Reader Query: Martha’s Vineyard Eats?

July 9, 2008 | By | COMMENTS

Knowledgeable readers, we have a question from reader Brandy H. that I cannot answer. Please help her in the comments!

We are going to Martha’s Vineyard in August (from Los Angeles), where we have rented a house so that I can cook. I am wondering if you have any culinary knowledge of the island? Do the island summer markets feature a unique local specialty? Is the island known for having a particularly heavy crop of strawberries, squash or tomatoes? Is there perhaps an island spin on the ubiquitous lobster roll, clam bake or crab boil? Also, what are the restaurants that should not be missed? In short, I am wondering what should be on the Amateur Gourmet’s dining itinerary for both cooking in, and eating out (fine and casual) on Martha’s Vineyard?

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  • Emily

    Yes, I know.

    Buy your fish at Larsen’s, not Poole’s. Net Result is also good for fish. (Depending on what town you’re in)Fish and lobster are naturally local specialties.

    Island specialties are sometimes Portugese in heritage — Portugese sweet dough bread is excellent there and can be bought at Black Dog or other local bakeries.

    There is a local winery (I forget name, but you’ll see it in the newspaper and you can go visit).

    Summer farmer’s markets are your best bet. Each town has one and they are incredible. I usually go to the West Tisbury market, which is Wednesdays and Saturdays, if memory serves. Again, the local paper will list them. If you’re there for a whole month you can sign up for CSA (community supported agriculture) subscriptions at thefarminstitute.org or at Whipporwill farm. Thimble Farm is a farm stand worth the trip — they also carry various locally made jams and pies.

    If you go to the Farm Institute in Katama (url above), you can also get a list of all the local farm stands, with a map. That’s a great thing to do — grass-raised, free-roaming dairy, beef, etc. as well as fruit and veg and eggs. It’s a great way to tour the island, too.

    re: eating out. Sorry, no help there, except to say: you can call Larsen’s fish market in Menemsha, order lobsters for just about sunset time, and go eat them on the beach and see the most beautiful sunset while eating lobster. BYOB or buy sodas at the gas station nearby.

  • Jonathan

    honestly, i’m not very impressed with the restaurants on the island. the only restaurants i have ever gone back to are the black dog bakery as well as a small fish shack off of state road in vineyard haven that i can’t recall the name of right now.

    my family and i always bought and prepared food. often, we would bring meat in a cooler on the ferry to avoid paying for way to expensive groceries.

    oh, and on another non-food related note, make absolutely sure you go to gay head.

  • http://www.ideasinfood.com H. Alexander Talbot

    we have not been back for six years though if the Bite still exists, it should, go for fried clams. for an afternoon have nachos and planter’s punches at the navigator in edgartown

  • Judson

    The Bite is still around.

    I wasn’t particularly impressed with the West Tisbury farmer’s market compared to just heading over to the farm stands. Morning Glory Farms is fairly reliable.

    Poole’s fish market is now the Menemsha Fish Market and is another Larsen-owned venture. All of the fish markets are decent, but you may need to pry out of them which fish are actually local.

    The only place I actually went out to eat was the Black Dog, which is quite popular. There was also a little place on State called the Scottish Bakery or something that looked like it was quite good.

  • Laura

    Alchemy is my favorite restaurant in Edgartown, also Mad Martha’s for ice cream. Lobsters at Menemsha at sunset, and Morning Glory muffins and coffee in the morning.

  • Kristi

    I don’t know from firsthand experience, but last month the New York Times published this article about vacationing/eating on Martha’s Vineyard on a budget:

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/travel/escapes/13martha.html?scp=3&sq=martha%27s+vineyard&st=nyt

  • http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com The Food Monster

    http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com

    While I can’t be of any service, all this talk of fresh fish has me wanting to head over to Martha’s Vineyard the next opportunity I get. Enjoy your time Brandy H!

    -The Food Monster

  • http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com The Food Monster

    http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com

    While I can’t be of any service, all this talk of fresh fish has me wanting to head over to Martha’s Vineyard the next opportunity I get. Enjoy your time Brandy H!

    -The Food Monster

  • http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com The Food Monster

    http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com

    While I can’t be of any service, all this talk of fresh fish has me wanting to head over to Martha’s Vineyard the next opportunity I get. Enjoy your time Brandy H!

    -The Food Monster

  • http://www.phreaked.wordpress.com Phreaked

    http://www.phreaked.wordpress.com

    Whenever I’ve gone to Martha’s Vineyard I didn’t do too much heavy eating so I can’t really voice on that. Or nothing worth remembering… sadly.

    Side note of advice though… take a bus tour. They are sooooo informative that you will learn so many great stories about the island. I’m from Cape Cod and I learned a lot of things about the Vineyard I never knew… which by the way, if you want to sound more familiar, lose the Martha… ;)

  • Jill

    I second the recommendation for Morning Glory Farms. Eating out is often hit or miss, I find, but I highly recommend Smoke’n Bones, a rib place with terrific food. It’s outside of Oak Bluffs, not near the other restaurants, but worth finding. For breakfast, go to Among the Flowers Cafe in Edgartown and wait to sit outside (the inside is dark and ordinary). They’ve got very good food, including delicious crepes (with ice cream to delight your kids, if you have any). I had one of the worst meals of my life at the Black Dog, so please stay away. (The bakery is okay, I hear, this was the restaurant.)

  • Jill

    I second the recommendation for Morning Glory Farms. Eating out is often hit or miss, I find, but I highly recommend Smoke’n Bones, a rib place with terrific food. It’s outside of Oak Bluffs, not near the other restaurants, but worth finding. For breakfast, go to Among the Flowers Cafe in Edgartown and wait to sit outside (the inside is dark and ordinary). They’ve got very good food, including delicious crepes (with ice cream to delight your kids, if you have any). I had one of the worst meals of my life at the Black Dog, so please stay away. (The bakery is okay, I hear, this was the restaurant.)

  • http://tastynewengland.com TastyNewEngland

    Funny enough I’m pretty interested in all of this info, too. I’ve done a lot of the typical foodie stuff on the The Cape but have never ventured out to the islands.

  • http://tastynewengland.com TastyNewEngland

    Funny enough I’m pretty interested in all of this info, too. I’ve done a lot of the typical foodie stuff on the The Cape but have never ventured out to the islands.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been vacationing in MV for quite some time now and my favorite restaurants on the island are:

    The Sweet Life

    The Oyster Bar and Grill (used to called this a long time ago, then was called Balance for a few years and now is back to the original name, located next door to Sweet Life)

    Balance

    These are all in Oak Bluffs and are all definite nights out. (Read: not cheap)

    David Ryan’s is usually pretty good in Edgartown and Homeport is fun to go to after watching the sunset in Menemsha. You can order food takeout and BYOB and eat at the picnic tables. Nancy’s and Lily Jean’s in Oak Bluffs are also two of our go-to standbys for a lunch or two at the picnic tables.

    In my opinion, The Black Dog is totally overrated, but that’s just me.

  • Anonymous

    We rarely cook when we’re there, but I’ve been vacationing in MV for quite some time now and my favorite restaurants on the island include:

    The Sweet Life

    The Oyster Bar and Grill (used to called this a long time ago, then was called Balance for a few years and now is back to the original name, located next door to Sweet Life)

    Balance

    These are all in Oak Bluffs and are all definite nights out. (Read: not cheap)

    David Ryan’s is usually pretty good in Edgartown and Homeport is fun to go to after watching the sunset in Menemsha. You can order food takeout and BYOB and eat at the picnic tables. Nancy’s and Lily Jean’s in Oak Bluffs are also two of our go-to standbys for a lunch or two at the picnic tables.

    In my opinion, The Black Dog is totally overrated, but that’s just me.

  • Brandy H.

    Hi all, Brandy H. here. Adam, thank you so much for posting my question! And, fellow readers, thanks for all your helpful tips. I’m really looking forward to checking it all out.

  • sara

    A couple of great restaurants in Edgartown are the Newes Pub (http://www.kelley-house.com/dining_news_from_america.asp) for bar food and beers, and Chesca’s (http://www.chescasmv.com/)

  • Anonymous

    In Edgartown Chesca’s (italian-ish), Newes Pub in the Kelley House (beer! and bar food), and Edgartown Pizza (pizza!) are all great places to eat.

  • Megan

    I am a fan of the small fish market on State St. just before arriving in Vineyard Haven (I believe this is the same one previously mentioned as a poor choice for a restaurant). They seemed to have a much better selection of local fish than the Larsen ventures.

    I like the Black Dog for breakfast and for their chowder, but the atmosphere and marketing can be trying.

    I thought the West Tisbury market was not impressive (and wished I was home in Ithaca), but the local farms were nice. I do like Morning Glory. And if you’re feeling lazy, Kronig’s (the grocery store) was actually noting which of their produce was local (and its source).

  • Anonymous

    collect mussels on the shore and steam them yourself. they are wonderful. when I did this 8 years ago they were considered safe, haven’t been back since. Molly

  • http://gillsnthrills.tumblr.com Gills n Thrills

    Be sure the shellfish beds are safe. I don’t know about Martha’s Vineyard, but people have been known to get ill from collecting shellfish from waters containing red tide in other parts of New England.

  • http://www.fauren.org Lauren

    I can’t believe no one here has mentioned Art Cliff! A close friend of mine grew up on the Vineyard and introduced me to it during a visit a while back. It’s a staple for families and desperately hungover friends alike. Yes… I’ll admit to being one of the latter. It’s a little place (a small cottage in Vineyard Haven, very casual, very close to the ferry) so expect a wait, but it’s well worth it. You MUST get the crab cake benedict if it’s on the specials board.

  • http://www.fauren.org Lauren

    Oh! And!

    If you’re a beer fan, Off Shore Ale Company brews their own, including a coffee stout that’ll put some serious hair on your chest.

    Also: smoked blue fish pate from Net Result. Unbelievable.

  • Katherine

    Eileen Blake’s pies are delicious. She sells them from a stand in front of her house on State Road, near the up-island Cronig’s. My favorites are the ones that involve blueberries, but they’re all good. Here’s some info from Serious Eats: http://www.seriouseats.com/required_eating/2006/05/mrs-blakes-pies-my-favorite-wh.html

    Also, a beach picnic would not be complete in my family without butter crunch cookies from Humphrey’s bakery. There are now three locations – in Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown. Their oatmeal bread is good, too.

  • http://www.fauren.org Lauren

    My other comment seems to have disappeared in the ether, but this one was supposed to come first:

    I can’t believe no one here has mentioned Art Cliff! A good friend who grew up on the Vineyard introduced me to it on a visit a while back. It’s a laid-back place that attracts families and desperately hungover friends alike. Yes, I’ll admit to being one of the latter. The place is small (it’s a cottage in Vineyard Haven, very casual, very close to the ferry) so expect a wait, but it’s definitely worth it. You MUST order the crab cake benedict if it’s on the specials board.

  • http://www.boscoethecookiedoctor.com Mark Boxshus

    A majority of the information posted so far as regards, farm stands, places for breakfast, fresh fish, touring the island, etc. is right on, but one thing can not be underscored enough! Bring as much food and miscellaneous kitchen, bath and day to day requirements with you as possible! Load your car up with meat, poultry, canned tuna, mayonnaise, etc. and don’t forget the paper towels, toilet paper, foil, bug spray, tanning lotion, etc. The island prices (I’ve spent a LOT of time on the island) are VERY high and most year rounders shop off island for their day to day necessities. Tourism is the MAIN source of income for the Vineyard, and most everything has to be freighted over daily. Consequently, prices for everything reflect the additional charges incurred in shipping and handling. Even disposing of your trash (property owners) is expensive, since most of it is freighted over to the mainland everyday. So, having been forewarned, do go and have a great time. I love the island and all that it has to offer. You should have a wonderful time.

  • http://www.boscoethecookiedoctor.com Mark Boxshus

    A majority of the information posted so far as regards, farm stands, places for breakfast, fresh fish, touring the island, etc. is right on, but one thing can not be underscored enough! Bring as much food and miscellaneous kitchen, bath and day to day requirements with you as possible! Load your car up with meat, poultry, canned tuna, mayonnaise, etc. and don’t forget the paper towels, toilet paper, foil, bug spray, tanning lotion, etc. The island prices (I’ve spent a LOT of time on the island) are VERY high and most year rounders shop off island for their day to day necessities. Tourism is the MAIN source of income for the Vineyard, and most everything has to be freighted over daily. Consequently, prices for everything reflect the additional charges incurred in shipping and handling. Even disposing of your trash (property owners) is expensive, since most of it is freighted over to the mainland everyday. So, having been forewarned, do go and have a great time. I love the island and all that it has to offer. You should have a wonderful time.

  • Jonathan

    Fresh radishes. My whole life I’ve enjoyed them grown by a wonderful lady who lives north of Menemsha but the one’s at the West Tisbury farmer’s market are great. Also at the farmer’s market you can find fresh lemonade and cold and fresh Vietnamese summer rolls, certainly a must have.

  • Jonathan

    Fresh radishes. My whole life I’ve enjoyed them grown by a wonderful lady who lives north of Menemsha but the one’s at the West Tisbury farmer’s market are great. Also at the farmer’s market you can find fresh lemonade and cold and fresh Vietnamese summer rolls, certainly a must have.

  • Cowboygirl

    You sold out. The ads are distracting and uninteresting. I’m unsubscribing. You were better as an amateur. You are no longer.

  • amy

    Great dinner at the Outermost Inn at Aquinnah, Phone: 508-645-3511. It is owned by one of the Taylor brothers; he turned their house into an inn and restaurant with great food and amazing views. BYOB; Aquinnah is one of many dry towns on the Vinyard. If you don’t have a car, the bus is $1 out there and $1 back. Totally worth the trip. Fun to walk around the house/inn and see pictures of James Taylor and Livingston Taylor hanging up in the hallways!

  • amy

    A great place for dinner is the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah. It is owned and operated by Hugh Taylor and his wife, and has amazing views and really good food. BYOB as Aquinnah, as are many towns on the Vinyard, is dry.

    If you don’t have a car, the bus ride is $1 each way. We eat there every year and have not been disappointed by the food or service, and the view, again, is amazing.

    Outermost Inn menu:

    http://www.outermostinn.com/outermostinn-menu.html

    Call us 508-645-3511

    I would recommend calling for a reservation as space is limited. Also, it’s fun to walk around and see family pictures of James, Kate, and Livingston Taylor all around the place. It’s a beautiful inn.