The North Shore Newbie’s Road Map to Route 1 Landmarks

Route 1 is more than just a place to buy a loveseat, repair your smartphone, and get a body wax, all without leaving the same parking lot. It’s also a place to sit back and enjoy the finer things in life—with a touch of kitsch, naturally.

Giggles. / Photo by Ken Richardson

Live Entertainment

Comedy Club

SEE: Saugus Wise-crackin’ goodfellas like Frank Santorelli, a.k.a. Georgie the bartender from The Sopranos.
HEAR: Politically incorrect zingers and miles-deep Boston accents.
TASTE: Cheesy pies, red-sauce spaghetti, and more Italian-American eats from parent restaurant Prince Pizzeria.
SPEND: About 30 bucks for a show ticket, plus whatever you mangia.

Kowloon Restaurant

SEE: Weekly Wednesday bingo in the downstairs lounge and Friday standup in the upstairs “Komedy” club for starters.
HEAR: Movie dialogue you can quote by heart (“Goonies never say die!”) when outdoor screenings—and live bands, too—return to the parking lot this summer.
TASTE: Pupu platters with beef teriyaki and, for dessert, giant chocolate-dipped fortune cookies covered in Heath Bar crunch.
SPEND: It varies, but $20 is usually enough for a comedy show or a carful of movie fans.

Mixx360 Nightlife

SEE: Flashing lights filling packed dance floors, plus hooting Sox (and Bruins, and Celtics) fans in neighbor-sibling Luxury Boxx Sports Bar.
HEAR: Bass-heavy EDM and hip-hop from guest DJs, as well as occasional live tunes. Don’t miss: Who’s Bad, America’s Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute, this month.
TASTE: Sriracha-ketchup-accompanied cheesesteak rolls and other bar bites for soaking up rounds of espresso martinis.
SPEND: There’s no cover before 10 p.m. for most DJ-headlined dance parties.


SEE: Live music in a boisterous bar/restaurant that doubles as a popular private-function facility.
HEAR: Van Halen, Kiss, and AC/DC cover bands, plus original acts that lean heavy on hard rock and country.
TASTE: Rib-sticking two-handers like a messy mac ’n’ cheese–topped burger and Buffalo-style buttermilk chicken sandwich.
SPEND: $15 for a single ticket, or reserve a table for up to eight.

Photo by Mona Miri

Must-Get Grub

“Saugus Wings” at Kowloon Restaurant.

The full secret recipe for the most popular dish at Route 1’s sprawling shrine to festive Asian dining is kept under lock and key. Here’s what we do know: They’re deep-fried and wok-tossed with chopped garlic. More important, whatever is in the spicy, sticky sauce that ultimately lacquers these mouthwatering chicken wings, they inspire more hometown pride than boring old Boston baked beans ever could.

Steak tips at the NewBridge Café.

An inconspicuous brick box swathed in shades of brown, the good ol’ NewBridge (est. 1975)—just a mile off the strip—doesn’t have a colorful neon sign like the spots right on Route 1. What the local fave does have, though, are lusted-after steak tips: skewered and flame-kissed on the open grill, which leaves a hickey or two of char marks perfect for covering up with a just-so-sweet barbecue sauce (also sold by the bottle).

“Three Way” sandwich at Kelly’s Roast Beef.

If you want to see a fight break out, ask a Route 1 crowd to choose the best roast beef sandwich shop. (People take this seriously.) Now that Kelly’s is expanding to Florida, though, there’s no question that its medium-rare slices of 25-day-aged beef knuckle—topped with the regional-classic trio of mayo, barbecue sauce, and white American cheese—will be the standard-bearer bringing the North Shore to the South.

Chicken pies at Harrows.

On busy days when nobody’s cooking for the kids, the frozen chicken pot pies at family-owned Harrows—offered alongside its famous fresh ones with golden-flaky crusts—will feed up to six. Pro tip: Add an order of rolls, for swabbing up all the gravy-covered goodness.

Cinnabon French toast at Iron Town Diner.

Hangovers are a hazard of a night on the town. Should one strike, coddle your bleary eyes, ringing ears, and rumbling stomach with a triple-decker of Texas-style French toast—frosting-glazed and doused in cinnamon and powdered sugar—at a terrific townie diner tucked right outside the hubbub of the main strip. Your brain, meanwhile, will take great comfort in the endless coffee. Bottoms up.

The salad bar at the Hardcover.

Route 1 is a place powered by nostalgia for old-school American restaurants, and what’s more old-school than a salad bar? Yeah, yeah—we know manhandling shared tongs feels oh-so-naughty nowadays, but there’s something oddly comforting about assembling crunchy iceberg lettuce, crumbly croutons, and scoops of Thousand Island dressing with fellow family-night-outers at the Hardcover, where the salad bar comes with every entrée.

Water Park of New England / Courtesy photo

Old-School Fun

Town Line Luxury Lanes, Malden

With plush booths, glow-in-the-dark “Atomic Bowling” nights, and bowls of boozy punch swimming with Swedish Fish, this bowling alley is a kingpin castle compared to most joints.

Roller World, Saugus

Eighties babies, take note: This classic rink renting quad and in-line skates designates Tuesday nights for adults only. That means throwback jams overhead and no little kids tripping up your moonwalks.

Skull Cliff, Lynnfield

A half-mile hike down a dirt path behind a Route 1 Chrysler dealership leads to—surprise!—a 30-foot-tall quarry wall covered in colorful skeletons left by graffiti artist Ichabod in 2001.

In the Game, Peabody

Up for a challenge? Hit the climbing wall or three-story-tall ropes course at this all-ages play palace off the strip. Bonus points for laser tag, weekly karaoke nights, and cotton-candy-topped martinis.

Water Park of New England, Danvers

Twisty pool slides and an indoor river will tucker out the kiddos for the ride home at this year-round splash pad. If the hot tub puts the grownups into nap mode, too, “Splash N Stay” packages at the neighboring hotel await.

When Route One Ruled the Earth