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Like everything else on the island, food on the Vineyard isn’t cheap, but it does include restaurants to rival any on the mainland.
Taken as either verb or noun, Lure Grill (The Winnetu Resort, 31 Dunes Rd., 508/627-3663, www.winnetu.com/dining.htm, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily May–Oct.; 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily Nov.–April., $18–29) lives up to its name. The elegant modern nautical setting tempts diners with an equally elegant and seaworthy cuisine—whether its briny local oysters on ice dressed with pink peppercorn and pineapple, butter-poached lobster, or a simple classic grilled tuna filet.
Historic sea captain’s houses may be a dime a dozen in Edgartown, but you won’t find many serving food like that whipped up at Atria (137 Main St., 508/627-5850, www.atriamv.com, 5 p.m.–11 p.m. daily May–Oct.; 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Nov.–April; hours vary in Jan., $30–42). The globally inspired menu revolves around dishes like foie gras with vanilla French toast, prosciutto-wrapped island cod, and duck confit with spicy plum sauce. The intimate brick cellar bar is a quiet spot for dessert, a nightcap, or post-prandial flirtation.
Reasonable prices, unpretentious but pretty decor, and the très authentic hand of a Lyon-trained French chef have kept Le Grenier (96 Main St., 508/693-4906, www.legrenierrestaurant.com, 5 p.m.–10:30 p.m. daily April–Nov.; 5 p.m.–9 p.m. daily Dec.–March, $23–34) going strong for more than two decades. Well-executed warhorses like duck à l’orange, frogs legs Provençal—not to mention a killer crème caramel—make no mystery of the spot’s success. BYOB.
Easily the most famous Vineyard restaurant is The Black Dog Tavern (21 Beach St. Extension, 508/693-9223, www.theblackdog.com, 7 a.m.–11 a.m., noon–4 a.m., 5 p.m.–10 p.m. daily June–Sept.; call for off-season hours, $14–31), next to the ferry staging area in Vineyard Haven, behind the Black Dog bakery-cum-clothing store full of Black Dog brand wearables. The T-shirts have been sighted from Patagonia to Nepal, and if you’re grabbing a snack at the bakery counter, you may marvel that global fame hasn’t brought about tremendous price hikes. The tavern’s prices, on the other hand, are more typical of the island’s best dining spots, although it isn’t one of them—not for dinner, at any rate. Better to come for breakfast, when you can enjoy the harbor view and nautical mementos without breaking the bank. It’s absolutely mobbed in summers; no reservations accepted.
Crushed peanut shells litter the floor at Offshore Ale Co. (Kennebec Ave., 508/693-2626, 11 a.m.–12:30 a.m., Tues.–Sat., 12 p.m.–11 a.m., Sun.–Mon. June–Sept.; hours vary Oct.–May, www.offshoreale.com, $11–32), a warehouse turned brewpub in Oak Bluffs with a nautical decor and friendly atmosphere. Brick-oven pizzas and hamburgers join more substantial fare like fisherman’s stew and porterhouse steak.
Small and crammed with tiny tables and big baskets of wildflowers, Slice of Life (50 Circuit Ave., 508/693-3838, www.sliceoflifemv.com, 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, $10–22) is where tourists convene to kick back over quiche Florentine and thin-crusted pizzas, and where locals pick up takeout (pan-roasted salmon, bagels, and the day’s paper) before heading to the beach.
Whatever you decide to eat for dinner, do as the locals do and skip dessert. Instead, head for one of the island’s many ice cream shops or candy stores. Martha’s Vineyard has more fudge and ice cream shops than you could shake a waffle cone at, but Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (20 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs, 508/696-0008, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Mon.–Sat., March–April; 10 a.m.–9 p.m. daily May–Dec.; www.benandbills.com) has some of the largest selection and richest character. Drop into the dark-walled interior for a handful of candy from the old-fashioned bins (gummy sharks, perhaps, or cashew brittle, or any of the 20-plus flavors of salt water taffy), or just grab some of the cold stuff (in flavors from chai tea to peanut butter).
Beach Plum Inn (50 Beach Plum Ln., Menemsha, 508/645-9454, www.beachpluminn.com, 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; closed Sun.; call for off-season hours, $30–42, three-course prix fixe $50) has earned a permanent space among the island’s most amour-inducing spots. That’s largely thanks to the intoxicating sunsets seen over the abutting harbor, but also to dishes like hazelnut-crusted halibut and wild salmon napoleon with ginger-cashew glaze. BYOB.
On the opposite end of the amenities spectrum sits The Bite (29 Basin Rd., Menemsha, 508/645-9239, www.thebitemenemsha.com, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., closed Sun. June–Sept.; closed off-season, $5–30), doling out what may just be the island’s best fried fish from what could only be described as a hut. Fried clams are succulent and greaseless; the fish-and-chips is flaky, juicy, and feather-light. Order at the door and stake your seat at the picnic tables next door.
© Michael Blanding and Alexandra Hall from Moon New England, 2nd Edition