Veteran executive chef, Joe Guarino of Red Rock Bistro, devised lunch, brunch, and dinner menus brimming with haute cuisine and fresh-caught seafood. Gazes wander to the restaurant's massive bay window and the expansive beachfront and picturesque skyline vistas beyond before settling on flatbread pizzas bubbling with gourmet cheeses or house-made ricotta gnocchi. Delicate sauces simmered from lemon and thyme, maple bourbon, sweet onion, and other flavors season fillets of seafood and hearty chops of steak and filet mignon. Thursday through Sunday, Red Rock celebrates life with live music, which ricochets from glasses, breaks up Super Soaker fights on the patio, and bounces out across open waters as musicians cook up the sound of blues, rock, and jazz.
In the modern, earth-toned dining room of Nguyen's Vietnamese Cuisine & Sushi Bar, patrons breath in the fragrant scents of pho simmering, and tender slices of Kobe beef grilling. Dishes run the gamut from traditional to inventive. A clay pot, for instance, serves as the setting for simmered salmon and braised tofu, and the beef broth pho comes with all the classic bean sprouts and herbs. Many dishes include surprising ingredients, or a flair for cultural fusion: Wagyu beef is rubbed with Vietnamese spices for the Nguyen's Burger, and all the sushi is made with brown rice. Folks can pair their entrees with a glass of wine and cap off the meal a banana wonton dessert.
Mildred's Corner Cafe welcomes regulars and new customers alike into a world of quaint Americana, piping-hot pots of coffee, and hearty feasts of homestyle breakfast food. The café’s decor charms first-time visitors with its chrome-lined barstools, chessboard floor, and walls covered in photographs of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and other 1940s glamour girls. A cozy seating arrangement invites guests to settle in at a table or share laughs with old buddies and newfound friends at the diner counter. After ordering from the menu of classic dishes and innovative specials, diners dig their forks into pumpkin-infused pancakes, huevos rancheros, or southwest eggs benedict, which seats poached eggs and grilled chorizo atop a bed of crispy home fries sauteed with cactus. The beverage menu boasts 25 different flavors of loose-leaf tea and 16-ounce mugs of fresh coffee.
After their meal, patrons can stroll next door to the Old Soul Gift Shop, which memorializes visits with gifts such as vintage knickknacks and kitchenware. And true to its old-fashioned ambiance, Mildred's only accepts payment in the form of cash or barbershop-quartet routines.
At Pho Minh Ky, pho is clearly the centerpiece. The Vietnamese eatery features 18 styles of the traditional noodle soup, whose massive bowls come with garnishes of bean sprouts, fresh basil, lime, and a tiny life raft in case the spoon falls in. Of course, soup isn’t the only authentic feature here. Vermicelli, stir fried meats, and cool spring rolls round out the menu, pairing up with such unique drinks as Vietnamese espresso, egg soda, or iced and salted plum soda.
Firing up the griddles as early as 6 a.m., Le Petit Cafe’s chefs grill up smoked and cured bacon, flip chocolate flapjacks, and lightly brown three-egg omelets. They serve breakfast all day long till closing time at 2 p.m., but in between, lunchers can gnaw into specialty sandwiches such as roast beef with swiss cheese and russian dressing or warm up with a cup of chowder and a coffee.
Today, Victoria Station in Salem is unique—but it wasn't always. In 1970, inspired by the landmark Victoria Station in London, three Cornell Hotel School graduates created a restaurant with English touches, such as a bright-red phone booth and authentic train cars they'd turned into dining cars. They opened up in San Francisco, and the business grew. By the 1980s, there were about 100 Victoria Station locations in the United States and around the world. Johnny Cash did a stint as their spokesman.
But the company filed for bankruptcy in 1986. Its rise and fall is documented in Tom Blake's book Prime Rib and Boxcars: Whatever Happened to Victoria Station? The waterfront Salem location was the very last to open, and it's the only one left.
Today, the restaurant has gone in its own direction, drawing inspiration from both the restaurant's past and its current surroundings. Classic New England cuisine and old steak-house favorites mingle comfortably on the menu. The chefs coat haddock in a seasoned cracker crust to bake and serve with chardonnay and fresh lemon juice, and the slow-roasted prime rib that made the original restaurant famous still has a place on the menu. Diners can also order up house favorites, such as lobster mac 'n' cheese with five-cheese béchamel sauce and cornbread shallot crumbs, or they can opt for an Angus burger.
Vic's Boathouse, a bar and lounge, opened in 2010. There, diners can request a local or craft brew, order a martini, or pick from the pub menu. The bar hosts nightly live entertainment, including open-mic sessions, live musicians, and karaoke, which makes for lively evenings without the expense of hiring a DJ for family dinner.