Salem is overflowing with historic relevance, which means it should be on everyone’s travel list. One of Colonial America’s most important ports, home to great American author Nathaniel Hawthorne and the location of the House of the Seven Gables, as well as other stunning examples of early-American architecture. And sadly, the Puritans tortured and murdered many innocent people, and a dog, in 1692.
Not all of Salem’s history is so intense though. The board game Monopoly was invented in Salem. Disney’s movie Hocus Pocus (1993) was set and partially filmed in Salem. There’s also a bronze statue of Samantha Stephens from the 1960’s classic show Bewitched, as a few episodes were filmed in town.
Salem is filled with seafood-centric restaurants, which isn’t a shock given it’s proximity to the coast, but there are more modern restaurants if you look hard enough. Here are some places to fill up your vegan tummy while you’re taking in the amazingly varied history of this infamous city.
SALEM TRAVEL TIPS
Before we jump into all of the vegan options available in Salem, and they are plentiful, I wanted to share a few general tips for visiting the ‘Witch City’.
(1) & (2) Throughout the historic district there is a red line painted on the sidewalk. You can literally follow the red line and do a self-guided walking tour.
(3) Your first stop should be to the National Park’s Visitor Center, which is located by the Peabody Essex Museum on New Liberty Street. Here you’ll get some context for your visit and watch a short video “Salem Witch Hunt: Examine the Evidence” about the most current scholarly research regarding the Witch Trials.
(4) Hocus Pocus Tours is an award-winning tour company, owned and operated by Susan Metzger. She has an extensive knowledge of Salem’s history and gives all of the tours herself. Historical context is provided for the city’s architecture, famous residents from the past, historical events, murders/crimes, mysteries, paranormal reports, maritime history, and more details you would surely miss during your visit if you didn’t have a local showing you around.
(5) The Salem Trolley is the best way to get the lay-of-the-land, some history, hear local gossip, and be transported to the furthest points in Salem. Use the trolley as your transportation as you can get off-and-on all day, only paying once. You’ll also see areas you wouldn’t know to venture to as a tourist such as the lovely Chestnut Street (with coffin doors on the houses) and Dead Horse Beach (with its conflicting legends).
(WARNING – Some of the guides on the Trolley will push you to go to tourist traps like the “Salem Witch Museum” and “The Witch Dungeon Museum” which are not actually museums. They have costumed mannequins and a reputation for lacking in historical accuracy.)
VEGAN FOOD ON ESSEX STREET
Essex street is the pedestrian area of Downtown Salem and upon visiting you will find yourself on Essex quite often. I was grateful to find some really amazing food while there, and I’ve also including a few places below that I plan to visit on my next trip.
Red Line Cafe – 188 Essex Street
Red Line is cleverly named for the red line I mentioned in the above tips. Typically, their vegan options are limited to almond milk or soy milk lattes.
When I visited, I shared that I was vegan and they were kind enough to make me a plate of crostini brushed with oil and the creamiest hummus I’ve ever had. The latte I had was amazing. The espresso had that nutty malty smooth roasted flavor that mixed perfectly with the almond milk.
Life Alive – 281 Essex Street
Further down Essex Street, there is an amazing whole-food restaurant with an abundance of vegan options, many of which are raw. This is your spot for fresh nourishing juices, smoothies, and wraps/salads made with superfoods. Perfect for lunch because you will leave feeling energized and not too full to walk around the city.
When I visited I had the wrap with raw veggies and lentil hummus above, along with a delicious fresh beet juice that may have had superpowers.
Gulu-Gulu Cafe – 247 Essex Street
Even further down Essex St, you’ll come to the Bewitched statue and behind it is Gulu-Gulu Cafe which has indoor and outdoor seating. The theming is dog-friendly with a repurposed-casual vibe. Vegan options aren’t clearly marked on the menu, but the servers are very helpful and willing to tailor items to your needs.
When I visited, I had the veggie wrap above and bruschetta. Both were bursting with flavor.
Flying Saucer Pizza Company – Next to Gulu Gulu Cafe (same owners)
This is your source for vegan pizza. They use Teese brand vegan cheese. Thankfully they take the extra step of clearly marking vegan options on their menu. They also feature vegan baked goods from Jodi Bee Bakes (see more about them below).
They are on my list for my next visit.
VEGAN FOOD NEAR ESSEX STREET
Jodi Bee Bakes – 7 Church Street
This lovely vegetarian bakery and cafe offers a daily selection of vegan goodies like cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and quiche. They even have cashew-based cheeses, tempeh bacon, and weekend brunch.
Also on my list for my next visit.
Boston Hot Dog Company – 60 Washington Street
Here’s your location for vegan hot dogs. They have multiple flavors and toppings.
I can’t wait for my next visit so I can protein up here.
Adea’s Mediterranean Kitchen – 90 Lafayette Street
Adea’s is 100% vegetarian and mostly vegan.
I backpacked the Mediterranean during college and have held a special place in my heart for the region’s food ever since. I’ll be visiting Adea’s on my next trip to Salem.
Have you visited Salem? Do you have a fav place to eat or tips to share? Please leave them below as they help me and others who read this post.