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The best of Cape Cod and Island restaurants

The view is dazzling from the window-side tables at the Ocean House in Dennis Port.Barbara Kilroy

Upper Cape (Falmouth, Hyannis, Sagamore, Sandwich, Woods Hole)

The list of tequilas at Añejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar is long and interesting, and the plates of Americanized Mexican street food provide a spicy alternative to the Cape diet of shellfish and burgers. The fish in the cod tacos is breaded in cornmeal, the enchiladas verde in tomatillo sauce are smothered in jack cheese, and beers can be ordered with hot sauce and lime. 188 Main St., Falmouth, 508-388-7631,

A lot of people ask for a taste of the lobster ice cream (“made with real lobster”) at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, but they are more likely to order a big scoop of Mud Pie. The coffee ice cream with crushed Oreos and chocolate swirls is the favorite in this popular candy and ice cream shop that makes everything fresh daily. 209 Main St., Falmouth, 508-548-7878,


Gutsy food meets a brilliant wine list at C Salt Wine Bar & Grille. Chef Jonathan Philips won a regional following at the Golf Club of Cape Cod, and he continues to please palates with straightforward bistro fare at C Salt. His starter of candied pork belly and truffle fries pairs perfectly with an unoaked California chardonnay and the blackened swordfish with Japanese spices cries out for the brisk Albariño. 75 Davis Straits, Falmouth, 774-763-2954,

At Falmouth Raw Bar, cornball statues of a bearded pirate and a buxom, hook-handed “piratess’’ welcome diners to this salty bar overlooking the head of Falmouth Harbor. Outdoor picnic tables on the grassy lawn are best for ripping into a steamed lobster and a bucket of clams, but you’ll have to sit inside to catch the live entertainment or a game on a widescreen TV. 56 Scranton Ave, Falmouth, 508-548-7729,

French pastry chef Boris Villatte at Maison Villatte has every bona fide you could want. He was born and trained in France, worked for Alain Ducasse, and cofounded Wellfleet’s PB Boulangerie. In this solo venture, he brings the magic of crusty French bread, flaky and buttery pastries, and exquisite desserts (meringue, anyone?) to Falmouth. Lines can be long, but the croissants alone are worth the wait. 267 Main St., Falmouth, 774-255-1855


The two chefs at Osteria La Civetta hail from central Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, so it’s no surprise they make their tortellini and tagliatelle from scratch and serve great country dishes like rabbit braised with olives or a vegetarian plate with ricotta flan. The solid Italian wine list is quite reasonably priced. 133 Main St., Falmouth, 508-540-1616,

Combining an updated American luncheonette menu with a contemporary bistro look of dark-green walls, marble-topped tables, and woven chairs, the bargain-priced Parkside Market pleases almost everyone. You can get breakfast all day (including green eggs and ham), a Cobb salad, and a range of tasty sandwiches. There’s a good kids’ menu as well; ask about weekend dinners. 281 Main St., Falmouth, 774-763-2066,

Pucker up for flavor. Although the various pickled vegetables at Pickle Jar Kitchen might not appeal at breakfast, a tofu scrambler, pastrami spice-cured salmon, or plate of blueberry muffin French toast will jump-start your day. Excellent soups and salads augment an inventive menu of sandwiches served on warm sesame rolls with the house garden pickle. 170 Main St., Falmouth, 508-540-6760,

Pies à la Mode Café, a storefront bakery cafe, carries on Cape Cod’s venerable pie-making tradition. Stop in at lunch for a slice of chicken or seafood pot pie, or in the afternoon for a slice of blueberry or lemon meringue. Whole pies (in two sizes) are perfect to heat up for dinner in your kitchenette. 352 Main St., Unit 4, Falmouth, 508-540-8777,


The harbor location suggests seafood shack, but Black Cat Tavern has more sophisticated chops. The piano lounge gathers Cape Codders on chilly nights, while the 40-seat patio beckons in warmer weather. The tavern is known for its giant lobster roll with the meat of a whole large lobster dressed just enough to stick together inside a bun. Steaks and chops augment the seafood. 165 Ocean St., Hyannis, 508-778-1233,

For a break from seafood, Brazilian Grill guarantees round after round of charcoal-grilled beef, pork, lamb, and chicken to go with a buffet of soups, salads, and Brazilian side dishes. The meat parade continues as long as you leave the card by your plate with the green side turned up. Desserts are extra, but who has room for dessert? 680 Main St., Hyannis Port, 508-771-0109,

Cape Cod is awash in ice cream emporia, but Caffe Gelato Bertini, a tiny shop, captures the artistry of more refined and less fatty Italian gelato and sorbetto (made with and without milk, respectively). Bertini also serves excellent espresso. For the coffee lover’s taste trifecta, order an affogato: gelato topped with a shot of espresso and a gob of whipped cream. 20 Pearl St. (rear), Hyannis, 508-778-0244,


If you believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then the menu at The Daily Paper has all the dishes fit to print. That includes lobster benedict and home fries (available with a side of extra hollandaise), raisin bread French toast, three-egg omelets, and corned beef hash. You won’t have to interrupt your beach day with something as mundane as lunch. 546 Main St., Hyannis, 508-775-9711,

Cape Cod seafood is even tastier with a French accent. Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar’s executive chef, Florence Lowell, hails from the French Atlantic coast near Bordeaux, and she brings a sure hand to the mignonette that graces plump raw oysters from Barnstable Harbor. They’re equally good topped with the explosive pop of flying fish roe. And that’s just for starters at this welcoming, classy seafood bistro. 410 Main St., Hyannis, 508-778-6500,

Crews of the sailing vessels and fishing boats stop at Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon to drink and eat (often in that order). The food is fresh, unpretentious, and served in generous portions. Most diners opt for fried clam, scallop, oyster, or fish dinners, but don’t overlook the silky clam chowder or the seafood stew studded with cod, scallops, and crustaceans. 138 Ocean St., Hyannis Port, 508-771-2770,

Lest you think that Patti Page-era favorites like veal parm, clams casino, and fish cakes with baked beans had vanished from Cape menus, you need only stop at Sagamore Inn, a friendly spot practically in the shadow of the Sagamore bridge. Dine at a table or in a more intimate wooden booth. One of the two outside decks is reserved for diners who bring their dogs. 1131 Route 6A, Sagamore, 508-888-9707,


With its gray shingles and interior décor of exposed beams and wooden booths, the Bee-Hive Tavern looks as if it has offered roadside sustenance since Route 6A was officially the King’s Highway. Dinner specials include roast duck and a clever surf-and-turf of beef tenderloin and lobster pie. Frugal diners will be happy with bun-free beef or salmon burgers. Live entertainment Thursday-Saturday. 406 Route 6A, East Sandwich, 508-833-1184,

It’s tempting to describe dining at Belfry Inn & Bistro as heavenly, since the dining room retains the stained glass, vaulted ceiling, and some altar railings from its earlier incarnation as a Catholic church. But chef Devin Broo’s bistro dishes are flavorful enough to seem almost sinful. Start with a crispy oyster slider before tucking into entrées such as braised short ribs with hedgehog mushrooms. 6 Jarves St., Sandwich, 508-888-8550,

Forget about extended pinkies. Although the afternoon tea in the Colonial-era carriage house called Dunbar Tea Shop is certainly civilized, sippers are encouraged to relax as they savor finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and extravagant pastries served on Blue Willow china. Lunch is also available in the two elegant dining rooms and on the outdoor patio. 1 Water Street, Sandwich, 508-833-2485,

Of course it’s called Ice Cream Sandwich. If the caramelized batter aroma of freshly grilled and rolled waffle cones doesn’t lure you in, two dozen flavors of ice cream crafted on the premises surely will. Now in its 33d year, Ice Cream Sandwich makes all the classics as well as some nice twists like Hazelnut Coffee or Cranberry Bog (vanilla almond ice cream with dried cranberries, walnuts, and white chocolate chunks). 66 Route 6A, Sandwich, 508-888-7237,

This original site of a mini-chain has been serving comfort food for more than a half century. Omelets and benedicts highlight the breakfast menu at Marshland, while burgers and sandwiches lead at lunch. The Friday and Saturday prime rib dinner special draws early-bird locals in droves. The takeout bakery has cookies and pastries for an anytime pick-me-up. 109 Route 6A, Sandwich, 508-888-9824,

You can watch ships come and go on the Cape Cod Canal from the dining room of the Sandwich location of Seafood Sam’s, a family seafood restaurant. Kids have a long list of favorites to choose from — or everyone can feast on the Family Fish Fry for Four, with two pounds of fried haddock, fries, coleslaw, and nice, fluffy dinner rolls. 6 Coast Guard Road, Sandwich, 508-888-4629,

At Phusion Grille, hints of downtown Bangkok and Tijuana supply the “fusion” to the menu at this casual grill on Eel Pond, right at the Woods Hole drawbridge. Try to score a seat overlooking the water to enjoy lobster and roasted corn fritters with chipotle aioli or a crispy shrimp taco with bok choy slaw. Inquire about vegan and vegetarian options — and the extensive children’s menu. 71 Water St., Woods Hole, 508-457-3100,

Overlooking the Martha’s Vineyard ferry dock, Quicks Hole Tavern recently replaced a tired bar that had presided over Woods Hole for a half century. “A fair amount of time-killing goes on here,” the owner admits, but you don’t have to be bound anywhere to enjoy this clean, well-lighted place with great charcuterie and a contemporary bistro menu that complements the bar. 29 Railroad Ave., Woods Hole, 508-495-0048,

Representing the quintessential summer dining experience, Shuckers is acclaimed for its varied treatments of steamed mussels (including the spicy ginger mussels) and its very reasonably priced lobster dinner with clams, mussels, and corn on the cob. Eat outdoors overlooking small craft bobbing on Eel Pond, or take an inside table on a cool, misty night. 91A Water St., Woods Hole, 508-540-3850,


Dominican Republic cacao beans at Chequessett Chocolate in North Truro.Photo credit: Katherine Reed

At Blackfish, downtown’s lone restaurant, locals, longtime summer residents, and vacationers find camaraderie in the bar, where you can also grab dinner if you didn’t reserve a table in the cozy, rustic dining room. A solid menu, supplemented by inventive daily specials, features roasted baby beets with tarragon whipped yogurt, house jerked pork belly with Grafton cheddar grits and gravy, tuna Bolognese over fresh pappardelle, and ranch burgers served with homemade potato chips. 17 Truro Center Road, Truro, 508-349-3399.

The Box Lunch provides tasty and easy to eat (read: kid-friendly) alternatives to basic sandwiches for takeout beach lunches. It’s especially known for its rollwiches; fillings such as lobster, turkey, egg salad, and hummus are rolled in pita bread along with cheese, avocado, hot peppers, and other fixings, providing plenty of meat-eater and vegetarian options. (Try the Roy Rogers: turkey, melted Swiss and provolone, barbecue sauce, and onions). There are even mini wraps for the little ones. 300 Route 6, Truro, 508-487-4545,

Chequessett Chocolate, maker of artisanal confections like chocolate bars dotted with wild blueberries and crystalized ginger, has opened a cafe with a San Francisco aesthetic. In addition to sweets, there’s perfect coffee, fresh veggie-juice mixtures, and ultra healthy smoothies, whipped up by co-owner Katherine Reed, who is also a raw and vegan chef. Free wifi and a patio that looks ripped from the pages of Dwell magazine may keep you here all day. 8 Highland Road, North Truro, 774-538-6249,

Food truck Crush Pad, by Blackfish chef Eric Jansen, is parked at Truro Vineyards, alongside the vines. In addition to scrumptious fare like pork-belly tacos, tuna sliders, Kobe beef hot dogs, and lightly fried cauliflower with capers, lemon, and Parmesan, there’s wine by the bottle or glass (and you get to keep the glass). The front lawn of the farmhouse is dotted with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs, and shaded by big, old trees. Truro Vineyards, 3 South Hollow Road, North Truro.

Jams Gourmet Grocery is notorious for many things in Truro. The employees who can’t seem to smile and the eye-popping prices, for starters. And yet it’s always crowded. That has something to do with the lack of markets in Truro, but there’s no denying its baked goods, fresh-made sandwiches, and tasty selection of coffees and teas (hot and iced) play a role too. 12 Truro Center Road, Truro, 508-349-1616

Claire Adams and Ellery Althaus, who met (and fell in love) while working at a nearby restaurant, recently opened Salty Market in what for many years was occupied by the run-down Dutra’s Market. Salty will be a year-round market with a spiffy, country vibe. In addition to groceries, breakfast sandwiches, and whole rotisserie chickens, they offer homemade soups, fresh cold salads, and made-to-order sandwiches, from grilled vegetables with hummus on a baguette to shredded jerk chicken to shaved steak with caramelized onions and peppers. 2 Highland Road, North Truro, 508-487-0711,

A tad off the beaten path, Terra Luna is a romantic spot for what some might call “neo-pagan” cuisine. Foods have a rustic bent. You’ll find include artichoke heart paté and grilled duck atop smoked pork and sausage cassoulet. The low-lit dining room is clad in horizontal slats of rough wood hung with tasteful local art, and spare white dishes contrast nicely with both the décor and the meals. 104 Shore Road/Route 6A, North Truro, 508-487-1019,


Seared scallops at Fleetian Restaurant in Wellfleet.Justin Lynch/Photo credit: Justin Lynch

Chef Michael Ceraldi offers two seatings each evening for a seven-course, prix-fixe dinner at Ceraldi, his new restaurant on the pier. The open kitchen crafts meals that change daily, determined by the local harvest. The beautifully plated dishes have included spring pea ravioli, chilled melon soup with a prosciutto crisp, and seared halibut loin. The decor is industrial chic (designed by Ceraldi himself), complete with drinks served in mason jars and striped paper straws. 15 Kendrick Ave., Wellfleet, 508-237-9811,

Having changed hands over winter, the small eatery with the orange door across from Uncle Tim’s Bridge is now The Fleetian. Open for dinner, it still serves thin-crust pizzas and features live music. There are oysters aplenty and specialty cocktails, including pink sangria with elderflower. Glazed pork belly served over crushed peas and macerated cherries was a recent special, while regular entrees include Parmesan-crusted flounder and a falafel burger with cumin mayo. 6 Commercial St., Wellfleet, 508-214-0578,

A favorite for families, couples, and friends, the outdoor bar at Mac’s Shack is perennially packed, serving oysters with vodka and fruit-infused cocktails. The indoor dining room includes a sushi bar, with traditional rolls and inventive specialties. Entrees include pan-roasted halibut with lobster mashed potatoes and butter-poached lobster over black rice. This season, Mac has opened the doors for lunch, which locals hope will thin the dinner crowd, though that’s doubtful. 91 Commercial St., Wellfleet, 508-349-6333,

BYOB and get ready to wait, because the line outside Moby Dick’s is always long. Once inside, things move quickly with cafeteria-style ordering and self-seating. It’s the spot for a quintessential clambake, or if you prefer, grilled fish and crisp salads topped with pretty much anything from the sea. The lobster roll is made exclusively with chunks of tail and claw meat and just a touch of mayo. Of course, the menu is replete with every fried seafood selection too. 3225 Route 6, Wellfleet, 508-349-9795,

Devoted fans stand in lines spilling out the door of PB Boulangerie & Bistro, where chef/owner Philippe Rispoli and his French-speaking staff turn out delectable pastries and fresh-baked breads. Meals served in the small dining room and on the screened patio include paté en croute and wasabi pea crusted bluefin tuna; it’s delicious though pricier than most. Located at the end of the bike trail, stop for a takeout bakery lunch and a cookie. 15 Lecount Hollow Road, South Wellfleet, 508-349-1600,

The roof deck at Pearl, overlooking the couldn’t-be-more-picturesque Wellfleet Harbor, is small, sunny, and perfect for lunch. Inside, the open kitchen and large bar make for a lively atmosphere for couples and families for lunch and dinner, while happy hour with live music and raw bar make late afternoons extra fun. The screened porch on the marsh provides a more peaceful place for drinks and meals of reliably tasty seafood, salads, and sandwiches. 250 Commercial St., Wellfleet, 508-349-2999,

Bocce Italian Grill is a good option when you don’t want to fight downtown crowds, or just can’t eat another fried clam. Chef Rino Faieta serves Northern Italian fare and thin-crust pizzas, accompanied by decent wine. The dining room has a fresh new look, sporting wood floors, wainscoting, and white tablecloths. The outdoor seating area is hemmed in by trees and shaded with orange umbrellas, and boasts a brand-new bocce court. 842 Route 6, South Wellfleet, 508-349-2688,

For the kitsch of a clam shack and the taste of Southern style barbeque, head to family-friendly Russ & Marie’s Marconi Beach Restaurant; you can’t miss it, the slow-smoker sits right out front. Pork ribs, pulled pork, pulled beef brisket, and pulled chicken are smoked with apple and hickory woods, and slathered in barbecue sauce. Sandwiches are served on buttery garlic rolls with sides of coleslaw, fries, or beans. There’s Southern-style fried chicken and seafood too. 545 Route 6, South Wellfleet, 508-349-6025,

Food truck Sunbird, the chickadee of longtime Cape couple J’aime and Christian Sparrow, enters its third season with fresh artisanal eats and picnic tables shaded by tiki hut umbrellas and occasional live music. Depending on the day, the menu may include a slow-roasted pork shoulder sandwich, local fish tacos (considered the best in town), gourmet hot dog with homemade ketchup, and grilled chocolate bacon toast with lavender sea salt. 2520A Route 6, Wellfleet, 508-237-0354,

The Wicked Oyster offers omelets and a full coffee bar from early morning until noon, then reopens in the evening with white tablecloths and dinner menu that includes buttermilk fried calamari with sweet chili dipping sauce, seared scallops over risotto, duck leg confit, and grilled lobster over corn pudding. The decor is simple and the atmosphere unpretentious, with an airy dining room, sunroom, and separate cozy bar. 50 Main St., Wellfleet, 508-349-3455,

Perched on a hill in the town center, the casually elegant Winslow’s Tavern was built in 1805 for a sea captain. There’s plenty of seating in the cream-colored dining room, decorated with potted herbs and local art, plus outdoor tables on the front and back brick patios. Dishes, made with organic and sustainable ingredients, include crisp lamb belly with lentils and rainbow chard fettuccine. On Sundays, try the slow-roast whole sucking pig. 316 Main St., Wellfleet, 508-349-6450,


Something Natural on Nantucket.Zofia & Co.

Seven generations of Bartletts have been working at Bartlett’s Farm since the early 1800s, and they have adapted to the times, converting an old dairy barn into a commercial kitchen. With so much fresh air to enjoy on the island, the market at Bartlett’s Farm sells a superb variety of prepared foods, including soups, salads, sandwiches and meals on the go. 33 Bartlett Farm Road, 508-228-9403,

The Bean has sandwiches, pastries and other “light bites” to go along with the impressive array of caffeinated beverages, beginning with espresso-based drinks, that lure a steady stream of islanders and visitors alike into the Bean. 29 Center St., 508-228-6215,

Wedge yourself into a seat at the counter of Black-Eyed Susan’s, a wood-paneled breakfast eatery that also serves BYOB dinners. For breakfast, try the Thai curry scramble; for dinner, maybe the mustard-soy marinated Atlantic salmon. Make a reservation. 10 India St., 508-325-0308,

Brotherhood of Thieves opened in 1972 to recall a whaling bar from the 1840s. The Brotherhood today features a beer garden and an upstairs dining area. Committed to conviviality, it has plenty of specialty cocktails and an extensive draft beer selection. 23 Broad St., 508-228-2551,

More than 50 years ago, Kentucky newcomer Willie House converted an old shack in a remote part of the island into a fried chicken business. He and his successor, known as “Cap’n Seaweed,” booked blues and reggae bands. A group led by former employees bought the place in 2000, and The Chicken Box preserves its good-time heritage. 16 Dave St., 508-228-9717,

With candlelit tables and a menu that changes weekly, Company of the Cauldron is romance defined. Owners All and Andrea Kovalencik have received the highest Zagat’s rating of all Cape and islands restaurants on multiple occasions, and it’s easy to understand why. Plan ahead for the single-seating “Lobster Mondays.” 5 India St., 508-228-4016,

Originally famous as an in-town donut shop, the Downyflake relocated mid-island years ago. The gray-shingle joint was once featured in Travel + Leisure as the home of some of America’s best pancakes. 18 Sparks Ave., 508-228-4533,

Fog Island Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch. Owners Mark and Anne Dawson met at the Culinary Institute of America; they see no reason the first meals of the day shouldn’t be as satisfying as the last. After two decades in business, they recently opened the Fog Island Grille nearby. 7 South Water St., 508-228-1818,

“Approachable and relaxed” were Island Kitchen chef Patrick Ridge’s intentions in opening his own place after running the kitchens at Le Languedoc and Pronto. Traditional breakfast opens at 7; the dinner menu features “bar standards,” grilled tofu and weinerschnitzel. 1 Chins Way, 508-228-2639,

Ownership has remained the same at Le Languedoc Bistro, an island institution, since the restaurant’s beginning in 1976. Specializing in French cuisine, the restaurant has a cafe, fine-dining room, and summer terrace seating. Each winter brings in the Nantucket Bay scallops, and summer dishes often feature the locally grown corn and tomatoes of Bartlett’s Farm. 24 Broad St., 508-228-2552,

Millie’s — named for “Madaket Millie” Jewett, an island legend who sold ice cream and minded the coastline — opened in 2010 with a Baja-style menu featuring fish tacos and po’ boys. There’s a lunchtime takeout window and a food truck that can often be found parked at the Cisco Brewery. 326 Madaket Rd., 508-228-8435,

Nantucket Ice Cream & Juice Guys will satisfy your sweet tooth with ice cream, smoothies, and much more. “Just listen for the music and look for the smiles!” 44 Straight Wharf, 508-332-4949,

Step back in time at the all-purpose Nantucket Pharmacy, where the Rockwellian lunch counter boasts ice cream and what might be the island’s best breakfast sandwich. 45 Main St., 508-228-0180.

Taking the name from the Gaelic for “the big melody of life,” Oran Mor chef Chris Freeman and his wife, Heather, provide a rich dining experience in a historic Nantucket home, up a flight of copper stairs. Artisanal cocktails and a superb wine list complement an outstanding menu, from roasted lamb loin and grilled sausage to cream-filled brioche doughnuts for dessert. 2 South Beach St., 508-228-8655,

Provisions does sandwiches – hummus, tuna, curried chicken salad, to name a few – expertly. The Turkey Terrific is aptly named, and the Other Turkey isn’t exactly chopped liver. 3 Harbor Square, 508-228-3258,

Queequeg’s, named for Melville’s harpooner, is an understated fine-dining establishment that gets consistently good reviews for hitting the target. Outdoor seats offset the smallish interior; either way, it’s a cozy setting that rewards repeat visits. 6 Oak St., 508-325-0992,

A year-round meeting grounds for many locals, the SeaGrille makes its award-winning chowder available for shipping. Owners E.J. and Robin Harvey recently hired son Tucker as the chef de cuisine at the restaurant, where he once bused tables. 45 Sparks Ave., 508-325-5700,

Sit at the picnic tables on the lawn at Something Natural, a beautiful Cliff Road bakery, and enjoy a BLT or an avocado, cheddar, and chutney sandwich on fresh-baked bread. Be sure to leave room for an oversize, award-winning chocolate chip cookie. 50 Cliff Rd., 508-228-0504,

Noted as one of the “Top Seafood Restaurants in America” in Travel + Leisure, Straight Wharf has been gracing Nantucket with culinary delights for nearly 40 years. Star chef Gabriel Frasca and partner Amanda Lydon are part of the management team. 6 Harbor Square, 508-228-4499,

Stubbys, just off the ferry landing, is the place to go year-round for quick grub. Bagels, Jamaican, burgers, deli sandwiches. It’s the closest thing the island has to fast food, and proud of it. 8 Broad St., 508-228-0028,

Mid-Cape (Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, Mashpee, Yarmouth)

The Scargo Cafe in Dennis Village.Dan Cutrona

The Brewster Fish House looks like a touristy clam shack, and in fact it originally was a retail fish market. The casual, contemporary decor is ideal for a special evening, where entrees such as rye bread-crusted cod and prosciutto-wrapped monkfish taste as though they just came off the boat. The only downside: They don’t take reservations, and there is always a line in summer. 2208 Main St., Brewster, 508-896-7867,

Whether you are seated at the outdoor deck or inside at a picnic-style table, JT’s Seafood Restaurant offers value and variety in a quaint, family-friendly setting. Fried seafood is a specialty, but grilled dinner specials, ribs, and even heart-healthy sandwiches are on the menu. For dessert, step up to the window for an ice cream cone. Story books, paper, and crayons are available for the kids, while beer and wine is on tap for the adults. 2689 Main St. (Route 6A), Brewster, 508-896-3355,

A local landmark since 1968, the Chatham Squire features a vibrant bar with walls covered in vanity license plates from across the country. Businessmen and builders rub elbows in a casual setting of wide-plank wood floors and beamed ceilings. The menu features traditional New England seafood and pub fare at prices more reasonable than one might expect in an upscale town. The Chatham Cioppino, made with local shellfish, is fabulous. 487 Main St., Chatham, 508-945-0945,

Located off Main Street in a converted church, the Impudent Oyster has an inventive menu that transforms standard dishes into works of art. Devils on Horseback — an appetizer of Cape sea scallops wrapped in bacon with onions, garlic, and parsley, served on toast points with a lemon butter sauce —will always start the evening off right. 15 Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham, 508-945-3545.

Everything is made fresh daily at Marion’s Pie Shop using a family pastry crust recipe that has been passed down for generations. The bakery sits next to the owner’s home, where the business began with chicken pot pies in 1947. Cranberry peach praline, bumbleberry, and blueberry peach are among the unique offerings. 2022 Main St., Chatham, 508-432-9439,

The quintessential Cape Cod clam shack, Captain Frosty’s was a dairy bar for 20 years before expanding to a full menu in 1976. Lightly fried clams and scallops, hand-cut onion rings, and black-angus burgers bring locals and tourists back year after year. Cap the summer experience by walking around to the front and ordering an old-fashioned soft-serve ice cream. 219 Route 6A, Dennis, 508-385-8548.

Owner-artist Michael Pearson blends wine, food, music, and art into a unique dining experience at the European-inspired Harvest Gallery Wine Bar. Peruse the paintings, sculptures, photography, and jewelry while enjoying live music and selecting from a diverse wine list, seasonal specials, and an eclectic variety of cheese plates and desserts. 776 Main St., (Route 6A), Dennis, 508-385-2444,

With seven varieties of seafood rolls, 24 flavors of soft-serve ice cream, and award-winning chowder and fried clams, the Kream ’n’ Kone has been ranked by national publications as one of the East Coast’s best “seafood dives.’’ The outdoor patio overlooking Swan River provides the quintessential summer Cape experience. 961 Route 28, Dennis, 508-394-0808,

An extensive renovation transformed the Marshside Restaurant from a sleepy breakfast/lunch destination into a stylish venue with vaulted wood-beam ceilings, a two-tiered dining room, and booths lining large windows overlooking the marsh and Sesuit Creek. It remains a superb luncheon spot, featuring hefty sandwiches and salads that are inspired and plentiful. Kids will love the make-your-own-sundae option. 28 Bridge St., East Dennis, 508-385-4010,

Seven waterfront tables line the wall of the Ocean House, each spaced at the center of five-foot-high windows with views of Nantucket Sound. The coveted tables are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. But the vibrant bar area is a great spot to wait. Cedar-roasted Chilean sea bass and Cape Cod Potato Chip-crusted cod are among the favorite selections. 425 Old Wharf Road, Dennis Port; 508-394-0700,

The Scargo Cafe, owned by brothers David and Peter Trotman, is ideally located for dinner before heading across the street to the Cape Playhouse. The dining room of the wood-paneled captain’s house has a homey feel, while the bistro area is spirited and modern. The reliable, innovative menu runs the gamut from Cajun and Asian to New England and Italian. 799 Main St. (Route 6A), Dennis, 508-385-8200,

Housed in a historic barn, the Sundae School takes no shortcuts with its homemade ice cream. The owners use the freshest fruit, the finest vanilla extract, and real white pistachios. Two favorites are amaretto nut (with roasted almonds) and creme de menthe chip made with creme de menthe liquor and chocolate chips. 381 Lower County Road, Dennisport, 508- 394-9122,

The cakes, cannoli, cookies, scones, wraps, and soups are all made from scratch by chefs and co-owners Laurie DeCost and Ian Sullivan at The Underground Bakery. There are nine vegetarian selections, including cashew seitan burger, falafel, and vegan cheese steak. 780 Main St. (Route 6A), Dennis, 508-385-4700,

A local landmark on Route 28 since 1941, Bonatt’s Bakery is now run by the third generation of the Bonatt family. Little has changed. The mini scones and Oreo truffles still melt in your mouth. And you can’t beat the daily luncheon specials such as roast turkey, homemade meatloaf, and pot roast, each priced at only $8. 537 Route 28, Harwich Port, 508-432-7199,

Overlooking Saquatucket Harbor, Brax Landing has attracted visitors for decades for its spectacular view and value. Watch the boats pass from the outdoor deck while choosing from a menu where virtually every entree is less than $20. Diners rave about the lobster roll. 705 Route 28, Harwich, 508-432-5515.

Settle into a romantic table tucked in an alcove at the intimate, brick-walled Buca’s Tuscan Roadhouse and you are transported to the hills of Tuscany. Homemade pastas are wonderfully prepared with a variety of imaginative sauces. Where else can you find wild-boar meatball, sweet sausage, and tagliatelle pasta in a Tuscan tomato sauce topped with ricotta cheese and shaved pecorino pasta? 4 Depot Road, Harwich, 508-432-6900,

George’s Pizza House, family-owned and operated for 43 years, has been voted Best Pizza in polls conducted by local newspapers, magazines, and the Chamber of Commerce. Whether you select your own toppings or choose a gourmet pie (the Farmer’s with feta, tomato, chicken, onion, olive oil, and oregano is mouth-watering), the pies arrive at your table perfectly crisp and tasty. 564 Route 28, Harwich Port, 508-432-3144,

Dark paneling, local signage, and a nautical decor give the Land Ho! a laid-back atmosphere conducive for a relaxing dinner of fried clams, chowder, or steak tips. The outdoor raw and cocktail bar with a flat-screen television is ideal for a leisurely lunch on a sun-splashed afternoon. With 14 bottled beers and ales, and 12 on tap, quenching your thirst won’t be an issue. 429 Route 28, Harwich Port, 508-430-0404,

Chef-owner Frederic Feufeu brings a taste of Paris to Bleu, a French bistro in Mashpee Commons. The Loire Valley native previously worked at New York’s famed Rainbow Room and has developed a reputation for consistent, creative dishes. The sea scallops drenched in a maple grapefruit glaze, set inside a crispy shrimp wrap is a long-time favorite. For dessert, don’t miss the caramel rice pudding with whipped cream and raspberries. 10 Market St., Mashpee, 508-539-7907,

At the Lanes Bowl & Bistro, you can roll ten pin while enjoying lane-side table service. The green setting features seats made with automotive seatbelts, tables fashioned of planks from old New England mills, and a bar constructed from recycled paper pressed into a hard material. During special events the alley is transformed into a full-scale nightclub with big-screen video, music, and lighting. 9 Greene St., Mashpee, 774-228-2291,

You won’t go hungry at Polar Cave, where owner Mark Lawrence has been known for dishing out generous portions of award-winning ice cream since 1995. The Arctic Landslide, chocolate ice cream with swirls of marshmallow, dark chocolate chips and almonds, and the Cotton Candy, a soft blue-and-pink ice cream, are memorable. 22 Falmouth Road, Mashpee, 508-477-5553,

Kids love the thick, juicy burgers and hand-cut fries at Wicked Restaurant and Wine Bar, while Neapolitan-style pizzas arrive crisp and savory from a stone hearth oven. Adults are drawn to entrees such as grilled Caribbean mahi mahi and organic Scottish salmon, and to the extensive list of specialty martinis and wines by the glass. The emphasis is on organic ingredients, New England-grown produce and hormone-free meats, with everything made from scratch. 680 Falmouth Road, Mashpee, 508-477-7422,

Chowder is the calling card at Captain Parker’s Pub. Thick and creamy, with an ample dose of chewy clams, the pub has dominated chowder festival competitions for years, regularly taking home first prize on Cape Cod, in Boston, and in Newport, R.I. The bar area is a popular spot to watch sports, with nightly dart leagues keeping things lively. 668 Route 28, West Yarmouth, 508-771-4266.

The atmosphere is soothing and the sushi is sublime. Shoji screens, woven mats, a garden and a bubbling pond greet visitors at Inaho, but the sushi is why people line up for a table. The shrimp tempura is crisp and delicate, and the grilled calamari appetizer is seared to perfection with just the right touch of teriyaki.157 Route 6A, Yarmouth Port, 508-362-5522,

The Old Yarmouth Inn has been welcoming travelers since 1696. That history is evident from the moment you walk in the door, where a massive stone fireplace warms up the reception area. The wood-paneled tavern is a terrific spot to unwind. Clam chowder, roast maple-leaf duck, and steak tips are a few of the comfort-food selections ideally suited for the surroundings. 223 Route 6A, Yarmouth Port, 508-744-6341,


Bubalas' Patio at night in Provincetown.Oriana Conklin/Photo credit: Oriana Conklin

If you’re a newcomer to Provincetown and unfamiliar with the scene, take a seat outdoors for lunch at Bubala’s and soak it all in. The drag queens in high heels and feather boas will flirt with you, and invite you to their show later that evening (or you can just stick around Bubala’s for live entertainment most nights). People-watching is the sport here, and while you’re sitting you might as well eat and drink. The burgers (salmon, beef, veggie) are hearty and delicious, the salads are piled high with goodies, and the seafood options are plentiful, from fish tacos to fish and chips to Cajun-spiced calamari. 185 Main St., Provincetown, 508-487-0773,

If you’re ambling along Commercial Street in search of a quick lunch, walk up to the window at Burger Queen, where the sign declares, “Sorry, We’re Open.” The shack, with a handful of picnic tables alongside it, has been serving fast-food basics — hamburgers, foot-long hot dogs, reasonably priced lobster rolls, and must-have curly fries — for 40 years. 331 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-4749.

Bursting with energy and flavor, newcomer The Canteen, with its communal dining room and homey backyard on the harbor, has been an immediate hit. The zesty menu mixes regional fare, childhood favorites, and tasty selections, including fried oysters on brioche, Bloody Mary oysters from the raw bar, s’mores ice cream bars blowtorched to order, kale-and-quinoa salad, and the house specialty of crispy Brussels sprouts in fish sauce. 225 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-3800,

The proprietor of Devon’s, a romantic shack of an eatery in the East End, presents Devon’s Deep Sea Dive, with a menu that juxtaposes old-school classics with inventive modern interpretations. There’s shrimp cocktail or guanciale-wrapped shrimp with balsamic caramel; fish sticks or olive oil-poached cod; roast chicken or North African lentil stew; and others, all made with organic and locally sourced ingredients. And, like his other outpost, there’s a divine brunch menu. 31 Bradford St., Provincetown, 508-487-0266,

Perched atop the Provincetown street scene for 40 seasons, Edwige continues serving local and globally inspired dishes, such as Portuguese Bouillabaisse and Moroccan Vegetable Tagine, best enjoyed with the house-made fruit-infused vodkas. The simple interior, with its wooden booths and tables surrounded by black Windsor chairs, is a favorite gathering place for brunch too, thanks to its smoothies and smoked salmon platter and signature poppy-seed Danish. 333 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-4020,

Formerly a bar housed atop a now-shuttered B&B, Joon Bar + Kitchen will soon open in a new space that blends Cape Cod breeziness with a classic French brasserie, complete with 60 seats and a 30-foot custom bar. The concept is wine bar with small plates. We expect this will become a warm, West End neighborhood gathering place for those looking for good company and gourmet snacks. 133 Commercial St., Provincetown. Contact:

Ice cream from Lewis Brothers is homemade and heavenly. Flavors include old-time favorites, plus liquor-infused selections, like Mudslide Chip, and other inventive concoctions, such as Purple Rain. Sundaes are created with ladlefuls of made-from-scratch hot fudge, and whipped cream so dense that they use spatulas to heap it on. The brothers’ (there are three) solar-powered ice cream truck parks at a variety of spots throughout the season; locations posted on Twitter. 310 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-0977,

Steamers just out of the ocean and as big as your fist, Portuguese fish stew, and linguica-crusted cod with seafood stuffing are some of the traditional Provincetown dishes offered alongside steamed lobsters at local mainstay, The Lobster Pot. It’s narrow and crowded, but make your way to the back for water views to enjoy your feast. 321 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-0842,

Meat eaters revel in the bespoke burgers served at Local 186, amidst on-trend, artisan-made decor. Menu items include Kobe beef burgers topped with foie gras, lamb burgers paired with feta tzatziki , and organic veggie burgers smothered in house guacamole. Local greens, fried pickles, and onion strings round out the meal, which is best accompanied by a craft beer or killer Bloody Mary. 186 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-7555,

Tom Fielding and Scott O’Connor, the proprietors of Perry’s Wine & Liquors, consider the shop their personal pantry, as they live right upstairs. The white clapboard building with cafe curtains is also charming inside, with wood-plank floors and shelves stocked with plenty of wine. A small cooler offers organic meats, artisanal cheeses, and paté, while tables of specialty items like raw honey and extra-virgin olive oil dispensed from large metal canisters, round out the mix. 1 Tremont St., Provincetown, 508-487-0140,

Brooklyn ex-pats Sean Gardner and Rebecca Orchant’s quirky sandwich shop Pop + Dutch, named after Gardner’s grandparents, offers up healthy options like smashed chickpea salad, sandwiches with house-roasted meats, and a dessert-y masterpiece called “The Fluffernutella.” Jars of condoms — in the spirit of the original establishment, dubbed the Lube ’n’Deli — sit on the counter alongside dog treats and jugs of lemonade and coffee. Basic snacks and groceries are available too. 147 Commercial St., Provincetown, 774-538-6472,

They sell old-school egg sandwiches, but the real reason to walk into the worn storefront of the Portuguese Bakery, which has been in business since about 1900, is for the pastries. Sweet fried dough called malasadas, custard-filled doughnuts, and rabanadas, a kind of fried French toast with cinnamon sugar are among the specialties. To satisfy your savory side, try the salted codfish cakes. 299 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-1803.

This quaint 200-year-old inn, nestled on the edge of sandy cliffs, is classic New England, with a history to match. (President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife were once overnight guests.) The dining room of The Red Inn has wide plank floors, a beamed ceiling, and lighthouse views, while the kitchen offers equally cozy fare that includes pan-roasted cod on a bed of rosemary potatoes, lobster grilled with citrus butter, and spice-rubbed lamb chops. 15 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-7334,

If you’re up for walking deep into the West End (do so, it’s charming), you can find sustenance at Relish, open mornings and afternoons. Regulars rave about the chicken salad sandwich with gorgonzola and pears, as well as the Italian-style tuna salad, ideal for the beach. The bakery turns out an array of exquisite desserts, including key lime tart, butterscotch haystacks, and chocolate espresso cookies, in addition to full, made-to-order cakes. 93 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-8077,

Tucked on the second floor of Whalers Wharf, Ross’ Grill, which boasts a new owner and chef, pairs a picture-perfect harbor view with superbly prepared cuisine in an intimate setting. Sip cocktails on the deck while you wait for a table (reserve ahead). Start with French onion gratinee or mussels in garlicky broth, followed by salmon with a ginger-sweet soy glaze or steak frites. The chocolate peanut butter pie is a must for dessert. 237 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-8878,

Handcrafted cocktails infused with herbs and fresh fruit, along with small plates such as chilled lemon-and-beet soup, lamb sliders, and eggplant fries are served at Sage Lounge at the Sage Inn in the thick of it on Commercial Street. The decor is fresh and clean and the vibe relaxed, almost spa-like, though live music riles things up at least once a week. 336 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-6424,

Grab a slice or order a whole dang pie at Spiritus Pizza, a funky spot where, especially come evening, the front patio is packed with well-groomed men in scant shorts. Thin-crust pizzas come with all the fixings, including hearty hunks of linguica. Opt for a seat in front, or step out to the back garden, where you can linger over Emack & Bolio’s or Giffords ice cream. 190 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-2808,

Newcomer Tin Pan Alley is a restaurant, bar, and piano lounge with a to-die-for back dining deck on the beach. Contemporary decor combined with live music nightly makes it all very fun, which is exactly the owner’s intent. The menu includes fried oysters on the half-shell and pea soup to start, followed by herbed goat cheese stuffed chicken breast, along with chef’s cut steak of the day served with smashed red-bliss potatoes and creamed spinach. 269 Commercial St., Provincetown, 508-487-1648,


Touristy clam shack, perhaps, but that makes the experience at Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar even better. Having originated as a 1950s inspired malt shop (Arnold’s from TV’s “Happy Days,” in fact), but with a lobster theme, the chowders, fried seafood, salads, steamers, and steamed lobsters are indisputable hits, best followed up with a game of mini golf at its adjacent course. 3580 Route 6, Eastham, 508-255-2575,

Whether you need an infusion of caffeine, a gift, or edible souvenirs, the Chocolate Café delivers. The shop serves fair trade, organic coffee, espresso, cappuccino, and lattes, along with homemade pastries including baklava and scones. Homemade fudge, gourmet truffles, and saltwater taffy, plus bags of pretty candies are ready for the taking too. Keep your eye out for a purple van when pondside—the café’s Buzz Bus brings sweets on site, too. 4205 Route 6, Eastham, 508-240-0070,

When you tire of chowda, do lunch or dinner at Karoo, a vibrant spot serving South African cuisine. South African-born chef Sanette Groenewald, who first opened Karoo Kafe twelve years ago in Provincetown, recently relocated to an expansive space in Eastham, complete with a large bar, outdoor seating, and shop that sells its homemade sauces. Recipes blend British, Dutch, African, Malaysian, Portuguese, and Indian flavors in dishes that include vegetable samosas, spicy lamb stew, and curried meatloaf. 3 Main Street, Eastham, 508-255-8288,

That funky, asymmetric building drenched in color is Laura & Tony’s Kitchen, where the breakfast buffet is stocked with every definition of the morning meal. There are homemade biscuits topped with sausage gravy, pancakes and Belgian waffles, a bagel bar with smoked salmon, eggs benedict, cinnamon rolls, and more. Crockpots are replenished in small batches in order to keep offerings fresh, and Bloody Marys and mimosas are just three bucks. 5960 Route 6, Eastham, 508-240-6096,

Skip the long lines at the nearby national chain in favor of the locally made, oversize scoops at Nauset Ice Cream. A convenient stop off the Cape Cod Rail Trail, the no-frills, friendly stand offers over 25 flavors, including Cape Cod cranberry, black raspberry mochaccino, coffee heath, and coconut almond chip. 4550 Route 6, Eastham, 508-240-2649,

There are plenty of beaches to consider in Eastham. But when it comes to sandwiches, Sam’s Deli is where you want to get them. Order your usual deli combo, or go for a daily special, like sirloin steak with melted cheddar and roasted red pepper, organic tarragon chicken salad with grapes, or homemade roast garlic hummus with caramelized onions and feta. Chips, drinks, and baked goods available as well. 100 Brackett Road, Eastham, 508-255-9340,

Martha’s Vineyard

With street-side tables and a romantic, French-quarter-esque balcony overlooking Main Street, Alchemy Bistro and Bar in Edgartown is a see and be seen type of place. The vibe here is boisterous and fun, but with a French bistro bent. Come for the mussels with coconut broth, leeks and tomatoes or the especially savory bar menu items like pork Panini, steak tacos. The wild mushroom arancini with truffle oil always turns heads in the dining room. Back bar upstairs is a hidden gem. Conveniently close to the movie theater for film buffs. 71 Main St., Edgartown, 508-627-9999

The Atlantic Fish & Chop House is one of the best patios on Martha’s Vineyard and serves the island’s best clam chowder _ creamy, filled with bellies and potatoes, and seasoned just right. The menu is a crowd pleaser, with something for everyone, pizza for kids, more fish platters for mom and dad and portions big enough to sustain a day of kite boarding or body surfing—and a few sophisticated surprises such as escargot and fried oysters. Watch the boats in the Edgartown pier while sipping from the extensive martini list. 2 Main St., Edgartown 508-627-7001,

One of the best venues on island to enjoy both a posh dinner and then a livelier late-night scene, the cozy cellar bar at Atria Restaurant and Brick Cellar Bar serves 11 kinds of burgers with irreverent names like the Mother Clucker and Dante’s Inferno. In direct contrast, the restaurant’s refined dining room serves up a more global cuisine with Thai and Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Favorites include duck spring rolls and coconut prawns in peanut sauce to cioppino and poached lobster with mascarpone gnocchi. 137 Main St., Edgartown, 508-627-5850,

Cheese and charcuterie is the focus at Black Sheep & Trio, a gourmet shop in Edgartown. But our favorite part is that the cheese shop morphs into a dinner spot serving small plates and beer and wine in the evenings. Flights of three cheeses as well as wine flights are highlights on the menu; each designed to pair with the cheeses. Selections vary from the familiar – Cabot’s clothbound cheddar – to the exotic – the Barely Buzzed, rubbed with lavender and Turkish coffee. 18 North Summer Street, 774-549-9118,

Behind the Bookstore Café is a new oasis for coffee and sandwiches tucked behind Edgartown Books. This year they’ve undergone a renovation and have both indoor and outdoor seating available to enjoy their specialty coffees, pastries, prepared lunches, and cold-pressed juices all done in house. 46 Main St., 774-549-9278

Probably the best Italian on the island, Chesca’s Restaurant in Edgartown does a great job of being both large-party-friendly (main dining room) and romantic (the enclosed porch). Order the pappardalle Bolognese, the lobster ravioli or the sole piccata. The pillowy house-made gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce is a must from the appetizer menu, and the lobster sliders from the late-night bar menu share beautifully. They also offer gluten-free options for pastas and desserts. 38 N. Water St., 508-627-1234,

You could come to the Vineyard every summer for a decade and still walk right past Dock Street Coffee Shop, a tiny breakfast and lunch spot. Ideal for when you (and the budget) would prefer a simple egg and cheese on an English muffin, a short stack with butter and syrup or a classic BLT rather than fancier fare. Delicious, fast, and worth more than its value. Don’t forgo their grilled doughnuts – sliced in half, they get a caramelized crust from the heat. 2 Dock St., 508-627-5232

Just a short bike ride from South Beach, the Katama General Store is the best place to stop for prepared salads and snacks to take to the beach. While they stock chips, sodas and juices, the prepared foods and scones have a gourmet flair to them and are in the perfect portion sizes for toting over the dunes. 170 Katama Rd., 508-627-5071

The most five-star culinary experience on the island, L’Etoile’s chef/owner Michael Brisson is devoted to excellent cuisine, with a French influence. The interior is a series of elegant rooms in this former Edgartown home; outside, a tented patio feels romantic. This is the place to celebrate a special day or to sate the gourmand’s appetite for dishes such as asparagus soup with shaved black truffle, Katama oysters, and the surf and turf with a no-muss half lobster etuvée and grilled flat iron steak in a lobster and cabernet sauce. It’s one of the few restaurants on the island doing chef’s tasting menus. Reservations are a must. 22 North Water St., 508-627-5187,

It’s surprising how rare a view of the crashing Atlantic is from a restaurant on an island. One exception is Lure Grill, a second-floor restaurant at the edge of South Beach in Katama. Lure specializes in American cuisine, artfully prepared, and is especially family friendly—kids can sit with their parents or choose to eat in an adjacent, supervised area to watch a movie while the adults dine in the main room. The lobster pot pie tempts, and the filet mignon is consistently delicious. We love that they offer a complimentary 25-minute water taxi from downtown Edgartown every night at 6 p.m. and then a shuttle service back. 31 Dunes Rd., 508-627-3663;

MacPhail’s Corner Café serves lattes, cappuccinos and espresso using fair-trade, organic coffee, as well as breakfast sandwiches, and hand-squeezed orange juice. New lunch and dinner sandwiches this year include a chipotle chicken club sandwich with grilled chicken, bacon and avocado, as well as a turkey and cranberry Cuban with turkey, spiral ham, pickles, mayo, mustard and fresh cranberry sauce. The chocolate chip cookies here are perfect for sharing – each is a half-pound. 18 Dock St., 914-400-6424

Many island chefs purchase their produce and island-raised beef, poultry and pork at Morning Glory Farm, so if you’re cooking at home this farm stand is a smart choice. In addition, they bake their own fruit pies and breads, and have salad bar for lunches and treats to go on your way to the beach. Check the coolers for prepared potato salads and spreads for picnics and mac and cheese or lasagna dinners. 120 Meshacket Rd., 508-627-9003;

The reclaimed wood tables at Port Hunter fit well with the brick space and the comfort food. The people watching is as good as the menu at this indoor/outdoor spot in the thick of Edgartown’s buzz. Pastas are hand-rolled and made in house here, and the chef opts for local produce whenever possible. The beers on tap are interesting and pair well with the raw bar offerings as well as the savory blue cheese flatbread. For dessert, try the zeppoles. 55 Main St., 508-627-7747,

The waterfront Sea Shanty serves fried seafood plates and frozen cocktails, but we also prefer their street-side take out window, the Quarterdeck. Prices seem high for their fried clams, shrimp cocktail, chowders and French fries, but the fresh fare—and perfectly tender crust on the fried options--makes it worth it. 29 Dock St., 508-627-5246

The Scoop Shack is one of the best ice cream shops on the island and every kid’s dream, with walls lined with shelves stocked with candy ranging from nostalgia brands like Sugar Daddies and Mary Janes to gummy worms and 26 flavors of taffy to colossal pixie stix. The 28 ice cream flavors are homemade and creative _ carrot cake has been a favorite since opening two years ago, and this year owner Brian MacPhail is introducing sea salt caramel truffle and marshmallow Fluff flavors. Also, six flavors of soft serve. Hours run late—open until 11pm during the week and midnight on weekends. 22 Dock Street, 914-400-6424.

Slice of Edgartown is a hidden gem for pizza and just starting to hit its stride. Behind the Portobello Road boutique, you’ll find the take out window for its New York style slices – either cheese or pepperoni – and pies (sausage, mushroom and peppers, etc.). Five café tables now dot the tiny brick patio. It also has a waffle window—in the mornings they’ll serve Belgian waffles with berries and syrup to go. 22 Dock St., 914-400-6424

The homemade ice cream at Vineyard Scoops is especially creamy, and it’s a haven for soft-serve and sorbet fans as well. They also serve iced lattes and coffee drinks. 56 Main St.

Tisbury/Vineyard Haven

If there is one meal people line up for on the Vineyard, it’s breakfast at the Art Cliff Diner. The lines are as legendary as the creative breakfast fare – eggs Oscar, almond-crusted Challah bread French toast, broiled grapefruit, chicken hash, lemon and sugar crepes, codfish cakes with eggs, arugula and spicy hollandaise sauce. It feels like a country diner with its counter and stools as well as tables, and that’s how everyone likes it. In the evenings, the restaurant’s food truck dishes out burgers and dogs and pulled pork sandwiches in the restaurant’s sandy lot. 39 Beach Rd., 508-693-1224

Ironically, the restaurant that launched the popular Island-born brand might now be lesser known than the iconic The Black Dog tee shirts, but that doesn’t mean it’s an also-ran. The best pancakes on island can be had at The Black Dog Tavern – raspberry and chocolate chip or banana and blueberry are perennial hits. Order the home fries with broccoli, bacon and cheese. At lunch, try the perfectly golden fish and chips, the Black Dog Club sandwich, or the spicy pulled pork. For dessert, order their famous Blackout cake. 20 Beach Street Extension, 508-693-9223,

The Black Dog Bakery is perfectly located to make a quick dash before boarding the Ferry back to Wood’s Hole, and it serves colossal-sized muffins, doughnuts, cookies, coffees, and some sandwiches like a tuna melt and classic BLT. 11 Water St., 508-693-4786;

The Copper Wok is a newcomer to Vineyard Haven that replaces the old Zephyrus within the Mansion House hotel, and its menu is quite a departure from its predecessor’s. While it has an all-star list of familiar Asian dishes – egg rolls, pho, General Gao’s chicken, beef and broccoli—the most exciting offerings are the extensive menu of sushi and maki rolls, something surprisingly hard to find on the island. 9 Main St., 508-693-3416,

The former Che’s Lounge has become Nat’s Nook, Vineyard Haven’s hottest new coffee shop and creperie, serving Amherst’s Rao’s coffee and and Chilmark coffee, both hot and cold-brewed. The vibe is homey with handcrafted wood tables and mason-jar lighting. Plain and gluten-free crepes are on the menu and include the popular avocado, tomato, goat cheese, arugula, mint, sunflower seeds with wild raspberry dressing among the savory offerings, and nutella and s’mores options for sweet. The free wifi is a bonus, as is the outdoor seating. 38 Main St., 508-338-2340

Porto Pizza was a much-needed and appreciated new spot just across the street from the Steamship Ferry Terminal in Vineyard Haven. Get pizza by the slice or pies to go with 22 toppings choices. They also deliver within parts of Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Service is fast and friendly, and the umbrella tables outside allow for big groups to enjoy their slices hot from the oven. 36 Water St., 508-693-6200,

Head for Waterside Market for a delicious, fast breakfast or lunch, and to pick up a meal to go. To take to the beach, we love the chicken, avocado, bacon, and melted cheddar on Ciabatta with a side of broccoli or pasta salad, and slaws. The bagel sandwiches are also perfect to go, but if dining there, seating is plentiful. 76 Main St., 508-693-8899,

John and Renee Molinari, have opened their first cocktail lounge, Beetlebung Oak Bluffs. This new outlet is coffeehouse and cafe by day and moody bar by night, featuring artisan cocktails. Chef Jerry Marano whips up small plates with a distinct Indian and Asian influence, such as curry lobster sliders and sweet pea and parsnip samosas. 53 Circuit Ave., 508-696-0053

Giordano’s is the perfect place to take the family after a few turns on the Oak Bluffs carousel. The kids’ menu has Italian and picky-kid classics such as like ravioli, penne with meat or Alfredo sauce, burgers, chicken fingers and fries. For adults, specialties include garlic bread, mozzarella sticks, fried seafood baskets, and chicken, veal, and eggplant Parmesan. There’s also a clam bar and a pizza room. 18 Lake Ave., 508-693-0184,

Linda Jean’s Restaurant is the most traditional diner-style spot (booths and tables) on Martha’s Vineyard and is both wallet- and kid-friendly, so prepare for a line in season. For breakfast try “The Mess,” a scramble of eggs, spinach, Swiss cheese, and onions. For lunch and dinner, they offer chicken fingers and hot dogs for hungry kids, and excellent burgers, sandwiches and seafood rolls (clam strip, lobster, scallop, crab) for the adults. Cheese fries are a yummy, indulgent addition. 25 Circuit Ave., 508-693-4093

The Vineyard’s silkiest ice creams have made Mad Martha’s a haven for ice cream lovers in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The homemade cookies have made their ice cream sandwiches perennially popular. Their rich chocolate and butter crunch are best in shows. This summer expect a new location in Vineyard Haven to open in the former Café Moxie space, offering yet another kind of sandwich, these made by Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches. 12 Circuit Ave., 508-693-9151; 7 N Water St., Edgartown, 508-627-8761; 48 Main St., Vineyard Haven, 508-693-5883

Located right on the marina side of the harbor in Oak Bluffs, Nancy’s is one of rare spots with a water view. The menu includes grilled and fried options of just about every kind of shellfish and white fish you can ask for from clams with bellies to scallops to calamari to haddock. Upstairs things get fancier but the menu is still full of crowd pleasers—think steak tip sandwiches and fish tacos. Lesser known, but equally delicious are their Middle Eastern dishes like kebabs, hummus, and stuffed grape leaves. 29 Lake Ave., 508-693-0006,

The Shuck Shack is a new raw bar right beside its big sister restaurant, Coop de Ville in dockside Oak Bluffs. Here you’ll find a deep beer list to pair with local oysters such as Honeysuckle farm and Sweet Neck farms, as well as guest oysters from waters around the country. Also try the Vineyard littlenecks and shrimp cocktail. The surf shack vibe is relaxed and casual. 12 Circuit Avenue Extension, 508-693-3420,

Smoke ’N Bones has to be one of the best dining values on the island. This BBQ joint is beloved for its huge portions of wings and ribs and a no-fuss vibe. Baby backs are served Memphis, Kansas City, and Asian style (with a sweet hoisin sauce). Texas brisket is also a favorite. Best sides are the onion rings and the fried pickles. Each table thoughtfully has its own built-in bucket for bones. 20 Oakland Ave., 508-696-7427;

Beyond the fray of the lower end of Circuit Avenue’s bars and arcade and carousel, is this quietly sophisticated restaurant, Sweet Life Café. Tuna nicoise, pork belly, lamb three ways, pan seared vineyard-caught fluke, home made pastas, charcuterie. Consistently excellent food. Probably the most romantic patio on the Vineyard. 63 Circuit Ave., 508-696-0200

This adorable little spot called The Sweet Spot offers 32 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt, as well as soft serve. Try the Cookie Monster: vanilla with peanut butter, M&Ms, chocolate chips and cookie dough. It also has the island’s most comprehensive candy store – selling candy by the pound, gummies, sour patch, as well as old school options like Bit o’Honeys and flat taffy. 12 Circuit Ave. Extension, Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, 508-687-2022

20 by Nine is a newcomer offering the Vineyard’s first craft beer and whisky bar and some delicious small plates. Chef Scott Cummings makes just about everything from scratch – beer nuts, bread & butter pickles to a fennel pork sausage that gets wrapped into petite pretzel buns with sauerkraut dipped in beer and a dose of his special mustard blend that’s both sweet and spicy. They offer 45 bourbons and whiskies, and have 16 beers on tap, all made in America, and many from New England. We love that the restaurant takes its name from the island’s dimensions: 20 miles by 9 miles. 16 Kennebec Ave., 508-338-2065,

While they make a dozen different and creative sandwiches, the Chilmark general store is most beloved for its pizza. They also sell gourmet cheeses, charcuterie and freshly baked breads for a beachside picnic. Organic produce is grown on a nearby farm. Other specialty items include small batch ice creams and fair trade coffees. 7 State Rd., Chilmark, 508-645-3739;

Perched atop the cliffs at Aquinnah is Faith’s Seafood Shack and Sushi Bar, a true surprise: top-notch seafood where you expect burgers and dogs. Faith’s clam chowder, crab claw cocktail, corn on the cob, and fish tacos continue to wow. The small kitchen also puts out nigiri and sashimi, traditional rolls such as eel avocado, tuna, salmon, a few specialty rolls like gay head roll: spicy king crab, scallop, topped with yellowtail, mint leaf and mango. Aquinnah at the Cliffs,

This year the owners of Lambert’s Cove Inn, Farm, & Restaurant are taking advantage of their pastoral location on seven acres and have planted extensive gardens, furthering the restaurant’s emphasis on farm to table and fresh ingredients. They’ve added laying hens, two goats for cheese. Cuisine here is more traditional than surprising, but it is also consistently excellent. 90 Manaquayak Rd., 508-693-2298, West Tisbury;

The best place to watch the sunset is on Menemsha’s west-facing beach. And the ideal dinner for it hails from Larsen’s Fish Market. They will steam mussels, clams, and lobster (with melted butter) for take out, serve up hot chowder, lobster bisque and stuffed clams, as well as shuck fresh oysters and littlenecks to go. It’s wildly popular, so plan ahead. 56 Basin Rd., Chilmark, 508-645-2680;

Run by Mary and Jackson Kenworth, who first made their reputation as quality restaurateurs with the Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs, State Road is a cozy little spot with modern Yankee charm. Ingredients are seasonal, thanks to their own gardens and partnerships with local farms. The homemade bread is exquisite, as is the house-made ricotta. The wine menu is small, but well chosen. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the season, and they now have a well-edited selection of wines and beer. 688 State Rd., West Tisbury, 508-693-8582;


Israeli born chef Erez Pinhas of Abba prepares dishes that combine Middle Eastern staples with Cape specialties and Asian flavors at this restaurant that caters to more sophisticated tastes than one normally encounters here. You’ll find marinated eggplant with grilled calamari, oysters with Thai lemon sauce, and sticky black rice pudding on the menu. The ambiance and décor is also a pleasure in this white clapboard Cape complete with wide floorboards and a picket fence. 89 Old Colony Way, Orleans, 508-255-8144,

The quaint Cottage Street Bakery, which has been around for 30 years, serves local Beanstock coffee and fresh, homemade pastries, preservatives not included. Yummy lunch sandwiches, soups, and salads are welcome relief from fried fare, but it’s the desserts that most delight, from wedding cakes and pies, to a killer called the dirt bomb. 5 Cottage Street, Orleans, 508-255-2821,

Award winning clam shack Cooke’s Seafood, which has been frying up seafood since the mid ‘70s, is the place to go in Orleans for lobster rolls and such, including an exceptional (lightly) fried haddock. Family owned by a friendly bunch, the service is consistently quick and the offerings fresh. 1 South Orleans Road, 508-255-5518,

Hot Chocolate Sparrow has quite the following, and no surprise given its astonishing array of decadent desserts. Along with steamy sensations like mint hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, gourmet coffees and lovely teas, there’s frozen hot chocolate and chai frappes. Plenty of ice cream (order topped with their homemade sprinkles), and other concoctions, but also efforts to nourish nicely, with items like sustainable energy cookies. 5 Old Colony Way, Orleans, 508-240-2230,

For 18 kinds of freshly baked New York style bagels, 20 types of cream cheese, fruit smoothies and muffin tops, plus made-to-order sandwiches, homemade soups that include Thai Chicken with Red Curry, Carrot Ginger, and Tomato Feta, plus free WiFi, stop by JoMama’s. Unlike the charming outpost in Brewster, the exterior of this original shop is quite modest, but just as colorful (and tasty) inside. 125 Rte 6A, Orleans, 508-255-0255, jomamascapecod

Tourist attraction meets local pub is the best way to describe Land Ho!, an Orleans icon, laden with local signage. Its genial bar atmosphere offers plenty of character (and characters), along with a menu of fried seafood and burgers, freshly caught fish, chowder, kale soup, and pie for dessert. There’s live music twice a week, plus karaoke night. 38 Main St, Orleans, 508-255-5165,

In a town that does casual almost 24/7, Nauset Beach Club provides a taste of fine dining in an antique house. Be sure to make a reservation, particularly if you want to eat on the patio, though the terracotta-colored dining room is lovely too. Menu includes Northern Italian favorites like orecchiette with broccoli rabe and black linguine with littlenecks as well as a daily chef’s catch and Faroe Island salmon baked in parchment. 222 Main Street, East Orleans, 598-255-8547,

Newcomer Rock Harbor Grill’s dining room and patio is often packed, thanks to its laid back atmosphere, big screen TV and menu that includes small plates, sharable dishes, tasty sides and homestyle main dishes. Offerings include Tuscan kale, lobster mac & cheese, duck sliders, cranberry goat cheese whipped potatoes, truffle fries, and buttermilk fried chicken, plus gluten free pizza. 18 Old Colony Way, Orleans, 508-255-3350,

Known for the best hot fudge ever, Sundae School is worth the drive east if you’re staying in town and tend not to stray. If chocolate isn’t your thing, top a scoop with burgundy cherry, fresh blueberries, or maple walnut. Flavors include Nestle Crunch, Milky Way, Grapeunt, and Candied Ginger. The darling, well-manicured Cape Cod cottage is just large enough to put in our order, but there’s a brick patio on which to dip into your treats. 210 Main Street, East Orleans, 508-255-5473,

For a casual pizza lunch or dinner with family and friends, head to Zia Pizzeria & Café for pizzas, salads, and wine. Pies come in 12-inch and 16-inch sizes, done with homemade tomato sauce and toppings of your choosing, including buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, carmelized onions, and roasted red peppers. Calzones and meatball, eggplant, and Cuban subs too. It’s homemade pie for dessert, filled with fresh summer fruit. 210 Main Street, East Orleans, 508-240-1442,

Upper and Mid Cape

You might think you’re in the big city instead of on Osterville’s Main Street when you enter Five Bays Bistro. The stylish, contemporary décor cries out for a special evening, and executive chef/co-owner Tim Souza delivers with an inventive menu that utilizes local ingredients. Sweet corn and crab soup makes for a great start, while the spice-rubbed seared tuna with chic pea puree, arugula and a smoked red pepper broth is subtle and flavorful. For a decadent finish, try the strawberry rhubarb tart with whipped cream and fresh mint. 825 Main Street, Osterville, 508-420-5559,

A favorite of the lawyers who argue cases across the street at Barnstable District Court, the welcoming, wood-paneled Dolphin Restaurant has been a staple in Barnstable Village for 60 years. The laid-back atmosphere is enhanced by white linen and fresh flowers on every table, while the cozy bar area is spirited and relaxed. Fish is the specialty, with the egg-battered sole almondine topped with toasted almonds a long-time local favorite. 3250 Main Street, Barnstable Village, 508-362-6610,

Located in a rustic building with a seating area labeled the “Penalty Box,” a nod to former Boston Bruins tough guy and owner Jay Miller, the Courtyard Restaurant & Pub offers everything from burgers to lobster ravioli. Live entertainment is always on the menu, and the spacious outdoor seating features a roaring fire pit and mammoth flat-screen televisions for viewing sports. 1337 County Road, Bourne, 508-563-1818,

Ever since Oprah Winfrey raved about their pies to a national TV audience, life has never been the same for the owners of the Centerville Pie Company. They now ship their savory, flash-frozen pies around the world. Chicken is the signature selection, but they also lovingly make clam, lobster, beef and shepherd’s pies. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, but the pies are what lure most people to their door. 1671 Falmouth Road, Centerville, 774-470-1406,

Owner Bopha Sammas, a survivor of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, has been serving authentic Cambodian cuisine at Stir Crazy since 1989. Stir-fried meats, seafood and vegetables in a variety of seasoned sauces are tantalizing and imaginative, while her Cambodian stir fries are a long-held family recipe. Traditional steak is transformed with a lemongrass marinade set on a bed of vegetables and rice. 570 MacArthur Boulevard, Pocasset 508-564-6464,

The breezy, tongue-in-check vibe at Kettle-Ho Restaurant and Tavern is best summed up by the shirts sold over the bar that read “Not the Ho You Used to Know.” Once largely a cozy breakfast destination, it now features an expansive bar that meanders through the center of the restaurant, with booths lining the walls. With 10 beers on tap, outstanding apps and comfort food entrees averaging around $18, it’s a local favorite for a casual dinner or an early evening drink. 12 School Street, Cotuit, 508-428-1862

Critically acclaimed chef Adam Borowski has created a trendy menu at the aptly named Sunset Grille, located at The Brookside Club. Enjoy a spectacular sunset from outdoor seating while choosing from an diverse array of entrees, including pan-seared cod with artichokes, roasted pepper, tomato and basil over a creamy parmesan risotto, vegetable ravioli with baby spinach or grilled mahi mahi. Or just order a beer and the loaded nachos and savor the end of the day. 11 Brigadoone Road, Buzzards Bay, 508-743-0705,

Take a seat at an outdoor picnic table and bring your own adult beverage (they don’t have a liquor license) at Osterville Fish, Too, located in the shadow of Barnstable Harbor. The delicately prepared fried clams won’t make you feel like you gained 10 pounds, while the homemade onion rings melt in your mouth. Even the jumbo hot dog is extraordinary, as hot dogs go. But the buttery clam chowder is absolutely amazing. 275 Old Mill Road, Barnstable, 508-362-2295,

George Washington was rumored to have slept at the Barnstable Restaurant and Tavern, and ghosts supposedly inhabit the second floor. Renovations have altered the look over the past 25 years, yet a sense of history still emanates from the ancient wide-pine floors and wooden bar. The menu is extensive, with everything from tuna sashimi to pizza, but the burgers and steak tips are standouts. 3176 Main Street, Barnstable, 508-362-2355,

Visitors have been taking a seat on a stool at the old-fashioned counter and savoring the homemade ice cream at Four Seas since 1934. Jackie Kennedy was such a fan of the fresh peach that she had it shipped to the White House, and there’s a line out the door on most summer evenings with customers clamoring for the black raspberry, peppermint stick and butter crunch. The chocolate chip, an original recipe, is made with melted chocolate that solidifies upon hitting the frozen ice cream. 360 South Main Street, Centerville, 508-775-1394,

Villaggio at the Regatta, opened in June, is the Cape’s newest restaurant, although it’s housed in an 18th century building that is on the National Register of Historic Places. For decades this was a highly-acclaimed destination for an upscale, romantic dinner. It remains elegant and charming, with five separate dining rooms and a comfortable bar. The new owners are offering a menu of traditional Italian dishes ranging from $20 to $30. One nice touch: Order a bottle of wine and you get a free cheese plate. 4631 Falmouth Road, Rte. 28, Cotuit, 508-428-5715,

With paintings depicting Cape Cod scenes lining the walls, leather couches and plush chairs to settle into, the atmosphere at Nirvana Coffee Company is cozy enough to invite conversation yet also lends itself to a casual morning reading the newspaper. A variety of organic coffee selections, espresso and latte choices, along with tempting homemade scones and muffins will keep you lingering. People rave over the almond croissant with a drizzle of honey and chopped almonds. 3206 Main Street, Barnstable, 508-744-6983,

Located in the shadow of Barnstable Municipal Airport, Pain D’Avignon Café Boulangerie is not the place to go if you’re on a low-carb diet. The on-site working bakery is visible from the main dining room, and every diner is sent home with a freshly baked loaf of bread. But this is so much more than a bakery. Entrée choices include grilled Spanish octopus with toasted farro, white beans, chickpeas, black garlic and mint, and pan-seared sea scallops with sautéed artichokes in saffron and white wine sauce. The perfectly seasoned Pommes Frites are irresistible. 15 Hinckley Road, Hyannis, 508-778-8588,

Wimpy’s Seafood Café has been a local family-run institution for more than 75 years. What began as a hamburger counter now has three distinct dining rooms ranging from the romantic Cahoon room with a fieldstone fireplace to the casual tavern and bar. The seafood fra diavlo is spicy, spicy, spicy, and the popular Sunday Brunch attracts a loyal following. Afterward, check out the fresh fish market attached to the restaurant. 752 Main Street, Osterville, 508-428-3474,

What says vacation more definitely than a visit to a clam shack? Imagine if it were healthy, sort of. The Seafood Shanty, overlooking the Cape Cod Canal, fries its seafood in cholesterol free vegetable oil. Clams delivered fresh daily can be paired with home-made tartar sauce, hand-cut onion rings and a quahog chowder made from a family recipe. But bring cash; they don’t accept credit cards. 803 Scenic Highway, Bournedale, 508-888-0040,