Looking for the best places to eat in Salem MA in October? Look no further!
While exploring the spooky main attractions and historic haunts is definitely one of the best things you can do on a trip to Witch City, trust me when I tell you that you won’t want to miss out on Salem’s best restaurants. This coastal town in Massachusetts is full of inventive food, local craft beer, and plenty of rich history to go with it!
And good news for early birds and brunch aficionados! Like with Hocus Pocus filming locations, Salem has a ton of awesome breakfast spots.
I hope you’re hungry, because it’s time to dig in to the best restaurants to visit in Salem in October!
Best Places to Eat in Salem MA in October
In the spirit of Halloween, I figured we should start this list off with some of Salem’s most haunted restaurants. Oh, and their food? It’s to die for, of course!
1. Turner’s Seafood
New England-style seafood with a side of historic hauntings
Turner’s Seafood checks all the boxes! This historic spot in Lyceum Hall truly must be the best place to eat in Salem in October thanks to its storied history and classic New England-style seafood. Oh, and its legendary status as one of the most haunted places in Salem!
Turner’s is rumored to have been built upon an apple orchard once owned by Bridget Bishop, the first woman killed in the Salem witch trials. For years, customers and employees have claimed to see the spectral figure of a woman in a long, white gown, often glimpsed through windows and in mirrors.
And if you smell the faint scent of fruit wafting through the air? That’s not from what they’re cooking in the kitchen. The sweet aroma of those ancient apples has lingered long past their expiration date… kind of like a Salem ghost hanging on to a little unfinished business.
Best Food: Oh, but you want to know about the food, didn’t you? The seafood here is completely magical. Turner’s has a phenomenal selection of hearty seafood pasta and rich dishes like a gooey mac and cheese-esque lobster pie topped with decadent crumbs. It’s kind of hard to go wrong here.
It’s certainly touristy, but it’s a classic Salem haunt. And for October, a reservation is your best bet, but there’s always a chance they can squeeze you in since it’s a pretty large restaurant. They also offer take-out and sell fresh fish you can cook at home.
Tunnels with a dark past and a ghastly signature cocktail
Rockafellas might seem like your average fine-dining American restaurant, but this classy-casual joint is anything but ordinary.
Housed in the spot previously known as the Daniel Low Building, it’s what lies beneath this Salem restaurant that will send shivers down your spine. Head down to the basement and you’ll find a series of spooky tunnels once used by smugglers and later, as part of the Underground Railroad.
But that’s not even the scariest part. This restaurant is actually haunted by not one, but two ghostly figures. If you’re wondering if these ghosts are connected to the tunnels… of course they are.
Rockafellas’ most famous ghost was dubbed The Blue Lady on account of her appearance in a long, navy blue dress. Said to have been the ill-fated lover of a sailor, legend has it she was murdered by her own paramore who buried her body in one of the tunnels.
Don’t miss the cocktail named in her honor, Rockafella’s signature Lady in Blue, featuring rum, Blue Curacao, and pineapple juice.
PS: Visiting Salem in October? Check out my full guide on what to do and where to go for the perfect trip to Witch City!
3. Mercy Tavern
A hip gastropub with its very own pirate ghosts
Mercy Tavern, previously home to the infamous spooky restaurant, In A Pig’s Eye, has been open for over 30 years and has certainly seen its fair share of hauntings.
While, at first, this restaurant might seem like a cozy gastropub with cocktails and quirky bathroom art, Mercy Tavern is really hiding a piece of Salem’s dark history.
In the years following the witch trials, Salem saw the birth of its own red light district along Derby St. near the Wharf. It’s said that ship captains frequented the establishments along this road, and kidnapped unsuspecting young men, forcing them into servitude on board their ships.
How did they get away with this, you might ask. Well, it all goes back to those troublesome tunnels… These underground pathways run across the whole town and once facilitated discreet movement between land and sea.
While both Derby Street and Pickering Wharf are said to be haunted, it’s Mercy Tavern that sees most of the spooky activity, including pirate apparitions and sounds of shouting in the tunnels below.
Best Things to Eat: I have to admit, I was surprised by Mercy Tavern’s unique selection of comfort grub. For a haunted restaurant, they sure have some pretty inspired stuff. Plus, their drinks have names like Hocus Pocus which just really gets me in the Halloween spirit.
Their menu has a range of options like french fries drowned in tzatziki, garlic, and feta, as well as brown butter pumpkin ravioli with cherry drizzle and fried leeks.
4. Gulu-Gulu Cafe
Quirky Salem restaurant with just about everything
This casual Bohemian cafe on Essex Street is located in the heart of Salem and was the perfect little spot to hide out during a brief shower one day.
I wasn’t planning on stopping at Gulu-Gulu Cafe, because I’d heard mixed reviews from locals, but I’m willing to bet that’s mostly to do with the fact that this spot is located smack dab in the middle of tourist central. So, I get it.
But I actually really liked this spot! Plus, they support local artists by showcasing their work, have plenty of live music, and their craft beer? It’s award-winning for a reason.
This Salem restaurant is a sort of one-stop shop that can suit any occasion outside of a fancy dinner. With lattes, spiked coffee, sweet and savory crepes, and plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, if you’re feeling indecisive, stop stressing and head to this laid-back spot.
Also, their mascot is an adorable dog and it’s kind of hard to not love that.
FUN FACT: Did you know Salem was the filming location of Bewitched Season 7? Don’t miss the commemorative statue, a great photo opp just around the corner from Gulu-Gulu.
5. Ugly Mug Diner
All-day breakfast and coffee served in ugly mugs, only
This is another Salem institution near Essex St. that I was undecided about before my trip. Again, mixed reviews from the locals, but when you’re visiting a place, you’re always going to run into opinions like that, aren’t you?
There’s honestly no better place to be a tourist than at this unique restaurant in Salem, MA that famously serves breakfast all day, including coffee that comes in a variety of impressively ugly mugs.
While I’m not much of a breakfast person myself, my cousin, on the other hand, is obsessed, so a stop here was mandatory. I was thrilled to learn that their breakfast is a far cry from the stale toast and lackluster eggs I fix at home.
Ugly Mug Diner is a breakfast with a gastronomic twist. Their signature dish is the Dueling Crustaceans: savory crab cakes with poached eggs, smothered in hollandaise and lobster chipotle aioli. My taste buds could not even!
Ugly Mug Diner quickly rose to the top of my list of best places to eat in Salem in October. Try and stop here at least once when you’re in town!
6. Red’s Sandwich Shop
The most iconic restaurant in Salem, Massachusettes
Finally, a place to eat in Salem that locals and tourists can agree on! This local institution has been around for over 50 years and has more than earned their place as one of the best places to eat in Salem MA in October!
Red’s Sandwich Shop serves a legendary breakfast, and there are plenty of great options for lunch from a hearty chicken and eggplant parmigiana open-face to casual club sandwiches. Local recommend trying one of the more unusual dishes!
7. Lobster Shanty
A local dive with a Hollywood reputation
What’s the difference between a classic New England lobster roll and a Connecticut-style lobster roll? That’s exactly what you can find out at Lobster Shanty, a charming low-key spot in Salem known for its unpretentious local grub.
Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, the eatery is one of the most unique places to eat in Salem MA in October. They’ve got funky delicious dishes like Guinness Marinated Steak Tips and one-of-a-kind items like the famous Lobstertini which is… exactly what it sounds like. Coupled with its warm service and laid-back atmosphere, it’s no wonder the Shanty has thrived for over four decades.
BOSTON SELF-GUIDED FOOD TOUR
Visiting Salem on a day trip from Boston? Here’s an idea for when you get back! Explore the historical sites and delicious eats from the North End and more with my free self-guided food tour of Boston. You’ll be glad you did.
8. Flying Saucer Pizza Company
Pizza that’s so unique it’s almost alien
Flying Saucer Pizza Company, located on Washington Street in Salem, is a quirky, space-themed establishment serving eclectic pizzas. Their innovative menu, filled with geek-culture references, features unique combinations like the clam chowder-based Admiral Ackbar and the spicy Mustafar featuring ghost pepper salami.
With a range of unconventional ingredients, such as sweet habanero sauce and jackfruit meat substitute, the restaurant also caters to vegan and gluten-free diets. And their mascot is a cute space pug named Charlie!
9. Ledger Restaurant
19th-century cuisine with a modern twist
Ledger Restaurant & Bar, tucked inside America’s second-oldest savings bank, is one of the best Salem restaurants for a nice dinner out, especially in October! The gastronomic creation of Matt O’Neill, Ledger’s seasonal menu showcases traditional 19th-century dishes with a 21st-century twist.
Don’t miss their epic brunch which includes mystery mimosas and rotating doughnuts, making it not just a dinner spot, but an all-day culinary destination.
10. Goodnight Fatty
Don’t sleep on this weekends-only cookie & breakfast joint
Y’all, Goodnight Fatty has been getting some rave reviews by locals. So, of course, I had to try it in between checking out the most haunted places in Salem, MA, and oh boy, does it live up to the hype!
Known for their irresistible cookies, which they call “fatties,” you’ll find flavors like Cinnamon Toast Crunch covered in white chocolate chips. You’ll also want to snag one of their signature “Chubbys,” a yummy breakfast burrito filled with either sweet or savory ingredients.
There’s a catch though. Goodnight Fatty is open exclusively on weekends, but they do deliver anywhere in Salem, no pre-order needed. Score!
PS: During October, Goodnight Fatty is also one of the best photo spots in Salem, MA. Check out the truck outside their shop, complete with a skeleton chauffeur and his passengers.
11. Bit Bar
A retro arcade with the most inventive dishes in town
Located in Salem’s historic Old Jail, Bit Bar opened its doors in 2016 and has an eclectic mix of classic arcade games and cocktails named after Mario Party royalty like Princess Peach.
They were once known for innovative food and unique items like an elk burger served on a cronut (doughnut-croissant hybrid) glazed with black garlic icing, and avocado ice cream drizzled with Sriracha caramel. However, now, their menu looks a bit more ordinary, with a mix of barbeque, burgers and pizza.
Best Bars & Nightlife in Salem, MA
Salem may be a small town, but it still has plenty to offer in the way of nightlife, bars, and distilleries. Here are the top spots that locals recommend:
12. All Souls Lounge
An homage to the bygone neighborhood bar
All Souls Lounge, the perfect spot for after-dinner drinks, is full of fun vintage cocktails. Their beverage collection is a historic journey from 1732 to 1947, featuring concoctions like the rum, cognac, and peach brandy Fish House Punch, or the El Diablo, a tequila fusion with crème de cassis and ginger beer. And the cherry on top? A jukebox and vinyl-spinning sessions for that perfect lounge vibe.
13. Deacon Giles Distillery
Creative cocktails in off-the-beaten-path Salem
Deacon Giles Distillery, tucked away from the usual Salem tourist hotspots, offers a unique bar experience in their super cool Speakeasy Lab.
Sip on creative cocktails, crafted using the distillery’s unique spirits: gin, rum, and spiced rum. You can also try seasonal drinks like The Far Side of the Tracks, a popular choice that blends spiced rum, cider, maple syrup, egg white, and nutmeg.
14. Olde Main Street Pub
An Irish bar for everyone
Olde Main Street Pub is a relaxed, no-frills Irish pub with a diverse selection of beers, wines, and cocktails. This Salem restaurant is great for anyone on a budget. You can enjoy scratch-made dishes from two of the area’s most promising young chefs for a pretty affordable price.
15. Far From the Tree Cider
Hard cider brewery with fun flavors and a pretty patio
In addition to some great breweries and a small but mighty local craft beer scene, Salem MA is home to a hard cider brewery. Far From the Tree‘s tasting room has an awesome dog-friendly outdoor patio and interesting flavors to sample like Lei (pineapple jalapeño) and Ember (toasted chai).
For some serious fall goodness, try the Apple of my Chai. It’s got all the cinnamon spice your October dreams are made of!
More Salem Restaurants Worth Mentioning
- Hotel Salem Rooftop: One of my favorite things to do in a new place is to find the best rooftop bar and in Salem, MA, it sits above a cute new boutique hotel in historic downtown Salem.
- Haunted Happenings Marketplace: Food truck set-up in Salem Commons near the Old Town Hall. This is a great spot that’s budget-friendly and has plenty of outdoor seating. It’s easy to grab a quick bite and watch the street performers.
- Settler: A trendy local favorite for upscale dining. In October, they offer a three-course culinary journey that pays homage to the best of New England’s harvest.
- Witch’s Brew Cafe: The ultimate witchy restaurant and casual pub on Derby Street near the House of the Seven Gables and Pickering Wharf.
- A&J King: Artisanal bakery beloved by locals where you can find things like apple crisp croissants and butternut squash candied walnut danishes.
- Bambolina: Another local favorite, this hip spot serves wood-fired Neopolitan pizza and craft beer.
Best Salem Food Tour
Boos and brews? A haunted pub tour? This is literally the perfect tour for foodies or anyone looking for the best places to eat in Salem MA in October! Sadly, I did not have time to go on my last trip to Salem, but it is on the top of my list for next time.
This tour takes you to 8 historic, and probably haunted, locations where you’ll try everything from local beer to craft cocktails to whatever potion the tavern witch is brewing in her cauldron. If you go, please let me know how it is!
What food is Salem Massachusetts known for?
Like the rest of New England, Salem, Massachussetts is known for its fresh seafood with great daily specials on oysters. Don’t miss classic restaurants and raw bars like Turner’s, Rockafellas and the Lobster Shanty.
A lesser known famous food from Salem is the North Shore roast beef sandwiches. For an authentic local experience, head to Jamie’s or King’s and order it three-way.