On most islands, seafood graces restaurant menus and fishing is a way of life. Nantucket, MA is no different, but within this realm, this vacation paradise has a few specialties of its own. World-renowned for Nantucket Bay scallops, these tender mollusks are smaller than most, richer in flavor and have a velvety texture. Striped bass (mild and flaky) and bluefish (a full-flavored fish) make for excellent fish tacos, and you can’t go wrong with a fresh lobster dinner. Chefs in high-end restaurants display their culinary prowess using this fresh supply of seafood.Lobster entree at The Pearl — Photo courtesy of The Pearl
On land, blueberries, rose hips, Concord grapes, and beach plums grow wild around the island, and cranberries are cultivated and exported. Many of the dishes in Nantucket will be infused with these fruits, and homemade jams can be found in shops throughout the island. Last but not least, don’t forget dessert: homemade fudge and ice cream are not to be missed. Whether you are dining out or planning a picnic lunch, here are a few choice places for an intimate dining experience with the one you love.
A Sunday Picnic
Pack lunch and a bottle of wine and bike ride the five miles (or drive) down to Madaket, a quieter side of the island with very little commercial shops. The beach faces the west, so stay until dusk for spectacular sunsets. Just up the street is Millie’s a fabulous restaurant with counter-style service (you write down your order and they give you a number and bring it to your table). The restaurant serves up lobster rolls, po’boys and salads but their signature is their taco selection made with steak, scallops, striped bass, tuna, shrimp or chicken.Fish tacos at Millie's — Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan
Another hidden picnic spot is Great Point, but you’ll need four-wheel drive to get there. The trail leads past sand dunes to an isolated beach and a lighthouse. Just be sure to leave before sunset: the mosquitoes will eat you alive.
The Pearl blends a hint of Thai and Asian flair with its seafood dishes, served in a white tablecloth setting. Try a glass of sake with wok-fried lobster, or start with small plates such as Korean fried quail and crispy calamari with cilantro lime marinade. Other mains include panko-crusted halibut with asparagus and Thai coconut kaffir lime broth and a bone-in rib-eye steak dinner for two. The Pearl dining area — Photo courtesy of The Pearl
For a romantic evening out, the Wauwinet Lady, a water taxi, will transport you and your significant other to Toppers, an elegant, secluded restaurant far removed from downtown Nantucket. Resort wear is required for evening dining, and early and late departures are available so couples can catch the sun slipping below the horizon.
Outdoor dining on the deck includes a fixed dinner menu, with first course items like heirloom tomatoes with figs or hand-rolled ricotta cavatelli. Mains include Atlantic halibut with squash and preserved lemon and braised short ribs with King Trumpet mushrooms. The boat is docked just behind the White Elephant hotel.
Nothing says summer like an ice cream cone melting on a hot day, and at the Juice Bar the line forms early, but it doesn’t deter those that have had a taste. The smell of waffle cones baking is irresistible. If chocolate is more your style, Aunt Leah’s has over 30 different types of fudge to try (they offer samples).