500, azoreanrestaurant.com
New spots to try
At Decklyn’s, the newest venture by the team behind C.K. Pearl, the menu is heavy on snacks and shareable small plates like lobster empanadas and curried mussels. The extensive deck seating lends a sunny, summery feel to the location.
31 Harbor Loop, 978-283-6342, decklyns.com
In 2020, Dennis Flavin close his beloved Gloucester eatery Halibut Point. But he couldn’t stay away for long, re-opening the spot this spring as the Howard Blackburn. The neighborhood pub vibe remains, though the menu has gotten a bit more innovative with choices like beet-cured arctic char and grilled octopus panzanella joining more classic favorites.
289 Main Street, 978-281-1900, thehowardblackburn.com
Acclaimed Boston chef and Gloucester resident Barbara Lynch is expected to open a new restaurant in the spot formerly occupied by The Rudder on Rocky Neck. Details are scarce, but the food and views are both sure to be unbeatable.
51 Rocky Neck Ave.
Oak to Ember
The executive chef from Tonno is in the midst of turning the former Cape Ann Brewing Co. pub into a new restaurant that will use a wood-fired oven for what it calls “live fire coastal cooking.” The exact opening date is TBD, but their Instagram posts promise the new spot will debut this summer.
11 Rogers St.