Not Every Place, Just the Best..
Pray you get in. The one criticism we had of this restuarant was that it was too cramped and had no flow, but that’s all been changed with an newly expanded interior and the addition of a bar. It’s the in place to be and be seen, bright eyed and bushy tailed (unless you wax) first thing in the morning, especially after the early AA meeting lets out. Anonymity aside, many a well-heeled (and healing) decamped New Yorker can be seen chowing in this West End storefront, colorfully adorned with bold paintings and farmy furniture—it is the most Upstate New Yorky looking place in the whole town of P. Surely you can stomach lobster hash with poached eggs and Hollandaise or a stack of fresh blueberry pancakes. The baked goods here are truly, well, heavenly—homemade English muffins! And it’s not just for breakfast anymore. Some divine lunch and dinner creations include Tuscan cod; Portugese rack of pork with little neck clams; a killa chowdah; seared day scallops served in any number of delicious ways, depending on the day; filet mignon as salad centerpiece or served au poivre. The menu manages to be consistent while its offerings change depending on what’s fresh and what the chef is feeling du jour. Truly transcendent.
199 Commercial Street. 508 487 9639.
Casual chic. This place lives up to its name because many a Ptown folk considers this to be their local commissary. It’s a favorite of die-hard townies and wash-ashore hipstera alike. There are no reservations taken here. You show up, you queue up, you pay and take a number, grab your utensils and await the yumminess to arrive. We never eat here without ordering the Crispy Brussel Sprouts in fish sauce. Otherwise, it could be a Kale & Quinoa salad day, or a Lobster roll lunch, or a Surf-and-Turf (grilled steak and shrimp on ciabatta) sandwich afternoon. Or perhaps Cod Banh-Mi. And tacos? How about pulled pork; or crispy cod? There’s a raw bar. And no place this side of Nantucket can you get some “Fries with Eyes”—smelts with your choice of dipping sauce. A great beer and wine list. Or “frosé—yes, you guessed it: frozen rosé. You can sit out back near the water. You can people watch inside, which is decked-out in a Brittany-Yankee nautical theme. You’ll be back the next day. Oh, and proprietors Rob Anderson and Loic Rossignol also own the Happy Camper donut-and-ice-cream shop next store. You’re welcome.
225 Commercial Street. 508 487 3800. www.thecanteenptown.com
CENTRAL HOUSE at the Crown & Anchor
Celebrity chef—perfect pre-show. Right in the center of Provincetown action, on the premises of where the Afterglow Festival is staged, the Central House at the Crown is one of Provincetown’s finest restaurants accenting the region’s local seafood and vegetables with minimal, fresh preparation. Working with local farms and fishermen, serving fish, produce, meats and dairy from sustainable resources, celeb chef Michelle Ragussis creatively composes some of the best dishes in town, using certified organically, mostly area raised foods. Think crispy cauliflower, local mussels or oysters Rockefeller for starters; move into a bone-in rib eye or pork Milanese or roasted split lobster or a killer linguine with clam sauce. There is even a vegetarian bowl. Or, to reward yourself for something you made up, get the lobster mac n’ cheese . The mindful wine list includes small-production and lesser known varietals from around the world. The outdoor terrace is brilliant for watching the artful live-action movie that is life passing on Commercial Street. And you can tell your host or server you’re seeing one of the Afterglow shows and they’ll be sure to secure you a seat so you can eat at ease. It is the most central and civilized dining experience in town. Lunch 11am to 4pm; Dinner 5-10pm. . Lunch 11AM – 4PM, dinner 5PM – 10PM. Did we mention it turns into an old-school piano bar most late nights? Uh-huh.
247 Commercial Street. 508 487 1430. www.onlyatthecrown.com/centralhouse
An insider’s delight. Zagats says Devon’s is “an oasis of calm and excellence. The talented chef does wonders with local seafood and seasonal vegetables; the breakfasts are to die for too.” We say that Devon’s has been a spiritual home for Afterglow Festival Artists who brunched and dined at the resto’s old location every day in various clusters of combinations. And this new space shall prove no different: Owner Devon Ruesch, Provincetown’s premier taste-maker, is ever on hand to let every guest feel special and attended to. Chef Drew creates modern American magic with global influences, sending untold deliciousness to inside tables with water views and outside tables under an awning where you people watch between chews, oohs and ahhs. Start with cocktails and Devon’s lobster cake or poached wild Maine shrimp or baby arugula salad followed by surf and turf of pan-seared duck breast and day scallops, Provincetown bouillabaise, farro risotto or fresh fish of the day. Dev has the with a perfectly concise list of wines to pair with every plate. Breakfast includes organic maple pecan granola, blueberry cornmeal pancakes, Portugese sweet bread french toast, tofu scramble and omelettes with slow roasted tomatoes and crimini mushrooms, apple smoked bacon and vegan breakfast patties. See you there tomorrow.
31 Bradford Street. 508 487-4773. www.devons.org
If you could turn back time. Walking into this place is taking a trip back to 1970s Provincetown. There are two menus—a traditional Italian one, to which this writer adheres; and a “continental” one from which most people order. Sorry, but we likes the carpaccio, the pasta e fagioli, the burrata and heirloom tomatoes, the veal Maura with escarole and beans and chicken piccatta or Francese with artichokes, and or eggplant parmigiana with sides of al dente spaghetti. But you might go for the continental fare of Tuscan summer salad, herb-crusted rack of lamb, tea-smoked duck or gorgonzola-stuffed Angus beef filet mignon. Vive la difference, or whatever the Italian equivalent of that saying is. Typically, we love this place when the crowds are gone and the dark interior matches our fall and winter mood. But we have never had a bad meal here or an inauthentic experience and, when push comes to shove, we would save this place first in the event of a tsunami.
230 Commercial Street. 508 487-9715. www.frontstreetrestaurant.com
JOON BAR & KITCHEN
In a word: Yum. This is a special place and you do well to reserve days if not weeks in advance. Its proprietor, Audrey, is an inspirational success story. She worked various places around town and developed a wine-bar concept that was installed here and there; and ultimately she realized her dream of having an exceptional eatery in Provincetown and no place is more appreciated than this. The list of small plates by Chef Paul Krikorian includes not-to-be-missed Wood Roasted Wild Mushrooms, house-made Naan bread, aged-mancheego-cheese-stuffed olives and house cut fries with smoked tomato ketchup or fois gras aioli. Follow with duck sliders, seared scallops with snow peas and cashews, or the Joon Nicoise with sushi-grade tuna; or hit the assortment of flat-breads—smoked halibut? wild mushroom? roasted artichoke—or go big with the dry-aged Angus burger or line-caught halibut. Wine is queen here. And Audrey is beyond careful about what vintages she serves by the glass and bottle. It’s all perfection. And be super nice to the wait staff because we will find out if you’re not.
133 Commercial Street. 508 413-9336. www.joonbar.com
MAC’S FISH HOUSE
Fresh and fancy-free. Unlike the other sushi restaurant in town where you might suspect the fare is overpriced for the purpose of being snorted up somebody’s nose, Mac’s is a wholesome alternative with a genuine pedigree. We live for the Crabby Crunch roll. Do we love their original Mac’s Shack in Wellfleet better? Sure. That place, with its outdoor bar, exposed white-washed ceiling beams and frenetic seaside feel—you will wait for an hour to dine at the Wellfleet spot—makes for better Instagramming as compared with the Provincetown location which makes one feel they were going for a diner look instead of a dining one. But we soon move past that when it comes to the food. The sushi here is beyond compare in Provincetown. And the local millionaires seem to have bar stools with their names engraved on them. It’s not cool, which is so cool. The Afterglow Festival drives our audience in this restuarant’s direction because it never disppoints and the fish is so fresh it practically talks back to you. That might be true, too, in regard to the staff; but it’s authentically New England (and people that work here are from here, trust!) and we’ve never been an effusive lot.
85 Shank Painter Road. 508 487-6227. www.macsseafood.com
Tradition. Not a summer can go by without at least one meal here. This family run die-hard, with its original coccyx numbing wood booths and Sardi’s-like caracitures crowding every inch of wall space, takes you back to a simpler more food-processed time of Chicken Cordon Bleu, Baked Stuffed Scrod or Pork Chops or Shrimp or Filet of Sole or Manicotti. Let’s not forget the system stalling fried Seafood Platter or Clams or Clam Strips or Oysters or Scallops or Shrimp or Fish n’ Chips, nor the three different dinner choices with the suffix: Parmagiana. There’s a pasta menu, a burger menu, a “submarine” menu, a pizza menu, a children’s menu and a cocktail menu—there are Reubens and club sandwiches and tacos and hot dogs and grilled cheese. What else? Oh, of course: “salads”—cold tuna salad plate, grilled chicken salad plate. Do not order wine. The selection makes what they serve on Jet Blue look and taste like Chateauneuf du Pape. But “milk” is an actual menu item. Though we wouldn’t be surprised to see a Sexton truck parked out front, there is simply no resisting this place, self-punishment be damned. Celebrating its 87th year in business, one wonders at the vintage of their oldest freezer item.
300 Commercial Street. 508 487-0121. mayflower-ptown.com
THE RED INN
Live a little. We always go to the Red Inn when we’re feeling flush and or deserving (of what is anyone’s guess). There is just something about this place that says you’re on a tony vacation, even if you live here. The waiters are properly pressed and walk up-right, smoothly operating tableside. It surely isn’t the best food in town, but it is in the good-to-excellent category, most often, though it can be hit or miss. But who cares. You’re tan and taut and tawny and you’re wearing light colors to accentuate the fact; and this place exudes an earthy elegance you can’t find anywhere in town. And there are those wide-plank wood floors and most every table has a water view; and some folk are just hanging on the deck getting a luxury buzz on. It’s the closest thing Provincetown has to dining at the club. So you linger. A long time. The duck is great every other time.
99 Commercial Street. 508 487-1279. they don’t seem to have a website.
We shall see. The writer of this installment has yet to eat here but this cash-only place, owned by Siobhan Carew (Pomodoro, Boston), an Irish native, has been a well touted hit with neighborhood West-End Provincetonians who found themselves invited for dinner with knocks on their doors. Cash-only always makes one suspicious; and a Google of the owners’ history in Boston doesn’t inspire a surplus of ease—and then there have been disputes with neighbors as this new incarnation of the decade’s old original Sal’s Place got underway. But here it is. And real foodies are raving—apparently they have a killer eggplant parm. We shall see; and update this entry when we ourselves have sampled the goods and perhaps even addressed some of the publicized issues with its owner. (Not to be confused with the East End’s Ciro & Sal’s, which is worth a visit for the decor and would make a great spot for a kitsch party, so long as you eat very little.)
99 Commercial Street. 508 487-1279. they don’t seem to have a website.
Seriously…Named for Amy Spindler (not the late New York Times fashion writer) but a “Rum Runner” that ran aground in 1922 during the prohibition era, this eatery is owned by Ryan Campbell and James DeRosier, the same pair that own KoHi coffee company and the Waterford Inn, where the restaurant is situated. “Spindler’s serves some of the finest food and handcrafted drinks that Cape Cod has to offer, housed in a comfortable and approachable environment.” DeRosier and Campbell have teamed with James Beard award-winning chef Barbara Lynch and her staff on the opening of Spindler’s Provincetown. Chef Lynch has developed an inspired menu of seasonal New England ingredients using classic French technique and Italian soul; while the lady calling the shots on premise is chef Raina, whom we love. The bar program has been curated by Ezra Star, general manager of Lynch’s famed cocktail bar, Drink.
386 Commercial Street. 508 487-6400. www.spindlersptown.com
STRANGERS & SAINTS
Finally! For years we’ve been casting white-witch spells in hopes of conjuring a restaurant such as this. Afterglow sponsor and famed interior designer Ken Fulk conceived of the decor of this modern-traditional eatery in what can all too often be a mediocre culinary landscape. Billed as a Mediterranean tavern, S & S boasts a comprehensive wine list, craft cocktails and numerous meat and cheese plates, a favorite of which is the Forrest & Earth, a combo-platter of venison and boar salami, Lebanon bologna and pork and pistachio paté paird with Arethusa blue and Garrotza de Cabra cheeses which suffice for sitting outside taking in the harbor at sunset. Or how about hot dog sliders or dollar oysters and shrimp at happy hour to soak up the Mayflowerian themed cocktails with names like Lady Alden and Bill Baldwin. But trust there is nothing hoaky about this real, sophisticated eatery, from its wood-oven stove pumping out 10-inch stone-hearth pizzas—little neck clam and pancetta or arugula proscuitto and mission fig, or a purist pepperoni and mozzarella, to name a few. The appetizer list is to live for: Porgtugese brandade, house-made chips a quahog clam dip, curried octopus and chickpea smash; and a trio of perfect mains—roasted cod, roasted half chicken, grilled skirt steak—super more than suffice.
404 Commercial Street. 508 487-1449. www.strangersandsaints.com
Brekkie. As the name suggests this place is all about your morning meal, which can be had from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon. Brandon Quesnell and Steve Katsurinis—owners of the nearby 8 Dyer hotel—have taken over the old Devon’s spot with views from the inside dining roomof the harbor and light house on the beach side and those of passersby on the street from the patio. Serving cage-free, local organic eggs, you get your classic Benedict with roasted sweet potatoes or tater tots and a spicy kale crunch salad; there are folded eggs (we think they mean omelettes) with geographically close names like Californian and Mexican. You can even go bigger with chicken and waffles or chorizo tacos, or feel superiorly svelt ordering the quinoa pancakes. Though you needn’t stick to coffee—they serve bloodies, mimosa along with tequila and gin and rum concoctions and the unsubtly named Palmer’s morning wood, a hard-lemonade version of the sober classic Arnold. Breakfast has never been so intoxicating.
401 1/2 Commercial Street. 508 487-0600. www.yolkptown.com