It’s summer in New England and that means it’s time for people to hit their favorite vacation spots. For some that means the lakes of New Hampshire. For others, it’s the coast of Maine. Some prefer the cool mountain air of the Berkshires. Then there’s the Cape and Islands. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard have been tourist attractions since the late 19th century. Nantucket especially has become known for its preppy culture symbolized by the famous Nantucket Red pants. It also is overflowing with restaurants, many of which aren’t worth your money. So for this week, we thought we’d offer some delicious food spots that’ll have you blending in like a local rather than standing out like a tourist.
Downyflake: This breakfast spot located near the middle of the island has been a staple of Nantucket life since the 1930s. Downyflake offers a variety of breakfast and lunch options and many locals eat there often. It’s also one of the few reasonably priced dining options on the island. The star attraction at Downyflake is the doughnuts. The homemade cake doughnuts are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The best time to get them is early in the morning when they’re still hot and the chocolate frosting is still just a bit warm, so it runs down the sides.
Black Eyed Susan’s: This downtown institution is open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast features a range of standard staples like pancakes, eggs, and French toast. There are also delicious homemade creations like the Portuguese or Spicy Thai scrambles. The dinner menu is small and locally sourced. Options include Rainbow Trout pate, linguini with local quahogs, and posole with braised pork shoulder. Black Eyed Susan’s doesn’t have a liquor license, so patrons are encouraged to bring their own booze. They also don’t take credit cards and don’t start taking reservations until 6:00 P.M. So if you want a table, you have to put your name in early.
Something Natural: Tucked away off the Cliff Road, Something Natural offers something that few Nantucket restaurants can offer—ample parking. They also have delicious sandwiches on homemade breads. They offer half and full-sized sandwiches, though I’m not sure how anyone could eat one of their full-sized sandwiches. Their standout bread is the Portuguese bread. This bread, brought to Nantucket by Portuguese sailors, has a chewy crust and dense internal texture. It goes great with sandwiches, clam chowders, and other seafood dishes. Grocery stores on the island often sell out of Something Natural bread by mid-day so you have to get it early or go to the storefront on Cliff Road.
Pi Pizza: Before the arrival of Pi on the island in 2006, pizza options on Nantucket were pretty limited. There was Steamboat Pizza by the wharf that sold New York style pizza and that’s about it. Pi, with its wood fired oven and Neapolitan recipes, offered a breath of fresh air. Pi has become so popular that you have to call ahead—like hours ahead—to order for the night. Generally, we call at lunch time to put in our order for dinner. The Rustica pizza with arugula, stracchino cheese, and pancetta is a particular highlight. Pi also has an extensive dine-in menu with Italian classics, but we’ve always just picked up our pizza and headed back to the beach.
|The Cisco Brewery|
Cisco Brewery: In recent years, Nantucket has become home to its very own brewery, Cisco Brewers. Based out in the southern part of the island, Cisco has a variety of beers including the Grey Lady (named after Nantucket’s nickname), a wheat ale; Whale’s Tale Pale Ale; Sankaty Light Lager, and Indie Pale Ale. They have a variety of seasonals including summer and winter lagers. The Brewery itself also hosts tours, music performances, and at least two food trucks. If you don’t mind the crowd that gathers there pretty much every day then you’ll be in for a good time.
The Juice Bar: No trip to Nantucket would be complete without a stop at the Juice Bar. This island ice cream spot, located just up from the Steamship Authority dock, has at least 20 flavors available at any time and all are made onsite. They also make their waffle cones fresh throughout the day. There’s nothing like cold ice cream nestled in the warmth of a freshly made waffle cone. The line at the Juice Bar gets crazy at night, so the afternoon is the best time to go.