Sometimes you want to let yourself linger at the beach to enjoy the long summer days before you get a bite to eat. Other times you want to celebrate with friends deep into the night. Whatever the occasion, going out late on the North Shore doesn’t have to be hit-or-miss. Among the many excellent options available, we’ve selected some of our favorites for finding good food, a good drink, and a tune or two.
Photos by Brian DeMelloTrina’s Starlite Lounge
37 Main St., Amesbury, 978-792-5746
This comfort cocktail and Southern cooking joint has become the late-night hub of Amesbury, with its kitchen firing till 11 p.m. every night, offering up gourmet takes on fried chicken, chili, and cheese fries to go with a well-crafted Sazerac cocktail, Riverwalk beer, or another one of the dozens of drinks on its list. Don’t feel like sitting? Hang out in the rear game room, which is stocked with pinball machines and classic videogames. Open just a few months, Trina’s has already earned a reputation with its top-notch offering, and the news is spreading. The original Somerville Trina’s earned a mention in the new edition of the Phaidon guide Where Chefs Eat, which documents insider favorites worldwide.
Photos by Anthony TieuliWatson & The Shark
36 Main St. Gloucester, 978-281-0044,
A self-fashioned speakeasy, Watson & The Shark serves tiki drinks, complete with the miniature umbrellas and totemic glasses that bring a smile to your face. This cozy lounge, located upstairs from parent pizza place Short & Main, keeps the vibe relaxed, intimate, and never too serious, as the drink names will attest (a Diane Kruger Was So Hot in Wicker Park, anyone?) Rum is the staple spirit here, from local handcrafted Privateer to house-made banana rum to silver overproof, but the bartenders will also craft cocktails with other spirits late into the night on Fridays and Saturdays.On Thursdays they have New England Tiki Fried Chicken till 9:30 p.m. Closed other days.
Photo by Raphael BrickmanElm Square Oyster Bar
2 Elm Square, Andover, 978-470-2228,
Bar manager Colin Welch is likely the best bourbon expert on the North Shore—reason enough to find a seat at this large semicircle-bar in downtown Andover where Welch and his staff have been serving up inventive cocktails and perfectly made classics for a decade, through changes in the restaurant’s name as well as in ownership last year. There are more than three dozen bourbons available to pour at any time, from Rebel Yell to Whistle Pig’s 13-year-old “Boss Hog.” Those who prefer wine will find a thoughtful by-the-glass list that goes beyond the typical offerings, such as a Grüner Veltliner that will pair well with that day’s freshly shucked oysters. Drinks are served from 5 p.m. to midnight, with food available until 10 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Photos by Doug LevyBlue Ox
Blue Ox, 191 Oxford St., Lynn, 781-780-5722
Most nights are a lively scene at this downtown Lynn American bistro where the bar is often filled with couples grabbing a drink and friends waiting for a table in the dining room. Swampscott native Matt O’Neil opened the Blue Ox almost a decade ago and many of the dishes on the menu are now standards, while still feeling fresh, such as the Sin Burger, with Applewood-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, and truffle aioli among its toppings, and the pan-roasted cod, which comes with a mushroom and leek risotto. The cocktail menu is reason enough to linger into the night, with an emphasis on tequila and whiskey, including a barrel-aged Manhattan and a house-infused bacon Bulleit bourbon. Open daily from 4 p.m. till late, except on Mondays.
Photo by Doug LevyOpus
87 Washington St., Salem, 978-744-9600,
Drinks are an art at this downtown Salem hotspot, where the bartenders brainstorm new ways to infuse liquors when they’re not building you any drink to suit your whim deep into the night. The upstairs bar is large and offers lots of opportunity for people watching and spying out your favorite spirit among the hundreds of bottles stored on a suspended shelf overhead. The food is just as artistically prepared, including sushi that won the 2017 Best of the North Shore award as well as bar-sized treats from deviled eggs to confit duck egg rolls. The kitchen is open until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 p.m. other nights. You’ll find live music Wednesdays through Saturdays—and sometimes other nights too.
Photos by Doug LevyKoto Grill & Sushi
90 Washington St., Salem, 978-498-4826,
When the chefs from Salem’s numerous restaurants want to relax with a drink, they congregate at Koto, a more traditional Asian spot offering sushi, Chinese, a full bar, and a good selection of sake. In spite of its plain exterior, Koto has a lounge and plenty of space for live music. Open mic nights on Tuesdays and karaoke on Thursdays are a prime chances for you and your friends to let your inner crooner out.
Photo by Jared Charney?Andiamo
24 Winter St., Newburyport, 978-255-4341
This seductive Newburyport spot gets plaudits for its well-crafted Italian bites by chef-owner James Rogers, such as house-made burrata, flatbreads, and a long-admired burger with pork belly and roasted hazelnut butter. Don’t overlook the regular live music, with Derrick Feole on saxophone Tuesdays, jazz with Phil McGowan Wednesdays, local favorite Chris Martinez and friends Thursdays, and Dan Sky bringing Sinatra followed by a top 40 dance party on Fridays. Valet parking is available Fridays and Saturdays, so you don’t have to worry about downtown Newburyport’s sometimes tricky parking. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Photos by Joel LainoBaldwin Bar
2 Alfred St., Woburn, 781-935-8488, (ask for Baldwin Bar)
It’s rare to find a bar that takes reservations. But you’ll want to claim a spot in advance at one of the two bars located at the Baldwin Mansion in Woburn, better known to most as the Sichuan Garden restaurant. Walk-ins are welcome, but with just 24 seats at the hip Chinese-themed Baldwin Bar, and 45 seats upstairs at the leathery library space called Baldwin & Sons Trading Co., you’ll appreciate having the time and space to sample the top-notch drinks being created. Not only are the mixologists deft with spirits of all sorts, but the cocktail menu has a veritable grocery list of ingredients that lend depth and flair to the drinks, from buttered popcorn to whole eggs. If you’re hungry for more, you’re in luck—Sichuan Garden serves some of the best Chinese food in the region.
Photo by Brian DeMelloThe Franklin Cape Ann
118 Main St., Gloucester, 978-283-7888,
This Gloucester gastropub is a long-held local favorite, appreciated for its consistently well-made food, like the hanger steak, and its friendly service overseen by owner Maria Seniti. “It’s a go-to spot for me,” says Anthony Caturano, the chef-owner of nearby haute-cuisine standard Tonno. “It’s a neighborhood kind of feel in there.” Late-night dining is a specialty, especially on weekends, when the kitchen hums till midnight. The drinks list shines with gin and vodka cocktails.