Expect mostly lobsters, fried and grilled fish and chicken, and routine burgers and beef cuts. Chowders are usually surefire, especially the creamy New England version. Clam cakes appear less frequently on menus than before but are still a staple. Actually deep-fried fritters containing more dough than clams, they are still fun eating, especially when dipped in tartar sauce. Lobster dishes are usually sold at market prices, higher than those listed here.
Several inns and hotels have dining rooms worth noting, but even there, neither jackets nor ties are required. Due to the seasonal nature of the resort island, its restaurants can change policies, menus, and, most important, chefs, in a twinkling. Keep that in mind if any of the observations below prove to undervalue or overstate a restaurant's virtues.
Do-It-Yourself Shore Dinners -- Should you have housekeeping facilities in your lodging, you might wish to put together a New England shore dinner. Lobster is the central component, of course, and you can buy yours straight off the fishing boats. Each afternoon from about 4 to 5:30pm, boats put in at both Old Harbor and the Great Salt Pond. Depending upon their catches of the day, they charge from $6 to $8 per pound. A more reliable source is Finn's Fish Market, at the Old Harbor ferry landing (tel. 401/466-2102). Its lobster prices are similar, and it also carries oysters, clams, shrimp, and fish.
For the other fixings -- corn, tomatoes, bread, sausage, chicken -- stop at either the Block Island Grocery (known as the B.I.G.), near Ocean Avenue and Corn Neck Road (tel. 401/466-2949), a conventional supermarket; or Block Island Depot, Ocean Avenue (tel. 401/466-2403), which carries a line of cheeses and organic foods. The best-stocked wine and liquor store is the Red Bird Package Store, on Dodge Street (tel. 401/466-2441), around the corner from the north end of Water Street. Seaside Market, toward the other end of Water Street (tel. 401/466-5876), has a good wine selection and some grocery products.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.