Taste Tour: Sampling Food and Culture Across the Cape

From the moment you cross the Bourne and Sagamore bridges until you reach the tip of Provincetown, there are dining options on Cape Cod to satisfy any palette or budget. Whether it’s fresh seafood, prime beef, fried clams or savory lobster rolls, you are certain to find a restaurant to your liking.

The Upper Cape
Falmouth Center is one of the Cape’s favorite spots for an afternoon or evening stroll; a short walk down Main Street will take you past a number of superb restaurants. The Quarterdeck (164 Main St., Falmouth; 508-444-8090) is an historic Falmouth landmark that opened in 1937. With tables and chairs made from salvaged wood, you’ll feel as though you’re dining below deck on a ship.

The Anejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar (188 Main St., Falmouth; 508-388-7631) offers a unique take on authentic Mexican food, using local ingredients set in a sophisticated atmosphere. If a taste of Ireland is your preference, Liam McGuire’s (273 Main St., Falmouth; 508-548-0285) is a bona fide Irish pub, with live music, beef stew and Guinness on tap.

The Quahog Republic Dive Bar (97 Spring Bars Rd., Falmouth; 508-540-4111) is around the corner and is set in an atmosphere of Cape casual and laid-back summer fun. Try the award-winning quahog chowder or the stuffed quahogs. Or take a seat on the outdoor deck at The Flying Bridge (220 Scranton Ave., Falmouth; 508-548-2700), located alongside bustling Falmouth Harbor. For the best in frozen cocktails and oysters on the half-shell, try the Falmouth Raw Bar (56 Scranton Ave., Falmouth; 508-548-7729).

A bit off the beaten path are the Coonamessett Inn (311 Gifford St., Falmouth; 508-548-2300) and the Irish-themed J.R. Brody’s Roadside Tavern (734 Teaticket Hwy., East Falmouth; 508-444-8677).

As you make your way over to Rt. 6A, you’ll enter Sandwich, where a short detour toward the water takes you to Seafood Sam’s (6 Coast Guard Rd., Sandwich; 508-888-4629). Seafood Sam’s, which has a second location in Falmouth, is a casual spot for a traditional Cape Cod meal of fried clams, oysters and French fries.

The Mid Cape

The Hyannis Harbor is a wonderful destination to stroll, dine and watch the boats cruise past. The Black Cat Harbor Shack (159 Ocean St., Hyannis; 508-534-9923) offers outdoor seating in a casual waterfront atmosphere, while their sister restaurant, the Black Cat Tavern (165 Ocean St., Hyannis; 508-778-1233), is a local favorite. Take a table at the inside dining room or outside on the heated deck and choose from favorites such as juicy burgers, fresh native seafood and prime beef. The Blue Water Grille @ Hyannis Harbor Hotel (213 Ocean St., Hyannis; 508-775-4420: www.bluewatergrillecapecod.com) features meandering stone walls and terraces, with an outdoor bar and harbor views. For a casual, kids-friendly experience with a view overlooking the harbor, Tugboats (Arlington St., Hyannis; 508-775-6433) is the ideal destination. For fried seafood, check out Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon (138 Ocean St., Hyannis; 508-771-2770).

Take a short walk into the center of Hyannis, where there is a cornucopia of dining options. Nightly live music is usually on the bill at The Island Merchant (302 Main St., Hyannis; 508-771-1337). Among the diverse menu offerings are the Crabby Mango (lump crabmeat, shredded cocoanut, mango and pineapple salsa) and the Cape Cod Potato Chip encrusted tuna steak. Not far away is the elegant Naked Oyster Bistro & Raw Bar (410 Main St., Hyannis; 508-778-6500). Pepper-crusted ahi tuna, lobster cognac and haddock and lobster in a champagne beurre blanc are just three of the items at this upscale establishment. The nearby Brazilian Grill (680 Main St., Hyannis; 508-771-0109) offers an authentic Churrascaria (rotisserie barbeque) experience. Quaint Barnstable Village, about a 10-minute drive from Hyannis center, is a charming locale where you can visit haunted houses at night on a ghost tour, and then discuss it over dinner at the historic Barnstable Tavern (3176 Main St., Barnstable; 508-362-2355) or the harborside Mattakeese Wharf (273 Millway Rd., Barnstable; 508-362-4511).

The Lower Cape
Venture further down Cape into Chatham, where you find an eclectic selection of restaurants, from the Chatham Squire (487 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-0945), favored by locals and a must-see for tourists, to the Impudent Oyster (15 Chatham Bars Ave., Chatham; 508-945-3545), a highly rated eatery with exotic dishes from Mexican to Szechuan. Del Mar Bar & Bistro (907 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-9988) is located in a hip art deco-style interior and is ideal for the budget conscious diner. Among the menu items at The Wild Goose Tavern (512 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-5590m), located at the Chatham Wayside Inn, are PEI mussels, sashimi, Chatham cod and Atlantic halibut.

The Red Nun Bar & Grille (746 Main St., Chatham; 508-348-0469) serves a variety of fried seafood and burgers, while Pate’s (1260 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-9777) has been a local landmark since 1957. The recently opened Longshore Restaurant (1077 Main St., Chatham; 508-945-1700) is a casual, relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, with a robust raw bar and affordable food.

The elegant Stars at Chatham Bars Inn (297 Shore Rd., Chatham; 508-945-0096) is one of the region’s premier steak restaurants and combines signature New England cuisine with breath-taking ocean views. Another spot to pair lodging and dining is The Pearl at the Queen Anne Inn (70 Queen Anne Rd., Chatham; 508-945-0394).


The Outer Cape
If you’re on the Lower Cape, Wellfleet is a destination of antique shops, art galleries, National Seashore beaches and superb restaurants. The family-owned Bookstore & Restaurant (50 Kendrick Ave., Wellfleet; 508-349-3154), where Wellfleet oysters have been the specialty since 1964. Not far away is Pearl (250 Commercial St., Wellfleet; 508-349-2999) is located on the town marina and blends into the picturesque surroundings with a classic Cape Cod exterior of exposed, silvery grey pine. The views are spectacular from the multiple second-story decks, while the food consistently draws rave reviews.

The Wicked Oyster (50 Main St., Wellfleet; 508-349-3455) is an elegant dining experience with a menu focused on fresh local fish, while Mac’s Shack (91 Commercial St., Wellfleet; 508-349-6333) and Mac’s on the Pier (265 Commercial St., Wellfleet; 508-349-9611) are the perfect casual spots to grab lunch or dinner after a day at the beach. The Marconi Beach Restaurant (545 Route. 6, South Wellfleet; 508-349-6025) offers authentic Southern-style smoked barbecue, while Van Rensselaer’s Restaurant and Raw Bar (1019 Route. 6, South Wellfleet; 508-349-2127) has been a local staple for 33 years.

Few spots are more unique than the popular Beachcomber (1120 Cahoon Hollow Rd., Wellfleet; 508-349-6055), a must-visit summer destination for beach-goers and music lovers for more than 50 years. Live music, fantastic food and stunning scenery create an oasis only a few feet from Cahoon Hollow Beach.

The always fun and consistently funky Provincetown is teeming with tempting eateries. For an eclectic mix of Portuguese specialties, native seafood and vegetarian dishes served in an art-filled atmosphere, stop by Napi’s (7 Freeman St., Provincetown; 800-571-6274). The Lobster Pot Restaurant (321 Commercial St., Provincetown; 508-487-0842) is a P-town institution where the food is as good as the waterfront location. At The Mews Restaurant & Café (429 Commercial St., Provincetown; 508-487-1500), another restaurant perched right on the water, the widely varied menu is certain to please everyone in your party.