10 Top Places to Eat on Martha’s Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard, just seven miles off Cape Cod, feels like a world away, rather than a 45-minute ferry crossing. Those who escape for a summer break there will discover fish shacks and fine-dining venues all focused on local bounty from the sea and the land. Here are a few local favorites.
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Tucked away in the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, Henry’s is a cozy gastropub with a menu of small plates and a focus on locally sourced ingredients, including produce, island-caught sustainable fish and island-harvested shellfish, with farms, fishermen and gardens all listed on the menu. A favorite at Henry’s is the knuckle sandwich, composed of fresh lobster meat, fried capers and lemon on buttered brioche roll, and the local cioppino, made with MV-harvested shellfish, prawns, calamari and tomato broth. Henry’s is open year-round, one more reason to be a fan of the intimate spot.
Atlantic Fish & Chop House
Smack dab on Edgartown Harbor, Atlantic Fish & Chop House could hardly have a more scenic setting. One of the larger and more upscale venues on the island, Atlantic serves lunch and dinner, then turns into a hopping nightclub at 10 p.m., with live entertainment or a DJ. The menu is quite diverse, with dishes like black truffle-lobster mac and cheese, Moroccan chicken and olive tagine, and delicious whole, char-broiled branzino, served with lemon preserves and herb marinade. The extensive menu also features everything from pizzas to Wagyu beef, so there is plenty to entice, including popular cocktails, like the La Rose, made with Stoli vanilla vodka, vanilla simple syrup, passion fruit puree, St. Germain and rose essence.
Sweet Life Café
This aptly named Oak Bluffs restaurant is located in a charming Victorian house, with an equally charming outdoor patio lit by twinkling lights. A favorite of the Obamas when they vacationed on the island, the restaurant features local, seasonal cuisine that’s gorgeously prepared. The chef’s tasting menu is a nice way to sample the range of what’s available and in season, possibly including dishes like Whiting Farm lamb tartare, wild nettle gnocchi and homemade herb-ricotta cavatelli, with Grey Barn pork belly.
Larsen’s Fish Market
Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha is exactly that: a market selling freshly caught seafood in a tiny fishing village. Take your pick of striped bass, cod, mussels and littleneck clams to take home and cook, or head to the back, where you can order dishes from their tiny kitchen to eat right away. Choose a lobster roll, and they will crack open a lobster, pull out all the meat, slather it with butter and load it into a warmed hot dog roll, which you’ll take outside to devour while sitting on a lobster trap or picnic table. It is, for many, the essence of summer. You can also order whole steamed lobsters, freshy shucked oysters, crab cakes and a few other items. BYOB, order a few dishes, then walk to the nearby beach for one the best sunset spots on the whole island.
With harbor views and French cuisine, Garde East in Vineyard Haven offers a more elegant dining experience than most places on the island, all best enjoyed from a much-coveted table on the deck. Seafood is exceptional, including olive oil-poached halibut and seared black bass with chorizo. The sashimi starter changes with the whims of the chef and the freshest-possible fish options. Pair it all with a bottle from the outstanding wine list, with more than 400 labels.
Located in Vineyard Haven, Beach Road is a relative newcomer, open since 2015, but as the sister to the well-established and well-regarded State Road in West Tisbury, its pedigree is impeccable with a focus on modern American fare. With its enormous windows overlooking Lagoon Pond and maritime décor, you might feel like you’ve set sail. Show up at 5 p.m. to enjoy an hour of buck-a-shuck oysters, then settle in for dinner. Dishes like pan-roasted sea scallops and caviar, mussels, lobster and more please seafood fans, but meat-lovers will find pork chops, fried chicken and short ribs. There’s also a small market in the front of the restaurant selling homemade chocolates, granola, coffee, popcorn and other treats.
The Black Dog Tavern
Known by its iconic Black Dog logo (popular on T-shirts spotted on fans around the world), The Black Dog Tavern has achieved near-legendary status. Almost 50 years ago, supposedly unhappy with the lack of good year-round restaurants on the island, Captain Robert Douglas hatched a plan which eventually led to the restaurant he named for his faithful canine companion. It’s since expanded to several outposts, as well as retail outlets, though the original Tavern in Vineyard Haven is still the go- to for classics like clam chowder, lobster rolls and crab cakes. Snag a table by the windows for the best views.
Specializing in coastal Italian food, Chesca’s in Edgartown is a hot ticket on the island. Arrive early to add your name to the list — there are no reservations — and enjoy a drink on the front porch (though you may have to wait for a rocking chair). Specialties include seafood paella and the delicate sole piccata, served over spinach with caper buerre blanc. One out-of-the-box dish is the Bento Box, which comes with chowder or soup, salad, vegetables, mashed potatoes and your choice of Thai chile-glazed grilled salmon, chicken marsala or shrimp in lemon-garlic butter. For dessert, the Snowball, sponge cake-soaked vanilla bean ice cream with caramel sauce and Chilmark Chocolates’ almond butter crunch crumbles, is not to be missed.
Offshore Ale Company
An Oak Bluffs favorite for more than 20 years, Offshore Ale Company is one of the rare restaurants on the island open year-round. Don’t let the peanut shells blanketing the floor fool you — food and beer are taken very seriously here. Every table gets a bowl of peanuts upon sitting down, and shells are tossed on the floor. Rock-solid dishes include the excellent lobster roll, any of the wood-fired brick oven pizzas (try the inventive potato pizza, with mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon and scallions) and fish and chips, all of which should be paired with one of the brew pub’s craft beers. In winter, you can stay toasty next to a blazing fire and in summer, hang out on the patio.
Little House Café
Rarer than rare on the island, Little House in Vineyard Haven is not only open year-round, it’s also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and on top of that, it is an outstanding spot for vegans and vegetarians (as well as those who are gluten or dairy-free). The menu is eclectic, ranging across cuisines, but the beer-battered fried cod fish tacos, with salsa fresca, avocado and shaved green cabbage, are a local favorite, along with the delicious falafel sandwich. The lemon ricotta cake with lemon whipped cream and raspberry coulis is great with coffee.