Life on the island of Nantucket, off the Massachusetts’ coast, revolves around the ocean, and the local food culture is no exception. Fresh fish and seafood of excellent quality are available in abundance. There’s plenty of dining diversity as well: take a look at our updated guide to 10 of the best restaurants on the island of Nantucket.
Conveniently located in the centre of Nantucket, in one of the island’s oldest areas, American Seasons is well-known for the creative take on good old American classics performed by chef Michael LaScola. Acclaimed by such noted publications as The New York Times and Travel + Leisure, among others, American Seasons has a very warm, domestic feel to it that quickly made this a favourite in Nantucket, especially among families. The restaurant is simply decorated, with two beautiful wall-size murals gracing the main dining room. Try to get a spot on the truly lovely patio for a memorable, al fresco dining experience.
It can’t be just a lucky string of events that has made Le Languedoc Bistro a staple on the island’s dining scene for almost 40 years, rather, it’s probably down to the exquisite French cuisine, fresh produce and unpretentious atmosphere. The restaurant, established in 1976 by two foodie couples, has been around for so long that it is now a veritable island institution. Welcomed in a simple and tranquil setting, customers are invited to sample the many exquisite recipes in the restaurant’s menu, expertly prepared with time-tested French techniques but local, premium ingredients. Every dish here is a successful combination of taste and clean presentation.
Housed in a beautiful structure featuring stunning architecture and a keen, captivating island vibe, Millie’s celebrates the excellent seafood that the island of Nantucket is blessed with. In particular, the menu is inspired by the so-called baja style of cooking, common in California and Mexico. Patrons have an extensive spread of fish-based tacos, quesadillas and salads to choose from, but don’t overlook the appetizers – delicacies like the tuna tartare cocktail or the scallops wrapped in bacon are as inviting as any other item on offer. The cosy dining room is found upstairs, where many windows ensure plenty of natural sunlight as well as scenic views of the surrounding islandscapes.
The Proprietors Bar and Table is another top foodie destination in Nantucket established by American Seasons chef Michael LaScola. Unlike American Seasons, however, here guests are invited to try delights of global flavours prepared by executive chef Tom Berry, and designed for half or full sharing. Socca tarts, pumpkin pond greens and king trumpet mushrooms are only some of the tantalising treats on the restaurant’s menu. The interiors impress with the art displayed on the walls, a homage to the island’s glorious past, featuring sailors on their way back home from long journeys and explorations of far lands and seas.
Once the home of a whaling captain, the charming 1830s building that today hosts the Ships Inn welcomes diners looking to experience a little of the island’s history. The inn is equipped with an elegant restaurant, open to walk-ins, that provides a refreshing and romantic setting, perfect for a cosy dinner with partners or friends. Situated below street level, the dining room is simply but finely decorated, and offers guests a delectable menu of French and Californian dishes. To start, order the Nantucket seafood chowder, and continue with the sautéed halibut or a more substantial buffalo steak with a green peppercorn sauce. Like many establishments on Nantucket, the Ships Inn is open seasonally from May to October.
It’s always a good time to sink your teeth in a delicious sandwich, and one of the best options in Nantucket for an amazing bread-based combo is Something Natural. The secret to Something Natural’s popular snacks lies in the various fresh breads baked daily on the premises, and the prime ingredients used for the generous fillings. Among the many variants available, try the smoked turkey with tomatoes and swiss cheese, the egg and scallion or the tuna salad options. Orders come with a giant, fluffy, mouth-watering cookie – take everything out on the manicured lawn around Something Natural and enjoy your snack in the island’s fresh air.
A seasonal restaurant, Straight Wharf recently reopened last May just in time to participate in the Nantucket Wine Festival. Straight Wharf is known as a premier destination in Nantucket to taste excellent seafood prepared in innovative ways and combined with unusual but characterful ingredients. Warmly committed to offering its guests only the the best, freshest fish, the menu is frequently updated to reflect availability of the produce, but previously featured dishes like seared octopus with spiced onions and lady cream peas, the clam bake with sweet corn, chorizo and potatoes, or the chatham scallops with celeriac, cauliflower, bacon and lemon vinaigrette should give a proper idea of what enticing fare to look forward to when booking a table at Straight Wharf.
Opened in recent years by the same team behind Straight Wharf, Ventuno is Nantucket’s go-to place for authentic Italian cuisine. Unlike many restaurants outside Italy that dub themselves Italian, Ventuno fully respects the rhythm of a typical Italian meal: you start with an antipasto (mixed fried seafood, meatballs); the first course is a pasta dish (spaghetti with clams, suckling pig pappardelle); the second course can be either meat (grilled sirloin) or fish (grilled scallops and wild shrimps) based, and usually comes with a side (broccoli rabe, heirloom polenta); and you finish off with dessert (gelato, rhubarb crostata). Elegant dining rooms and quality service complete one of the best restaurants on Nantucket.
These recommendations were updated on September 23, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.