Restaurants, Entertainment, the Nantucket Theatre Scene

With each new season, a new restaurant (or two, or three) opens to rave reviews on the island of Nantucket, sending foodies to scramble for the next hot, and “in” spot. Most of the new restaurants can be found in town clustering between Federal and Broad streets: Cru, which opened in 2012, boasts a spectacular raw bar; the Proprietor’s Bar & Table (opened in 2013) serves sophisticated small plates; mainstays Straight Wharf and the Boarding House offer outstanding seafood and farm-to-table fare.

Brant Point GrillAlthough Nantucket offers a variety of fare, in the last few years, restaurants have become almost out of reach for the typical consumer, more often than not, renters are selecting to stay at home and cook wonderful local produce, and great fresh catch. An exception to this limitation has been two of my favorites in Nantucket, who continue to deliver great food at very reasonable prices. First, there is Black Eye Susan’s; with its BYOB policy it dramatically reduces the cost of a meal while delivering some of the best dishes on the island. Next, there is the Brant Point Grill, which prior to June 20th of this year delivers its 3 for $45 special, a true bargain.

In addition to the two restaurants mentioned above, I want to share with our readers my experiences during the 2018 Season while visiting a large majority of the restaurants on island. What follows are my impressions on the quality of their food, their service, and of course their price.

Restaurants - My favorites for the 2018 Season:

For an intimate romantic dinner:
56 Union ($$$ ½) – My favorite this year. Great food, great service, and reasonably priced. A bit out of town but certainly worth it.

Black Eye Susan's in India Street. Bring your Own Wine (BYOB). Food is remarkable, and because you bring your own booze (wine) the bill is very reasonable. Word of caution - check or cash only, no reservations, better to show up around 6 PM.

Chanticleer ($$$$$+ ) – continues to deliver great food. Also, please ask the sommelier for a suggestion on Gerry Castleman’s wines. In my opinion his Proseco is better than Don Perignon.  This year we had a wonderful experience with impeccable service. The Filet Mignon was extraordinary and worth the price. The Seared Hokkaido Scallops were a big disappointment at $39.00. First you get only three-(3), and second they are very ordinary. The Restaurant has become really expensive, our dinner for two was $300.00 including tip. Really a bit pricey. However, if you decide to go, ask for a table in the sun room overlooking the patio, a really great atmosphere.

Club Car ($$$$$ ) - A new team has moved to the Club Car this year, including Mayumi Hattori as chef (previously at Straight Wharf). Mayumi's new menu features California cuisine with a Mediterranean twist, mostly small plates to share (like tapas) and a nice selection of entrées. There are plenty of vegetarian options, and there was a steak special the night we visited (not on the regular menu). In addition, the Club Car underwent a major renovation and the interior design by Tharon Anderson Design is STUNNING, bright and filled with lush plants. Dinner service begins at 5:30 every night and lunch service five days a week beginning at 11:30am.

Dune ($$$$1/2) - dinner for two around $250 w/ a bottle of wine, 1 Glass of Chardonnay and 1 beer): After a couple of years of being  my favorite, this year the food can be described at best as mediocre, and very expensive. Not worth it.

The Galley at the Beach House ($$$$$). Superb food incredible setting. Great romantic evening.

LoLa's 41 ($$$$ 1/2) - The place to be for the young crowd.  Their food is excellent. Their prices are fair. Early dinner before 6 PM any day is a definite win. Having said this, the environment is more of a hip fast pace environment, and not the place I will choose for an intimate dinner.

Oran Mor ($$$$$ ) - is a fairly expensive restaurant located at located at 2 South Beach Street. For many years I have avoided the Oran Mor due to the high expense. However, last year I decided to give it a try. What a wonderful surprised. It was, with emphasis on was, probably the best food on island. The shrimp appetizer was exquisite, the duck unbelievable, and the strip bass unreal. In addition, if you like old fashion cocktails, try their Manhattan. The cherries by themselves are stupendous. Unfortunately the restaurant is under new management with a totally different menu. After trying for old times’ sake, it is no longer my cup of tea. It is very good but not the Oran Mor of old.

Proprietor's ($$$$$ )- located in the old DeMarco restaurant location at 9 India Street. Proprietors is the latest craze in Nantucket. Great wines and food. It is an intimate restaurant with healthy. International tapas, and a true interesting selection of cocktails. Please make reservations way in advanced.

Straight Wharf restaurant ($$$$) - great food. Incredible service. A bit expensive

Toppers at the Wauwinet ($$$$$++) - 6 PM seating.  You go to the Boat Basin (also known as South Wharf) take a private boat to the Wauwinet at the other end of the island. The boat has a cash bar, and the ride crosses the harbor. It is spectacular. Wines are remarkable but very expensive, the food mediocre at best, while expensive in the extreme, $350 for two people with a single bottle of wine.

Veintuno ($$$$ ) – Very disappointing this year after a fabulous 2017, the service is still great, and the wines truly remarkable, albeit a bit pricey. After one of my favorite restaurants on island, 21 Federal, closed several years back, and was subsequently replaced by Veintuno at the same location, I had a disappointing diner there and stopped going. In 2017 after rave reviews from friends, I decided to give it another shot. This was a true surprised. However, my surprise turned into disappointment one more time this year. Reservations are required, and make them way in advanced.

Family dinners :

Starlight Theatre & Cafe located at 1 N Union St, opposite to the Post Office on N. Union Street.  Now closed for renovations.  It is expected to open again early August, one of my favorites. Here are some recommendations for when it opens.  Food is great. Standard fare - Turkey club, etc. The best value is the Turkey Junior ($8) and plenty of food. My favorite is the Swarma, classic Greek giro.  Finally, if you are having dinner at the Starlight, they will reserve seats for you at the movie theater, so you can take your time, and even bring your drinks into the theater. Truly a great experience.

Lobster Trap - solid sea food, rustic environment.

The Brotherhood of the Thieves - best burgers in town, their French or curly fries are outstanding. Beer - Whale of a Tale, some of the best beer in town.

Lola's Burger at the circle in South Street. The burgers are excellent. However, a bit pricey, and smaller than in any other restaurant. If you want a great burger, you are better off at the Sea Grille or the Brotherhood of the Thieves.

Pi Pizza - Great Italian Food, Pizza & Calzone. On of the few Restaurants this year where you can find a decent bottle of Red for under $39 dollars. Their Tiramisu is very good, and their cannoli's  are  authentic.

Island Kitchen - Recently renovated and expanded into the former Grey Lady space next door, has made their new compound more family friendly.  Located at 1 Chins Way, with their breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. 50 new patio seats, an outdoor bar, fire pit and an upstairs bar, has become one of my new favorites. Further, they have added a ICE CREAM AND DONUT walk-in storefront, with 32 flavors of homemade ice cream and 6 types of homemade donuts!! A great spot for families, period.
This Seasons Surprise:
Recently I had lunch at SandBars at Jetties beach, and was pleasantly surprised by the food and prices in the beach restaurant. Their Caprese Salad, when in season - after July 4th, made with Bartlet's  Heirloom tomatoes was extraordinary, and at $18.00 a real bargain. This year I tried their Fish and Chips, outstanding, and a great bargain. Finally, they have added nice seating location right in the sand. The ability to have a great lunch while looking at the water is fantastic!!!
Best breakfast:
Crosswinds at the airport. The All American breakfast at $8.95 is a bargain. I have all my breakfast meeting s there.

Downy Flake - across from Stop & Shop - try their doughnuts - old fashion doughnuts and incredible.

Best Sunset Dinner:
Millie's in Madaket - a bit expensive for Mexican food.
Best Bakery:
Petticoat Row Bakery in Nantucket, Centre Street - Amazing cup cakes, croissants, and bake goods. Don't miss it. This year it will be under new management as an artisan bakery. It plans to open at the end of June. At this point I am taking an attitude of wait and see.
Best Sea Food:
For takeout - Saley's Sea Food on Washington Street - their fried clams are awesome.

For buying fish - East Coast Sea Food, aka 167 Hummock Pond Rd . This is easily one of the best fish markets I have ever been to anywhere. Located on the road to Cisco Beach, past on the left turn to Cisco Breweries, 167 Hummock fish store will be on your right.

Finally, a word of caution, if you are going to Nantucket during the high season (late July, all of August), please call a few weeks in advance to make sure that you can get in. Restaurants get booked rather early.