1. ANYTHING from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester
This is the breakfast place that I take everyone to when they come to visit . . . and also the one that I go to WHENEVER I can come up with a reason to go out for breakfast! The food here is out of control phenomenal. Whether you order Georgia’s French Toast (like French toast and S’mores all-in-one), or the Carrot Cake Pancakes with the maple butter, or the Goatie (an incredible omelette with tomatoes, caramelized onions, & goat cheese), or the AMAZING porridge (one of my favorite things ever!), you won’t be disappointed!
2. Dinner (Try the Kibbeh!), at Kareem’s in Watertown
When you step into this restaurant, it almost feels like you’re having a luxurious Syrian dinner in the home of a friend. . . the intimate setting and novelty of seeing your food prepared before your very eyes is an experience in and of itself, but it is more than simply unusual as a setting. In addition to the setting and service being fabulous, the food is also incredible – like a magical blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern goodness. Everything is fresh and flavorful and hits the palate perfectly. They only take cash or check, which is good to know in advance, but it’s worth the pre-planning to have this dining experience!
3. New England Ice Lollies in Newburyport
It feels wrong to just call these incredible creations “popsicles”. These cannot be demoted to the same status as those frost-bitten things in the back of your freezer. . . these are heaven. Refreshing and cold on a hot day, they also are some of the most flavorful and delectable things I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting!
4. Ice Cream at The Cherry Farm Creamery in Beverly
5. Cake from D’Amici’s in Lynn
My sister buys birthday cakes here whenever the opportunity arises (and with a rotating door of 5 children in your home, the opportunity arises with happy frequency!). I can honestly say that their cake is awesome, but MORE importantly, the frosting is PHENOMENAL.
6. Tortelloni di Zucca at Chianti in Beverly
This is the only item on this list that is unaccompanied by a photo. . . probably because I usually am FAR more focused on eating it than playing food paparazzi. I wish I could truly and fully describe to you how delectable this dish is. It is homemade pumpkin tortelloni is served with bits of diced pear and caramelized nuts in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce. It can be yours for a mere 16 dollars and it’s worth every penny.
7. Barbecue Chicken Pizza &Key Lime Pie Martinis from Soma in Beverly
These are my stand-by favorites any time I get the chance to go out, particularly when I’m craving barbecue chicken pizza goodness. Top it off with a key lime pie martini (rimmed with graham cracker crumbs!) and you’ve got the best quality comfort food you could ever ask for.
8. Decadent Lemon Blueberry Mascarpone Cake from Jaho’s in Salem
Jaho’s coffee shop in Salem is a wonderful spot. They have an unbelievable array of teas, drool-worthy gelato, some incredible pastries (including the cake, which I adore) AND free wi-fi. It’s the perfect spot - lovely for relaxing, meeting up with a friend, studying, or even just grabbing something yummy to eat.
9. Pastries, Bread, and Coffee at A& J King Artisan Bakery in Salem
This small artisan bakery is tucked into a little corner of Salem, MA, and it has the most incredible breads and pastries you will find outside of France. It is definitely 100% on par with the best I tasted in the year I lived there!
10. Chocolate Orgasms from Rosie’s Bakery in Cambridge (or Chestnut Hill!)
My sister brought me this as a thank-you after I babysat for her. It was out of control delectable.
11. A quite-nice Chicken Kabob Salad . . . but INSANELY amazing PITAS from North Beverly Roast Beef in North Beverly
I kind of already explained it in the title, but let me just explain. . . the salad is good and all, but the PITA BREAD. It is insanely good. They make it fresh and you can see the puffy pillows of pita cooling on the counter right before they get cut and served to you FRESH. They are divine. I always order an extra.
12. The Cinnabun Pancake from The 17 State Street Diner in Newburyport
I recently tried this delicious magical pancake for the first time. It is simultaneously both the most fluffy and the most delicious warm breakfast treat you will ever taste. I don’t even usually like cinnamon, actually, and it is still the best pancake I could ever conceive of.