One might leave Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar, which was named this year's best new restaurant north of Boston by Boston Magazine, with some sense of the broad scope of Mexican cuisine, geography, and culture. That epiphany might come from the selection of 180 tequilas, which slip down in shots, release bell peals of clicking ice in glasses, or blend with lime in thick margaritas rimmed with salt. The tantalizing menu also parades traditional Mexican ingredients, though they are tangled into surprising configurations.
Red chandeliers glow, bringing to life the colors of chipotle peppers on plates at plush black booth seating, all beneath red wallpaper. In the tequila lounge, ample couches create a circle around red, candlelit tables for resting a glass of sangria or a mojito muddled with strawberries or cucumber. A row of inset shadowboxes displays the colorful lucha libre masks typically used in overblown battles and attempts to go out in public without being recognized as Kevin Bacon.
The Gloucestershire "Old Spot" pig is a fitting mascot and namesake for The Old Spot. The breed, once a staple of English farming, is docile, warm, and always in search of tasty grub. The pub and its inhabitants are similar--a crowd of neighborhood regulars who take their Guinness at the hardwood bar. The menu of meat pies and curried chicken evokes a cozy pub dining experience. Seated near the picture windows that run the front length of the pub, diners cut into crispy portions of fried haddock, the batter dashed with spritzes of lemon, malt vinegar, and tartar sauce. Though less neighborly figures necessitated the restaurant's end as a music venue, it continues to offer weekly trivia nights where the answer is always "John Major".
Recipients of Northshore magazine’s 2010 Best of North Shore award for Best Movie Theater, CinemaSalem fills four screens with first-run, art, and documentary films. Evening flicks after 6 p.m. offer stargazing opportunities for adults ($9.50) and kids ($7.50); 3-D films levy an additional $2 to compensate the hardworking technician who throws props and actors at the audience. Take in a morning movie before 12:30 p.m. ($6), or escape incessant summer sun by ducking into a matinee ($8 for adults, $7.50 for children). While you watch, crunch popcorn or traipse to the café for movie-minded concoctions such as the Vanilla Sky, a froth of espresso, vanilla, and clouds of foam ($3.50–$4), or the Holy Grail ($4.50), a peanut-butter-and-banana milkshake.
Rockafellas delights diners by dishing up a menu of fresh steaks, seafood, and gourmet pizzas in a casual, historic setting. Stop by for lunch to try a fresh lobster roll ($17) or a Missing Staircase, a shredded-chicken panini named for the building's grand foyer staircase ($8), which was demolished after the simultaneous invention of fireman's poles and jetpacks. Evening eaters can placate their palates with entrees such as the 12-ounce, brown-sugar-smothered grilled harvest pork chop, which comes plated with cranberry chutney ($21), or the fresh crab-stuffed haddock, served buttered and lightly seasoned ($17).
Kitty O'Sheas Irish Pub maintains an animated atmosphere with nightly entertainment. Every Saturday through Wednesday, live music echoes against the cozy interior's dark hardwoods, spilling out onto the pub's deck on warm nights. Festivities begin at 9:30, a half hour after the kitchen closes for the night and several hours after the sun sinks back into the center of the earth. Before then, however, cooks sizzle up a lineup of traditional Irish pub grub. They fill bread bowls with their signature Guinness beef stew, top shepherd’s pie with hearty mashed potatoes, and assemble five sandwiches, including an Irish reuben. They also prepare a selection of American favorites, such as burgers and a pub platter filled with chicken tenders, potato skins, and buffalo wings.
The kitchen at Brodie’s Pub elevates typical bar bites with quality ingredients, such as Angus steak tips and turkey tenderloins. Bowls of housemade chili and chowder whet taste buds for elaborate sandwiches, such as veggie-stuffed chicken-teriyaki pockets and the Famous Philips burger, whose housemade italian sausage has never signed an autograph. An array of beers and other drinks are available to complement any entree, from barbecued-turkey-tip salad to fried chicken wings served buffalo-style or with duck sauce.