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Jul 17, 2009 12:36 AM

Best Ethnic Nantucket Restaurant

We already have reservations for Company of the Cauldron and American Seasons and a few other American food restaurants, but we have a month on Nantucket and will probably miss good ethnic food. Is there anything on the island that is not American or western European? We saw a little sushi place near the pier last year, but a neighbor told us it was not worth trying. How is the Pearl? Is there eastern European or Indian or anything like that?

Thank you,

Chandler and Luisa

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  1. Is this a joke? Nantucket is the whitest place in America! Ok, sarcasm aside, I'll be serious... the sushi at Lola 41 is very good, and the theme is food from around the world at the 41st parallel, so they are trying. And doing a good business. Black Eyed Susan's usually does some interesting ethnic things most nights, like Mulligatawny soup (sp?), or ropa vieja, etc. The best new thing to happen to the downtown restaurant scene is Corazon del Mar. It's all different types of Latin and South American food: arepas, pupusas, ceviche, etc and great cocktails (margaritas of course, caipirnhas, pisco sours, etc.). Hip and cool atmosphere, great food, same owners as The Pearl. And I do recommend The Pearl for Asian-inspired food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ciclista

      Yes, it is. Except for the people working there. (Sad, but true.)

      Carazon sounds like something we would like a lot. Thank you very much, ciclista. I looked at some of your other posts and you look like a very knowledgeable and helpful poster. We appreciate you coming to our aid and saving us from the monotony!

      1. re: chandler212

        If you want sushi, don't go to LoLa -- go to Sushi by Yoshi! Stay out of Corazon del Mar, they're overpriced and overrated. Ditto with The Pearl. Town offers Indian fare. American Seasons is perfect for something different (not exactly ethnic food, though). El Rincon for authentic Salvadoran. Siam to Go for Thai. But if you're on Nantucket, try for local seafood!

    2. Ciclista, we went to Corazon de la Mer, tonight, on your recommendation and I'm happy to say we liked it quite well. Most of their business seems to be walk in. They only have an hour in the early evening and later in the evening when reservations are accepted; the rest of the time, it's walk-in only. We waited about 15 minutes for a table for two. Tables for four were seated immediately.

      We had:

      - a half dozen Wellfleet oysters
      - arepitas
      - Argentinian steak with chimichurri sauce, yucca fries and watercress salad
      - crispy pork (mostly belly, some babyback ribs) with "Aztec flan" (basically a corn pudding) and fried sweet plantains
      - "caramelized" caipirinha
      - another drink involving roasted pineapple

      Oysters were so-so, two very fresh and delicious, two oddly bitter-tasting, two middle of the road (I wonder if the ratios of good to bad were by design...). Arepitas, a little thicker than I usually like to make them, were served with Tex Mexy (but well made) pulled carnitas.

      I really loved my crispy pork entree, served with a truly fantastic, smokey, spicy aji sauce. The meat, itself, was overcooked in parts, but nicely flavored through and through. The "Aztec" flan (a corn pudding with a touch of jalapeno) was lovely and tender, though fairly oversalted. Plantains were perfect. My SO's steak, on the other hand, was a bit chewy (probably a flank steak), but nicely rare, as he'd requested. Based on the bite I tried, the chimichurri sauce, watercress and yucca were all excellent.

      The restaurant has a nice tequila and ok wine list, but in the interests of sobriety, we opted for cocktails, instead. My caipirinha was strong, but a bit unpleasantly bitter. It was made with "caramelized" (grilled?) key limes, whose bitterness tainted the entire drink. My SO's cocktail, whose name I don't remember, unfortunately, included grilled pineapple, a type of tequila and kalamansi limes. It was delicious, a nice balance of sweet and sour.

      Overall, I find Corazon to be a very welcome addition to the Nantucket dining scene. As chandler212 noted, it helps break up the monotony of pizza and seafood.

      Thanks, both of you, for the thread and rec!


      BTW, have either of you tried the Chinese restaurant in the Jared Coffin House? I think it's called Harbour Wok -- also new, I believe. Would love to hear how that is.

      5 Replies
      1. re: cimui

        Would it be the same Harbor Wok that used to be in the Harbor House Village?

        1. re: milemarker0

          milemarker0, i don't know what was in the space prior to harbor wok, but it sounded interesting based on an ad i saw in one of those ubiquitous nantucket culture or dining publications. the menu looks pretty run-of-the-mill, but the chefs (a husband / wife team, i think) seemed to be going to great lengths to emphasize the restaurant's authenticity.

          in any case, i'm actually kind of pleasantly surprised by the increase in non-western european offerings on the island these days. i saw ads for a thai takeout place that also looked interesting, and am toying with the idea of trying town, which has a "pan east asian" menu or something like that. i do wonder how well they can make any one cuisine given that the menu spans everything from goan dishes to vietnamese...

          (chandler212, profuse apologies for hijacking your thread.)

        2. re: cimui

          I was on the island (Nantucket) this week and have Celiac Disease. Prior to my trip I was extremely concerned (and very disappointed) not to find a single restaurant on the island (online) advertising a gluten-free menu or at the very least, gluten-free dining options. So I arrived on the island to finish my research on foot or by telephone. Many of my visits or telephone calls ended in disappointment and frustration centered around not finding anything and also the occaisonal indifference. The last place I stumbled into, in a food-deprived stupor by this time, was Corazon de la Mer. When I asked about Celiac Disease and food allergies, I was immediately introduced to a chef, and a man who seemed extremely knowledgeable about Celiac Disease and gluten. One of the waitstaff told me she was pretty sure that this chef may have children with gluten sensitivities and food allergies. With enough advance notice, this chef was more than willing to cook some food for me (despite their being extremely busy) that was not only true art in the full sense of the word, but also really really good! It was also especially unique for Nantucket which I am sorry to say I find dreadfully boring and plain at the best of times. Yucca fries - very very cool! I can't agree more on that front, with the July 21st post by cimui. I would also like to add that the staff in the restaurant is among the most polite, friendly, and FUN I have found just about anywhere. And the music is totally awesome. Thank you, Corazon de la Mer. Ps, for the GF readers: the chef did NOT put my yucca fries in the "regular" friolator, with the restaurant's other fries.

          1. re: rebeccajeanh

            Rebeccajeanh and Chandler/Luisa, I'm glad to hear you guys liked this place. Rebeccajeanh, I liked the restaurant for the many wheat free offerings they had for me, too. (I have a wheat intolerance, though not Celiac.) And I, too, love yucca fries.

            Luisa, glad to hear you got to try the ceviche. We actually never made it back there despite our best intentions, since we grilled at home so often, while we were there.

            On a different tack, for anyone who's looking for cheap eats, I noticed a hot bar in the Grand Union by the ferry station, right before we left the island. I didn't try the food, but prices were, surprisingly, normal.

          2. re: cimui

            We had dinner one night at Corazon of ceviche, fish tacos, steak and something else. It was a good meal in a pretty upstairs space. It was probably one of my favorite meals while we were there. We mostly ate in the town so we didn't make it to that Salvadorian place. Chandler and I appreciate you and everyone else's recommendations. Thank you! Luisa

          3. Nantucket is pretty white bread when it comes to ethnic restaurants. If your idea of an ethnic restaurant is one that sells a spring roll as an $14 appetizer, you'll be happy with the choices.
            I went to Corazon del Mar last night. I suppose it's as close to Nantucket-ethnic
            as you'll find. The food was unexceptional -not bad, but nothing to write home about. Think small plates but with Nantucket pricing - roasted corn (a roasted corn on the cob with lime and spices) was $6, yucca fries (yuck is right) $6 or $7, fish taco $12. Entrees in the mid-twenties. Cocktails $12-$14, beer $6. Dinner for 3 was $150 plus tip.
            Sushi by Yoshi is across from the Police Station and does a brisk business. Eat-in or take-out. Very popular and it's BYOB.
            Black-eyed Susan's is very good, also BYOB. I don't like the noise level in there so I don't go often but the food is really interesting.
            Pi Pizza has some great pizza and entrees are in the teens - it's not a pizza joint, more of an attractive restaurant that does take-out too. Their Rustica pizza with pancetta and arugula is fantastic.
            Stop and Shop and Grand Union has surprisingly good and fresh sushi. They sell tons of it.
            The Pearl is good - $175+/- for 2 people. It's the kind of place that thinks of bottled water as a revenue source.
            Every restaurant is hurting - and many have deals. A friend ate at Centre Street Bistro
            and had a $25 prix-fix dinner.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ardath

              I, too, love the pizza rustica at Pi pizza, thought it's best to eat it there because otherwise the fresh arugula sits in the box and steams, and it's just not the same. Re: Harbor Wok... it's in a new location, but not new. Yes, it used to be at the Harbor House. It's been coming to the island for about 5 years (?). I say "coming to the island" because they own a restaurant in Brookline, I believe, and come down to Nantucket for the summer, set up shop, then break it down and head back some time in the fall. It's just your basic Chinese food, but sometimes you're just in the mood for spring rolls and General Tsao's chicken.

              1. re: ciclista

                Appreciate your take on Harbor Wok, ciclista. We'll probably just give it a pass and focus more on Nantucket strengths. (Tonight, we bought an impeccably fresh lobster to grill at home -- lovely. :)

              2. re: ardath

                Ardath, very true about Corazon del Mar (sorry for my butchering of the name, earlier) being nothing to write home about, especially if home is somewhere like LA or NYC. It definitely would not be standout for the genre in either city. But until we get a seaside taco stand selling fish tacos on Nantucket, I guess we have to make do with Corazon! (Any other not-too-gringoized Mexican / Latin or S. American places I don't know about? If you know of any, do tell!!) Portions were pretty normal-sized for NYC diners and prices weren't too out of wack for Nantucket. The restaurant seemed to be pushing their ceviches, which I didn't try this time, but want to at some point.

                Not such a fan of Sushi by Yoshi, but I'll definitely pop into Black-Eyed Susan's. (Ciclista, I think you've recommended this place, before, too?) Thanks!

              3. Ok, thanks for all the replies. We will be there next week and we look forward to it. The reports about Corazon del Mar are interesting and we appreciate the detailed reviews. Please keep them coming.

                1. We ate at a great little El Salvadoran restaurant called El Rincon Salvadoreno, tonight. It's a bit outside of town at 17 Old South Road, but very, very much worth the trip if you're looking for non-Gringo food that's well made, authentic and well priced.

                  We had:

                  chicken enchilada appetizer
                  Caesar salad (I know, I know... this was the SO's order)
                  two platos typicos (forgive any spelling mistakes I make... I am approximately pathetic at Spanish)
                  two margaritas

                  The meal didn't start all that auspiciously. They brought out a basket of chips and salsa -- which was a very nice gesture, but the chips were very stale and unsalted, the salsa from a jar. Both appetizers were forgettable. Caesar salad came with gloppy bottled dressing and of course no anchovies; the enchilada was a fried tortilla topped with somewhat bland chicken, lettuce and tomato, very different from any enchilada I've ever had. I guess this was an El Salvadoran style enchilada?

                  But the meal took a distinct turn for the better when our entrees made their appearance. The plato typico--which came with a pupusa, a pastele, a tamale, sweet plantain and a bit of slaw--was absolutely delicious. The tamale was filled with a piece of bone-in chicken and peas and gorgeously textured, creamy and mild. The pupusa was WONDERFUL. In part, I'm enamoured with them for their relative novelty (I don't get to eat these all that often), but these were also genuinely well made, with thin, tender skin and a creamy, meaty filling I couldn't identify. I could've eaten about five more of these without losing interest in the taste. Pasteles were good, not remarkable, well fried, with a thin crust and run of the mill potato filling. They were probably from the freezer, but by nature, pretty hard not to like. Plantains were also well cooked and not at all greasy.

                  With the margaritas (meh, from a mix), the bill came to $50 (pre-tip). The food was a nice change of pace from all the seafood and Italian in town. Not everything on the menu is wonderful, but before I leave the island, I plan to order a big fat stack of pupusas to take with me. They really were that good.

                  It's not a fancy place--there's baseball on the TV, they make you keep your utensils from course to course, and there are lots of families with young children slowly enjoying their meals--but the restaurant is a cut above your typical NYC style hole in the wall. They have white tablecloths, albeit ones covered in glass for protection. And the genuinely friendly staff really makes for an enjoyable, unrushed meal. I think you might really like this place, Chandler.


                  In other news...

                  Ardath, we tried Pi Pizzeria yesterday for lunch, right after it opened for the day. I'm sure I'm not as familiar with the island's pizzeria scene as you, but to me, the pizza did not seem all that great -- and we were absolutely ravenous after our six mile morning run. We ordered the Great Italian specialty pizza. The crust was nicely thin, but was soaked through with grease by the time it came to us and the ratio of cheese to other toppings and crust was also a bit high. Entirely possible we caught it on a bad day or that the brick oven wasn't yet hot enough. (We were the very first customers of the day.) We'll give it another try, in part because it's so close -- if not this year, then next.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cimui

                    Great review, cimui! DH and I will definitely check this place out. Luisa

                    1. re: chandler212

                      My pleasure, completely. :) I should mention that the hours are sort of odd, so call ahead and make sure they're open, if you go. Right now, I think they're open Wednesday through Sunday from around 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.