April 14, 2024

6 of the best seafood restaurants in Cape Cod and its islands

Salt air, a summer breeze and the sound of the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto a rocky shore. Summer on the coast of New England is an entire world unto itself, and the scene is incomplete without tucking into a creamy soft-shell crab sandwich. Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are all renowned for their seafood restaurants, and the choices are varied and abundant — from high-end dining in historic New England cottages to dockside picnic tables overlooking the sea. Whether visitors choose to dine at traditional lobster shacks or modern oyster bars — it’s a guarantee that they will eat exceptionally well.

1. The Homeport
Martha’s Vineyard

This Chilmark-area oyster bar first opened its doors in 1930 and has been serving the freshest and most delectable steamers (softshell clams), steamed mussels and stuffed quahog clams (a New England speciality) in the decades since. From the ‘raw bar’ menu guests can order The Jaws platter to share; the film was famously shot on the island. Set in the 300-year-old fishing village of Menemsha, The Homeport is known for its stunning sunsets, smoked bluefish pate and ‘lobster in the semi-rough’ — served on the waterside patio or beside a roaring fire in the indoor dining room. Guests are encouraged to ‘leave the shells but take the memories’.

Oak Bluffs is a lively town on Martha’s Vineyard with harbour-side bars and colourful picturesque cottages.

Photograph by Hemis, Alamy

2. The Sweet Life
Martha’s Vineyard 

Experience a taste of the sweet life in the scenic town of Oak Bluffs, famous for its colourful Victorian architecture, historic lighthouses and 19th-century gingerbread cottages. The Sweet Life is a favourite among visitors and residents alike. The restaurant works closely with island fishermen, and the food and drink menus frequently change to reflect what’s seasonal and available. The seafood pasta remains an evergreen classic, however, and every Wednesday is pasta night — the squid ink tagliatelle with local littleneck clams is a must-try, as is the octopus gnocchi.

The Sweet Life combines traditional classics with an innovative modern approach. The restaurant is a popular spot in Oak Bluffs, a town on Martha’s Vineyard.

Photograph courtesy of The Sweet Life

3. Lobster Pot
Cape Cod

In Cape Cod, the ocean plays an essential part in daily proceedings — both from a culinary and a leisure perspective. A day of clamming and sailing is best capped off with a Dark ’n’ Stormy cocktail and a dinner of freshly caught lobster. Lobster Pot is a beloved institution in the vibrant city of Provincetown, its neon sign having beckoned generations of visitors to its waterfront dining room since 1979. Peppered shrimp and sautéed squid are local favourites, but the main event is, of course, the lobster, which is served pan-roasted, baked, stuffed or boiled.

4. Fishermen’s View
Cape Cod

There are few days as perfect as a New England summer, and there are even fewer meals as delectable as piping hot New England clam chowder. Even on a hot August afternoon, there’s always a chill in the air along the Massachusetts coast, and ‘chowda’ (as the locals call it) hits just the spot. The house clam chowder at Fishermen’s View, in the bayside town of Sandwich, is among the best on the Cape. The restaurant’s sea-to-table ethos extends beyond just the servings on your plate, as you will catch glimpses of boaters and sailors as they navigate the busy canal and surrounding marina — a fisherman’s view, indeed.

Looking out from the patio at Fishermen’s View onto Sandwich Marina and Cape Cod Canal.

Image courtesy of Fishermen’s View

Brotherhood of Thieves on Nantucket is a thriving historic dining hangout with a beer garden and an excellent whisky bar.

Photograph courtesy of Brotherhood of Thieves

5. Brotherhood of Thieves

Nantucket is an intoxicating blend of quaint New England charm set against a lively social backdrop — visitors arrive on the island as much for the scene as for the sea. Set on Broad Street in historic downtown Nantucket, Brotherhood of Thieves resembles an 1800s whaling tavern with a bustling bar and cosy, brick-lined interior. Enjoy the salty delights of the Atlantic with an inventive, modern twist — from lobster mac and cheese to tuna tostada and Nantucket sushi rolls (spicy scallops with tempura crunch). In the evening, the outdoor bar becomes a hub for island nightlife and post-dinner cocktails.

6. The Nantucket Lobster Trap

To toast or not to toast? On Nantucket, that is the question  — regarding your lobster roll, of course. The Nantucket Lobster Trap has sidestepped this eternal debate by offering both options. Luckily, whichever way you order it, in the parlance of locals, it’s sure to be ‘wicked good’. The laid-back seafood shack also serves additional New England summer classics, including haddock, Nantucket Bay scallops and steamed mussels. The best part? There’s a takeout window for visitors to pick up their seafood to enjoy back at home or on a nearby beach. In this instance, the world truly is your oyster.

This paid content article was created for Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce as a joint initiative with Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveller (UK) or their editorial staffs.

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