Nantucket in 10 Plates
Rum Raisin Ice Cream at the Juice Bar
Walking down Broad Street, you’ll smell the Juice Bar—namely, the fresh waffle cones made all through service—before you see it. No frills here, just an honest New England creamery churning classic flavors in impressive portions; a small order is hard to finish. Opt for the rich and boozy rum raisin.
Fritto Misto at Ventuno
As much as we idealize fried seafood from scruffy beachside shacks, sometimes restaurant kitchens just do it better. The best fried seafood on the island is found downtown in Ventuno’s fritto misto, with Nantucket calamari, fluke and fresh shrimp—with a chef-y touch in paper-thin slices of fried preserved lemon.
Doughnuts at Downyflake
Though it’s easy to spend an entire Nantucket vacation in town or on the beach, if you do you’ll miss out on institutions like the Downyflake, a mid-island diner frequented by year-rounders. Take a seat if you’re in the mood for fluffy blueberry pancakes or a linguiça omelet, or just head to the counter for the Downyflake’s famous humble cake doughnuts (plain, chocolate-glazed and sugar), which fly off the shelves so quickly they’re nearly always warm.
Pig Ear Fries at American Seasons
It’s hard to imagine a more addictive (if unlikely) bar snack than Pig Ear Fries from American Seasons, one of Nantucket’s reigning fine dining destinations. Says chef and co-owner Michael LaScola, “People trust me now to do the more unusual stuff. We’re going through 50 pounds of pig’s ears a week.” The ears are cooked slowly for more than four hours, chilled, julienned and fried just enough to crisp them up. They’re tossed in lime, cilantro and Cholula: “That’s the most important part, the sweetness and vinegar in there.” As skinny as shoestring fries, the pig’s ears dissolve in the mouth after a single satisfying crunch.
Portuguese Scramble at Black-Eyed Susan’s
Its byzantine reservation rules and constant crowds mean that getting into Black-Eyed Susan’s for dinner can be a challenge. Opt instead for brunch, served seven days a week (go early or on weekdays to be seated more quickly). The Portuguese scramble, a nod to Nantucket’s onetime sizable Portuguese population, is the can’t-miss. Linguiça, the paprika-spiked, garlicky Portuguese sausage, plays the starring role in a soft egg scramble with fresh tomatoes, spinach and even more garlic. Bring along a bottle of Prosecco or cava—Black-Eyed’s is BYOB—to make things a little more indulgent.
Mixto Ceviche at Corazon del Mar
At the modern Latin restaurant Corazon del Mar, the Mixto Ceviche at the prominent ceviche bar has a distinctly Nantucket spin. Local squid, lobster and fluke take center stage, tossed in chef–owner Seth Raynor’s green chile KrACK sauce. (ACK is the Nantucket airport code, and you’ll see it referenced all over the island.) Said sauce incorporates flavors of Southeast Asia—a distinctive balance of chile heat, sweetness and a blast of umami, all of which play beautifully with the delicate seafood.
Tater Cubes at Proprietors Bar & Table
At the excellent Proprietors Bar & Table downtown, the comparatively casual second restaurant from the owners of American Seasons (and co-owner/exec chef Tom Berry), it’s easy to make a meal of eclectic small plates, paired with cutting-edge cocktails and smartly chosen wines. And any selection of small plates should include the Tater Cubes, which have been on the menu since day one. The enticing little squares are formed entirely from shredded potato, sporting a golden, crunchable crust and topped with the Dutch condiment Joppiesaus (like a curried mayo), a beet-pickled egg and grated Dutch Gouda.
Beer and More at Cisco Brewers
Cisco Brewers is best known for its Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, but they don’t just make beer—the venue serves as a winery, distillery and brewery all in one. Its spacious home on Bartlett Farm Road has three tasting rooms, flights of all their products and full-service bars. (Note: On weekend summer afternoons and evenings, you might find a crowd more interested in chugging contests than thoughtfully savoring beer flights.)
Chocolate Chip Cookies at Something Natural
You can go to Something Natural for sandwiches, and they’re excellent: piled with quality cold cuts, fresh produce and ample swipes of mayo, all on house-baked bread (best bet: the yeasty white Portuguese). But it’s the chocolate chip cookies that are unforgettable. With crisp edges and a deep bronze hue, they’re so buttery and chocolate-laden they soften and melt in the sun, taking on that just-baked pliancy even when hours old. One is enough to share, but it’s certainly hard to. (Note: Unless you’re just buying a cookie, call your order in ahead to get a jump on the summer crowds.)
Bluefish Pâté at Straight Wharf Fish Store
Bluefish is everywhere on Nantucket, and bluefish pâté—cream cheese, lemon, parsley, smoked bluefish—is a staple at every cocktail party. Pick up the best at Straight Wharf Fish Store, a dockside seafood market that also serves a mean fish sandwich and a memorable lobster roll.