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First Cape Cod Vacation Ever...And I'm Hungry!

So, I'm making my first journey to Cape Cod next week (staying in Harwich) and would love to know where to eat. A search of some recent posts revealed
--Friendly Fisherman in Wellfleet for lobster roll, fried fish
--Lobster Pot in Buzzard's Bay for lobster roll
--The Raw Bar in Mashppee for seafood
--Marathon in West Dennis for chowder
--Schoolhouse in Chatham for ice cream

Any thoughts on these places or places of note that I'm missing? Rec's were heavy for lobster (which I do love), but I'd also be interested in good pizza or just general spots for quality dining--casual or fancy.

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  1. I just got back from a vacation to the cape last week--I was in Harwich as well. I would definitely recommend the Impudent Oyster in Chatham, Arnold's in Eastham, and Brax Landing in Harwich. Also, I made the trek out to Centerville for ice cream at Four Seas. Have fun!

    1 Reply
    1. re: JRW

      I second ice cream at Four Seas -- and there is another good ice cream place in Sandwich called Ice Cream Sandwich. (Clever, huh?) In Osterville, Wimpy's has a seafood market where you can get a wonderful picnic. The soups are terrific, and they'll give you anything on the menu upstairs, too.

      1. The best lobster roll is at Young's Fish Market in Orleans. For a really cool dining experience try The Beach House at Chatham Bars Inn. For all the best places to eat on the Cape visit http://www.best-of-cape-cod.com/cape-....

        8 Replies
        1. re: Cape Crusader

          Here's a corrected link: http://www.best-of-cape-cod.com/cape-... but readers beware: I think most locals would only agree with about half of the listings being 'best' of anything. The other half belong on a Places to Avoid list. DO try the Beach House, Brewster Fish House, The Squire, Sesuit Cafe, Albertos, Land Ho, Abbicci, and Dan'l Webster. SKIP Brax, Cobies, Scargo Cafe, Grand Cru, and Captain Parkers. The others I can't comment.

          1. re: CapeCodGuy


            I've agreed with most of your feedback on this board and particularly like Brewster Fish House and Sesuit Harbor Cafe. However, Land Ho belongs in the AVOID pile. The food ranges from underwhelming (scallops, crab cakes) to awful (clam chowder, pasta). There isn't enough beer in Orleans to make me want to return here!

            1. re: Chow King

              Chow, when I worked near the "Ho" it was known as a local watering hole, not a place to eat..

              1. re: Chow King

                Agree with Phelana here. The Ho is a drinking establishment that happens to serve food, not visa-sersa. You can find a decent burger, or cup of Kale soup though, so I don't think it qualifies as a "Must Avoid" place. Certainly, it doesn't begin to qualify along the lines of a Brewster Fish House.

                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                  The original question seemed to pertain to food not drink. It's not hard to serve beer, but the Ho management made it less than pleasant.

                  FWIW, my comments regarding Land Ho were based on comparisons with other casual dining spots, not high-end establishments. I much prefer the Beehive Tavern, for example, and have had some satisfying meals there.

                  1. re: Chow King

                    To me, Beehive vs. Land Ho is apples and oranges. That said, there's not a lot of love on these boards for the Beehive, although I find it okay. Not great by a long shot, but not horrible. Certainly a step up from the Land Ho. BTW, I far prefer the Yardarm when in Orleans and looking for a little food with my drink.

            2. re: Cape Crusader

              Where is Youngs? Marathon...hmmm..I think Kreme and Kone is just as good after all, it's fried and the atmosphere more appealing. Raw Bar is for Lobster Rolls and Mudslides and if you wish chowder. The rest is so so, IMHO. Everyone raves about Arnolds. Cannot comment. Friendly Fisherman was so so last month when I had a roll. Years before were better. Brax, mediocre IMHO but GREAT views for drinks. The best pizza from my family's perspective is at Georges in Harwichport. It's Greek style.

              1. re: Cape Crusader

                We ate at Land Ho earlier in the week. Atmosphere was nice & people were friendly, but the food was embarrassing. Gooey thickened chowder, tasteless broiled fish & scallops. Don't go here for seafood!

              2. Excellent dining at both Black Fish (new) in Truro and the Wicked Oyster in Wellflleet. Great New England-style local food with a twist.

                1 Reply
                1. re: purple bot

                  have not tried black fish yet. i wholeheartedly say yes to wicked oyster. especially for brunch......

                2. I haven't been for a full breakfast at Bonnat's in Harwich so I can't comment on that but I do love to pick up some pastries there. Delicious Melt-Aways. Just a hint of cardamom in the glaze.

                  For a casual dinner and a beer I like the Land Ho in Orleans.

                  1. For wonderful pizza, try Sweet Tomatoes in Sandwich, right on 6A. It's wood-oven, thin crust pizza, and they also make a splendid Greek salad. I have been known to eat an entire small by myself, although you probably should share one. You can now get beer which makes it even more enjoyable. http://sweettomatoesinc.com/index.htm

                    Also in Sandwich, right on the canal, try Seafood Sam's (there are several other locations on the Cape including one right near the Wood's Hole ferry parking lot.
                    )Seafood Sam's is very no-frills, kind of like a big fast-food place, but I think the seafood is as good as anywhere on Cape, especially their lobster roll. There are many, many healthy choices -- and you can get beer. Because they draw big crowds, my advice is to place your order in advance, pick it up, and then get a table by the window. You can watch the boats go by, even cruise ships!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: brendastarlet

                      Sweet Tomatoes is terrific and amoung the 3 best pizza joints on the Cape. The other two are Palio's on Main St. in Hyannis (Italian thin crust where as Tomatoes is super thin crust) and George's on 28 in Harwichport (Greek pan pizza).

                      Seafood Sam's wouldn't be my choice, however, it's the only clamshack of note in Sandwich. There are many far better choices like Osterville ll at Barnstable Harbor, Sesuit Cafe, Marathon, Kreme and Kone, and The Original Seafood Restaurant all in Dennis, and Cooke's in Mashpee or Hyannis. Down Cape has the usual faves of Sir Crickets, Friendly Fisherman, Arnolds, and Clem and Urseys.

                      1. re: CapeCodGuy

                        I prefer Kreme and Kone to Seafood Sam's. If you do end up at SS stick to something fried. I got the lobster bisque there once (what was I thinking) and it was gross: thick gelatinous and heavy.

                        I like Sweet Tomatoes too but if you like a doughy-er crust Amari's is pretty good.

                    2. I would caution that the time and distances from Harwich to some of the destinations recommended in some other posts are fairly significant. In Chatham, the Impudent Oyster is quite good, and the Squire is a nice place for a burger and a beer. In Harwich Center there is a little Mexican place with outdoor (and indoor) seating that is good - Ay Caramba. Over in Orleans, Land Ho, Rosina's and Mahoney's are good, casual restaurants and the Nauset Beach Club is a very good upscale place. I have seen Brax Landing in Harwich recommended by a number of people; however I have never had much luck there (view better than the food or service). As for rodside food - Kreme N Kone is good and one of the best is Arnold's - a bit of a trip up to Eastham. For breakfast, Grumpy's up in Dennis is worth the drive. You will find that all of the ice cream places are pretty good and none of the pizza places are. Good hunting!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: roadmoose

                        Ay Carumba closed....agreed on the distance..some of the recs here are out of the way for a Harwich stay...stick to Dennis and Chatham and Brewster to avoid traffic snafus.

                        1. re: roadmoose

                          Actually, George's pizza in Harwichport is quite good for Greek style and Showtime in Dennis throws a nice traditional pie.

                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                            Our family LOVES Georges...their Greek Salad is great too...the kite shop is next door and ice cream down the road. Wychmere Harbour for views further down..

                          2. re: roadmoose

                            Like your suggestions, but would add that the Squire is more than just a place for a burger. The fish is always fresh and well prepared and they do some incredible fried oysters.

                          3. One nitpicky point: the Friendly Fisherman is in Eastham, not Wellfleet. (Buys you five minutes' drive!) You can't go wrong with their lobster roll or anything fried. I even like their clam strips and as a rule I never like them. My dad and I usually split the fisherman's platter and I swear every time we go it's bigger, and not just with a pile of fries, either. Stay away from the chowder. Seriously bad stuff the last time I was there.

                            Also, I would only go to the Raw Bar in Mashpee for the lobster roll. Nothing else of note except for a killer rum punch. (Beware the cherries!) If you're going to be in Harwich, though, Mashpee's a pretty long trek for a lobster bar when FF is just up the road 20 minutes! Enjoy your trip!

                            1. Thanks for all of the suggestions. We're off on Saturday and would have to stay a month to try them all (sadly will only be gone a week), but I'll report back when we're back.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: craftymeerkat

                                Someone asked where Young's Fish Market is in Orleans and it is located right in Rock Harbor.

                              2. Ok. So here's the rundown of what we tried ...

                                Kreme & Kone in Chatham (or was it Harwich?) was just what we were looking for in a low-key, casual seafood shack. We ate on the patio and thought the lobster rolls were solidly good (delicious lobster meat, perhaps a touch too much mayo and lettuce that was unnecessary). Clam strips and onion rings also went down a bit too easy. What is it about the Cape and onion rings? Every place seemed to think they had the best.

                                Wild Goose Inn in Chatham was a perfect place for a leisurely lunch. We sat on the patio where we could watch the street traffic and downed a rather tasty scallop roll and fried fish (cod) sandwich. Lovely iced tea as well.

                                The Squire in Chatham could be disappointing if you veered from seafood or basics, but the atmosphere and waitresses were priceless. The fish stew and mussels get my vote. Crab cakes, not so much. The clam chowder was tasty, but so creamy and rich, it was almost too much. Tried a local brew that we liked--Cape Cod Red Ale, AND we had a Harry Connick Jr. sighting.

                                We took a day trip to Provincetown where we dined on the patio of the only restaurant that overlooks the docked boats (the name escapes me). Had another scallop roll, which I became a bit obsessed with on the trip, also had a linguisa sausage roll, along with some belly clam strips that topped Kreme & Kone's. Yay to the clam strips and onion rings, nay to the iced tea.

                                I can see why George's pizza in Harwich would not suit everyone, but on first night there, we got delivery, and as long as one is OK with a deeper dish pizza style, it's easy, crowd-pleasing pizza.

                                For our nicer night out, we made reservations at Nauset Beach Club. Really enjoyed the toasted oyster starter (could have eaten two of these) and clams in a white wine sauce with linguine. Thought the entrees were good, but not great (perhaps having fab NYC restaurants at my fingertips hurt me a bit here).

                                For ice cream, we tried Schoolhouse, where we had an scoops of peanut-butter chocolate (super rich as it should be) and ginger (nicely palate cleansing). We also stopped by Sunday School, which I didn't think was quite as good, but, really, it's hard to hate on ice cream at the beach.

                                And, we also bought a gigantic local cod fillet, which may have been the best meal of the week. The recipe: Combine melted butter with a little Worcestershire sauce and brush on cod. Lay the fillet on the grill over a bed of lemon slices, and then top with more lemon slices. Cook for about 10 minutes or until flaky.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: craftymeerkat

                                  Great reviews..where is Wild Goose Inn in Chatham? I have been eating George's since I was 16 and never had thick crust..it's quite thin, Greek Style..odd, really. Will try your divine recipe with some fish one day soon.

                                  1. re: luci

                                    Wild Goose is at the Wayside Inn in downtown Chatham - I think it took the place of whatever was there previously.

                                  2. re: craftymeerkat

                                    The place that overlooks the docked boats in P-town is Surf Club. Its old school and looks kind of dumpy, but they have the best fried calamari on the planet with a yummy ginger dipping sauce, a fantastic lobster club sandwich... actually all of the food we've had on multiple visits has been solid and not terribly pricey, especially considering the location- the view from the deck can't be beat!

                                  3. We stay in Harwich every year and go to many Cape restaurants. We would suggest (for fine dining) the Cape Sea Grille on Sea Street in Harwichport (lovely setting and food) and 28 Atlantic at the Wequassett Inn on Rt 28 in Harwich/Chatham - they also have a great outdood bar by the water. For casual food we like the Squire in Chatham (an absolute classic) and the Lobster Claw in Orleans. Have fun!

                                    1. so just got back from the cape..stayed in dennisport.........absolute friendly fishermans for the lobster roll huge amount of meat, good price for quantity and quality
                                      raw bar in hyannis(owned by mashpee raw bar) overpriced lobster roll not buttered, no lettuce, no fries and steamers were way dirty...dinner ocean house was ok..pricey and loud...old yarmouth inn tastey, pricey but mega portions..loud too

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dikamba

                                        Forget Grumpy's. Ok Allow me to preface this by saying I do not eat eggs or meat and only use real maple syrup so it's hard to find a good breakfast spot. Black Dog IMHO has the best Cape and Islands breakfast but alas, too far to travel. We tried Grumpys for the first time in about 14 years. Mom ordered poached eggs and homemade hash with raisin toast. My teen ordered crab cakes and mac and cheese as they no longer have fish cakes. I ordered crab cakes and baked beans with cole slaw.

                                        The crab cakes were about 8 ounces and hard as rocks. The crab was the fake stuff and it was like eating a heavy bready bullet. The cole slaw was packed with mayo. Inedible. The beans were canned baked so fine. My teen said the mac and cheese had no flavour. Mom tried it and agreed. She said her hash had no flavour so doused it with salt and catsup. Service was excellent and very speedy. Sorry, we still are in search of the great Cape breakfast and Grumpy's failed on too many levels.

                                        There are new owners at Ay Carumba. They have a new name but I do not know how to spell it. I will post a review in the weeks to come.