We are happy to present the winners of the 2020 Merrimack Valley Magazine Awards. This spring, the top picks in all categories were chosen by our readers via our online voting platform. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote and congratulations to all the winners.
Burtons Grill & Bar
Burton’s Grill is the place to go for cuisine from the traditional to the innovative. Perfect for power lunches, after-work socializing and fine wine, Burton’s offers paleo, vegetarian and gluten-free options as well as classic American cuisine. Additionally, their scratch kitchens are able to customize menu offerings for your dietary needs and wants. Takeout is always available and several locations feature seasonal outdoor patios.
North Andover, Peabody, Burlington, Westford and Hingham, Mass.; Nashua, N.H.
With fun and unusual sushi offerings such as the Red Sox Maki roll (scallop tempura, spicy mayo, tuna and avocado) and the lobster tempura roll, Feng Shui’s extensive menu offers a playful spin on Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Executive Chef Patrick Shao’s background includes work at a five-star hotel in Beijing and top chef Johnson Ping Zhu did a stint at the famed Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. Their other chefs put on a show with their onion volcanos and knife wizardry at the hibachi grills.
Chelmsford and Tyngsborough, Mass.
Pastry Shops / Bakery
Purple Carrot Bread Co.
In April 2018, Purple Carrot Bread Co. opened its doors as a cafe and eatery on Merrimack Street in downtown Lowell. Every item on the menu is made from scratch, from hearty stews to salad dressings and condiments. Rustic breads are the heart of Purple Carrot’s menu: Country Blonde, Kalamata olive, rosemary and garlic ciabatta are among the more popular offerings. Can’t make it to Lowell? Their wares are featured at summer farmers markets throughout the Valley.
107 Merrimack St. | Lowell, Mass.
Coffee Shops & Cafes
This family-friendly cafe is relatively new to the Merrimack Valley scene. The pleasant staff and tasty food and coffee have earned Frobie’s a loyal following since it opened in 2014. They offer the unexpected: cherry blossom ice cream and homemade jalapeno Sriracha cream cheese are included on their updated menu. Plus, there’s outdoor seating.
101 Broadway Rd. | Dracut, Mass.
Al Fresca Ristorante
A family-owned and run independent restaurant serving homemade Italian cuisine and hand-crafted cocktails, Al Fresca offers a taste of Italy in Tewksbury. Al Fresca is also the perfect host for social gatherings, business functions and family events. Need a place for outdoor dining? Call for reservations — their full menu is available.
1768 Main St. | Tewksbury, Mass.
The Old Court Irish Pub & Restaurant
The Old Court is an authentic Irish pub and restaurant located in historic downtown Lowell. Since opening in February 2001, they have become an integral part of Lowell’s bustling dining and entertainment scene while retaining their unique Irish identity. Their kitchen features the best in contemporary American cuisine. They also serve traditional Irish classics including shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and fish and chips.
29-31 Central St. | Lowell, Mass.
In 2006, the first Casa Blanca opened in North Andover. Its authentic Mexican food appealed to locals, and soon the Vargas family opened more locations throughout the Merrimack Valley. The atmosphere is inviting, the food is fresh, and the margaritas may be the best in the region. The tamales de pollo alone make Casa Blanca worth a visit, and with six locations in and around the MV, one shouldn’t be far away.
Locations throughout the Merrimack Valley.
Jocelyn’s Mediterranean Restaurant & Lounge
The lamb, kafta and kibbee dishes make this Salem eatery a carnivore’s paradise. But fear not, herbivores — the vegetarian combo appetizer plate is so packed with freshness and flavor that you’ll forget it’s healthy. Jocelyn’s offers Lebanese and American food, a full-service bar and a martini lounge. Since May, they have offered outdoor seating.
355 South Broadway | Salem, N.H.
Tremonte Pizzeria specializes in Neapolitan thin-crust, hand-tossed pizza cooked in a stone hearth oven at over 700 degrees. They also serve burgers, wings and a variety of authentic Italian specialties. The comfortable dining environment is complemented by a wraparound bar featuring 36 beers on tap. Want something different for dessert? Try the warm apple crostata.
Lowell and Tyngsborough, Mass.
Butcher Boy Market
Featuring everyday favorites and hard-to-find specialty items, Butcher Boy Market has everything you need for your summer dining. While their 60-foot meat counter has all the poultry, beef, lamb, veal, pork and homemade sausages you need, you can also find baked goods, craft cheese, wines and spirits, as well as an eye-popping array of treasures for those with a sweet tooth. They’ve been around since 1955. Stop in and find out why.
1077 Osgood St. | North Andover, Mass.
Stop by next week for the winners in the second half of our ‘Good Eats’ category.
The 2020 MVMAs are sponsored by: