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Cruisin’ Martha’s Vineyard: discovering culinary & cultural treasures

Martha's Vineyard marina

I fell in love with the island of Martha’s Vineyard all over again. Since I was a child, I have been ferrying it over to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, mostly day trips but a few times they were over-nighters. In close of the summer, Travis and I escaped to the Hob Knob, B & B in Edgartown for four days.


    I love  a good map…this one got kissed with sun tan lotion, salt water, and condiments

    Post dinner evenings on our porch

And as we love to do, we cruised around … this trip on mopeds. This isn’t the first time that I have mentioned ways to cover significant terrain in a short period of time (Island Getaways: Seeking the Perfect Balance). And if your travels take you to the islands of Greece, I highly recommend renting ATVs.

ATVs in Santorini

But what I love most about Martha’s Vineyard, is the seamless diversity in landscape and style amongst the island’s towns.

               On the Road…..We road them all

Oak bluffs,  gives off a honky-tonk aire and was once the homage for the religious revival movement in the 1800s. Locals enjoy the summer months spent on their porches of the famous ginger bread homes. There are stretches of land where the bay and the ocean hug you.

And on culinary terms, one of my trusty picks in Oak Bluffs, with many fond memories spent there is Jimmy Seas restaurant. The eatery stays true to its village roots serving up aromatic skillets of pasta accompanied by piping hot homemade bread . An ideal spot for a group, perfect for sharing and sampling a variety of the seafood and house grown herb inspired dishes. But, there are no reservations so put your name in and get a sunset cocktail down near the marina.

Coup de ville

Coup de Ville: Friendly staff, great people watching; along with the local fare this joint serves up the best wings!

Vineyard Haven (Tisbury), houses the famous Black Dog Tavern, and is the town for the shopaholics, cobble stoned streets lined with charming antique shops, clothing boutiques, and one of my favorite spots. Carly Simon’s home store, Midnight Farm.

Charming West Tisbury models a picturesque New England town with a lovely white church, an old mill, farms, and Ally’s general store. As you know I am obsessed with markets…so this was no exception. I asked Travis to pull over so we could look around and get some fresh fruit for our trip to the other side of the island. As I admired the weathered and strangely wise bones of this establishment I began to examine the baskets of bright hues. Simultaneously, Travis began devouring a peach and than a plum.

“Babe, they need to weigh it before you eat it.”

A tad embarrassed and completely satisfied like a fed child, he picked out two comparable pieces and paid;  I cupped the fruit pit carcasses. Can you imagine…Amanda Bourne, Cause of death: “She loss grip of the moped due to sticky peach juice hands.”

Ally’s Market was built in 1858 and oozes Americana as we moved through the squeaky swinging door from the sandwich shop, to the general store, to the Farm stand. Ally’s is a perfect spot to pick up some edible goodies for a beach picnic.

Heading to the western, part of the island is Chilmark, where lush farm land meets the salty sea air. Menemsha, the still-active fishing village is speckled with fisherman in their full body yellow galoshes. There are a few lovely galleries and island souvenir shops as well.

Larson's Fish Market in martha's Vineyard

For prime seafood my number one spot is Larsen’s, the freshest lobsters and steamers around, this is a down and dirty shack, where you dine outside on retired lobster traps and it is BYOB. The Bite is a fine second for fried seafood  and clam chowder up the road.

And elegant Edgartown is where we called home during our stay. After breakfast in the dining room at Hob Knob, and preceding our bright days of exploring we would zoom through the narrow streets inspecting, borderline drooling, at the meticulously maintained Greek Rival houses built by the whaling captains in the 17th century…and the classic Cape Cods.

       This home was one of our favorites

Scoring a reservation at any of the desired restaurants was effortless because we requested the last one available, aiding to our “extending-the-day” tactics. Strolling to dinner we would partake in evening window shopping while observing the innocent pastime of ice cream shop hopping. (New Englanders eat more ice cream than any other region in the USA. And MV has some great ones.) Mad Martha’s and Vineyard’s Scoops are just two.

When it comes to restaurant critiques, I rarely utter the term “best meal” but Detente in Edgartown, on Main street, tucked behind a cosmetic store selling Dead Sea enriched products, was one of the most memorable dining experiences I have had in years.  The entire menu is sensational; they infuse each dish with the essential elements of flavor.

Detente Restaurant in Edgartown, MV

      The Veal Milanese appetizer sporadically appears in my day dreams! And the wine list, stellar.

With every place that is returned to, requires new discoveries. We scooted to the the most western tip of the island, Aquinnah, to the cliffs. In addition to the colorful folds and stretches of beach…the sunsets are majestic.

Aquinnah Beach (This photo was taken my Jacob Shiffman, my co-worker at Food Network who ironically was cruisin around as well) thx JS

We arrived in enough time to sneak in a late afternoon snack at Faith’s fish shack, where the hippie owner slices uber fresh sushi and grilled local caught fish tacos that should be talked about with good friends.

I thought I took a pic of the food but the sushi was so damn good I forgot

“Miss, we are making a fresh batch of rice, do you mind waiting”

“No worries, I will be up watching the sunset, I will be back in a little, ok?”


Cause that is how they roll in Aquinnah!

Aquinnah Sunset Climbing up to the outlook, I felt a strange sense of empowerment, a sense of unity. Like a sunset groupie! All these visitors, traveling to the end of the island for the same reason. We gathered at the peak to catch a glimpse of the sun fading into the crystaled waters         

We stumbled upon our final eating destination, the Blue Canoe Grill, after dropping off our moped in Vineyard Haven and about an hour before nearly missing our ferry.

Lobster club at Blue Canoe in Martha's Vineyard

     The Lobster Club….  will definitley be a course at my Last Supper

But… luckily we had the kindest ex-secret service/international real estate agent/part time cab driver who voluntarily zoomed through the back roads through Edgartown,Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven to do the impossible–catch us that ferry!

Vineyard Haven Marina

By the end of our stay, we had discovered an even deeper appreciation for this extraordinary place. Some people get it, some don’t… We conquered this hideaway on two wheels, basking on the beaches, dining on local fare, and celebrating the diverse nature of this iconic island off the coast of Cape Cod.

And, its not too late, I highly recommend the Vineyard in the fall with less crowds and crisp country weather…

Explore smart!


Satisfy your senses,
Amanda (follow me on Twitter!)

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3 Responses to “Cruisin’ Martha’s Vineyard: discovering culinary & cultural treasures”
  1. Maiah says:

    Love this post so, so much! Spent many summers on the vineyard as a child and now rediscovering it as an adult, your post made me so excited for my next trip in November, and the many trips I plan to drag my boyfriend on next summer 🙂


  2. Thank you for commenting. I am glad I could bring back fond memories. Have a lovely trip and hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. All the best, AB

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