The first thing that comes to mind with Salem may be witches, but the city has so much more to offer. Over the last few years, the mysterious town has quickly become a food mecca, but nothing has compared to the excitement surrounding a recently opened speakeasy food establishment.
Next time you’re in Salem on a Wednesday night, head up to Liberty Street and look for a red lantern lit by a single candle. Once you spot the red light, that is a sign that Back Alley Bacon is now open for business.
Although I heard about Back Alley Bacon, I couldn’t find much information about this place. Through some investigating, I was able to locate and connect with one of the owners. Note: Before agreeing to speak with me, I had to promise to keep their identity a secret.
For the owners of Back Alley Bacon, their goal was to never be mainstream. Instead, they were looking to be inventive, yet provide fun, mystery, and the type of culture that had people talking.
When Back Alley Bacon started in 2015, the menu was pork-centric street food tailored only to “those in the know.” To maintain this level of exclusivity, they continue to only open on Wednesdays from 5:30 until they sell out of food. Only one menu item is offered weekly, with the price fluctuating and dependent upon what is served.
The process of dining is secretive, yet simple. You hit the doorbell button and then a speaker is activated. The person on the other end asks you for a password. If you don’t have a password, you can find it listed on Facebook Wednesday afternoon before they open. If you don’t know the password, you cannot place an order. It is obviously important to check this out before you get in line. No password, no meal. Although, I’m sure someone friendly in line will help you with the password if you forget to check or don’t have your phone handy.
Once you have gained entry, you can place your order(s) for the sole menu item. When giving your name, some people have fun with the process and rattle off alter egos or pop culture references.
It’s important to note that there is always a line and usually about five orders taken at once. They also only accept cash as payment.
The elements of mystery and intrigue play a role when the chef greets you at the door, donning a pig mask to keep his identity hidden.
Since they utilize the kitchen in a popular restaurant next door; many have questioned their association. The answer is always a tongue-in-cheek response or denial of sorts.
On thing’s for certain: the pork motif. Aside from the name and mask, the ingredient is typically the star of each week’s menu. Back Alley Bacon prides themselves on using local food and produce from several farms in the area. They also never try to repeat a meal to encourage a steady flow of repeat customers.
Hidden establishments and password entries date back to 1920s speakeasies, but these owners hope the hush-hush nature continues to create a buzz. Indeed, this cannot be created by advertising, relying solely on word of mouth.
As Salem continues to expand its food offerings, Back Alley Bacon is proof that individuals will always enjoy a whimsical experience, if they know where to find it.