As if you needed an excuse to escape town this summer, the MBTA is offering a $10 fare for unlimited single-weekend travel on all commuter rail lines on Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 2. The best part: Many of these train stations are within walking distance of summery dining spots. Here’s a taste.
Newburyport has many summer options. First up, visit fun-loving Metzy’s Taqueria, located right at the train station, for prickly pear margaritas and the Cantina nachos (www.metzys.com). Popular Riverwalk Brewery is also a hop from the station, and just off the Rail Trail that goes to downtown. Hang in the beer garden, sip a Screen Door (an extra pale ale with citrus notes), and enjoy a charcuterie and cheese board. Show your train ticket and get 10 percent off food. www.riverwalkbrewing.com
Continue on the paved Rail Trail for about 20 minutes into town. Go to Paddle Inn for chef Suzi Maitland’s playful menu, including Thai style fries and crab rangoon (www.paddleinnsurf.com). West Row Café & Bar is another solid option: Sit at a patio table and order the tuna tartare (www.westrowcafe.com). Ceia is where you’ll want to order the popular Shrimp tagliatelle (www.ceiakitchenbar.com). If you crave a water view and seafood, Sea Level, while not waterfront, has views of the Merrimack River (www.sealevelnewburyport.com), and The Poynt is a lively food and drink scene with a patio and water glimpse (www.poyntnewburyport.com). A couple doors down is Starboard Galley, where the lobster pie is popular (www.starboardgalley.com). And the second-floor outdoor deck at the just-relocated Black Cow tempts with a raw bar and cocktails (www.blackcowrestaurants.com).
Manchester-by-the-Sea’s Singing Beach is a train ride away from Boston and a skip from the Manchester station. So is Superfine Food, a comfort dining spot with a splashy Fishy Burger and Northeastern Negroni on the menu (www.superfinefood.com). Sit on the outdoor deck for just-plucked-from-the-sea lobster at 7 Central, a three-minute walk from the station. “We are fortunate to have a Manchester resident who is a full-time lobsterman who we buy directly from,” says owner Paul Barclay. www.7central.net
Salem has many walkable restaurants from the Salem station, including Ledger Restaurant and Bar. Chef Daniel Gursha’s locally sourced lobster spaghetti with corn pasta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and fresh herbs is a standout. As is the grilled pineapple jalapeno margarita. www.ledgersalem.com
The Roof, a taco bar on the Hotel Salem rooftop, is a quick jaunt from the station. Trending is the house frosé (frozen rosé) and chef Justin Perdue’s ceviche, guacamole, and tacos. www.dinehotelsalem.com/the-roof
And hip Gulu-Gulu Café is a worthy 10-minute walk for blueberry and watermelon mimosas and chef Lucy Wonson’s fig goat cheese and walnut salad (www.gulugulucafe.com).
In Swampscott, Paradiso Ristorante is located across from the Swampscott station. Popular dishes include tender veal, homemade pasta, and “thinly sliced, egg-battered, lightly pan-fried eggplant,” says manager Concetta Carenza. And you’ll want to sip the pistachio martini. www.paradisoristorante.net
Get off at the Ipswich station stop and you’ll spot Ithaki — go for the spanakopita and pastitsio (www.ithakicuisine.com). And Ipswich Brewery and Brewer’s Table, located behind Ithaki, is where you can enjoy a crisp Pesky Pilsner and Brewer’s Burger (www.ipswichalebrewery.com). Also walkable is Choate Bridge Pub, where you can sit at the bar for a taste of Ipswich fried clams and some local flavor (www.choatebridgepub.com).
In Rockport, visit Dairy Train for Richardson’s ice cream — located next to the station. Then, walk about 20 minutes into downtown Rockport for Roy Moore Lobster Co., a salty lobster-in-the rough lobster shack with a sweet water view (www.facebook.com/
Get off at West Concord and take the five-minute walk to Woods Hill Table. Chef Charlie Foster’s menu supports local farms. Summer specials include Line Caught Skate, with peach barbecue sauce, organic local peppers, tomatillos, and baby heirloom potatoes. Beat the heat with a Concord Cooler (Mezcal, Cucumber, Chartreuse, Benedictine, and lime). www.woodshilltable.com
At the end of the line at the Greenbush station, walk three minutes to Rivershed in Scituate for the Sunday country brunch. “Our live country brunch is basically Nashville-comes-to-Boston,” says owner Kara Tondorf. The menu is Southern-inspired, mimosa flights are a thing, and craft beers include some from Scituate’s new brewery, Untold Brewing. www.therivershed.comLaurie Wilson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.