By, Muggsy Barnacle
The Restaurant List
Today’s Must Restaurants
- Michael’s Harborside
Easily does the most business in the city. Although some will begrudge its corporate (New England Development) management its numbers of success are staggering. Impressive seafood menu. Not afraid to spend money to make improvements. It is rumored that its new waterfront bar cost $70,000. Virtually does everything right from food, atmosphere, service, and reputation.
- Agavé Mexican Bistro
It is so wildly popular that it took over an adjacent storefront to its already three bustling dining floors. Yes, we are talking about a Mexican restaurant in the heart of downtown Newburyport. A tip of the sombrero to dynamic owner Dawn McCandless.
- Ceia Kitchen + Bar
The Big City comes to Our Fair Port in a small space and makes a major food and wine statement. Most restaurants of this quality too often are burdened as a special occasion dining destination. Somehow owner Nancy Caswell has created a high-end menu rich in quality and service that is comfortable to drop in for a glass of wine or a gourmet feast.
The surprise success story of downtown Newburyport. A tiny bandbox with perhaps the shortest menu in the port that is long in delicious southwestern and other pub food. A funky meeting place thanks to the constant hard work by owner Ted Cohen.
- Enzo Restaurant + Bar
The most eclectic undertaking in town. The varieties of the food (leans to Italian) and drinks are breathtaking in imagination and inventiveness. It is unlike any menu in these parts. Yet the keyword and mission of owners Dave and Mary Reilly is local. All we can say is bring an open mind and be prepared to be dazzled.
The best kept secret for breakfast and lunch. The locals know. Generous home cooked fare in a neighborhood slightly off the beaten track. So take your camera off your neck and tuck the map in your back pocket and eat like a knowing local.
- Mad Martha’s Island Café
Plum Island. Live Life. Love Life. Eat at Mad Martha’s. This primarily breakfast/lunch island jewel is funky, fun, and full of phenomenal food. People come from miles around to be entertained, welcomed, and to feast on delightful fare.(We have a real hard time getting past the Portuguese French Toast). Show time begins the moment you enter the front door and are greeted by co-owners Kendall Bowie and Kyree Gerson.
- The Black Cow Tap & Grill
Located virtually in the water, the Cow is afloat with an ambitious menu heavy on fish and steaks. Its clientele is an acquired taste. A Boat People Nirvana.
- Ten Center Street
The address for fine dining, it has matured over recent years into a classic culinary showcase Another Newburyport Development presentation.
Each of these dining institutions have been under single ownership for many a year and have handsomely survived the test of time. With good reason.
- The Grog
If you haven’t been to the Grog you haven’t been to Newburyport. 42 Years ago Richard Simkins took a chance and opened a small saloon full of fishermen, colorful characters, tradesmen, and domestic beer. Today the colorful characters remain and craft beers dominate. And the joint ain’t so small. Some call it Grogzilla, the saloon that ate Newburyport as it has expanded to multiple floors and dining rooms and a cabaret. It started out with a clam chowder and a Grog burger and both remain on the menu today. And the Grog mystique still rules.
- Starboard Galley
33 years young under the steady stewardship of Gene Greco. Yes, the neighborhood and its waterfront have dramatically changed, but the good ship Starboard keeps sailing along offering what keeps the masses flocking to it: quality seafood, waterfront view, old Newburyport charm and history, and a legacy still growing.
- Park Lunch
A mere 25 years old as the type of dining and sports meeting spot that Mike Doyle envisioned when he opened it and the dream continues to this day. Pub food, no- pretense dishes, and clever specials involving such pub grub as pizza. It is a bit removed from the hubbub of downtown just like the locals like. This institution has a clientele of all ages. Families, oldsters, and pluggers start coming in at 11:00 a.m. and the parade never stops day or night.
Cyclops Department – Keep An Eye On
New restaurants keep opening all the time. Unfortunately it often means another one has closed. A few new ones to keep a knife and fork at the ready.
- Brown Sugar (A Thai emporium)
New at The Tannery Marketplace
- Mr. India
Actually not a new entry but with a new, more spiffy address it might as well be
- 17 State Street
Replacing the old landmark Fowle’s. The ambitious rehab, a new breakfast, lunch, and twilight menu, and a steady, proven ownership already seem to be paying off.
- Orange Leaf
A unique frozen yogurt venture. No, not a true dining. But wags are predicting it will enter the breakfast trade in a most unusual manner.
- Stonewall Kitchen
Keep an open for the opening on State Street that will have local foodies dancing in the aisles.
- Joseph’s Winter Street Café
Sold after 20 colorful and iconoclastic years under the amazing imagination of Joseph Pignato. What the future for it holds no one truly seems to know, but owner Joseph Pignato? He’ll be back. Legends like him do not go into the night easily.
- Port City Sandwich Co.
This new breakfast/lunch entry in the shadow of the Black Cow has steadily been gathering raves especially for its muffins and, of course, sandwiches.