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Cape Cod

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My parents rented a house in Barnstable for a week this summer. Our family is very very food-centric, and I was hoping to get an early start on learning the food scene over there. Looking for some good recommendations for eateries. Obviously, we love the lobster roll/ steamer/ fried whole belly places, but we are also wanting to just find good finds. I don't care if its an awesome hot dog stand, etc ... Just want great places. Both lunch type places and a few dinner too. Willing to travel on the Cape for great food, but looking for some local stuff near where we are staying.

In addition to restaurants, can anyone recommend good bakeries, cheese shops, butchers, fishmongers, etc ??? Looking for something more than an everyday basic run-of-the-mill grocery store.

Lastly, driving from NY and interested in any must-stop places for lunch on the way.

Thanks for all the help.

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  1. There are dozens of threads already here for each part of the Cape. Considering it's 65 miles from end to end, I'm not sure a thread that covers the entire cape is going to be useful. Or readable.

    Where in Barnstable is the house? Osterville? Marston's Mills? Near Sandy Neck? Centerville? Hyannisport? Cotuit?

    See what I mean?

    Check out the existing threads, let us know exactly where you are, and we can point out the gems nearest you.

    3 Replies
    1. re: L2k

      I have no idea what the section is called (not from there). I can tell you based on google maps. It is literally on the water on the North side of the Cape. The map shows it is due north from the end of the Hyanis-Barnstable Rd./Hyanis Road. Not sure if that helps. I can try to get more info if necessary.

      1. re: L2k

        Barnstable Village is what I was told

        1. re: dhenry18

          I neglected to mention that there are three restaurants in the village itself, all on 6A. The Dolphin is the only one worth visiting. Stick to seafood dishes and you should be quite pleased. I like the old antique dining room. The bar can get loud and a bit crazy sometimes with locals who like to drink early and often, so if that puts you off, go elsewhere.

      2. I'll give you a few pointers, although all the answers you seek, and those that I'll provide, have been mentioned here many many times over and can all be found using the search function. A little self help goes a long way here.

        Barnstable's a big town comprised of seven villages so it would be helpful to know in which one you are staying.I ask because it's not always easy to go from one to the next in season. It's possible to take 30 minutes to get from Cummiquid to Osterville for instance.

        Anyone looking for basic provisions is best served by getting off the very first exit over the Sagamore Bridge on Rte 6 and shopping at the Market Basket. Incredible prices, great selection and quality. Pick up your basics here. Head out of the parking lot by taking 2 right turns and you'll be on Rte 6A, the very scenic King's Hwy. A few miles down take a left on Tupper Rd. to a left on Town Neck which will bring you past the power plant to the canal. There you'll find Joe's Fish and Lobster, by far the best fish monger, bar none. Head out the way you came only take a left onto Tupper and stay on it (crossing 6A) until you come to the beautiful center of Sandwich. You'll pass the Heritage Gardens and Museum, a terrific day trip to view and picnic in it's gardens, 20th century Carousel, and antique car collection. In town you'll find the Brown Jug, a good source of eclectic wines and specialty foods. Head back east on 6A toward Barnstable. You'll pass the Sandwich Village green across from the State Fisheries (itself a worthy short visit) which has an excellent farmers market Tues. mornings.

        The next village you come to will be West Barnstable. Take a right onto Rte 149 and just over the RR tracks, behind the Old Village Store is a wonderful Pasta and Cheese shop. She makes her own fresh mozz and a buratta to die for. Do yourself a favor, and buy more than one. Go back to 6A heading east (take a right) and you'll come to Barnstable Village center. The Barnstable Market there has a good selection of groceries and some specialty items. The sandwiches are as good as any. The meats are good, but it's sister store, Peterson's Market, further down 6A in Yarmouthport has a much larger, full service butcher, the best on the Cape, IMO. In Barnstable Village. take a left at the only set of lights toward Millway Marina will take you to the harbor. Here you'll find Mattakees Wharf, a wonderful place for cocktails on the deck overlooking the picturesque harbor. Just don't eat there! The food is dreadful, except maybe an overpriced lobster or broiled piece of fish, but it's one of the few places with an actual waterfront setting on the north side. Next door is a decent clam shack, Osterville Too. And the Whale Watch boat docks here as well. A must if you've never been on one. There's also an Excellent eco-tour boat that goes out for 2 hour tours for only $25 pp of the Great Marsh. You're allowed to bring your own food and drink on either, no glass containers.

        Back heading east on 6A, you'll come to the village of Cummaquid, and pass the Audubon's Long Pasture Sanctuary (on the left at Bone Hill Road), one of the better conservation areas with pretty paths and easy hikes through varied terrain. It's a great picnic spot also. Continuing down 6A you'll come to Yarmouthport, with it's many sea captain's homes, and two excellent restaurants. Lyric, for contemporary American cuisine, and Inaho, for some of the best sushi you will find anywhere. Many a Japanese exchange student has declared it better than much of what they can get at home. Both are higher end, of course, on the price scale.

        Continuing our trip down 6A, you'll come to a left, Old Church Lane, before the Getty station in Yport, Follow it to the end to Grey's Beach. Another great picnic spot that has covered pavilions, grills, and a huge boardwalk that goes out deep into the marsh overlooking the bay. Back on 6A east, you'll pass the previously mentioned Peterson's Market on the left. Stop here for your meats. You won't find better.

        The next village on 6A is Dennis. In the village is the Ice Cream Smuggler, my 2nd favorite ice cream on Cape. (The first is on the south side in Dennisport, The Sundae School). There are two very worthy fine dining options, Fin for wonderful seafood of the non-fried variety, and The Red Pheasant Inn. For a local fave and basic red sauce Italian, seek out Gina's up toward Chapin Beach, a site to behold itself, especially at low tide where the water retreats over a mile out. Expect a wait for Gina's. It's loud. Expensive for what it is. But an old hidden treasure in my opinion. Further down 6a in East Dennis, take a left at the only set of lights and head to Sesuit Cafe, for one of our best clam shacks both in food and location. Seating is outside on picnic tables on the jetty overlooking the harbor entrance. It's byob, so bring some libation, and bring bug spray at dusk or evening. It's gets very crowded at peak times. Zip across the Cape to the south side and you'll find the Ocean House which is a favorite upscale oceanfront option. One of the best on the peninsula. Another worthy stop is the Brewster Fish House, for lunch or dinner, on 6A. An upscale yet cozy spot that I'm happy to report has re-found it's footing as an excellent choice in dining.

        You can keep going down 6A or 28 all the way to Orleans and beyond to PTown and pass many worthy places. I could go on for hours. A few to research on your own are the fabulous PB Boulangerie, a french bakery in Wellfleet (or Maison Villett in Falmouth) You won't find better french pastries anywhere but France. Pain D'Avignon in Hyannis for great breads, and lunch or dinner, in a funky industrial setting in Hyannis. Alberto's, also in Hyannis has excellent Italian food with many seafood and non-seafood options. Falmouth has the extremely authentic Northern Italian Osteria La Civetta, one of my favorite meals anywhere. Falmouth also has a great clam shack creatively called The Clam Shack with a wonderful harbor front setting. Go in good weather to sit outside. On the Harwich/Chatham line is probably the best restaurant on the Cape, 28 Atlantic at the Wequasett Inn. The food, service, room and setting are all first class. If you're going to treat yourself to one truly special evening out, this is the place. Bring your wallet. In Chatham, one of the prettiest Cape towns, you'll find the lively Chatham Squire for fried fare and pub grub, the excellent Impudent Oyster, and the not to be missed Hangar B at the airport for the best breakfast you may ever eat in your lifetime. (Don't miss out on the red flannel hash). The Chatham Seafood Market at the Fish Pier has terrific lobster rolls and good fried fare, as well as fresh fish to cook at home. Eastham has Arnold's Clam Shack, a fave of many. The Friendly Fisherman also has great fried seafood, especially it's gargantuan Captain's Platter which feeds 3 at around $36. Lobster rolls are generally one of the best here, too, although there were a few negative reports last season. Wellfleet has two nice casual water view options, both with outside seating, The Bookstore, and The Pearl. Mac's Shack has excellent food and great sushi. The Beachcomber, right on a beautiful stretch of beach is a great bar, with a cool vibe and decent food, especially the raw bar. Reggae Sundays are an especially good party day. Truro has the excellent high end Blackfish. Also a nice stop at it's small vineyard. Don't miss Highland Links for 9 holes of old school golf with ocean views of both sides of the Cape. Finally, there is PTown, a world unto itself, with many great dining options, for upscale places like Victor's and The Red Inn, to Ross' Grill, Fanizzi's, The Karoo Cafe, and the terrific Portuguese Bakery, and so much more.

        So there you have it. I start off with an admonishment, and then typed you a short novella. Be sure to report back and reward all those that will surely chime in. Enjoy your vacation!

        15 Replies
        1. re: CapeCodGuy

          I appreciate your novella. I didn't realize Barnstable is so large. I have checked, and we the house is in Barnstable Village. Hope that helps. Thank you for your time.

          1. re: CapeCodGuy

            CCG, I sheepishly admit that I have never taken 6A when travelling onto the Cape. But, after reading this, I really can't wait to take the scenic route and stop at some of these places in the upper and mid Cape. Your list is much appreciated. What a great thread to start the summer.

            1. re: CapeCodGuy

              Hey CCG- ever thought about doing a Cape write up ala OC's "VISITING BOSTON? One Hound’s Guide to Historic Areas and Restaurants" thread?? I think it would be great and very useful.

              1. re: foodieX2

                Foodie...that's an epic thread! I'm not sure I have the stamina or knowledge that it took to create such a comprehensive reference. One day perhaps.

                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                  I hope you do!

              2. re: CapeCodGuy

                What a fabulous post CCG! I loved reading it and I've been going to The Cape since Og roamed Massachusetts. I have actually been to most of the sites you mentioned and heartily agree with everything you wrote. It would make the definitive Cape travel guide as Foodiex2 said. Well done you.

                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                  Awesome summary. Although the meat selection at the Barnstable Market is much smaller than that at its sister store, Peterson's, there is often more available than on display. My husband invited a friend to dinner the other night, and I had only 4 veal chops (purchased at Roche Brothers) for the family. I didn't want to run all the way back to RB, so I checked at the market--none on display, but they cut me my "emergency" veal chop on premises. Plus, they'll get anything that Peterson's has available.

                  I heard that the pasta and cheese shop in West Barnstable (Fromage a Trois) has closed again, but I haven't been by to verify. Will check and report back.

                  1. re: lisaonthecape

                    Thank you for the info!

                    1. re: lisaonthecape

                      Just to follow up: I stopped by Fromage a Trois today. It is temporarily closed, but there's a sign on the door stating that it will be open sometime in May ("5/?/13"). Regularity of hours has always been a bit of an issue here--less a problem for me, since I'm only minutes away, but I would call first before making a special trip.

                      1. re: lisaonthecape

                        I also stopped in yesterday and saw the owner who confirmed that she would reopen close to Memorial Day. Something about installing new a/c and a brick walkway. I

                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                          Great news. Thanks!!

                    2. re: CapeCodGuy

                      CapeCodGuy, we were in Eastham over the weekend & poured over your post. Thanks so much for all the great information! We ended up eating at Karoo, which didn't do much for us; the Boulangerie, which was a total treat; Mac's Shack where we sat happily outside & had a good lobster roll & fish tacos; the Wicked Oyster which was forgettable, and Blackfish, which provided us with a nice lobster dish. We stopped in at Beachcomber, but it was mobbed. We had good intentions of getting to Hangar B & 28 Atlantic, but somehow we ran out of meals. Have to go back, I guess. Thanks again. It was really fun to have your recommendations with us.

                      1. re: THewat

                        So nice of you to post your comments! Thank you for the recognition. I'm glad to hear my musings and recommendations helped you enjoy our little slice of heaven.

                      2. re: CapeCodGuy

                        Typically great job CCG! Much appreciated since we're late-arriving this year.

                        1. re: CapeCodGuy

                          Wow, what a great review, much of which I am familiar and agree with. One question, have you any experience with The Glass Onion in Falmouth? I think it's near the top of the list and would like other opinions.

                        2. If you looks at threads regarding Mid-Cape, you should find things within a 20 minutes drive or so from where you are staying.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Science Chick

                            B'Stable Village is cute. Head east to Fin in Dennis for dinner. She has her own oyster bed and uses sustainable foods. After, go to Ice Cream Smuggler for you got it, homemade ice cream. BEFORE, go to Cape Cinema to catch a great foreign or arts film. If it's a dreary rainy night, go to Red Pheasant. It's a cozy kind of place, hence my rec to go on a lousy night. I like the food very well. The bar is tiny but there bar area is my fav place to dine, especially in the winter. A fun spot for afternoon tea and art is Borsari Gallery. I do love the fun vibe at Gina's by the Sea. It's a tradition. Get there mid week early around 6 so you don't have to wait. The good is good, not amazing but it's the setting and well, it's an institution. Lastly a MUST is Sesuit Cafe on the water, eat in the rough, BYOB.

                            In Yarmouthport as mentioned, there is Lyric where Chef Toby creates dishes. I have not been in a few years. Inaho's sushi is the best on Cape but I would steer you to other spots that reflect Cape Cod more.....The Old Yarmouth Inn has a great bar. I ate there last June for a party and it was ok. Nicer for the oldsters.

                            If you like music, go to Harvest Wine Bar in Dennis Village. They have a full liquor license but go for the wine or beer, super local music and great art.

                            Avoid ANY place you cannot make a res on weekends and go mid week.

                            Have FUN

                            1. re: phelana

                              Thank you!!

                              1. re: phelana

                                I echo phelana's recs as she did several of mine, except I'm not sure why she thinks Inaho doesn't reflect Cape Cod? Sure, it's sushi and other Japanese cuisine, but the room is housed in what was an antique Cape style home. The recently renovated dining room is beautiful post and beam, plaster walls, and wide plank floors. Add the freshest and highest quality local seafood available and, to me at least, it's quintessential Cape Cod.

                                I'm also not a huge fan of the Old Yarmouth Inn. The bar is a new addition and a bit stark for my taste, and the average patron age is decidedly north of 60. But they do a decent brunch buffet with eggs benny to order. Not a fan of their food otherwise.

                                Harvest Wine and Borsai Gallery are great recs. I'd also add the Chat House in the village. Also, the Cape Playhouse is a 90 year old summer theater that can provide a memorable evening out.

                                1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                  Thank you for taking the time to provide all this information. It is very much appreciated

                            2. If you are taking the Bourne Bridge, a great stop just before the bridge is Ella's on the Cranberry Highway in Wareham. They now serve lunch. They also have a sister restaurant just over the bridge in Bourne, Cranberry's/The Bog Pub. Ella's rivals any restaurant on the Cape proper and is one of the better restaurants in Mass. outside Boston.