5 Bites of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Where to find the best food on the island

Sunset on Martha's Vineyard is anything but ordinary, as are the Vineyard's accompanying sunset eats.

Martha's Vineyard, the once exclusive, semi-secret oasis turned popular presidential hot spot and Northeastern getaway, stays ever-constant in a few things: perfect weather, a home-away-from-home feeling, and to-die-for food.

There is a reason why "this-is-why-you-have-to-come-to-Martha's-Vineyard" descriptions always entail a seemingly never-ending slew of eateries and foods. And yes, it is quite the task to sum up the island’s copious delectable bites into five, OK seven, options, despite the fact that you can drive from coast to coast in about an hour. But here they are, The Daily Meal’s favorites, gained from a lifetime of summer experience (and my personal obsession).

Breakfast: Both small and dripping in goodness, Dock Street Coffee Shop and Art Cliff Diner are musts for breakfast spots. There are two avenues of taste happening here: greasy, diner-style, all-American at Dock Street, which has a perennial line out the front, and a bit more rustic, yet not without soul food at Art Cliff Diner, which takes a farm-to-table approach, featuring a few more fresh ingredients paired with its diner roots.

Sit at the bar, snag a coffee, and order the classic bacon, eggs, and home fries while soaking in the smells of flavor and butter at Dock Street. At the more organic-friendly Art Cliff, the expected lines are well worth it. Featuring an extensive menu that will make your head spin — crepes, Benedicts, pastries, breakfast breads, fresh morning sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, salads, and eggs in a multitude of multinational styles are only some of the options — Art Cliff is an adventurous mix of diner and fresh, creating a blissful homely happiness.

Art Cliff Diner has a farm-to-table approach. Photo: Flickr_Paul-Lowry-001

Snack: A trip to Martha’s Vineyard cannot be without a visit to Morning Glory Farm. Although there actually is a farm, the boutique grocer in front is where you will be visiting unless you arrange otherwise. Although the market has undergone a Whole Foods-esque renovation, the featured foods are still the same.

Farming in a "morganic" style, a linguistic mesh of Morning Glory and organic, Morning Glory Farm focuses on fresh and chemical-free foods. Try the zucchini bread and cherries. Weigh them, stick them in a paper bag for check out, grab a plastic knife for the zucchini bread, and head straight to the beach with a fresh, refreshing, and deliciously sweet snack.

Morning Glory Farm has its own herb garden. Photo: Flickr_Paul-Lowry-001

Lunch: While there may be some debate (yes, Vineyarders, Shiretown is downright delicious), lunch, without a doubt, should come from Humphreys. An easy pick-up on your way to the beach, their monstrous sandwiches, made with fresh deli meats and daily-made spreads on fresh, house-baked breads such as sourdough, French, oatmeal, wheat, or a roll, are worth the $7.

Order The Gobbler, a roasted turkey sandwich with juicy, thickly sliced Thanksgiving turkey, roasted in-house. Freshly baked French bread is filled with the deliciously wholesome turkey, equally homemade and overflowing stuffing, (sometimes you have to ask for more) cranberry, and a dollop of mayo — heaven.

Drink: With everything from lattes to coffees to flavored frappes and teas, Espresso Love is a must for caffeine cravings. Although it is also a restaurant and café with morning bagel sandwiches and baked treats, as well as a casual lunch and dinner spot with sandwiches, salads, pizza and more, the coffee is the featured treat. The outdoor seating is picturesque for a post-workout meet or mid-shopping lounge. Hungry? The muffins are enormous, fluffy, not too sweet, and delectable.

Art Cliff Diner's "Bayou Bundle:" a flour tortilla, with herb scramble, chorizo, cheese, pico de gallo and fresh greens. Photo: Tyler Sullivan

Dinner: As the sun sets, the island smells are all-consuming, imprinting the quintessential Northeast scent on your nose. The options for watching the pinking sky over a shared dinner are generous. Although the perfect Vineyard dinner is a hosted backyard/patio or beach feast, the restaurant choices aren’t lacking either.

Usually reservation-only, Alchemy serves up a fresh and hearty menu. The asparagus and Jonah crab salad is a favorite, featuring a mound of crisp, thinly chopped Bibb lettuce topped with delicately sliced Jonah crab, asparagus, croutons, and a perfectly fitting but not too heavy basil vinaigrette. Another favorite, The Salad That The Chefs Eat (yes, that’s the name), complete with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, red onions, tomatoes, sprouts, mashed potatoes, and potato crisps, is a filling, salty, sweet, fresh, and savory selection, as are the charred Angus N.Y. strip and frites, served with avocado and red onion salad with garlic croutons and shaved Parmesan, and the pan-crisp halibut, complete with baby artichoke, sweet peas, mashed potatoes, and citrus beurre blanc. And while most, if not all, entrées at Alchemy are mouthwateringly delectable, the bar menu holds the hidden gems — wild mushroom risotto balls and the bag of fried oysters with rémoulade. 

Jimmy Sea’s is an appetite-friendly, full, and filling stop, focused on one thing and one thing only: pasta. The small venue does not take reservations for parties of under six, generating expected lines that are well worth it. Each pasta dish, delivering about a pound of noodles each, is served in the pan in which it was cooked. Lobster Fra Diablo, with a whole one-and-a-half-pound lobster in a very spicy red sauce over linguini; fettuccini Juliet, with chicken, prosciutto, mushrooms, Alfredo sauce, and topped with Parmesan and pecorino cheeses; and scallops Napoli featuring sautéed scallops, tomato fillets, extra-virgin olive oil, Kalamata olives, fresh herbs and spices, and pecorino cheese served over ziti are three pastas not to miss.