Back in the 1600s, Salem was all about witch trials and public hangings, which has made it a premier Halloween haunt today. Salem-ites don’t shy away from their history, either — there is a school called Witchcraft Heights, the Witch Dungeon Museum is a site unto itself, and every year, right around this time, the town prides itself as an iconic Halloween destination. Historic homes (with storied haunts) and Halloween attractions pop up every October for the truly dedicated fans of the holiday to explore, but they often miss the delights and tastes of the city itself.
Breakfast: Italian breakfasts may not compare to the myriad of choices we have stateside, but at Caffe Graziani, an Italian-born chef does an American breakfast just right, with Italian flare. Fluffy blueberry pancakes, delicate vegetable omelettes, and lip-smacking breakfast sandwiches are washed down with strong Italian coffee. It's family-run, welcoming, and somewhat easy to miss — but it’s well worth the hunt.
Lunch: One of the best-known, and well-loved, eateries in Salem is the Lobster Shanty. Laid-back as the name suggests, the Lobster Shanty serves crowd-pleasing sides to go with the day’s fresh catch — fried macaroni and cheese, freshly baked pretzels, and corn dogs. The main draw, of course, is the seafood. Lobster tails, steamed mussels, lobster rolls, lobster risotto, fried shrimp, and the list goes on. If it’s good enough for Guy Fieri and his Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives it’s worth a stop for finger-licking, fresh seafood. Stop by the Crow Haven Corner, Salem’s first witch shop, for a post-lunch browse.
Dinner: Dim lighting and modern décor mix well with the classic Italian bistro fare at 62 on Wharf. Zucchini blossoms, bacala, and arancini start the evening off before indulging in handmade pastas like their garganelli, which comes with red wine braised duck, dried cherries, pine nuts, and Tuscan kale (pictured), or their agnolotti with ricotta, English peas, pancetta, and black truffles. It would be silly to ignore their wine list, which is largely Italian, though it does feature a few bottles from New Zealand, Austria, and California. The signature cocktail list, too, should entice — we’re all for the 62 Pick Up, which comes with Grand Marnier, lime juice, cranberry juice, and champagne. (Photo courtesy of Kiki Larouge Photography)
Afternoon Snack: All walks of life will appreciate the care and humor the couple behind Coven puts into every sweet and savory snack they make. From the clever cupcakes and extensive sandwich options, it will only be tough deciding what to try. But stop by in the afternoon to satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade cookies, cupcakes, and a coffee.
Halloween Haunts: Embark on a Vampire and Ghost Hunt Tour, Salem’s 13 Ghosts Tour, or hit the Witch Trial Trail for a truly historical and haunted Halloween. Or just cheers to the season with Salem locals at O’Neill’s Irish Pub.