PRINT PREVIEW
send to printer

Concierge.com

Massachusetts Restaurants

21 Federal
21 Federal Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 2121
www.21federal.com

A mainstay of the Nantucket dining scene since 1985, this handsome, romantic cluster of rooms in a restored 1847 house is one of the toughest reservations in season (though Tommy Hilfiger doesn't seem to have a problem getting a table). But judging from a dinner visit, the people-watching might be a bigger draw than the food. Stick to the reliable and ever-popular surf-and-turf—a grilled half lobster with braised short ribs. The bar at 21 (as the regulars abbreviate it) is a popular gathering place after the kitchen closes, and the outdoor back bar is a little-known island highlight.

Dinner only. Open mid-May through mid-October.

Abba
89 Old Colony Way
Orleans , Massachusetts
02563
Tel: 508 255 8144
www.abbarestaurant.com

Abba's fusion of Israeli and Asian cuisine—on Cape Cod, of all places—is as good as it is unusual. And it's been drawing crowds. Israeli chef and co-owner Erez Pinhas is equally confident pairing poached lobster with Masaman curry as he is marinating lamb in a ras el hanout spice blend, and the wine list is long and global, with a focus on Israeli wines. The unassuming exterior of this converted barn belies the minimalist (and snug) interior lit by flickering candles in Moroccan tea glasses. There's also a covered outdoor seating area that's roomier—a better option when the weather's good. Reservations are encouraged; call a week ahead for dinner on summer weekends.

Open daily 5 to 10 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day; Tuesdays through Saturdays 5 to 9 pm the rest of the year.

Alchemy
71 Main Street
Edgartown , Massachusetts
02539
Tel: 508 627 9999

This buzzy (sometimes to the point of earsplitting) bistro with polished wood floors, French café-style rattan chairs, and large front windows seems more SoHo than Edgartown. But locals love the converted onetime grocery store for its eclectic menu—wild mushroom risotto balls, braised short ribs, gnocchi, burgers, just-plucked-from-the-water steamers, and lobster shepherd's pie—and because everyone drops in here, especially when the Red Sox game is on.

American Seasons
80 Centre Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 7111
www.americanseasons.com

With its harvest-scene murals and tables painted in quilt-style patterns, this "regional and seasonal" restaurant evokes old-fashioned Americana. (Sometimes to a fault—the rustic sign outside is so faded that you might miss the place.) Chef Michael LaScola organizes the new American menu into three culinary regions. For "Pacific Coast" he might spice-rub a Long Island duck breast and stuff dumplings with Nantucket-grown shitake mushrooms and foie gras. In a signature "New England" dish, he interprets fish and chips as potato-wrapped rare yellowfin tuna with crushed English peas and lemon confit. And for "Down South and Wild West," he might whip up a smoked tomato and bacon dressing for chicken-fried chicken livers.

Dinner only. Open mid-May through December.

Hotel Photo
Arnold's
3580 State Highway (Route 6)
Eastham , Massachusetts
02642
Tel: 508 255 2575
www.arnoldsrestaurant.com

Arnold's is by far the best of Cape Cod's many clam shacks. Named, regrettably, for the Happy Days diner, it turns out lightly battered shellfish (including whole-belly clams) and truly amazing homemade onion rings piled so high that they're hard to balance on the walk from the counter to your picnic table. The long lines move quickly; credit cards are not accepted.

Restaurant open daily 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, mid-May through Columbus Day; ice cream stand open daily 11:30 am to 10 pm mid-June through mid-September.

Atria
137 Main Street
Edgartown , Massachusetts
02539
Tel: 508 627 5850
www.atriamv.com

Named for a star used by sailors to navigate, Atria is the Vineyard's first certified organic restaurant. Christian Thornton, the chef (and co-owner, along with his wife, Greer), sources ingredients from island farmers and fishermen. He changes the menu daily to reflect what's freshest—lightly seasoning and wok-firing a two-pound lobster caught just off-shore one day, and wrapping cod in prosciutto with a drizzle of lobster and lemon butter the next—but the dish the locals praise the most isn't on the menu at all: the island's best cheeseburger. (The big, juicy burger is available only in the Brick Cellar Bar—a local hangout with leather club chairs, saltwater fish tanks, and live music). The large, reasonably priced wine list emphasizes Napa Valley (Thornton's original home), and in addition to the main dining room—with white tablecloths and rustic wooden chairs—there's outdoor dining on a back deck.

Hotel Photo
B&G Oysters Ltd.
550 Tremont Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02118
Tel: 617 423 0550
www.bandgoysters.com

Chef/owner Barbara Lynch's South End hot spot attracts le tout Boston for excellent lobster rolls and, of course, bivalves, shucked to order and washed down with Prosecco. The room is gorgeous and sexy with its ocean-hued mosaics, mother-of-pearl colors, and flattering spotlights, and the joint is always jumping—so much so that you should be prepared to wait up to two hours for a spot at the bar, and without reservations, it's unlikely you'll get a table. Also check out No. 9 Park, Lynch's first restaurant, on Boston Common (9 Park St.; 617-742-9991), or Menton, her French–Italian hot spot in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood, which was a James Beard Award nominee for best new restaurant in 2011 (354 Congress St.; 617-737-0099).—updated by Jon Marcus

Bina Osteria
581 Washington Street
Boston
Massachusetts 02111
Tel: 617 956 0888
www.binaboston.com

The smarty-pants Italophile would say Bina's sophisticated food and flash make it a ristorante, not an osteria (literally, a bar or tavern), and il bastardo would be right. Never mind the language, though: This downtown newcomer serves some of Boston's most exceptional food. Veteran restaurateurs, siblings Babak Bina and Azita Bina-Seibel, infuse Bina's grand, mostly white, angular dining room with an osteria's casual hospitality, but it's the food that warms up the elegantly modern setting. Pastas—like the gnocchi (squid, clams, chorizo chips, and Meyer lemon confit) and an interpretation of spaghetti carbonara (served with a slow-cooked egg, housemade pancetta, pecorino foam, and chitarra-cut fresh pasta)—are refined and skillfully composed. And, while quail roasted on a bed of smoldering hay and herbs might sound gimmicky, it is, in fact, rustic and damn good.—Charles Kelsey, first published on Gourmet.com

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays 5 to 10:30 pm, and Sundays 10:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm.

Black Dog Tavern
20 Beach Road Extension
Vineyard Haven , Massachusetts
02568
Tel: 508 693 9223
www.theblackdog.com

Less known for its food than for the T-shirt Bill Clinton gave Monica (which set off a run on its famous apparel), this island icon has become a touristy cliché—the Hard Rock Café for the Vineyard set. The wait in summer can top an hour, and nary a diner leaves without a black-Lab-emblazoned souvenir from the gift shop, which peddles everything from tote bags to ice buckets. If you must, go for breakfast—the Black Dog has the area's largest menu of omelets—and be sure to snag a seat on the deck for the harbor views. At other times of day, the kitchen turns out serviceable seafood, burgers, chowders, and its famous Blackout Cake.

Black-Eyed Susan's
10 India Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 325 0308
black-eyedsusans.com

Even fancy folks like John and Teresa Heinz Kerry have been known to wait on line for one of the 32 seats at this funky, diner-like café. The lines are especially long for Sunday brunch—the best on the island. Chef Jeff Worster (formerly of Citrus and Tulipe in Los Angeles) works his magic in the tiny open kitchen, changing the dinner menu every three weeks. His dishes span the globe: You might find tandoori chicken, southwestern red-pepper and chile soup, and a couple of Thai choices. Breakfast (served until 1 pm) is exceptional—especially the sourdough French toast with pecans and orange-Jack Daniel's butter. Credit cards are not accepted, and it's BYOB.

Open early April through October.

Blue Inc.
131 Broad Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02110
Tel: 617 261 5353
www.blueincboston.com

In a town that doesn't usually go for flashy, Blue Inc. is an ostentatious exception to the rule. Chef Jason Santos is a Hell's Kitchen regular who doesn't so much cook food as invent it: smoldering salsa, a gel that transforms into noodles when it's dipped in broth, "hot" ice cream. The honey-and-hoisin-glazed duck confit and pork loin with spicy chipotle cornbread pudding are standouts on the dinner menu. Even the bar mixes up concoctions that seem less cocktail than chemistry. (The bar manager's title is "mad scientist.") The space was designed by Taniya Nayak, host of some—and frequent guest on other—HGTV shows. A meal here is not only fun and entertaining, it's good, with enthusiastic service and constant surprises, including milk shakes that come with a "crust" to poke your straw through.—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to midnight, Saturdays 5 pm to midnight. Bar open Mondays through Saturdays from 4 pm.

Boarding House
12 Federal Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 325 7109
boardinghouse-pearl.com/boardinghouse_nantucket.html

Compared to sister restaurant the Pearl, the Boarding House is more traditional in both decor and cuisine and has a more casual tone (encouraged by the lively bar). Unfortunately, the wait for a table is only slightly shorter. There's outdoor seating, but given the line of hungry diners wrapping awkwardly around it, request a table inside. The kitchen turns out simple, organic, largely local ingredients (principally fish and shellfish) prepared with Asian and Mediterranean influences, such as grilled swordfish with creamy eggplant; walnut-crusted salmon in a roasted tahini sauce; and seared sea scallops with asparagus, sunchoke, and jasmine rice cakes. For dessert, do as the locals do and order the cinnamon-sugar doughnuts with melted chocolate. The night doesn't end after the kitchen closes—this is where the staff members of other restaurants congregate after work.

Open May through September.

The Bramble Inn
2019 Main Street (Route 6A)
Brewster , Massachusetts
02631
Tel: 508 896 7644
www.brambleinn.com

The Bramble Inn offers traditional Cape Cod dining at its best: fresh, local ingredients prepared and served in a 19th-century farmhouse. The four-course prix-fixe menu (around $60, depending on what's being served) changes every three weeks and is influenced mainly by the chef-owners' off-season travels. (The unusual specialty of boneless roasted chicken and shelled lobster drizzled with Champagne sauce is, however, consistently available.) Seafood comes from neighboring Chatham, and many of the vegetables and herbs are plucked from the owners' daughter's garden. There are four dining rooms, but ask for a table overlooking the Inn's backyard garden in the equestrian-themed Hunt Room (landing a table facing the constant whir of traffic on Route 6A will sap the romance from your meal). If you're not up for four courses, you can order from the (still pricey) à la carte bistro menu or the bar menu in the courtyard garden or Bay Side bar. If you like your meal so much that you don't want to leave, the inn also has five guest rooms furnished with canopy beds and antiques, with Wi-Fi and smallish bathrooms; breakfast for overnight guests is surprisingly plain. Reservations are encouraged; call several days in advance for dinner on summer weekends.

Open daily from 5 pm, mid-June through October; Wednesdays through Sundays, mid-April through mid-June; and open overnight and for dinner, Thanksgiving weekend and New Year's Eve.

Brotherhood of Thieves
23 Broad Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 2551
brotherhoodofthieves.com

Reopened in 2001 after a fire, this friendly 1840s whaling bar in the basement of a Federal-style house is great for lunch and notable for its native quahog clam chowder, charbroiled burgers, and famous curly fries, which are thin, not too greasy, and perfectly salted. Lubricated by pints of local Whale's Tale Pale Ale and Dark and Stormy cocktails, residents and visitors mix easily here (a rarity in Nantucket town during the summer). Waits for a table are long at lunchtime, but a seat at the bar is more fun, anyway.

The Chanticleer
9 New Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02564
Tel: 508 257 4499
www.thechanticleer.net

When the Chanticleer closed its doors in 2004 after three decades of serving the hautest French cuisine on the island, old-guard Nantucketers wrung their hands in despair. How could any restaurant ever replace the Chanti, an ivy-covered Sconset landmark that turned out perfect poisson grille and canard rôti? Luckily for them—and everyone else—Susan Handy and Jeff Worster, who reopened the Chanticleer in 2006, know exactly what they're doing. Worster and Handy (of Black Eyed Susan's, one of the hottest tables downtown) have preserved the classic French bent of the menu, but given it a less fussy, more modern spin. Alongside moules frites and steak au poivre are more adventurous dishes such as wild king salmon with coq au vin ravioli, and light-as-air cod beignets made with beer batter and served with red pepper aioli. The vibe has mellowed, too; while old-schoolers will still feel comfortable in their seersucker suits, jackets (and snooty attitudes) are no longer required.

Open June through October, closed Mondays in spring and fall; call ahead.

Chez Henri
1 Shepard Street
Porter Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
02318
Tel: 617 354 8980
www.chezhenri.com

Chez Henri, located between Harvard and Porter squares, looked to Cuba to spice up its traditional bistro fare, so prepare to enjoy a Mojito with your steak frites. But skip the formal dining room, which can feel like an extension of the Harvard faculty dining hall—stuffed with tweed jackets, outdated sweater sets, and theoretical conversation. Instead, settle in at one of the few tables in the more relaxed, sometimes boisterous bar area, where the separate, wallet-friendly menu includes a perfectly pressed Cubano and warm spinach salad with duck tamale.—updated by Jon Marcus

Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Sundays 5:30 to 9:30 pm.

Chillingsworth
2449 Main Street
Brewster , Massachusetts
02631
Tel: 508 896 3640
www.chillingsworth.com

Julia Child celebrated several of her birthdays at this antique-filled, 17th-century home, and it gets our vote for the best restaurant on Cape Cod. Service is flawless throughout the seven-course dinner of impeccably prepared French and American cuisine. Your meal might include escargots on grilled brioche, foie gras salad drizzled with truffle vinaigrette, lamb dressed in a tomato-olive-caper relish, or basil-crusted slow-baked salmon. Depending on the weather, predinner cocktails are served in the garden or around a cracking fireplace. Both the mood and the menu are less formal in the Bistro (where lunch and Sunday brunch are also served). Reservations are essential for dinner and brunch; call at least a week ahead of time in summer.

Open Mondays and Tuesdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Wednesdays through Sundays 11 am to 3 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, mid-May through November.

Clio
Eliot Hotel
370 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
02215
Tel: 617 536 7200
www.cliorestaurant.com

Put simply, Clio chef Ken Oringer is one of the best in America. His French–Asian hybrids (heavy on the French) astonish everyone, however jaded. Reading the menu clues you in: cassolette of lobster and sea urchin with yuzu and Japanese pepper; lacquered foie gras with sweet-and-sour lemon and bee pollen; roast suckling pig with fresh bacon-and-endive confit. The setting is elegant, the service, flawless. Consequently, Clio, in the Eliot Hotel can be one tough table to score, especially on a weekend. Book ahead, or try Oringer's other spots—all very different from this and one another—including Uni a sashimi bar, just a few steps away, in a corner of the Eliot; Toro a Spanish-style tapas restaurant in the South End (1704 Washington St., 617-536-4300) Coppa a South End enoteca (253 Shawmut Ave., 617-391-0902), KO Prime a steakhouse inside the Nine Zero Hotel (90 Tremont St., 617-772-0202,), or La Verdad a Mexican taqueria near Fenway Park (1 Lansdowne St., 617-351-2580).—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

Company of the Cauldron
5 India Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 4016
www.companyofthecauldron.com

The candlelit tables fill up quickly at this tiny, refined restaurant where a harpist serenades the dinner crowd three nights a week. The prix-fixe dinner menu changes daily (it's posted on the Web site a week in advance), but loyal followers know that whatever chef All Kovalencik makes is bound to be good. Recent dishes have included pan-seared halibut over avocado salad with a coriander vinaigrette and Maine lobster-and-leek stuffed crepe with smoked shiitake emulsion. The portions are large and the prices (comparatively) reasonable, starting at $50 per person. There are either one or two seatings per night.

Dinner only. Open mid-April through mid-October.

Dunbar Tea Shop
1 Water Street
Sandwich , Massachusetts
02563
Tel: 508 833 2485
www.dunbarteashop.com

Located in a 1740 carriage house, the Dunbar Tea Shop is an Anglophilic oddity that serves imported teas, finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, and the like in a dainty room that looks like your grandmother's kitchen. There's also a gift shop that sells British jams, clotted cream, teas, and chutneys.

Open daily 11 am to 4:30 pm.

Hotel Photo
Front Street
230 Commercial Street
Provincetown , Massachusetts
02657
Tel: 508 487 9715
www.frontstreetrestaurant.com

While there are many restaurants in Provincetown, there are surprisingly few standouts. Front Street is a reliable mainstay that serves both Continental cuisine—filet mignon and swordfish surf-and-turf, for example—and Italian salads, pastas, and mains. There's a very good wine list, and the breadth of the menu is surprising, given the restaurant's small size: You'll find it in the low-ceilinged basement of an old Victorian at the end of an alley. Expect to squeeze past people at the bar to get a spot at the usually packed booths and tables, and don't be surprised if service is brusque. Reservations are encouraged at least a day or two ahead of time in summer; while tables open up occasionally for walk-ins, there's limited room to wait at the bar.

Open Wednesdays through Mondays 6 pm to 10 pm, mid-May through mid-October.

Hamersley's Bistro
553 Tremont Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02116
Tel: 617 423 2700
www.hamersleysbistro.com

A mainstay since 1987, Hamersley's Bistro has been serving up unpretentious, seasonal French cuisine since before most of the other restaurants on this list existed. In a wood-beamed dining room in a South End neighborhood that has gradually become one of Boston's hippest, chef Gordon Hamersley serves up the requisite pâtés, cassoulets, and soufflés, and his roasted garlic chicken has achieved cult status. All dishes use ingredients from local farms and fishermen—even mushrooms foraged in the fields of western Massachusetts. While Hamersley has won awards from James Beard, Food & Wine, and countless others, perhaps the biggest tribute to him is the success of the chefs he trained in his kitchen: Jody Adams, now the chef–owner of the equally renowned Rialto, and Steve Johnson, who took over as sous chef when Adams left and now owns and runs the Mediterranean-influenced Rendezvous in Cambridge's Central Square (502 Massachusetts Ave.; 617-576-1900).—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Fridays from 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Sundays 11 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 9:30 pm. Closed first week of January.

Hotel Photo
The Impudent Oyster
15 Chatham Bars Avenue
Chatham , Massachusetts
02633
Tel: 508 945 3545

This simple, boxy restaurant makes up for what it lacks in decoration by packing in a lively crowd that seems to fill it to the (very high) rafters. The creative menu gives a global spin to the local catch, such as seafood Fra Diavolo over fettucine or sesame-soy-ginger-marinated tuna fillet, pan-seared with a sesame crust. The central Chatham location attracts both regulars and visitors, and the service is friendly and familiar. Reservations are encouraged, but it's also fun to eat or wait at the genial bar.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Sundays noon to 3 pm and 5 to 9:30 pm.

Inaho
157 Route 6A
Yarmouthport , Massachusetts
02675
Tel: 508 362 5522
www.inahocapecod.com

Inaho prepares its fish in a way not typical of Cape Cod: raw. The ultrafresh sushi and sashimi is served in a dining room with shoji screens and woven mats behind the deceptive facade of a colonial-style house in Yarmouthport. There's also an extensive sake selection.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 4:30 to 10 pm.

Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
02215
Tel: 617 532 5300
islandcreekoysterbar.com

Boston has gone nutty for oysters, and among the many local favorites are the ones harvested by Island Creek Oysters in the South Shore seaside town of Duxbury. In addition to the spread from a top-flight raw bar, the Island Creek Oyster Bar at the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square serves chef Jeremy Sewall's distinctive New England–style comfort dishes. Sewall's cousin in Maine supplies the lobster, the owner's mother provided the seafood stew recipe, and the chef brings creativity to dishes such as seared Scituate scallops in a roasted mushroom ragù with lentil and lobster cream. All of this plus a buzzing bar scene means there can sometimes be a wait for a table. Sewall's other fine-dining restaurant, Lineage, is just a few blocks away (242 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-232-0065).—Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Saturdays 4 pm to 1 am, Sundays 10:30 am to 1 am.

L'Étoile
22 North Water Street
Edgartown , Massachusetts
02539
Tel: 508 627 5187
www.letoile.net

For 20 years, chef Michael Brisson served his creative New French cuisine in the formal dining room deep inside the Charlotte Inn, in an equally formal prix fixe format. In the spring of 2006, though, Brisson decamped for more contemporary quarters in the town center a few blocks away, and in the process liberated his menu as well. The prix fixe is still around, spotlighting classic dishes such as seared four-spice-crusted duck foie gras and sautéed Dover sole filet, but you can now order à la carte. There's a moderately priced bar menu, too, with dishes including lobster ceviche, quail, Cornish game hen, and braised short ribs. Although many are meticulously crafted from local and seasonal ingredients, L'Etoile occasionally breaks with the Vineyard restaurant trend of focusing on what's been raised or grown on-island, incorporating such global tastes as Australian lamb rack chops and Israeli couscous. Reservations are a must.

Open Thursdays through Sundays July 4 through mid-September

Lattanzi's Pizzeria
Old Post Office Square
Edgartown , Massachusetts
02539
Tel: 508 627 9084
www.lattanzis.com

Albert and Cathy Lattanzi have been feeding crowds at this Edgartown first-come-first-served slice of pizza heaven for 12 years. Their renowned wood-fired, brick-oven pies are piled high with just about any topping combo you can imagine—baby clams, roasted garlic, plum tomatoes, herbed ricotta, black olives, and more. Also on the menu are panini, salads, and gelato. Homemade pastas and breads are dished out at their sophisticated Tuscan-inspired eatery next door.

Open December through October. Closed off-season Sundays and Mondays.

Legal Harborside
Liberty Wharf
270 Northern Avenue
Boston , Massachusetts
02210
Tel: 617 477 2900
legalseafoods.com

The flagship of the Boston-based Legal Sea Foods empire, Legal Harborside is notable for two things in addition to its praiseworthy seafood: its size (at 20,000 square feet, it's the biggest restaurant in Boston) and its location (in the hopping Seaport District, which sprang up seemingly overnight out of what were previously gravel parking lots and freight yards). Most seats in the three-level restaurant offer standout water views. The first floor is a casual all-day clam shack with a bar and fish market. The second is a fine-dining restaurant. The third is a (mostly covered) roof deck with a raw bar and a menu of sandwiches and salads. Legal Harborside is hugely popular, especially with the after-work crowd, but tables turn over fairly quickly. If you're feeling adventurous, stop by Legal Test Kitchen, right across the street: Better known to the locals as LTK, it's where Legal Sea Foods tests new dishes (225 Northern Ave.; 617-330-7430).—Jon Marcus

First floor open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to midnight. Second floor open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm. Third floor open Mondays through Thursdays 4 pm to 1 am, Fridays and Saturdays 2 pm to 1 am.

Locke-Ober
3 Winter Place
Boston , Massachusetts
02108
Tel: 617 542 1340
www.lockeober.com

While its neighborhood has seen better days (it's now blemished with lowbrow shops and vacant lots), arriving at the hidden-away Locke-Ober is like stepping into a time warp. This historic restaurant (it's the city's third-oldest, after Durgin Park and the Union Oyster House) has been serving hearty New England fare to the cream of Boston's crop since 1875. Not much has changed as far as the decor and the menu are concerned—an attentive bow-tied staff picks up dishes like clams casino, JFK lobster stew, Boston scrod, Dover sole, and flaming baked Alaska at a polished-wood bar. What has evolved is the quality of the food. Boston chef Lydia Shire took over the kitchen in 2003 and added artistic presentation to the traditional gentleman's-club cuisine. She slow-roasts duck with tarragon and garlic and pairs it with miso and pea tendrils, for example. Despite the hefty price tag, everyone from deal-making businessmen to couples celebrating special occasions swear by the classic Lobster Savannah—two pounds of lobster meat sautéed with red and green peppers, mushrooms, and a sherry sauce before being returned to its shell. True to its Brahmin roots, Locke-Ober is open only for dinner and closed (how could you even ask?) on Sundays.

Open Mondays through Fridays 5 to 10 pm, Saturdays 5 to 11 pm.

Mad Martha's
117 Circuit Avenue
Oak Bluffs , Massachusetts
02557
Tel: 508 693 9151

Don't be distracted by the other ice cream shops on the Vineyard; there's a reason why Mad Martha's has lines out the door all summer long. The ice cream, made at the Oak Bluffs establishment but also sold in Edgartown (7 North Water St.; 508-627-8761) and Vineyard Haven (20 Union St.; 508-693-5883), comes in more than 20 flavors, including a killer black raspberry and a nutty, not-too-sweet pistachio. Avoid the sundaes, though, unless you're lucky enough to score one of the few tables: They're too gloppy to eat standing up.

Open mid-May through late October.

Marco Cucina Romano
253 Hanover Street, 2nd Floor
Boston , Massachusetts
02113
Tel: 617 742 1276
www.marcoboston.com

In a small second-story storefront overlooking bustling Hanover Street, Marco Cucina Romano is a welcome retreat from the kitsch (hanging grapes, carafes of Chianti, murals of Neapolitan landscapes) prevalent in so many other North End Italian restaurants. In a more rustic approach, drippy candles illuminate a fireplace, large potted plants add a touch of country ambience, and brick walls up the charm—although they can also raise the noise level a few decibels. With his seasonal menus, Marc Orfaly, also the chef–owner of another Boston favorite, Pigalle (75 Charles St.; 617-423-4944), pays homage to the simplicity of Roman-style dishes with his clams oreganato, house-cured salumi, veal saltimbocca, and orecchiette with pancetta, peas, fava beans, and ramps. Portions tend toward the small side, but that just means more room for a cappuccino and the obligatory serving of homemade cannolis.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 11 pm, Sundays 4 to 9:30 pm (family-style dinner menu only).

Hotel Photo
Marion's Pie Shop
2022 Main Street
Chatham , Massachusetts
02633
Tel: 508 432 9439
www.marionspieshopofchatham.com

No visit to Cape Cod is complete without a visit to Marion's Pie Shop. This 60-year-old institution bakes up breakfast treats such as staggeringly good cinnamon buns (seriously, you'll stagger), plus sweet and savory pies, including a seafood variety filled with lobster, scallops, shrimp, and Chatham cod in a cream sherry sauce.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 6 pm, Sundays 8 am to 5 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day; Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 5 pm, Sundays 8 am to 4 pm, the rest of the year.

The Mews
429 Commercial Street
Provincetown , Massachusetts
02657
Tel: 508 487 1500
www.mews.com

Named for the converted stable in which it was originally housed, the Mews is friendly and unpretentious—and serves standout food. You'll find it in Provincetown's quiet East End art-gallery district. The upstairs dining room and bar—done up in mahogany, brass, and stained glass, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Provincetown Harbor—is good for a casual bite from an American bistro-style menu of burgers and pastas, while the beach-level dining room is more romantic and serves global fusion dishes. Specialties include almond- and panko-crusted cod and filet mignon that's as creamy as the béarnaise sauce that comes with it. Service is in keeping with P-town's aloof standards, but you'll hardly notice after sampling a few of the restaurant's 256 varieties of vodka.

Open daily from 6 pm.

Myers + Chang
1145 Washington Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02118
Tel: 617 542 5200
www.myersandchang.com

Like any enfant terrible, chef Joanna Chang had her dessert first: At bakery and café Flour, she seduced Boston with sticky buns and homemade "Oreos." Her follow-up is this kitschy Asian diner she opened with husband Christopher Myers (they met when both worked at Rialto). Unlike the conventional restaurants of Chinatown, Myers + Chang is pure rock 'n' roll, from its location in the perennially cool South End to its blasting soundtrack to its vest-wearing waiters who are quick to recommend a house-made aloe-yuzu soda. Almost all of the dishes on the Chinese-Thai-Vietnamese menu are served family-style, including spicy dan dan noodles, wok-roasted lemongrass mussels, and tea-smoked pork spare ribs. And most ring in under $15, which makes this place a big draw for the area's last few starving artists and budget-conscious young professionals. Which means you'll have time to down a few sake bombs at the bar while you wait for a table. Like dim sum? There's a dim sum brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 11 pm.

The Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar
410 Main St.
Hyannis , Massachusetts
02601
Tel: 508 778 6500
www.nakedoyster.com

With its modern furniture, spun-glass light fixtures, mahogany bar, and tattooed hostesses dressed in black, the Naked Oyster looks as if it had been transplanted straight from Manhattan. The food, however, is decidedly local: Oysters are harvested from the owner's shellfish farm in Barnstable Village, organic produce comes from nearby farms, and the fish was probably caught off the Cape just hours before you ordered it. When former head chef David Kelley left in 2008, sous-chef Rick Orton landed the top job, and the transition appears seamless. The menu of simple but delicious dishes changes weekly to reflect what's freshest and in season, but Orton might be baking panko-crusted native haddock, seafood paella, or Thai shrimp.

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and from 4 pm for dinner, Saturdays from 4 pm for dinner, and Sundays from 11:30 am.

Hotel Photo
Neptune Oyster
63 Salem Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02113
Tel: 617 742 3474
www.neptuneoyster.com

You know a seafood restaurant means business when the menu includes a tower of as many oysters, clams, and shrimp as you and at least five friends can handle (that would be the Neptune Plateau, $95). And you can't go wrong ordering à la carte, either. Choose from 14 types of oysters, steaming New England clam chowder, delicate tuna crudo, and indulgently rich jumbo scallops. The tables and bar stools of this tiny, very popular North End seafood joint fill up between 6 and 6:30 pm, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. When seated, you'll be elbow to elbow with your neighbors, but the vibe is fun.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 11:30 pm.

The Newes From America
23 Kelley Street
Edgartown , Massachusetts
02539
Tel: 508 627 4397
www.kelley-house.com/dining_news_from_america.asp

This colonial-era pub, attached to the Kelley House hotel, is popular in winter for its roaring fireplace and in summer because its stone exterior and wood-beam ceilings make it naturally cooler than anywhere else. It draws locals and visitors alike for its well-prepared basics: onion soup, fried onion rings, fish and chips, and half-pound burgers. The cozy rooms are small and dark, with exposed brick and comfortable cushioned chairs. Some customers, of course, just come for a brew. You can order a "rack" of five drafts to sample the on-tap offerings, but the selection isn't all that exotic—Sam Adams, Harpoon, Anchor Steam, and the like, plus the house beer, Light Newes.

Oleana
134 Hampshire Street
Between Inman Square & Kendall Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
02139
Tel: 617 661 0505
www.oleanarestaurant.com

To experience what farm-to-table really means, come to Oleana during the growing season. Between April and November, almost all the vegetables chef Ana Sortun immaculately prepares are grown on her husband's organic farm in Sudbury, some 20 miles outside the city. Sortun has also earned a devoted following among the artsy intelligentsia for a liberal use of exotic spices in the Eastern Mediterranean–influenced dishes that emerge from her surprisingly tiny open kitchen: A sculpted disc of smoky eggplant purée dotted with pine nuts complements impossibly tender tamarind-glazed beef, and three pieces of spinach falafel sit on top of a flatbread spread thinly with tahini and topped with yogurt, beets, and mâche (cut lengthwise between the fried balls to make individual roll-ups). Like the food, the restaurant blends natural elements, such as wood and stone, with Middle Eastern accents (woven rugs serve as wall hangings). Book ahead when the weather is nice, and ask for a table in the blooming garden. There's also a spin-off bakery and café, Sofra, across town in the Fresh Pond neighborhood of Cambridge (1 Belmont St.; 617-661-3161).

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
O Ya
9 East Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02111
Tel: 617 654 9900
oyarestaurantboston.com

On a side street in the gritty Leather District, O Ya's location is as unconventional as its tantalizingly novel sushi menu. Opt for a counter seat at this industrial-Zen Japanese joint to observe the sushi chefs as they pan-sear foie gras nigiri before topping it with a balsamic-chocolate kabayaki (grilled eel) sauce, or dress thin slices of wild Toyama Bay yellowtail with a mignonette of Thai basil and fried shallots. Dishes from the kitchen are equally inventive, such as crispy shiso (Japanese mint) tempura topped with a bite of succulent grilled lobster, charred tomato, and ponzu aïoli. Of course, such elevated cuisine comes at a lofty price, especially since one person could easily consume five to seven of the small plates (up to $20 apiece). The $140 tasting menu of 14 or 15 sample-size portions isn't necessarily a better value, but it is good for the uninitiated and indecisive. A recent spate of attention—including a Food & Wine Best New Chef award for O Ya's Tim Cushman—makes snagging one of the 37 seats a challenge. Book several weeks in advance for prime-time weekend slots, or inquire at your hotel—the concierge may have an in.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 9:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10 pm.

Oyster Bar Grill
57 Circuit Avenue
Oak Bluffs , Massachusetts
02557
Tel: 508 693 6600
www.oysterbargrillmv.com

Despite its name, the Oyster Bar Grill is a French-influenced American steak house—the place to go when you want to slice into a 16-ounce Delmonico or tender, black pepper–crusted filet au poivre. There's also a raw bar, seafood dishes such as stuffed lobster, and a signature fennel-crusted double-thick pork chop; but the crowd favorite is a side dish: lobster mac and cheese. The high-ceilinged dining room is decorated with works by local painters and sculptors and behind heavy velvet curtains is a hopping bar (Luke Wilson is a regular) with couches and a robust selection of wines and liquors.

The Pearl
12 Federal Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 9701
boardinghouse-pearl.com/pearl_nantucket.html

On an island that abhors flash, the Pearl draws the cream of the see-and-be-seen celebrity crop and the hard-to-get reservations are prized (if you can't snag one, you can still eat at the bar). The dining room is also a stark departure from Nantucket typical—instead of dark wood and antique sideboards, one wall of the urbane, baby-blue space is an aquarium filled with darting tropical fish. The under-the-sea aesthetic complements chef-owner Seth Raynor's Asian-influenced seafood dishes, such as a "martini" of yellowfin tuna, wasabi, and crème fraîche; and tataki of day-boat sea scallops in a Chinese black bean vinaigrette. The spice-crusted, wok-fried local lobster with grilled lime and Asian barbecue sauce is the subject of constant debate—over whether it's Nantucket's finest lobster dish. Korean-style braised short ribs and tenderloin with foie gras–truffle jus will sate carnivores, but it's the fish that really sizzles here. There's also an impressive sake list, and a late-night menu served Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until midnight that includes sashimi and satay.

Dinner only Wednesdays through Sundays, early April through late October; call ahead.

Picnic Supplies on Cape Cod

Planning a picnic? The Brown Jug in Sandwich will pack a basket for you, or you can pick your own fixings from their selection of cheeses, meats, nuts, chocolates, crackers, spreads, fresh-baked breads, prepared sandwiches, and wine. In the mid-Cape, Ferretti's Market, just off Route 6A near several bay-side beaches, makes outstanding sandwiches on fresh bread that are moderately priced and big enough for two. Try the Ferretti Supreme: Genoa salami, cappicola, mortadella, ham, provolone, and pepperoni with pickles, tomatoes, and Italian dressing.

The Brown Jug open daily 6 am to 6 pm.
Ferretti's Market open daily 7 am to 8 pm.

Hotel Photo
The Red Inn
15 Commercial Street
Provincetown , Massachusetts
02657
Tel: 508 487 7334
www.theredinn.com

The Red Inn's 200-year-old dining room in Provincetown's West End is a stunner: Its unparalleled views of Cape Cod Bay, Provincetown's dunes, and Long Point Light have attracted the likes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Mailer, and Isabella Rossellini. The food is good, though not quite as estimable as that guest list: Our dry, bland grilled lobster made us pine for the traditional boiled variety. Indeed, surprisingly for a restaurant in a fishing town, the Red Inn does best with meat dishes, most notably herb-crusted roasted lamb chops. The wine list is quite good, although it's pricey and, inexplicably, arranged in alphabetical order, instead of by variety or region. Ask to be seated away from the bar or large parties, as some of P-town's rambunctious spirit can drown out the conversation at your own table. There are also eight bright and airy guest rooms and suites, most with the same outstanding sea views. Dinner reservations are essential.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Thursdays through Sundays 10 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 9:30 pm, May through early September; Thursdays through Sundays 5:30 to 9:30 pm, early September through November.

The Red Pheasant
905 Main Street (Route 6A)
Dennis , Massachusetts
02638
Tel: 508 385 2133
www.redpheasantinn.com

Located in a 200-year-old barn that still has its original wide-plank floors, exposed beams, and working fireplaces, the family-run Red Pheasant is a New England classic. Although it has a creditable seafood selection, the country-style menu is strong in meats and game—rack of lamb seasoned with port wine, rosemary, and garlic is the not-to-be-missed specialty of the house. Because it operates year-round and doesn't rely on seasonal help, the staff is experienced and knowledgeable—especially about the wine list, which focuses on Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, and California labels.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5 to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10 pm, mid-April through mid-October; Tuesdays through Thursdays 5 to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 10 pm, and Sundays 5 to 9 pm, mid-October through mid-April.

The Regatta
4631 Falmouth Road (Route 28)
Cotuit , Massachusetts
02635
Tel: 508 428 5715
www.regattaofcotuit.com

Housed in a 200-year-old mansion with low beamed ceilings and creaky wooden floors, the Regatta is a blue-blood staple for romantic dinners and special occasions. Among the seafood-focused fare, the Grand Ravioli appetizer, stuffed with lobster and scallops, is a standout, as is the "carpetbag-style" filet mignon, seared in a cast-iron pan and topped with fried Cotuit oysters. A less expensive but comparatively pedestrian pub menu of burgers and salads is served in the Tap Room bar.

Open daily from 5 pm, mid-June through mid-September; Tuesdays through Sundays from 5 pm, mid-September through December; Wednesdays through Sundays from 5 pm, December through mid-April.

Rialto
Charles Hotel
One Bennett Street
Harvard Square
Cambridge , Massachusetts
02138
Tel: 617 661 5050
www.rialto-restaurant.com

Talk about Boston chef success stories, and Jody Adams is bound to come up. With no formal training, she got a job working under the tutelage of Gordon Hamersley before making a name for herself at now-closed Michela's in 1990. Four years later, she became executive chef and co-owner at Rialto, a Mediterranean hot spot in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, but it wasn't until 2007 that her vision for the restaurant finally took form. She purchased the restaurant outright, shuttered it for six weeks to give the moody space a much-needed face-lift, and reworked the menu to focus on her bread and butter—intensely flavorful Italian cuisine. Now, single Gerber daisies adorn the tables, and flowing chiffon curtains lend some intimacy to the large dining room. The menu is equally uplifting: There might be a floppy lasagna dish (wide farro, semolina, and buckwheat noodles woven between ricotta and mascarpone cheese, oven-dried tomatoes, and a basil-spinach-arugula pesto purée) or quail stuffed with polenta, currants, and pine nuts.

Open daily 5 to 10 pm.

Rotary Restaurant
1 Sparks Avenue at the Milestone Rotary
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 9505

"Please, please tell me I can get one of your lobster rolls," we overheard a patron begging the woman behind the counter of the Rotary. We were a bit taken aback. Not only was he apparently desperate to shell out nearly $20 for a sandwich, but he was willing to do so at 8 am. But then our order arrived, and we understood—a split hero roll overstuffed with about three pounds of chunky claw meat, lightly dressed with mayo and crunchy bits of celery. We took it to one of the Formica tables and tucked in—with a knife and fork. This modest joint on the Nantucket Town rotary—a sort of navigational center of the island—also serves burgers, eggs, and other sandwiches, but it's the lobster rolls that have a following of ravenous addicts. Which is why they start serving them at 6 am.

Open Mondays through Saturdays.

Sel de La Terre

When most of Boston's restaurants call it a night, Sel de la Terre's locations near the waterfront and beside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Boylston Street in the Back Bay are just getting started. They're open for lunch, brunch, and dinner, but from 10 pm to midnight, Wednesday through Saturday (Friday and Saturday until 1 am in the Back Bay), the warm Provençal kitchens churn out smaller, lighter versions of the restaurant's tried-and-true favorites (saffron butternut squash soup with lobster arancini, crisp rosemary pommes frites), as well as a few additions, such as one of Boston's best burgers, topped with smoked onions, blue cheese, spicy aïloli, and a secret ingredient: duck fat. The freshly baked breads—black olive, fig and anise, multigrain—are reason enough to go. Pick up a loaf, some house-made charcuterie, and a few classic French pastries at the Long Wharf location's boulangerie for an impromptu picnic in the park across the street.—updated by Jon Marcus

Long Wharf open daily 11 am to 10 pm, with a late-night menu Wednesdays through Saturdays until midnight.

Back Bay open daily 11 am to 11 pm, with a café and bar menu Sundays through Thursday until midnight, Fridays and Saturdays until 1 am.

Sesuit Harbor Café
357 Sesuit Neck Road
East Dennis , Massachusetts
02660
Tel: 508 385 6134
www.sesuitharborcafe.com

You'll find the Cape's best lobster roll at the Sesuit Harbor Café—that is, if you can find the restaurant. It's located in a weathered, low-slung building hung with lobster buoys at the back of a working marina. They say the secret is spices in the mayo, but whatever it is, it attracts not only tourists but fishermen and marina workers to the picnic tables set up in the back along the harbor.

Open daily 7 am to 8:30 pm, mid-April through Columbus Day.

Sfoglia
130 Pleasant Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 325 4500
www.sfogliarestaurant.com

Charmingly mismatched plates and cutlery, wine served in juice glasses, and French tables with antique schoolhouse chairs set the scene for Sfoglia's rustic, home-style Italian fare. Chef-owners Ron and Colleen Suhanosky—whose combined experience includes cooking stints at Florence's celebrated Cibrèo, New York's Gramercy Tavern, and Boston's Biba (where they met)—change up the menu twice a month but might dress fluffy gnocchi with a garden pepper-tomato sauce, bake Sicilian orata (sea bream) under egg white soufflé, or crisp chicken under a brick. Ultra-silky panna cotta and killer gelato are the work of Colleen, who cut her sweet tooth working under Gramercy Tavern's Claudia Fleming. In a reversal of the usual sequence of events, they opened a Manhattan outpost by the same name in early 2006 (1402 Lexington Ave.; 212-831-1402).

Open Mondays through Saturdays, December through September.

Slice of Life
50 Circuit Avenue
Oak Bluffs , Massachusetts
02557
Tel: 508 693 3838
www.sliceoflifemv.com

Chockablock with touristy fried-food joints and a few upscale dinner restaurants, Oak Bluffs' main drag has precious few choices in between. But this small, laid-back café, where artsy black-and-white photos hang above simple wood tables and folding chairs (the best on a small, closed-in porch), serves sophisticated comfort food that hits the sweet spot. The on-site bakery turns out terrific breads and while you can buy loaves to go, the best way to enjoy them is as bookends to one of the café's signature sandwiches. The Tivoli, served at breakfast, pairs fried egg with ripe tomato, arugula, and white cheddar on a hot buttermilk biscuit. For lunch, go for the fried-green-tomato BLT, served on rosemary bread with a smear of tangy basil mayo.

Smoke'n Bones
20 Oakland Avenue
Oak Bluffs , Massachusetts
02557
Tel: 508 696 7427
www.smokenbonesmv.com

If a day of slow cooking on the beach leaves you with a taste for pit barbecue, head for this rib joint a few blocks from downtown Oak Bluffs. The setting is gimmicky—red neon flames flicker above the open kitchen, the marble door handles are shaped like bones, and each dining table has a hole at the end for diners to throw their scraps into. Jokes aside, much of this place's success is down to the smokehouse out back, where a pit crew uses mesquite, hickory, and oak to cook dry-rubbed Virginia pork ribs and Texas-style beef brisket. Every meal comes with a slab of cornbread, a pile of baked beans, and fresh-made coleslaw—and, thankfully, a roll of paper towels to clean up with.

Open early April through late October.

Straight Wharf Restaurant
6 Harbor Square
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 4499
www.straightwharfrestaurant.com

At this, the best place for dinner in Nantucket Town, Gabriel Frasca and Amanda Lydon (hot young chefs from Boston) specialize in unfussy preparations of local, seasonal produce and seafood. A single bright-pink prawn floated on top of sweet pea soup and a dollop of curried panna cotta is almost too pretty to eat (but too delicious not to); panko-crusted halibut fillet, fingerling potatoes, and tender baby artichokes strike a perfect balance of salty and sweet; and the crowd-pleasing Clambake combines buttered lobster with sweet corn, chorizo, and littleneck clams. The wainscoted dining room with a huge print of a striped bass is pleasantly summery, but when the weather's nice, reserve a table on the back porch, crack open a bottle of Spanish verdejo, and linger over dessert while the sun sets over the harbor. Lunch is served in the bar and on the front patio on weekdays, and brunch is offered on weekends, featuring ricotta pancakes with Nantucket blueberries.

Open mid-May through September.

Sweet Life Café
63 Circuit Avenue
Oak Bluffs , Massachusetts
02557
Tel: 508 696 0200
www.sweetlifemv.com

It doesn't get any sweeter than this gem of a restaurant in a restored Oak Bluffs Victorian house. Chef Scott Ehrlich's constantly changing, French-inspired menu makes good use of seafood and local produce (Ehrlich himself lives on a farm). Starters include Sweet Life artichokes with herbaceous vinaigrette, followed by squid ink fettuccini. The name of the place pretty much demands you pay attention to the dessert menu (try the dark chocolate cake with cappuccino custard, ganache and crème angalise). There's a choice of intimate dining room, outdoor bar, or a serene garden lit by candles and warmed by heaters in the fall. French owner Pierre Guerin has assembled a superb wine list, with 120 varieties from around the globe.

Tasty Burger
1301 Boylston Street
Boston , Massachusetts
02215
Tel: 617 425 4444
tastyburger.com

A retro burger shop in a former gas station, Tasty Burger is part of a new restaurant row that's transforming the city's Fenway section (home to Fenway Park) into a great place to restaurant- and bar-hop. Good old-fashioned dogs, Hereford beef burgers, shakes, lime Rickeys, root beer floats, and beer are on the menu. There is, of course, a jukebox, and the pool table is free.—Jon Marcus

Open daily 11 am to 2 am.

Ten Tables

Yes, Ten Tables's brick and polished wood–clad dining rooms are as tightly packed as the name suggests, even if the slightly more spacious Cambridge outpost actually has 17 tables. But the menu is mind-expanding—a fusion of cuisines that ranges from pastas and house-made sausages to Portuguese fish stew to chorizo-stuffed Giannone chicken, accompanied by local microbrews and wines from small family vineyards. Small as they are, and as popular with locals as they've become, these restaurants (there's now a third location, in Provincetown on Cape Cod) require reservations in advance.—updated by Jon Marcus

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Sundays 5 to 9 pm.

Topper's
120 Wauwinet Road
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 8768
www.wauwinet.com/restaurant.php

Even if you're not staying at the Wauwinet, hop aboard the hotel's free shuttle boat, the Wauwinet Lady, at Straight Wharf for the short, scenic cruise to lunch or dinner. Chef David Daniels (Acqua in San Francisco, Ventana Inn in Big Sur, XV Beacon in Boston) puts a gourmet spin on standard dishes: His steak is a Kobe sirloin au poivre with cognac sauce, and he gussies up mac and cheese with cave-aged Gruyère, Gouda, Pouligny chèvre, and truffles. The island-famous hamburger—served only at lunch—is part Kobe beef, part short rib, and topped with Dijon mustard, capers, and caramelized onions. French pastry chef Serge Torres finishes the meal with candied cherry tomatoes and vanilla ice cream or bananas Napoleon. The Wauwinet also has the most extensive wine list on the island. In summer, lunch ($21 for the prix fixe menu) is served on a deck overlooking the water; at dinnertime, and in cooler weather, a crackling fire warms the elegant dining room.

Open early May through late October.

Water Street
131 North Water Street
Edgartown , Massachusetts
02529
Tel: 508 627 6371
www.harbor-view.com/dining_water_street.asp

The view of Edgartown's harbor and lighthouse just outside the picture windows of the Harbor View Hotel's Water Street restaurant competes with the kitchen for the diners' attention. But the food here is up to the challenge. Chef Josh Hollinger is classically trained in French cuisine, but at Water Street he focuses on New England favorites: He balances the silkiness of day-boat scallops with a snappy corn-and-lima-bean succotash and calls on the flavors of his childhood (Hollinger grew up on a 1,400-acre farm in Mennonite country) for his signature dish of Katama Farm chicken and gnocchi-like Mennonite dumplings in pan gravy. For the quintessential coastal dinner, tie on a lobster bib and dig into the Vineyard Shore Dinner: steamed lobster, littleneck clams, linguiça (Portuguese sausage), boiled red bliss potatoes, and corn on the cob. Many menu items are served as small plates that families can share, though you can order most of them as entrées. Water Street also has one of the best wine lists on the island, plus an impressive choice of scotch, bourbon, cognac, Armagnac, and port.

Open mid-May through late October.

Water Street
21 South Water Street
Nantucket , Massachusetts
02554
Tel: 508 228 7080

Lunchtime crowds in Nantucket Town stressing you out? Avoid them altogether at this hole-in-the-wall takeout bakery. The sandwich selection (all on fresh-baked organic bread) includes spiced grilled lamb, cucumber, and yogurt sauce on a warm baguette and fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and eggplant between hunks of olive bread. A bag of chips, a natural soda, and a handful of napkins are all you need for an impromptu picnic; park benches at the Easy Street Boat Basin are just a block away.

Open early April through December.

The Wicked Oyster
50 Main Street
Wellfleet , Massachusetts
02667
Tel: 508 349 3455

Even if it weren't pretty much the only decent restaurant between Provincetown and Orleans, the Wicked Oyster would be worth a visit for its friendly atmosphere and all-day comfort food, such as clam chowder and oyster stew. It's popular with families, especially at breakfast (the omelets are a local favorite), and there's a laid-back bar that's a nice change of pace after the nighttime drama of P-town. The consistently mediocre service is a Cape Cod staple.

Open Thursdays through Mondays 7 am to 2 pm and 5 to 10:30 pm.

Zephrus Seafood & Grill
9 Main Street
Vineyard Haven , Massachusetts
02539
Tel: 508 693 3416
www.mvmansionhouse.com/zephrus.html

At Zephrus, the Mansion House's casual restaurant, fresh salads topped with shrimp or soft-shell crab and generously sized sandwiches (grilled chicken breast with spinach, roasted red pepper, and melted cheddar, for example; or grilled yellowfin tuna with lemon aioli on ciabatta bread) are served all day at reasonable prices. There are also larger entrées, from swordfish steak to fish-and-chips to Angus burgers. If you're on your way out of town and don't have time to eat in the hip dining room or on the screened-in front porch, order the Steamship (turkey breast, avocado, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and Cape Cod potato chips) for the ferry ride to Woods Hole.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.