Where (and What) to Eat on Martha's Vineyard This Summer

Photo: Courtesy of Larsen's Fish Market

Divided into six towns over 100 square miles, Martha's Vineyard has a restaurant scene more accurately described as "charming" than "bustling." Of course, high-end eateries abound, but the Vineyard doesn't have the same buttoned-up vibe of its Nantucket counterpart. The Vineyard is cool and casual, which is exactly what makes it so appealing to the celebrities and socialites who flock there each summer (among them, the Obamas, the Clintons, and Oprah). Foodies, take note — sustainable agriculture is deeply embedded in the local ethos, a principle buoyed by the island's farms that supply produce to markets and year-round residents. The ocean itself is a source of constant inspiration for island chefs and food purveyors in the form of fresh-off-the-boat fish and seafood from local fishermen.

Put simply, people living on the Vineyard eat well — really well — especially in the summer, when the island's bounty is at its peak. For those visiting, this guide offers the lowdown on the best eats in all six towns. (Just don't tell the locals we said so.)

Larsen’s Fish Market, Menemsha

Larsen's Fish Market, a seasonal staple, hands down takes the top spot on this list. Located up-island in the storied fishing village of Menemsha, this charming little locale encompasses all that's magical about Martha's Vineyard: beautiful views and amazing food served in a modest setting. Everything is cooked to order, with lobsters being the star of this show, alongside a raw bar of oysters, littlenecks, and cherrystone clams.

Opened in 1969 by Louis and Mary Larsen, this family-owned business also has a Vineyard Haven location, called The Net Result. This enclave's picnic-table seating is usually maxed out during the lunchtime rush, but if you get your order to go, take your food across the lot for lagoon-side views and a little seclusion.

Insider Tip: Larsen's is BYOB, so bring a bottle (or two) of your favorite rosé and sit at one of the makeshift lobster-trap tables to watch the fishermen deliver their catch to shore.

Courtesy of Larsen's Fish Market

Red Cat Kitchen, Oak Bluffs

With a rotating menu that offers a variety of locally sourced dishes, Red Cat Kitchen is in a league of its own. From the Menemsha mackerel to sweet corn risotto to fried chicken and grits, the food is as eclectic (and delicious) as it sounds. Treat yourself to the fresh basil gimlet or a John Daly. Red Cat Kitchen is an intimate venue with limited seating, so reservations are recommended.

Insider Tip: Located off Kennebec Avenue, parallel to Oak Bluffs' main drag, Red Cat Kitchen can be tough to find. Keep your eyes peeled for the "Ken 'n' Beck" sign.

Grace Episcopal Church Lobster Rolls (Fridays Only), Vineyard Haven

There's something sinfully delicious about getting down and dirty at Grace Church's Friday night lobster roll dinner. For a bargain price you won't find in restaurants, the meal includes a lobster roll, chips, a drink, and a slice of watermelon (when in season). Hot dogs and pie also grace the menu, and a portion of food sales are donated to the island's community organizations and nonprofits. By far the best deal in town, each lobster roll is packed full of meat and can be eaten in the church's mess hall, or boxed to-go.

Insider Tip: Get there early to avoid the line. Order your roll to go and walk to Owen Park Beach, just five minutes away. The dinner is held every Friday in the summer,through September, from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Back Door Donuts, Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs is home to what is arguably one of the best bakeries on the planet. Located next to the post office, the Front Bakery Café is a great place to grab a quick cup of coffee and an old-fashioned doughnut during the day. Then, at night, take a walk around the corner to the back of the shop and behold Back Door Donuts. The cue starts around 7 p.m. and closes around 10 p.m., keeping true to the bakery's historical tradition of serving late-night doughnuts. Mostly known for their king-sized apple fritters, the nocturnal shop also earns rave reviews for customer favorites like Boston cream and maple-bacon doughnuts and their signature iced lattes.

Insider Tip: Everything is good here, especially the fritters. Bring your own hand wipes — you're going to need them!

Scottish Bakehouse, West Tisbury

The gluten-free crowd can rejoice: Scottish Bakehouse in West Tisbury has your back. With a wide variety of gluten-free options (the banana bread is a local favorite), along with heartier meals like quinoa burgers and quiche, this place has something for everyone. Even their fabled breakfast sandwich — loaded with a fried egg, melted cheese, spinach, a beefsteak tomato slice, red onion rings, and crisp bacon — can be made without gluten. It's no surprise this sandwich landed the runner-up spot in Martha's Vineyard magazine's 2021 Best of the Vineyard list.

Insider Tip: Grab a seat on the front deck and ham it up with the locals, eavesdropping on the town gossip.

7a Foods, West Tisbury

Good things are happening at 7a Foods, making it hard to pinpoint the best one. ​​Let's start with the Liz Lemon sandwich — complete with hot housemade pastrami, turkey, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and potato chips on rye bread — a mouthful that would render Liz, herself, speechless. (And that's hard to do!) An idea born out of a small farm stand, this restaurant's farm-to-table menu changes daily, reflecting the locally sourced ingredients available. All their meat is antibiotic- and hormone-free, and all dishes are made from scratch.

Insider Tip: From locally produced sea salt, to a wide variety of island-made jams, 7a Foods sells an abundance of foodie souvenirs to take home.

The Newes From America Pub, Edgartown

Dark and utterly delightful, The Newes From America Pub is a seasonal favorite, serving up hearty dishes like poutine potato tots, lobster penne pasta, and flatbreads with a plethora of toppings. Nothing beats their signature fish and chips (fried haddock, kale slaw, and tartar sauce), especially when washed down with one of the many regional microbrews on tap.

Insider Tip: Call ahead to ask about their live music schedule. Local artists play often for the late-dinner crowd.

Chilmark General Store, Chilmark

So, here's the thing with the Chilmark General Store: Yes, it's iconic, and yes, it has been frequented by Larry David when he's in town. But this stomping ground is not just a general store; it's also a local gathering place. Hang out on the wraparound porch with a good book and bottle of wine, and let the dog days of summer pass you by. The Chilmark General Store also serves delectable pizza, ​​complete with imported meat toppings. The meat-averse should try the White and Green pizza, topped with kale, spinach, and fresh mozzarella. Carnivores should head straight toward the sausage- and pepperoni-topped Stonewall pie.

Insider Tip: If you want to make friends with the lifeguards who patrol the area's secluded beaches, a slice of pizza from the store just might be your ticket. ​​

Little House Café, Vineyard Haven

The quaint Little House Cafe boasts one of the boldest menus in town. Located off State Road in the business district of Vineyard Haven, the cozy and convivial atmosphere will make you feel like you're in your aunt's favorite dining room. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. Lunch specialties include the curried mango chicken sandwich and the muffaletta pressed sandwich, with mortadella, peppered salami, olive tapenade, goat cheese, and arugula. The cafe also serves a wide variety of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.

Insider Tip: Save room for the extensive homemade dessert menu.

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