Halloween Die-ary: September 28, 2018

Salem tonight. And it was a perfect night to visit. The temps were chill and the Haunted Happenings banners were at full mast in preparation for the looming October. That special Salem ambiance was ambiancing hard.

It was also a perfect night to visit because it was a relative ghost town. I easily found parking on the common and had zero wait times at the restaurants we hit.

I was there to meet a couple of friends from out of town, and we started out at Rockefellas, a casual restaurant in a historic building on the site of Salem’s first meeting house. The building itself used to house a jewelry shop, and it still bears the name of its previous incarnation on the fa├žade: Daniel Lowe & Co. This jewelry shop was the first place in Salem to make witch souvenirs: Collectible silver spoons with witches on the handle that they started selling in 1891 (even the tourism in Salem is historic).

Rockefellas is not the best eats in town (I mean, it’s fine), but I like the place. Besides that great history, the place is perfectly situated in the heart of town at the intersection of Essex and Washington streets. It’s a great place to people watch if you get one of the booths. It’s also large enough that there are usually seats at the bar or tables, and (this is important) they have the best seasonal cocktail menu in town.

If you read A Season with the Witch, you'll know this restaurant as the one where we did the Helltini challenge. This time, though, I just had a candy corntinti…an extremely sweet yellow and orange concoction topped with whip cream and candy corn. One of my friends there had one, as well. And two dudes drinking these cupcake-looking-things at the bar was a strange enough site that it compelled a trio of elderly ladies to approach and interrogate us about it.

From there we hit up a couple other places, the Ledger (inside a historic bank building), the Lobster Shanty (in an actual shanty). Here's the beautiful thing about Salem restaurants in October (and this close to October), no matter how low- or high-end they are, they're decorated for Halloween. They're going to have cheese-cloth draped skeletons and black spiderwebs and leering plastic Jack-o's. It's like one of the items on the Salem health inspector's checklist in October. Rats in your kitchen? That's a violation. No rubber rats in your dining room? Also a violation.

Salem’s attractions hadn’t yet started their extended October hours, so we mostly hung out at the restaurants and walked around, following the giant moon down Essex Street, sensing the palpable anticipation in the air for what was about to happen to this place in mere days.

Which I’ll see firsthand in the coming week as I’m headed back on Thursday to see Elvira.