Dining Out: Mandarava

My aunt and uncle have lived in Topsfield, MA for my whole life. When we were little and we used to go up and visit, we'd play in their backyard, walk to the penny candy store or indulge in giant cones at their local ice cream shop. As we got older, our visits to the north shore started to include adventures in neighboring towns - Ipswich, Plum Island, Newburyport. It was through those family outings that I fell in love with Newburyport. So when the generous team at Shop Newburyport invited me to spend a day around town, I couldn't resist. 

Our first stop of the day was for lunch at Mandarava on Inn Street. Inn Street runs parallel to the main drag (State Street) and has a playground in the center of its shops and restaurants. It's the perfect perch for parents and kids alike. 

Mandarava is next door to the Purple Onion Cafe. The storefront is a bit unassuming. 

Mandarava storefrontMandarava sign

When you step into the space, you approach a large counter with bar seating on either side.

Mandarava counter

I absolutely love these poppy red stools at the bar. 

Mandarava stools

The dining room is large and feels very airy.

Mandarava dining room

There are several tables set against the front windows overlooking the playground outside. 

Mandarava booth

We sat in a cozy booth and were greeted by one of the co-owners, Mary Vyn. Mary runs Mandarava with her mother.

The first item she brought over was freshly made pineapple, pear and ginger juice. The juice had such a beautiful, bright color. 

Pineapple pear ginger juice

When you took a sip, you got the tropical taste of the pineapple, the sweetness of the pear and a serious kick from the ginger. You know how Popeye feels strong when he eats spinach? That's how I felt with every sip of this drink. 

Next Mary brought each of us a different kind of soup. I tasted the white bean and roasted garlic. Don't be fooled by the mellow presentation, this soup was hearty, delicious and would be excellent on a cold winter night. It would be even better with a slice of crusty bread for dunking. 

White bean soup

My lunch date had the green lentil soup. She was kind enough to let me have a few spoonfuls. For me, the texture was a bit too mushy (I know lentils are mushy, just my personal preference). 

Lentil soup

To go with our soup, Mary provided two pieces of Mandarava's gluten-free bread. Though gluten-free bread can be unappetizing, this bread had a great flavor.

Gluten free breadGluten free bread

Next up we tried the daily special - three bean stew, coconut rice and kale salad. 

Three bean stew

This three bean stew was fantastic. I was convinced it had some kind of brown sugar in it, but Mary explained that the sweetness was likely coming from the tomatoes and carrots. The stew had been slow roasted overnight. I also loved the texture and flavor of the coconut rice. I made that entire plate disappear. 

We were started to get full when Mary popped over to ask, "Room for something sweet?" But of course! A few moments later she brought us a slice of lemon almond cake. 

Lemon almond cake

As you know, I typically only enjoy desserts that are chocolate on chocolate with a side of chocolate, but this cake was truly special. The lemon flavor was subtle and the honey and nutmeg on the plate were the perfect garnishes. 

Throughout our meal people were coming in and out of the front door, mostly ordering juice at the counter. It seems Mandarava has become the go-to spot for freshly squeezed juice. 

The restaurant has been opened for nearly four years. When I asked Mary why she chose Newburyport for her business' location, she answered, "To be by the sea." She then continued, "And I may have grown up in a farmhouse less than ten miles from here . . ."

I also asked Mary to name her favorite item on the menu. Rather than select one juice or one dish, she said, "I really love doing the tasting menus for dinner. We do five courses and we decide what to make based on mood - the weather, the feeling of the town." 

I was incredibly impressed by the food at Mandarava. Right before we left we were both looking over the menu one more time and I resolved that on my next visit I would try the cranberry chocolate almond shake. That ought to fuel me up for shopping! 

A huge thank you to Mary and her team for having us. We are officially Mandarava believers! 

*This post is sponsored by Shop Newburyport. All opinions are 100 percent my own. 


Stephanie Blackburn's picture

This mean looks absolutely delicious! And gluten free bread is always a plus in my book!

Molly's picture

You would love it there. The co-owner, Mary, would happily tell you the ingredients in any/every dish.

Foolest's picture

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Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

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46 Inn Street
01950 Newburyport , MA
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