Plan a Perfect Massachusetts Beach Day With These Eight Tasty Takeout Ideas

Here's where to go for sun and surf—plus the quirky sandwich shops, seafood shacks, and BBQ joints to stop at on the way.

Nightshade Noodle Bar has banh mi and more on its so-called beach menu, which is designed to be taken out to Nahant. / Photo by Jacqueline Cain

Pack up your canvas tote with plastic cups, can koozies, and plenty of hand sanitizer: The beach is summer 2020’s hottest dining destination. Though restaurants around the Bay State are opening up their dining rooms for socially distanced service, science says outside is still the safest place to be while the country continues to reign in COVID-19. Luckily, besides plenty of new outdoor decks at city restaurants, Massachusetts also has dozens of beautiful beaches open to the public—with plenty of awesome takeout options nearby. (Just watch out for food-snatching seagulls, and remember to take your trash with you.)

Whether your perfect day features hefty sandwiches and bags of chips at an urban beach oasis, or a serene spread of seafood in a secluded nook of the South Shore, add these eight quirky takeout itineraries to your summer 2020 bucket list.

The Super Italian sub from Roy’s Cold Cuts in Eastie will satisfy at lunchtime on Constitution Beach. / Photo courtesy of Roy’s Cold Cuts

Boston Beaches

Going to: Constitution Beach, East Boston
Stop at: Roy’s Cold Cuts

If you wake up the morning of a perfect beach day humming “Here Comes the Sun,” make your first stop this time-honored Eastie sub shop, which is always playing classic rock to match the floor-to-ceiling memorabilia of everyone from the Beatles to the Doors. Not only will you hear your favorite jams, but you’ll also be rewarded with ideal beach fare: Extra-loaded sandwiches like classic Italian cold cuts; cracked pepper-turkey and cheese; a BLT wrap; and the popular Godfather sub, stuffed with imported Parma prosciutto, a fried chicken cutlet, tomato, fresh mozzarella, and roasted red peppers. There are also bottled sodas, and a huge selection of vintage candies to choose from. Take it all to-go to watch planes take off from the sandy shore of Constitution Beach. A Roy’s lunch with a side of runway-gazing makes for a uniquely Eastie afternoon, says Alexis Cervasio, East Boston Oysters founder and local beach bum.

198 Marion St., East Boston, 617-567-9760,

A pint of handmade pistachio gelato from Fox & the Knife is the perfect way to wind down a walk along Dorchester Bay. / Photo courtesy of Fox & the Knife

Going to: Carson Beach, South Boston
Stop at: Fox & the Knife

If you’re looking for lunch, visit Southie wine shop and deli American Provisions for subs on the way to the beach. To fortify yourself for an early-evening stroll along Dorchester Bay, though, turn to self-proclaimed “water baby” and award-winning chef Karen Akunowicz. Her Fox & the Knife opens for prepared-food takeout at 5:30 p.m., so you can sup on summery items like nectarine panzanella, salmon with braised greens and farro, and hand-packed pints of gelato (the cheesy focaccia knows no season) beneath a beautiful, pre-dusk view of the Boston skyline from Carson Beach.

28 W. Broadway, Boston, 617-766-8630,

Take brisket and collard greens to go from Larry J’s BBQ in Revere. / Photo courtesy of Larry J’s BBQ

North Shore Beaches

Going to: Revere or Winthrop Beach
Stop at: Larry J’s BBQ Cafe

Avoid the weekend crowds lining up for takeout at North Shore Kelly’s Roast Beef by visiting Larry J’s BBQ Cafe—a comparatively unsung gem. The Revere beachfront location of pitmaster Larry Jimerson’s smokehouse specializes in slow-smoked brisket, sliced tender-thin and served with a choice of sauces, including traditional Texas-style, or Jamaican Jerk; though pork ribs and chicken wings would also make for finger-lickin’ picnic fare. Larry J’s proximity to America’s first public beach can’t be beat—but if you’re looking for a more less-tourist spot, travel to rocky, secluded Winthrop Beach.

Larry J’s BBQ Cafe, 1148 N Shore Rd., Revere, 781-286-6781,

A beach blanket at Nahant is full of soft-shell crab banh mi, lobster garlic noodles, fried clams, and shrimp chips from Nightshade Noodle Bar’s beach menu. / Photo by Jacqueline Cain

Going to: Nahant Beach
Stop at: Nightshade Noodle Bar

Nightshade Noodle Bar’s pop-up roots are serving the small team well for their pandemic pivot: The downtown Lynn bistro is temporarily a takeout joint, with a walk-up window on Exchange Street dishing out New England beach shack fare with Viet-Cajun accents. Think: a lemongrass-Cajun-butter lobster roll and seasonal banh mi sandwiches; light and crispy fried clams with coconut-ranch and tangy tamarind dips; crunchy fresh papaya salad; and spicy shellfish sold by the pound. The beach menu is specifically designed to be taken to-go to nearby Nahant Beach, a glorious stretch of shoreline along a causeway with Boston skyline views opposite the Atlantic Ocean. The Nahant parking lot can be stressful on sunny Saturdays, and the parking fee is waived at 6 p.m.—so why wouldn’t you opt for a weeknight picnic there?

Nightshade Noodle Bar, 73 Exchange St., Lynn, 781-780-9470,

Mix-and-match beach-day provisions and picnic fare from Frank, Beverly’s new cafe and market by chef Frank McClelland. / Photo courtesy of Frank

Go to: Lynch Park in Beverly
Stop at: FRANK or Ellis Square Social

If you’re heading to a scenic spot in the seaside city of Beverly, let a star chef and ex-pat from the Boston fine-dining scene help pack your picnic basket. One option is Frank, a cafe and marketplace from farmer, fisherman, and former L’Espalier restauranteur Frank McClelland. Located across the street from Beverly’s train station, Frank is stocked with provisions like freshly baked baguettes, spreads, snacks, and salads, plus a great selection of packaged craft beers and wine. You can also order prepared food to-go, from all-day egg sandwiches and cups of cold-brew, to sumac fried chicken and a house-made ginger-pineapple tonic. Or, check out Ellis Square Social, which is currently offering a beefy barbecue menu on the weekends from chef Jay Murray, the longtime grillmaster at Grill 23. Now, about the locale: Beloved Beverly beach Lynch Park charges a fee to park to enjoy its two beaches, blooming rose and flower gardens, and amenities like public bathrooms. Dane Street Beach, meanwhile, is a quieter park, with a small lot plus street parking on Lothrop.

FRANK, 112 Rantoul St., Beverly, 978-998-4946,

Ellis Square Social, 252 Cabot St., Beverly, 978-998-4450,

Nantasket Beachgoers will find tacos, guac, and more from Pearl & Lime on weekends this summer at Paragon Boardwalk. / Photo courtesy of Pearl & Lime

South Shore Beaches

Go to: Nantasket Beach
Stop at: Paragon Boardwalk

A classic South Shore destination, the Nantasket Beach boardwalk got a retro-modern upgrade in 2018 with the debut of the throwback-hipster Paragon Boardwalk. This season, the collection of beachy businesses includes mini-golf and stand-up paddleboard rentals, plus dining options. Among the latter: A new location of Joseph’s Pizza, which has served up Sicilian-style pie by the slice and sheet on Nantasket Beach for more than 50 years; and a weekend menu of tacos, crispy chips and guacamole, summer salads, and more from Pearl & Lime, a forthcoming Quincy Center taqueria from the team behind the Townshend cocktail bar. From the beach, take a stroll along the ArtWalk to pick up your takeout, or park and pick up on your way to the water.

Paragon Boardwalk, 189-197 Nantasket Ave., Hull, 781-925-0011,

Eat fried clams from Hingham Lobster Pound with your toes in the sand. / Photo by Tessa Yannone

Going to: Minot Beach, Scituate
Stop at: Hingham Lobster Pound

While Bathing Beach is actually much closer to this Hingham Harbor seafood shack, we say that Minot Beach is the more perfect place to spend a South Shore day, thanks to its fun natural features like tide pools for swimming and a large rock to jump off. Whichever beach you choose, call the Hingham Lobster Pound ahead of time to order up a couple of steamed lobsters to bring with you, or opt for classic options such as fried haddock and curly fries, whole-belly clams, grilled scallops, and cheeseburgers.

4 Broad Cove Rd., Rt. 3A, Hingham, 781-749-1984,

Chicken salad with cranberries, lettuce, and tomato from Mae’s Sandwich Shop at Ocean Bluff. / Photo courtesy of Mae’s Sandwich Shop

Go to: Green Harbor Beach, Marshfield
Stop at: Mae’s Sandwich Shop

There are plenty of sandy, scenic spots at the beaches in the Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock section of Marshfield—and there’s also plenty of beach-friendly fare on the takeout menu from Mae’s Sandwich Shop. Mae’s opened fall 2019 from partners Sam Kauff (Ashmont Grill, 51 Lincoln) and Eileen Price (Bagelsaurus, Formaggio Kitchen). Beginning at 9 a.m. most days, it now serves breakfast, lunch, and dessert all day—from cups of Commonwealth Cold Brew and egg sandwiches on Pain D’Avignon brioche; to house-baked focaccia sandwiches like chicken salad with cranberries; rosemary ham; and the vegetarian Mae Day with almond romesco, roasted veggies, and feta. There are also green salads, and snacks, like brown-butter chocolate-chip blondie bars, plus bottled soft drinks to-go. Once you’ve made your dining choices, simply head to the beach wall at Brant Rock Beach, or travel just slightly further to Green Harbor, which offers prime sailboat scenery from its super-long jetty.

Mae’s Sandwich Shop, 563 Ocean St., Marshfield, 781-319-2726,