Where to Eat on Cape Cod | Best Bakery, Seafood Spot, Farm-to-Table…and More!

Senior food editor Amy Traverso shares her list of the best places to eat on the Cape, from beachfront dining to the perfect cup of coffee.

By Amy Traverso

May 26 2022


Every table has an ocean view at The Beach House Grill at the Chatham Bars Inn

Photo Credit : Courtesy of the Chatham Bars Inn

Please note that many establishments throughout New England have modified their hours and/or operations in response to COVID-19. Please check with individual businesses and organizations for the latest information before making travel plans.

For decades, Cape Cod was seen as a vacation destination that offered every possible summer attraction … except a vibrant dining scene. Not anymore. Now that tourists have discovered the lure of shoulder seasons, restaurants have a more reliable customer base from spring through fall. And, as if making up for lost time, chefs have been flocking to the Cape, rediscovering the wealth of local seafood, importing every of-the-moment food trend (kombucha, burrata, hakuna matata), partnering with local farms, and figuring out the complicated economics of how to thrive in a seasonal market. Thanks to their efforts, the region is a food lover’s dream.

To complement Yankee’s 2019 May/June travel feature “63 Reasons Why We Love the Cape and Islands,” I’m sharing some of my favorite Cape dining spots. So when you start planning your own getaway, be sure to bring your appetite!

Where to Eat on Cape Cod

Where to Eat on Cape Cod | Best Bakery, Seafood Spot, Farm-to-Table...and More!
Every table has an ocean view at the Beach House at the Chatham Bars Inn.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of the Chatham Bars Inn

Best Cape Cod Beachfront Dining: The Beach House Grill at the Chatham Bars Inn

A few steps beyond the Beach House Grill’s patio is a sandy path down to the water, but the restaurant itself is perched high enough to capture sweeping views of Chatham Harbor. In addition to updated steakhouse fare, the Grill’s menu includes coastal favorites like fried calamari, quahog fritters, and steamed lobster with linguiça, corn, potatoes, and steamers. Executive chef Anthony Cole enriches these offerings with seafood from the Chatham Fish Pier and exceptional produce from the inn’s own farm. (These ingredients also take center stage at the more formal restaurant, Stars, in the main building.) Save room for dessert…and time for a postprandial beach walk.

Best Cape Cod Bakery: Maison Villatte

Boris Villatte trained in Paris with the legendary Eric Kayser and Alain Ducasse, followed a wave of ambitious young French chefs to Las Vegas, and eventually landed in Falmouth, where he opened a bakery-pâtisserie. Here you’ll find all the classics: opera cakes, pain aux raisins, croissants, and éclairs. But don’t overlook the equally superb breads, which have raised the baguette game for every other baker in the region. During the peak summer season, waits can be long, but when the goods are this good, it’s always worth it.

Where to Eat on Cape Cod | Best Bakery, Seafood Spot, Farm-to-Table...and More!
Another sunny-side-up morning at Spoon and Seed in Hyannis.
Photo Credit : Matthew Tropeano

Best Cape Cod Breakfast Spot: Spoon and Seed

Chef-owner Matt Tropeano grew up in Massachusetts but made his name in the kitchens of Manhattan. At La Grenouille, he earned a coveted three-star review from TheNew York Times. With a new family, however, came new priorities and the call of home. So at this casual Hyannis eatery, Tropeano serves the breakfast of your dreams: The challah in the French toast is house-made, the pancakes are fluffy and laced with buttermilk, and there are five kinds of eggs Benedict topped with real hollandaise. My personal fave: the cheddar biscuit with scrambled eggs, house-smoked pork loin, and homemade ham.

Best Cape Cod Ice Cream Shop: Sundae School

Since 1976, Sundae School has woven itself into the hearts and memories of generations of ice cream–loving vacationers. This is the kind of place where the strawberry, peach, and blueberry ice creams are made with seasonal fruit; classic New England grape-nut lives on; and the whipped cream is the real deal. New flavors may make their way onto the board, but the Endres family also knows that part of their magic is to make us feel as though some things never change. Locations in Harwichport, Dennis Port, and East Orleans.

Where to Eat on Cape Cod | Best Bakery, Seafood Spot, Farm-to-Table...and More!
A sampling of house-roasted coffee at Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters in Brewster.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Snowy Owl

Best Cape Cod Coffee Shop: Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters

Shayna Ferullo and Manuel Ainzuain fell in love in San Francisco cafés, and when they decided to relocate to the Cape, they applied their entrepreneurial mojo to opening the Cape’s most charming roastery. With its rustic-boho interior and comfy chairs, this Brewster spot may also be the friendliest, but don’t mistake the laid-back vibe for any lack of seriousness. This is top-grade coffee, sourced from small-lot growers and co-ops and roasted on-site. Coffee nerds love it, but fear not: You can also order a decaf with extra milk and sugar with pride.

Best Cape Cod Farm-to-Table Restaurant: The Buffalo Jump

I wouldn’t normally take this category quite so literally, but if it’s local/seasonal you want, why not head to an actual farm — in this case, Coonamessett Farm in East Falmouth? That’s what chef-owners Brandon Baltzley and Laura Higgins-Baltzley had in mind when they began doing informal pop-up dinners in 2016. Now, the Buffalo Jump serves a casual, imaginative breakfast and lunch seven days a week, April to January, as well as a dinner tasting menu Sunday through Tuesday. That dinner menu is eclectic, drawing from the local food shed; the couples’ earlier stints at restaurants in New York, Boston, and Copenhagen (Baltzley staged at Noma); and Baltlzey’s very fertile imagination. Here, simple crudités of farm-fresh veg are served with ”aioli that tastes like sunshine.” Grilled beach roses adorn in a scallop dish. Sometimes the food is funky, sometimes it’s delightful, but it’s always exciting. And in a dining scene that leans heavily on the tried-and-true, it’s a welcome addition.

Where to Eat on Cape Cod | Best Bakery, Seafood Spot, Farm-to-Table...and More!
The Brewster Fish House, formerly a fish market, sets the bar for fresh, innovative seafood.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Brewster Fish House

Best Cape Cod Seafood Spot: The Brewster Fish House

What started out decades ago as a local fish market is now a destination restaurant, and as the Cape’s dining scene grows more ambitious, the Brewster Fish House keeps raising the bar. Yes, there’s perfect chowder, but also crudo and a New England spin on bouillabaisse layered with Maine crab and sweet lobster. Vegetarians and meat lovers are well cared for (as are gluten-free diners), but try not to miss chef Erik Schnackenberg’s many takes on monkfish (as a chop with pancetta and kale in autumn; as medallions with fiddleheads in spring).

Where to Eat on Cape Cod | Best Bakery, Seafood Spot, Farm-to-Table...and More!
The plates at Vers are as artful as they are seasonal.
Photo Credit : Ashley Bilodeau Photography

Best Cape Cod Upscale Dining: Vers(Now Closed)

Fans of Jonathan and Karen Haffmans mourned the loss of Vers in Chatham, but the ambitious modern American restaurant reopened in Orleans and it’s drawing visitors from both ends of the Cape. Jonathan Haffmans’s cooking could be described as painterly: Take one perfect ingredient, then layer on complementary flavors to achieve a perfect whole. And given how beautiful his plating is, the visual metaphor works. This is artful cooking, but never stuffy.

Where are your favorite Cape Cod dining spots? Let us know!

This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated. 


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