Creative people, bountiful local produce, and inspiring settings. It all adds up — Martha’s Vineyard is delicious. After two decades of visiting the island, I’m still constantly trying and discovering new restaurants. The truth is, we often eat at home — can you blame us, with a dining table like this? — and so I’ve sampled the island’s restaurant scene slowly. But I’ve savored every bite.
While extensive, this guide is by no means exhaustive. It’s admittedly biased towards Oak Bluffs (where my family’s house is), incorporates my aversion to anything stuffy, and is less seafood heavy than other island eating guides might be (personally, I’m not a fan, though many of these restaurants have plenty of local seafood on the menu and some even specialise in it!)
With no further ado… the main course! My favorite Martha’s Vineyard restaurants, organized by town.
A new obsession. 20byNine, named for the dimensions of the island, serves rare whiskey, craft beer and cider, fine wine, and creative cocktails made from each. But they are so much more than just a bar — small and inventive menus with a focus on local ingredients for dinner and weekend brunch are damn near flawless. Favorite dinner items include beautifully presented cheese and charcuterie boards ($19-25) and a deconstructed s’mores plate ($9). If you are looking for a quiet dinner, come early before the bar fills up. For brunch, sit outside and try the Farmer’s Omelet, made from summer vegetables, herb crème fraiche, and north tabor farm greens ($13) alongside a Wakey Wakey breakfast cocktail, featuring house bacon-infused bourbon, fresh lemon & orange, egg whites, bourbon maple syrup ($12).
Seves dinner and weekend brunch • Seasonal • 16 Kennebec Ave • 508.338.2065 • 20bynine.com
Red Cat Kitchen
Red Cat Kitchen ties with 20byNine for my Oak Bluffs favorite. A cozy setting, a quirky, ever-evolving menu, a big-personality chef, a chatty wait staff unafraid of making suggestions, and a great cocktail list add up to one of the most special dining experiences on the island. Two favorite dishes, copied verbatim from the menu, include “If You don’t Like Fried Chicken And Watermelon, There is something Wrong With You” #DaveChappelle, we serve it with some Hominy Grits Too ($24) and Our Fu*kin’ Great Crispy Brussel Sprouts ($7). I warned you it was quirky! Reservations highly recommended. Read another great review here.
Serves dinner • Seasonal • 14 Kennebec Ave • 508.696.6040 • redcatkitchen.com
This Oak Bluffs institution deserves the long lines that often snake out the front door. With simple, no-fuss diner decor, an affordable menu, and the best biscuits in New England, it’s no wonder we find ourselves here once a week or so in the summer. Want to avoid the lines? You’re not eating there for the atmosphere, so call ahead and order takeaway breakfast sandwiches, and enjoy an al fresco meal in Ocean Park.
Serves breakfast and lunch • Seasonal • 26 Lake Avenue • 508.693.22033 • Biscuits Facebook Page
Ice Cream in Oak Bluffs
It might actually be illegal to leave Martha’s Vineyard without a serving of ice cream, or seven — at least, it should be. Personally, I play it safe by having one a day or so. The entire island is dotted with spots to get a scoop, though I find myself at the Circuit Avenue locations most often. Personally, I alternate between Mad Martha’s and Ben and Bill’s, with Carousel Ice Cream occasionally shaking up by taking the lead. You really can’t go wrong!
An espresso bar, a retail store, a hip restaurant and a funky bar. Beetlebung has it all in its newly opened Oak Bluffs location (a sister coffee house in Menemsha has been an island institution for years.) While beautifully plated portions are small and prices high, the inventive lunch and dinner menu — boasting island ingredients and Asian and Middle Eastern influences — and atmosphere are different from anything else you’ll find on Circuit Avenue.
Serves all meals • Seasonal • 53 Circuit Ave • 508.696.0053 • beetlebung.com
Bangkok Thai Cuisine
This Thai food restaurant is one of our regular go-tos for both eating out and grabbing takeaway. Considering it’s the only Thai food on the island, this frequent traveler to Thailand gives it major kudos for authenticity. And with moderate prices and large portions, it’s a fairly budget friendly option. Try the classic chicken cashew nut stir fry ($12.95), followed by a sticky rice with mango ($8.95). Enticing weekday lunch specials are available.
Serves lunch and dinner • Year-Round • 67 Circuit Ave • 508.696.6322 • bkkcapecod.com
Slice of Life
This casual eatery and deli is a rare island venue that’s open for all three meals. While there is a simple seating area, the takeaway counter makes it perfect for picking up picnic supplies or lunch on busy days around the house. My favorite is the Pesto Chicken Panini featuring pesto chicken, bacon, tomatoes & mozzarella grilled on country white bread ($10.50).
Serves all meals • Year-Round • 50 Circuit Avenue • 508.693.3838 • sliceoflifemv.com
Park Corner Bistro
If you can’t get a table at Red Cat Kitchen and 20byNine is packed, Park Corner Bistro is a great third runner up. In addition to a cozy atmosphere and creative small plate menu, Park Corner also boasts late night service and frequent live music.
Serves dinner and Sunday brunch • Year-Round • 20 Kennebec Ave • 508.696.9922 • parkcornermv.com
Back Door Donuts
A Vineyard institution. When the Circuit Avenue bars shut down, there’s only one place to be — Back Door Donuts. The bakery’s popular after-hours side business often reaches number one on Tripadvisor for the entire island’s restaurant rankings! Located behind Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery, in the Reliable Market parking lot — just follow the lines, and the smell of sweet apple fritters. Typically, they start serving around 7:30pm and run out of dough around 1:30am. Read a review here.
Serves late night donuts • Seasonal • 5 Post Office Square • 508.693.3688 • mvbakery.com
Port Hunter sits up with 20byNine and Red Kat Kitchen as my all-time favorite special occasion restaurants on the island. A refreshing break from Edgartown’s usual stuffy downtown dining scene, Port Hunter features an acclaimed fresh-shucked raw bar, an impressive list of craft beers and cocktails, and a commitment to supporting locals farms and fisherman. There are no reservations, which can lead to frustratingly long wait times. There is however, lots of live music, which can make waiting for a table more palatable. Specials often listed on Facebook.
Serves dinner • Seasonal • 55 Main St • 508.627.7747 • theporthunter.com
Beer is the main attraction at this popular new island brewery, but the cheese board, charcuterie board and veggie boards ($11.99-19.99) are impressively meal-worthy too. Yet if you’re still feeling peckish after treating yourself to one, the Edgartown Sharky’s (see below!) is literally right next door. A few more things to love: Bad Martha-braded board and yard games on the patio, occasional live music, and a warm welcome to canine family member (a rarity on the Vineyard, sadly).
Serving snacks • Seasonal • 270 Upper Main St • 508.939.4415 • badmarthabeer.com
Fancy a night in but don’t feel like cooking? (Welcome to my life!) Head to Back Sheep in central Edgartown. Their motto is “from picnic to pantry” and their selection of meats, cheese, and prepared meals and high-end packaged snacks will sort out either. Rolling with a big crew? Catering also available.
Selling gourmet groceries and prepared foods • Seasonal • 18 N Summer St • 774.549.9118 • blacksheepmv.com
A poor man’s Señor Frogs this is not — Sharky’s Cantina might be high on kitsch, but it’s one of the most consistently awarded, best value and most delicious bets on the island. The cheeky names on the drink menu will keep you smiling, while just the thought of the pulled pork quesadilla ($9.99) is enough to leave me looking up ferry schedules. Sharky’s has two locations; one in Edgartown and one in Oak Bluffs. While the smaller location in Oak Bluffs has a fantastic patio for groups, we often find ourselves eating at the older and larger Edgartown location. You can’t go wrong with either.
Serves lunch and dinner • Year-Round • 266 Upper Main St, Edgartown • 508.627.6565 • 31 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs • 508.693.7501 • sharkyscantina.com
Art Cliff Diner
It took me years to finally try the famed Art Cliff Diner, which isn’t too surprising considering its popularity (and the fact that they don’t take reservations). Be prepared for long waits on a summer weekend! But worth it is an understatement — Art Cliff serves up a creative, innovative take on breakfast foods in a classic setting, and nails every dish. Don’t leave without checking the special’s board. And note that while the restaurant itself closes at 2pm, a new food truck is on hand in the evenings to serve up dinner. Read another great review here.
Serves breakfast and lunch • Year-Round • 39 Beach Road • Vineyard Haven • 508.693.1224 • Art Cliff Diner Facebook
Inside the Mansion House hotel, the Copper Wok offers an extensive menu of stir fries, sushi, and beyond. They also serves creative sake and other cocktails — though they can only be ordered with an entreé, as per local laws in the dry town of Vineyard Haven. My perfect meal? Three pulled pork sliders of tender korean-style braised pork with ginger slaw and hoisin sauce ($12), spinach dumplings with citrus soy ponzu ($8), and a lychee coconut martini ($13) to cheers with.
Serves lunch and dinner • Year-Round • 9 Main Street • Vineyard Haven • 508.693.3416 • copperwokmv.com
The Vineyard’s only green juicer. Pricey, even for the area — no surprise there — but a nice boost before getting on or after hopping off the ferry. Blissed Out also serves acai bowls, granola, and other treats.
Serves breakfast and lunch • Seasonal • 65 Main St • Vineyard Haven • 508.693.0083 • Blissed Out Facebook
This pizzeria is our go-to for takeaway. The pesto pizza ($17.95) might change your life — or at least your night! Unfortunately, they don’t deliver (the only island pizzeria that does, Porto Pizza, is inferior in my books, as is Giordano’s, the Oak Bluffs option within walking distance of our place), but it’s worth the drive to pick up if you’re in Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs. They also serve basic sandwiches, pasta and salads.
Serves lunch and dinner • Year-Round • 79 Beach Rd • Vineyard Haven • 508.693.1125 • marthasvineyardpizza.com
Blue Canoe Grill
Boasting killer views of the Vineyard Haven harbor, this upscale but cozy eatery features a seafood heavy menu with gorgeous presentation and high-end service. Daily specials are often posted on Facebook.
Serves lunch and dinner • Seasonal • 52 Beach Road • Vineyard Haven • 508.693.3332 • Blue Canoe Facebook
State Road might just win the award for most-hyped Vineyard Restaurant. This summer, I finally got the chance to see what all the fuss was about, finally scoring a 9pm dinner reservation on a Monday — booked three weeks in advance! With vaulted ceilings, a warm fireplace and a cozy bar, State Road is a romantic spot for a locally-sourced dinner of Modern American cuisine. Many of the herbs, fruits and vegetables on the menu come straight from the on-site garden. A sister restaurant, Beach Road, opened late last year. Needless to say, make a reservation as soon as you’ve secured your flight or ferry onto the island.
Serves dinner and Sunday brunch • Year-Round • 688 State Rd • West Tisbury • 508.693.8582 • stateroadrestaurant.com
Seafood in Menemsha
As I admitted earlier, I don’t eat seafood. Yet I could never deny my Vineyard guests the experience of a seafood picnic in Menemsha. The working fishing village is straight out of a movie (it was used to portray much of Amity Island in Jaws) and the public beach offers the rare opportunity to watch the sun set over the ocean on the East Coast. Grab a bottle of wine and a big blanket and hit up Menemsha’s array of seafood establishments for to-go treats to eat in the sand. Crowd favorites include The Bite, Larsen’s Fish Market and Menemsha Fish Market.
This is the perfect meal to combine with a quick trip to the Aquinnah lighthouse, a popular nearby attraction. Note that several spots, like The Bite, close an hour before sunset outside absolute peak season, which makes my normal picnic plan tricky. Plan accordingly! And make sure your hands are free of lobster rolls when the sun dips below the horizon, so you can join in with the applause.
A Few Final Notes
Restaurants on the Vineyard are, on the whole, expensive — but high quality. My negative dining experiences on the island have been extremely limited, with only two meals standing out as true tragedies (Seafood Shanty in Edgartown was overpriced and underwhelming, while Sandbar in Oak Bluffs was inedible — yet both spots, admittedly, are good for a drink).
Weekend dinner reservations are more or less essential in the summer. Opening hours and days vary by season with many restaurants closing down entirely through the winter. Shoulder season can be a great time to score reservations at popular spots right after opening for the spring or right before closing down for the winter.
Parking can be an issue — we walk to every restaurant listed in Oak Bluffs and occasionally ride bikes to those in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven to avoid it. Otherwise, the island’s public bus system is simple, efficient, and affordable, making it a great option if you want to have a few drinks, and/or avoid parking issues. Cabs are few and far between and thus expensive.
Did I miss any of your favorite Vineyard eateries? Which restaurant would you head to if you were island-bound? See you in the comments!
If you’d like to see Martha’s Vineyard through my eyes, my family’s historic Oak Bluffs gingerbread cottage is available for weekly rentals. We renovated each room by hand and I’d love to share its magic with you!
Update: Travel Blog Success was merged with Superstar Blogging by Nomadic Matt. It’s an equally impressive course that I plan to take and review eventually — click here to take it yourself!
I rarely stop yacking about how Travel Blog Success helped me make Alex in Wanderland what it is today — a financially successful and creatively fulfilling travel blog that just celebrated its fourth anniversary. It’s the first thing I recommend to those who write to me for blogging advice, and was instrumental in getting me to where I am now! Our secret member’s Facebook group gives me daily inspiration, feedback, and hearty laughs. Yes, the warmest community in travel blogging is on sale now!