While I’m in the city working and hiding from the tourist hordes, many of you will be heading off for the long weekend to idyllic seaside destinations. Some of you will choose Gloucester, affectionately known as Glosta. You’ll likely start out for (quainter, well-heeled) Rockport but quickly realize upon arriving that there’s no (absolutely none) parking and that while a few mediocre restaurants in town serve alcohol you’d like to spend your money somewhere that has good food and decent drinks. Hence, you’ll drive over to Glosta. Park on Rogers Street and walk up to the shops & restaurants, much better option than trying to find a space on Main Street. Here’s some suggestions from a “local” of 15 years who’s still eagerly waiting for Glosta to turn into Newburyport or Portsmouth…..
Half Baked Cafe – Not actually in Glosta but on the way, in Beverly Farms. Awesome breakfast sandwiches on housemade english muffins, great doughnuts and other fresh baked breakfast goodies. They serve sandwiches AFTER 11 am, but few vegetarian/poultry offerings so not our favorite for lunch. If you eat meat I hear they’re fabulous.
Willow Rest – Our favorite casual/quick/yummy food destination on Cape Ann. Breakfast sandwiches & burritos, muffins and pancakes. Some seating, but get there early if you want to stay to eat and keep it to groups of four or less. Coffee here is my favorite on Cape Ann. They also have great sandwiches, gourmet snacks and basic (high end) groceries. They will make sandwiches any time after they open at 7 am so it’s a smart option if you want to picnic later in the day and not fight the lunchtime rush.
Lobsta Land – This is the place to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a group! They take reservations, even for breakfast. The food is better than the old school New England decor would suggest. A bit pricier than you’ll expect but a very solid option and a diverse menu of seafood, salads, meat, etc. to please just about everyone. We find ourselves here several times during the season (April – early December).
Latitude 43/Minglewood Tavern – Right on Rogers Street, plenty of seating (some outdoor!) and the food is always good, sometimes even very good. More of what I think of as a progressive menu than some of the other options in the area. We like the fish burrito, sushi and pizzas. Very good beer selection and well made cocktails. We go here fairly often and think they are convenient, lively places for an afternoon or evening out with friends or family. Latitude 43 takes reservations and can handle a group. Dinner too.
Virgilio’s – Simple, good sandwiches from a Glosta staple, the never-been-updated Italian sub shop/grocery store/bakery. They have a veggie option, some chicken/turkey choices and lots and lots of meat sandwiches. No real seating, this is serious picnic on the Boulevard or beach food.
Passports – Go here for the grilled vegetable wrap and the popovers, served in place of bread when you arrive. I hear the burgers are great as well. A sit-down, waitstaff place to have a conversation and glass of sangria over lunch. A bit less of a fun/funky atmosphere than Latitude 43/Minglewood Tavern, but less expensive, a tad older crowd and it’s nice to have some variety in your choices if you’re frequently in the area. They serve dinner as well and accept reservations.
Stones Pub – A few years ago the best bartender in Glosta, Gary, left the Mexican restaurant he worked at to open a small, well-lit, cozy Main Street pub. Stones serves burgers, sandwiches and something known as Jaimie’s Sweet & Hot Weiner; all with fresh, hot sweet potato fries. The beer is cold, the cocktails are strong and the popcorn machine is self serve and all you can eat. Stones welcomes couples, families, groups and solo diners/drinkers. It’s friendly place and a few drinks and/or a bite to eat at the bar is a really nice way to spend an afternoon, or two. Stones is open everyday from 11:30 am to “close”.
See Willow Rest and Lobsta Land Above.
Duckworth’s Bistro – It’s way too close to the weekend to get a reservation for the normal dinner hour, but they might have something early or late. If not, make a reservation for your next visit or make a special trip to Glosta just for dinner here. A tiny bistro with wonderfully executed comfort food. The lobster vegetable risotto is the best dish on Cape Ann, perhaps even the North Shore. Service is friendly, warm and professional. The desserts are made by the chef’s wife and are delicious, very delicious.
Midori – Midori serves reliable, fresh sushi, Chinese and Japanese food in a very casual, dated atmosphere in a strip mall location. The service is super friendly and they deliver too. It’s the only Asian food I recommend on Cape Ann. Others will tell you there are other ok/good places, and what you do with your insides is your business, but I’d go elsewhere.
Pizza – Dine in at Maria’s or get takeout at Delaney’s. The pizza is the same; thin crust, one size and well done. No interesting, or “yuppie”, toppings but they’ll satisfy your pizza craving and feed a crowd for less than other takeout options. Both are cash only. Maria’s is always crowded and a first-come-first serve. We’ve only tried the pizza, onions rings and side of butternut squash. Love them all. Delaney’s serves one thing, pizza, and has a soda cooler. No salads, subs, etc. And they have odd hours, 4:45 pm to 8:45 pm. No delivery offered at either place.
See above for Lobsta Land, Passports, Stones Pub and Latitude 43/Minglewood Tavern.
Dessert – Pick up some of the best, most fabulous chocolates in the Boston area at Turtle Alley (try the Umba!!!) or put together a nice cheese plate from The Cave. Otherwise, skip it. All the ice cream served locally is Richardson’s. It’s good, but better at their Middleton dairy farm and ice cream stand. And it’s definitely not as good as Downriver in Essex, Gracie’s in Somerville or Toscanini’s in Cambridge. Save the calories for a morning stop at Half Baked or another beer/cocktail with dinner.
If you don’t see a place listed here it may be because I missed it. We’ve been living almost full time in Somerville since the fall and I’ve got all this absolutely amazing, spectacular city food on the brain. Or, it’s because it’s not that good and a place I wouldn’t recommend. Competition is scarce in the wilds of G-town so quite a few mediocre, and more than a few atrociously bad, places continue to thrive. You come to Glosta for the beaches, the history, the art…not the food. Some people like the near-the-water, who-cares-how-the-food-is atmosphere, my mom was one of them, and I get that. It’s OK, really, to eat somewhere because it’s cheap, a family favorite, convenient, has a great view, etc. Please, just don’t try to convince me to go for the food. I’m all for those rare hole-in-the-wall places that do have great food, but sometimes no matter how hard the truth is to bear, it is what it is, the food just isn’t that good.
Enjoy your visit and say hello to all the tourists for me!