8 places to eat by the water on the North Shore

From casual seafood stands to fine dining experiences, here are a few places worth stopping by.

Surfside in Salisbury. Photo provided

Massachusetts is blessed with a bounty of excellent seafood, and the summer months are the peak time to select a perfect venue for enjoying this excellent seafood.

That’s why we’ve rounded up options for eating by the water on the North Shore. This list includes casual seafood stands, dock and dine destinations, and fine dining experiences. All of these restaurants are good for a staycation-style escape for locals or a day trip for city dwellers.

Did we miss your favorite restaurant or bar by the water? Let us know at the bottom of this list.

Mission on the Bay in Swampscott. – Photo provided

Mission on the Bay

141 Humphrey St., Swampscott

Whether you’re dining inside during the dog days of summer or alfresco at Mission on the Bay’s Ocean Bar rooftop, you’ll always have unbeatable views of Nahant Bay. The waterfront locale may be casual, but its menu is elevated with steaks and seafood as stars of the show. For lighter fare, seared ahi-tuna or sea scallops are perfect for pairing with refreshing house cocktails, like Mission’s tropical rum punch or the coconut and dark rum Mai Tai. 

1606 Restaurant and Oyster Bar

55 Commercial St., Gloucester


Tucked into the Beaufort Hotel in Gloucester, don’t overlook this oyster bar for any old lobby restaurant. Embellished with aquamarine decor that seamlessly flows out to the oceanfront deck where cobalt waves crash onto the beach below, 1606 Restaurant and Oyster Bar is a seaside gem. Open from breakfast until dinner, diners have an all-day excuse to pop-in for a dozen oysters on the half shell, though once you settle into an outdoor table, you’ll want to stay for more than that — the seafood reigns, here, from lobster Benedict at dawn to baked haddock casserole later in the day, and octopus terrine as well as curried mussels in between.

Mile Marker One in Gloucester. – Photo provided

Mile Marker One

75 Essex Ave., Gloucester

The indoor dining room may be open year-round, but regulars recognize this Gloucester eatery as the dock and dine destination of the summer. Overlooking the flurry of watercraft action in Cape Ann Marina, including the restaurant’s own onsite lobster and scallop boats, diners may witness their catch being delivered on the spot. Mile Marker One’s seaside raw bar opened last summer, and it’s back for the season, waiting to treat guests to all the perks of a fine dining yacht club without all the fuss. Don’t forget about drinks: Mile Marker One infuses their own tequila used in the 4 Pepper Margarita, and is regionally famed for their Painkiller — salud!

Minglewood Harborside

25 Rogers St., Gloucester


Another harborside hotspot in Gloucester, Minglewood is a stone’s throw from the active U.S. Coast Guard Station. The deck is designed for quick eats but you’ll still want to stay a while in this prime location. Try the Asian style calamari with orange, cilantro, and toasted sesame seeds (traditionalists, don’t fret: they also serve it up “old school” with pomodoro sauce and fried peppers), or opt for a fried seafood plate — the choice is yours from haddock to whole belly clams.

default – Photo provided


33 River Road, Gloucester

Perched above the waters of Lobster Cove, Talise’s seaside charm is innate; its address instantly ties it to its waterfront locale. This is exactly what owners Joshua and Ariel Smith envisioned when opening their Annisquam venue — “a restaurant embodying a sense of place.” With such a prime location, Talise rotates its menu on a daily basis, tapping into seasonal ingredients for the freshest dishes from their raw bar straight through to their bread course, salad options, pastas, and entrees. 

SurfSide in Salisbury. – Photo provided


25 Broadway, Salisbury

The sister restaurant to the year-round restaurant Seaglass — where you can dine with a view of the open ocean — SurfSide, located in Salisbury, is a seasonal favorite for its sprawling beachside deck. Order crispy haddock tacos and a Captain Morgan piña colada to the soundtrack of the gentle crash of waves below. On weekends, SurfSide switches up the soundtrack to include live music and DJs that bring the beach party vibe every summer bookend needs.

The Studio Restaurant

51 Rocky Neck Ave., Gloucester


When you’re craving seaside sushi, The Studio‘s raw bar, deemed XoXo Bar, has you covered. Their breezy outdoor deck opens up to Smith Cove off Gloucester Harbor, which makes arriving by boat part of the experience. While specialty sashimi entrees and sushi rolls are a popular draw, The Studio debuts a new culinary team and menu this summer. Go for lobster everything, from rangoons to mac and cheese, and of course, a classic lobster roll.

CK Pearl

112 Main St., Essex

For a different kind of waterfront appeal, try out CK Pearl along the Essex River. Open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, this casual eatery makes it easy to stop by at your convenience, perhaps when you’re craving a chowder or haddock fritters, the definition of the restaurant’s self-proclaimed “unfussy” seafood offerings. The deck is the perfect spot for sipping one of the house’s specialty cocktails, like the tropical-inspired coconut creamsicle: Privateer white rum aged with coconut, orange, vanilla cream, and ginger ale.

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