Where to Dine Waterside North of Boston

Dining outside on the North Shore is one of summer’s greatest delights. The smell of salt in the air, the sound of waves lapping against boat docks, and the hustle and bustle of waterfront activity are a big part of what coastal New Englanders wait all year for. This summer, outdoor dining continues to be one of the most popular destinations up and down the coastline. Fortunately, there are many places to enjoy a fantastic alfresco meal (whether in the sunshine or under the stars) during the next few months, and the best part is you get to visit a variety of charming seaside spots along the way. 

Finz offers dynamic views. Photograph by Hannah Daigle

In Newburyport, the popular Tuscan Sea Grill and Bar has opened a new, harbor side–inspired outdoor dining spot called the Wharf. Located on the pier between Hilton’s Marina and the restaurant, this addition offers seating for 108 people. Guests can enjoy a coastal–inspired menu with a focus on fresh seafood in a space that features picnic tables, a raw bar boat, and a full-service bar with craft beers on tap, as well as frosé, wine, and spirits—in other words, all the trappings for a perfect seaside afternoon. 

Also in Newburyport and boasting water views are Sea Level Oyster Bar and the Black Cow. Both restaurants feature outdoor dining that is perfect for both people and boat watching. At Sea Level, outdoor seating provides views of Newburyport’s green spaces, boardwalk, and the water beyond. It’s also a great place for putting yourself in the center of summer activity. At the Black Cow, the rooftop is a fun spot for a summer afternoon or evening with friends or family, including the tiniest guests, who will delight in a kids menu that includes chicken fingers, pizza, and grilled cheese.

New this year is Oceans’ Edge Salem, set along the water at well-known Pickering Wharf and within walking distance of downtown Salem. Here, you can enjoy picturesque harborside dining while taking in all of the boating action from the open patio. After your meal, you are close enough to take advantage of all there is to see in Salem. A tip for nonlocals: Summer is actually a great time to visit. The fall gets a lot of attention, but you will get so much out of a summer day spent here.

MISSION BLACKENED LOCAL CATCH 4Photograph by Tony Scarpetta 

Also in Salem is Finz Seafood & Grill, where expansive windows provide water views for indoor diners, while the patio overlooking Salem harbor is always a popular place to be. Finz is a sure bet for its top-notch sushi and extensive seafood menu. The restaurant also has plenty of options for those who prefer their dinner not come from the sea.

In Swampscott, Mission on the Bay’s location shows off a view of Boston that can’t be beat. Visitors wanting to preview their dining experience can visit Mission’s website for a look at the Mission on the Bay ocean view webcam. Once on site, patrons can enjoy a drink at the Ocean Bar, which has some of the most unique views of Boston from a beachy vantage point. 

In Essex, C.K. Pearl might be where you picture yourself when it’s the middle of winter and you’re daydreaming about warm temperatures and a cocktail outside with friends. Situated along the Essex River and locally owned by chef and owner Patrick Shea, C.K. Pearl’s outdoor deck, relaxed atmosphere, and excellent food feels like the perfect summer night.

Located on Lobster Cove in Annisquam is Talise, which is open for its second season this summer. Talise’s changing menu features fresh ingredients that are sourced responsibly by local farmers and fisherman. Inquisitive minds can visit the website for a sample menu, but no need to scope out in advance the quality of the views, which are always striking along Lobster Cove.

200911 20Photograph by Kindra Clineff

Situated along the oldest fishing port in the United States, the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester is waterfront dining at its finest at 1606 Restaurant and Bar, which features an outdoor deck with expansive water views. It’s easy to envision yourself here, enjoying more than a few summer nights watching the glorious summer sunsets.

Mile Marker One at the Cape Ann Marina also in Gloucester offers the perfect casual vibe with amazing views. With seafood galore and tasty cocktails, you’ll want to linger on the deck and watch the boats bob in the water. 

Seaglass Restaurant in Salisbury offers some of the best views of the open Atlantic Ocean. A wall of glass looks out onto the mighty sea—you can get lost in its beauty while savoring a mimosa over brunch. 

Vanderwarker PDV 1309.22Beauport Hotel

Wherever you go for outdoor dining, allow ample time. Parking can be tight, tricky, or both. The last thing you need is to stress out while searching for a place to park. If you do drive, leave early so you can enjoy yourself—because summer is finally here and you have certainly earned it. 

CONTACT: Tuscan Sea Grill & Bar, Newburyport, tuscanseagrillbar.com; Sea Level Oyster Bar, Newburyport, sealevelnewburyport.com; Black Cow, Newburyport, blackcowrestaurants.com; Oceans’ Edge Salem, Pickering Wharf, Salem; Finz Seafood & Grill, Salem, hipfinz.com; Mission on the Bay, Swampscott, missiononthebay.com; CK Pearl, Essex, ckpearl.com; Talise, Annisquam, taliserestaurant.com; 1606 Restaurant and Bar at the Beauport Hotel, Gloucester, 1606restaurant.com; Seaglass, Salisbury, seaglassoceanside.com; Mile Marker One, capeannmarina.com