It was only a few weeks ago when we were digging our toes in the sand in Martha’s Vineyard, but feels like a lifetime since school has started and I’m back to work. One of the things I love most about the Vineyard is how much there is to do, and more importantly, eat. With only a week on the island I tried to make every meal count. The food reminds be of being in Europe or other places where everything is homemade, with natural, and often locally grown ingredients.
Last year I made a list of my favorite foods on the Vineyard, but I was still able to come up with a whole new list for 2013 of my favorite eating experiences.:
Fresh baked bread — Oh my. I’m a carb whore. I know white flour is no good so at home I almost never eat bread that doesn’t have some wheat or grains in it. But the Portuguese and Sour dough bread on the Vineyard is worth breaking all the rules. You can probably try any local bakery but we ate several kinds from the West Tisbury farmer’s market and Cronig’s Market on State Road in Vineyard Haven. Cronig’s carries a variety of Pain d’Avignon breads (ferried over every morning from Hyannis) that are to die for. I highly recommend the rosemary sour dough dipped in olive oil. I’m swooning just thinking about it.
Seafood – We like to set aside a night to pick up fresh fish from a local market to cook at home. There are myriad choices but we went with lobsters, steamers and chowder from the Net Result in Vineyard Haven. The ruddy kids running the counter know their filets and can help you decide what to get, how much to order, and how to cook it. The seafood tasted like it was caught a few hours before, which is completely possible.
State Road— Wilson’s birthday fell during our vacation week so we had an adults-only meal with friends at arguably the best restaurant on the island, State Road. It’s a small place, with two rooms set in a restored barn, giving it a rustic feel. It’s fine dining, but very low key. There’s no dress code, very little décor and minimal candlelight but feels cozy. The menu of farm-to-table offerings is simple but filled with unusual, tantalizing options. We ordered strategically so we could all taste as much as possible and none of the delicious plates disappointed. Among our favorites were the corn soup with lobster, quahog fritters, and pan roasted duck breast. Amazing desserts included a berry cobbler and solid bar of dark chocolate with pistachios and sea salt. Explosions of yum in every bite. Make sure to call ahead for a reservation.
Sharky’s Cantina—If so much seafood is sending you overboard, sample a cerveza and chimichanga at Sharky’s. This Mexican tavern–with locations in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs— is perfect for families. It has a huge menu to satisfy picky kids and health-conscious adults and won’t break the bank. Make sure you order the guacamole and a watermelon margarita.
Humphreys Bakery sandwiches— Want to picnic on the beach? Humphrey’s has been serving up sammys on the island for more than 50 years. The menu of this old school shop looks like it hasn’t changed since the 70’s and why should it? The sandwiches start with thick homemade breads and generous helpings of meat. My chicken salad was excellent and Wilson loved their signature Turkey Gobbler, teeming with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Call ahead to avoid the lines.
Art Cliff Diner— There was a lot of hype surrounding this tiny spot in Vineyard Haven—between the foody awards and constant crowd outside its door. I can tell you firsthand the Art Cliff deserves every accolade. There’s an old-fashioned counter and maybe 15 tables, packed with plates of gourmet brunch food. The thick French toast was cooked to perfection, the Nutella and banana crepe sublime, but it was the egg frittata with sausage, asparagus, and brie that knocked our socks off. It was, by far, my kids’ favorite meal. There was not a morsel left on any plate. The wait is crazy so I recommend you put your name in early and walk around Vineyard Haven to pass the time, but remember it closes at 2pm.
Back Door Donuts—I had heard the legend of this Oak Bluffs mainstay but didn’t understand why people would line up in a dingy parking lot to wait for baked goods at all hours of the day and night. Until I tried the apple fritter. I don’t even like fruit in my pastry but I flipped for that fritter. Sweet, doughy, warm and gooey. The donuts weren’t bad either. Mmmmmm.
Now I’m hungry! Would love to hear your Vineyard food favs in the comments.