Nantucket is a small 14-mile-long island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. This quaint island is the perfect spot to enjoy beach days, hikes, historic tours, fishing excursions, and of course, food! You will find some of the best restaurants in Nantucket to enjoy that perfect meal with family or friends while in the area.
There is something for every budget, but I do urge you to get your reservations well in advance. The peak season in Nantucket is June through August, and you can expect the island population to swell to 80,000 from its usual 14,000. To say it is packed would be an understatement as it is the perfect destination for family vacations.
Nantucket is the place to go for culinary adventures if you are craving fresh seafood. Imagine the fresh grilled lobster fettuccine or a delicious Nantucket bouillabaisse full of fresh halibut, scallops, mussels, and shrimp. Hungry yet?
Best Restaurants in Nantucket
Cisco Brewery is the perfect place for après beach sips and snacks after a long exhausting day sitting on the beach or riding the waves. They are a local favorite, and you will find their craft-brewed beer sold over the island and throughout the Northeast.
Head to the ever-crowded Cisco in your beach day cover-up and flip-flops for live music, a variety of cocktail and beer options, and several delicious food trucks. Oh, and remember to bring your kids and dogs. It’s a fun and festive family atmosphere where large groups gather to enjoy the mild Nantucket weather, sip on cocktails, and compete at corn hole.
CRU Nantucket Oyster Bar
For a sleek spot with a stunning view of the gorgeous yachts in the harbor, head to CRU. The seafood forward menu and raw bar are fan favorites, not to mention the craft-made cocktails at the bar, like the Crucomber.
With one of the best views on the whole island, this is a tough reservation to get, so plan accordingly. If you are lucky enough to get in, try the fresh oysters and the chilled lobster roll on toasted brioche. You won’t be sorry.
Bar Yoshi is located at the historic Old South Wharf, serving innovative Japanese cuisine with a water view on two sides. From sushi, noodles, and dumplings to raw offerings like poke and ceviche, they have something for everyone.
Get a reservation and head down the quaint shell walkway that leads to Bar Yoshi with its shiplap walls and small intimate dining area. Make sure you try the warm lobster roll with pickled ginger slaw. You will surely see some folks who have just walked off their yachts and locals who know where to get the best sushi.
A trip to Nantucket is not complete without a visit to Millie’s in Madaket. The view of the sunset is worth the trip alone, but the food at Millie’s is a can’t miss. Be prepared to wait as they only take limited reservations, but not to worry; you can grab a homemade margarita and sit outside on a picnic table while you wait.
Millie’s serves coastal fare with fun locally named dishes like the Smith Point Taco, made with grilled shrimp in corn tortillas with tomato and corn salsa, guacamole, and chili lime dressing. Don’t forget to get the queso and tortilla chips for the table. If you are lucky enough to get a high-top table on the second floor, you may be blessed with what has to be one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
Afterward, walk the family to the shop, grab an ice cream, and peruse the fun gear and clothing for sale.
Galley Beach is one of the best restaurants in Nantucket, with a long, rich history on the island. It opened in the 1920s as a clam shack but has transformed into a premier beachfront dining hot spot.
The stunning views of the Nantucket Sound and a delicious glass of one of their fine wines are the perfect way to wrap up a long beach day. Try the pan-roasted halibut or the sea scallops with smashed fingerlings. It’s also an excellent spot for brunch or lunch.
Straight Wharf Restaurant has been a tourist and local favorite on the island of Nantucket for 48 seasons. Named one of the best seafood restaurants in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Straight Wharf is located at one of the busiest piers in downtown Nantucket by the waterfront.
Expect to get the absolute freshest seafood combined with seasonal produce found locally on the island. Don’t miss the day boat scallops with sweet potatoes and haricots verts for your main dish and perhaps the warm concord jelly grape donuts for dessert. The dining room is lovely and perfect for a romantic dinner date with water views.
Lemon Press is the place to go if you want a more casual, health-conscious eating experience. From fruit-filled smoothies to avocado toast, this organic eatery has a fresh dish to satisfy any foodie. Or perhaps you would enjoy visiting in the evening when you can enjoy craft cocktails and small plates filled with local ingredients to share with your friends.
The location couldn’t be more perfect on the quaint cobblestone Main Street of town. It’s the ideal spot to grab a cinnamon-brown sugar espresso or a detox latte while you window shop through town.
Another local tradition is The Downyflake in mid-island, serving locals and tourists for over 87 years. It is the only diner-style eatery in Nantucket and serves delicious homemade donuts plus many daily specials for breakfast and lunch.
It’s the perfect spot to bring the family for a hearty breakfast of blueberry pancakes, biscuits and gravy, or veggie-filled omelets. Lunches include classics like the Downy burger, which locals consider one of the best on the island, Reubens, tuna melts, or fish and chips. Trust me; you will not leave hungry. Expect to wait during peak season.
Island Kitchen is an excellent option for brunch but also great for lunch, dinner, and drinks. It is a casual community-centered spot that focuses on traditional American food but also offers some fusions of different cuisines, located outside of town in a less touristy area.
If you head there for breakfast, sample the Nutella banana waffles and fresh juice, or if you prefer dinner, try the spicy tuna bowl. Be sure to save room for ice cream from the adorable ice cream parlor!
The Juice Bar
One of the most iconic places in Nantucket is The Juice Bar, located near the ferry in town. It is not unusual to see a line wrapped around the block on a Friday night in July. Trust me, it is worth the wait, and you are on vacation, so why not? With nearly 40 homemade ice cream flavors available daily, it is not easy to decide.
This is not your average ice cream shop; it has a vibe that is hard to explain. It’s friendly, fun, colorful, and generally a happy experience all around. I have so many vivid memories from taking my kids here over the years; it is etched in all our memories of summer fun. Don’t miss it!
Use this list of the ten best restaurants in Nantucket to plan your next vacation to the beautiful island. With some planning, you can maximize your culinary adventures and enjoy a different cuisine and vibe every night at some of the best places to eat.
This article originally appeared on Savoteur. Photo Credit: [@LindasPhotography/Canva]
Karen Kelly is the gluten-free food blogger and health coach over at Seasonal Cravings. She is a busy wife and mother to three teenagers who loves creating gluten-free recipes in her kitchen outside of Washington, D.C. She has a wealth of resources on how to manage a gluten-free diet.