Patrons drink harborside at Cape Ann Brewery / credit: Erin Baldassari Patrons drink harborside at Cape Ann Brewery / credit: Erin Baldassari

Bostonians are so blessed, location-wise. Two iconic harbors, Gloucester and Plymouth, are but a short summer day trip away. In Gloucester, on Sunday afternoons at the Cape Ann Brewery (a South Shore mainstay that celebrates its tenth anniversary next year), a jazz duo swings inside but it’s the outdoor real estate that offers the real lure. A seat on the covered harborside deck provides choice views of boats large and small, gleaming or charmingly rusting, and purposed for industry or hobby. The nautical scenery is feast enough for your eyes but add a cold beer and some plump, sweet fried clams or the larger fish platter (piled with golden battered haddock, clams, calamari, and shrimp) and you’ve captured summer in New England.

Set beside Plymouth Harbor, Nix’s Plymouth is a relatively new waterfront spot. This sister restaurant to Nix’s Mate in the FiDi Hilton opened in April and boast prime seaview real estate on Plymouth’s Town Wharf. Patio space will be completed soon (hopefully before the summer is out!) but, for now, the restaurant’s wall-to-wall windows grant suitably beautiful vistas of the harbor. The Italian-leaning menu includes fresh pastas alongside out-of-state dishes like a smoked Texas beef brisket. Most patrons, howver come for the seafood. From quahog lollipops (clam filled cornbread skewered dumplings) to buttery shrimp scampi topped flatbread and a succulent lobster platter, it’s all about the oceanic fare at Nix’s.

Nix’s sleek grey décor makes for cool, smart ambience but — like Cape Ann Brewery — it offers also offers casual dining options, with burgers and bar bite standbys. On weekend nights, Nix’s also has live entertainment, with local bands and DJs performing on site. Dessert is often a missable aferthought in casual restaurants, but Cape Ann Brewery’s lemon tart is superbly sweet and sharp, while Nix’s bitter and sweet stout shake is damn quaffable.

 
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