La Margarita Express: Reasonably Good Value Mexican Food near Mall
Call in orders seem to be quite popular here, and the food is a reasonably good value for the price paid - at least in the downtown core of Salem that is the case. You can find considerably more expensive food on the same block!
The decor is very much Mexican including tile tables and Corona glass bottles that serve as flower vases.
There is a huge, wide expanse of window that faces the street (and directly south! for those who would like to have lots of sun - if there is sun that day!). There is yet more seating deep in the dark windowless depths of the restaurant as well.
Check the board at the entrance for specials that are being offered that day.
Favorite Dish: There are only a few vegetarian selections here, but the vegetarian variety plate, at $7 provides quite a bit of food. You could probably find other places that are less expensive, but I very much doubt you will find them right in the downtown core of Salem where the land is so much more valuable. A nearby restaurant charges quite a bit more for their food.
Virtually all of the plates of food on the lunch menu are in the $7 to $9 range.
Mexican soft drinks are available, and as of this writing are $1.25 per glass bottle.
La Perla Tapatia: Authentic and Bargain Priced Mexican Downtown
There are many decent places to eat downtown, and at least two of them are inside the Reed Opera House. La Perla Tapatia Restaurant is a favorite around town because for well under $10 (99 cents per taco) one can get a glass of Horchata and four tacos with soft corn torillas, as well as plenty of chips and salsa. The selection of meat isn't just chicken and beef either. There is the full range of specialty Mexican meats often associated with authentic Mexican cuisine. The second story location of the restaurant makes this fast food joint really special too, as there is a good view of the street below from the tables. The family owned restaurant provides excellent service.
- Food and Dining
Macedonia Greek Restaurant: Authentic Greek in Salem
The Reed Opera house has a couple of good restaurants, and inside on the Mezzanine with fine views of the interior architecture of this old building is the Macedonia Greek Restaurant. I dined here with an Iranian friend who ordered a mix of dolmas, lamb, and other fine Greek foods. Everything was very tasty, but I found the overall price to be a bit steep. Nevertheless, this is a popular and busy restaurant. But, no reservations are needed either.
- Food and Dining
Thai Orchid Retaurant: Been Here for Over 20 Years
There are an awful lot of restaurants that don't last very long in our region, and the reasons for this are myriad. However, if a place lasts as long as Thai Orchid has (it opened in 1992) in a city that at one time wasn't known to have much interest in various ethnic foods, you can bet that it has hit a good price and food quality point.
The place is reasonably well decorated in the expected Thai paraphernalia, and one very positive piece of this restaurant is that it is located close to a vast expanse of windows on the second floor of the Salem downtown shopping mall. Virtually all of the other restaurants in this mall, and indeed most of the stores, don't have much in the way of windows. Thai Orchid lets in the light - though alas the windowless stores across the street in three directions don't provide much of a beautiful view.
One of the nice things about this restaurant is that they have substitutions available for the standard white rice - brown rice or sticky rice may be substituted for $1 and Noodles for $0.50
The food is quite good (as the longevity suggests), and generally the server asks how spicy the dish is desired.
Favorite Dish: Check the board at the entrance for the special of the day. Unfortunately the servers don't always remember to repeat this to their guests - about the only complaint that can be given of this restaurant.
They have Pad Kai Yad Sai (Thai Omelet) for $11.95 ($12.95 if Beef or Shrimp is the desired meat). I found it interesting and reasonably good.
There is a pretty wide range of food available here and I certainly suggest asking for whatever it is that sounds good to you.
- Food and Dining
Tucker's at the Mill: Expensive but Acceptable Food
The food here is good, and the prices are OK, but the problem for me is the value for what you get. For example, at this restaurant you pay $7 for the quiche of the day. A similar lunch counter in a different area charges about half that for such a small slice of quiche.
Some items on the menu appear to be in keeping with general prices in the downtown Salem area, however. They are closer to the "average" side of prices though: certainly not a good deal.
Offers a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts, but not all of them may be available on any given day.
Food seems to arrive fairly quickly.
There is an outdoor patio for really nice days.
This is the only restaurant inside the Mission Mill Museum so they have a bit of a monopoly, and also the space may be fairly expensive due to the location.
It's not the most expensive place in Salem, but on the other hand it isn't the type of place that should be this expensive. There are other places in Salem that are just as much and give a lot more food for the price.
Some of the paintings on the wall are for sale.
Favorite Dish: I did not try the smoothies, but they are probably good. Their fruit salad, while very small, certainly was and if their fresh fruit for the smoothies is obtained from the same sources they are probably wonderful.
On the other hand, for $3 for the smoothies, they are more expensive than a milkshake from the Burgerville chain of restaurants and probably should be wonderful.
Yet, let's face it: this is place designed for those visiting the museum, and really isn't intended (nor is it priced!) to be a local hang out for the average Salem resident (yet there are regulars here even despite the prices and location).
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Straight from New York Pizza: Come for the Slices, Stay for the Truffles
This is easily Salem's best Pizza parlor, and has proven so popular that to reduce crowding they have now opened 3 locations - all within a few blocks of eachother, and yet even then there are times when it is hard to find a place to park in the parking lot!
Please Note: This review is for the Commercial & Owens location, as I have never been to any other location.
While the name says what the main attraction is: pizza by the slice or by the entire pizza, you will also be pleased to know that they are not necessarily just pizza. For drinks there are the typical selection of soda fountain drinks (root beer, water, lemonaide, and pop), as well as local beer and wine, and a few national mass produced beers. (The downtown location does not feature beer and wine, but please remember that this review is for the Commercial & Owens location.)
For dessert, you will pass by a glass case filled with rich and wonderful looking truffles. If you are a chocolate lover, you will not be able to resist these.
As an alternative to the pizza, you may also order a calzone or buffalo wings. Additional alternatives and meal additions include breadsticks and several types of salad.
Interior decoration is what is to be expected from a place that calls itself "Straight from New York": posters and photographs of various scenes in New York. As Straight from New York has been serving Salem for over 20 years now, some of those photographs feature skyline views that will never be the same again.
There are various package deals and speicals. For example, certain slices are on sale between 3 and 5 PM, and two slices plus a medium drink are $6.50 right now, which can be a good deal depending on the two slices that you wanted to order. (I was impressed with the help one day, when I ordered one slice of vegetarian and one slice of Hawaiian, which should have cost $3.50 each, but instead they simply handed me a drink cup and charged me for the special at $6.50 rather than the $7 I was expecting.)
There are six pizzas available by the slice. Generally these include cheese, pepperoni, Hawaiian, vegetarian, and pepperoni sausage. Complete pizzas are available with a number of different toppings, with a list of popular combinations in the paper menu.
You will probably want to take a look at the paper menu to see the list of what is offered here and the specials.
This is one of the best lunch deals close to Minto Island park, should you have worked up an appetite there.
Favorite Dish: Any of the special deals are a good bet. The pizza is some of the best available in Salem.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
Eat at the Farmers Market
We stopped at the Salem Farmers Market on a Wednesday around noon, and decided to have lunch here. At the northern end of the market we found a vendor that made wok-fried Asian noodles with fresh vegetables for $6 for a large serving. We had this along with a flat of fresh local fruits including blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries that we took with us for the drive.
The market runs on Wednesdays from May through October.
India Palace: Indian Food at its Best!!!
The Atmosphere alone here lends me credit for my exultations of this resturant.
As you walk in you smell a slight heady smell of curry and simmering meats. As you look around there are buddah statues and draperies hanging low to the ground. Indian pictures and decorations surround you. They have all Indian staff there so the atmosphere is complete and they are kind and welcoming. If you have any questions or need help with what to eat you can ask them anything.
Favorite Dish: There is this Spinach Curry and you put the Basmati rice underneath it. It is warm and slightly sweet. It has some type of cheese in it which blends with the spinach perfectly. The first time I had it I loved it. I have traveled up and down the west coast and have not found a dish in another Indian Restaurant that can rival it.
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
McGrath's Fish House: Famous for Fish, but Many Other Things
While it is a chain restaurant, it is also a chain restaurant with the corporate headquarters in Salem so in some ways this is also a local restaurant. Despite the very good reputation of this restaurant chain and Salem being the home headquarters of the chain, the Salem location is extremely hidden behind a large amount of assorted structure parts in the downtown Salem shopping center. A huge portion of people probably drive right past it without having any idea that it is located here. It is halfway down the block on the south side of the street, just on the exiting side of the overhead walkway / parking structure. In the photo above, you will notice the fish shaped neon sign a little left of the center of the photo. This is the McGrath's restaurant. The building in front of it seems to have a hair stylist or some other such facility in it.
Despite the rather unappealing nature of the surrounding shopping mall, the interior of the restaurant lives up to the McGrath's name and is fairly attractive inside. There is a small solarium type location near the entrance, plus a reasonably well equipped bar, and a very popular set of tables.
The restrooms are odd in that they are located down a hallway that seems halfway across the building.
Favorite Dish: Obviously people come here for the seafood reputation, but there are some other things to consider as well, and in my opinion are pretty good:
Marionberry Cobbler $4.99, ala Mode add $0.79
Apple Crisp, $3.99
Strawberry Mango juice, $3.49
Pop may be ordered in a bottomless glass for $2.49
- Food and Dining
Ugo's Pizza Parlor!!!!: Ugo's Pizza Parlor!!!!
They make the best pizza in the world----and I'm not just saying that because my brother owns it! By the way, if you stop in there, tell him his sister from the mid-west sent you.
Favorite Dish: The Black Knight Pizza with anchovies on it and spuds to go along with it.
4 Caminos / Yonic's: Can't Miss the Blue and Orange Place North of Town
For some years this restaurant at Broadway and Gaines has been an eye-popping addition to the landscape on the north side of Salem. The colors sure don't make it easy to miss, that's for certain.
The new name on the place now says Yonic's, yet the credit card receipts and part of the literature still say 4 Caminos, so the renaming of the place must have had some sort of continuity in order for them to maintain the same credit card processing account.
In any event, you will find this to be an economical choice for dining in the Salem area, and while it is a bit north of the downtown core it isn't really that far away from everything either. The interior decorations are also certainly a bright change on a gray winter day.
One word of warning: the restaurant is essentially 100% non-ADA accessible. The restrooms are upstairs, and hidden behind an odd platform arrangement that requires going up a few stairs and then down a few more.
Favorite Dish: Vegetarian Fajitas for $9.25 are a reasonably good deal, and enough food for a very good meal but not like some other restaurants that serve so much food that it is really two meals.
- Food and Dining
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