Cape Cod is a treasure-trove of breath-taking seascapes, world-class beautiful beaches and charming old towns. But let’s be honest: the best part about Cape Cod is the food. The waters surrounding the tiny hook of land are loaded with lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, squid and every kind of fish you could possibly want to put in your mouth.
Nothing beats chomping down on the day’s fresh catch just hours after the boats have brought it in. And once you try Wellfleet oysters while you’re in Wellfleet, well, let’s just say it’ll be hard to order them anywhere else.
The great part about the Cape is that most of the restaurants are serving local seafood and, because of that, you can’t really go wrong in picking a place. But in case you really want to know where to eat in Cape Cod, here are my list of favorites.
Where to Eat in Cape Cod
The Red Inn
The Red Inn Restaurant is worth visiting simply because of its location. Tucked away at the end of Provincetown’s main road, Commercial Street, getting to The Red Inn makes for a beautiful walk sightseeing Cape Cod-style houses turned bed-and-breakfasts alongside quirky shops and touristy bars. Once inside the historic Red Inn, built in 1805, the restaurant’s back porch opens to a panoramic view of the Provincetown Harbor. Hit happy hour (between 2:30-5 pm) for excellent oysters, then stay for superb seafood. Reservations recommended; available online.
Order :: The lobster and artichoke fondue ($15), cheesy deliciousness served in a warm sourdough bowl.
The Black Cat Tavern
The Black Cat Tavern is part neighborhood restaurant, part touristy spot, thanks to its convenient location across the street from the Hyannis Harbor docks, where the ferries leave for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Their wide range of seafood specialties, combined with the casual atmosphere, make it a perfect place for lunch or dinner, for sitting out on the patio or tucked away inside. Reservations only available for parties of 6+.
Order :: The Black Cat’s chunky clam chowder is the best I’ve had on the Cape and I’m not alone: it won the Cape Cod Chowder Festival 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The Lobster Pot
The shack-like exterior of The Lobster Pot may not look like much, but it’s been a Provincetown icon for decades, famous for its seafood with a Portuguese twist and the neon sign hanging out front. They serve seafood in every form imaginable, from fish tacos and paella to Asian bouillabaisse and lobster pot pie, plus all the classics. If the wait to sit on the oceanfront patio is too long, grab a cup of clam chowder to go at the front of the restaurant where live lobsters are sold — they’ll even steam them for free. No reservations.
Order :: The Lobster Pot’s clam chowder ($7.50 mug/$8.50 bowl) is another award-winner, named Best Of by Cape Cod Life and four-time grand prize winner of the Cape Cod Chowder Festival.
Before you question my sanity for adding a French bistro to a list of where to eat in Cape Cod full of seafood restaurants, hear me out: PB Boulangerie has some of the best French pastries I’ve had anywhere. Flaky croissants filled with chocolate, beautifully balanced lemon tarts, giant cheese danishes — everything I’ve had is heavenly. It’s the perfect stop on the way to Provincetown but worth a direct drive, plus they have a covered patio to dine outside. Or check out their full menu of bistro favorites for a more substantial meal. Reservations accepted.
Order :: Whatever your sweet tooth is craving (but the lemon tarts are a good choice, too!).
Walking through Nantucket feels like stepping back in time. The historic, shingled buildings lining chunky cobblestone streets beg your imagination to pull you to the 1600s. Except for Cru. Cru is as modern as it gets, decorated with a chic nautical theme that gives it an upscale, yet approachable feel. Located right on the harbor, the large windows open the restaurant to the pier, letting the ocean breeze waft with sunshine throughout the space. Needless to say, the atmosphere is on point. The seafood doesn’t miss either, just be prepared to pay a premium for it — as with everything on Nantucket, it’s a little overpriced. Reservations available online.
Order :: fried ipswich clams in lemon tartar sauce and arugula and don’t forget the oysters.
Sesuit Harbor Cafe
It’s well-known that Cape Cod is a little quirky, yet it’s easy to fall in love with the place. And Sesuit Harbor Cafe is a lot like that. The shack-like restaurant sits in a boat dry dock (essentially a boat parking lot) surrounded by scattered picnic tables (there’s no indoor seating). It’s cash only and BYOB, yet there’s always a line of people out the door (some already sipping their wine). The menu is displayed on a chalkboard, dishes are served on paper plates… but their seafood is spectacular.
There’s a certain charm to attacking a whole 2-pound lobster on a picnic table decorated with a roll of paper towels and a basket of plastic forks while the sun sets into the sea coloring the sky a pink so vibrant it looks fake. I’ve ended two Cape Cod trips like this and, honestly, it’s the the best way I can imagine to close out the week. Reservations not applicable (only outdoor seating). Cash only. Open seasonally, May 1 – Columbus Day.
Order :: baked 2-pound lobster ($29.95), served with potato salad and corn, or their famous lobster roll. Sidenote: their brunch sounds amazing!
Stay tuned for more about a week in Cape Cod, including a day in Nantucket, some pretty doors and more.