Restaurants tend to be expensive on the Vineyard, but the stiff competition has produced a bevy of places that offer excellent service, evocative settings, and creative cuisine. A note on spirits: Outside Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury), all of Martha's Vineyard is "dry," so BYOB; some restaurants charge a small fee for uncorking. Great Harbour Gourmet & Spirits, 40 Main St., Edgartown (tel. 508/627-4390), has a very good wine selection. There's also Jim's Package Store, at 27 Lake Ave., in Oak Bluffs (tel. 508/693-0236).
Satisfying Martha’s Vineyard’s Sweet Tooth
New Englanders do like their ice cream, and the Vineyard’s go-to ice cream outfit is Mad Martha’s. Founded in 1971, it now has shops in Oak Bluffs (117 Circuit Ave.), Edgartown (7 N. Water St.), and Vineyard Haven (48 Main St.). They offer just over a dozen homemade flavors, and they’re so good, you’ll wish there were even more. The scoops are huge (one is plenty). It’s cash only here, and the ice-cream counter is open daily 11am to midnight, May through September only.
Wherever you find a Mad Martha’s, you can bet there’ll be a Murdick’s Fudge shop down the street—they’re at 5 Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs, 21 N. Water St. in Edgartown, and 79 Main St. in Vineyard Haven. This velvety sugar-laden concoction is the top fudge on the island, made from the same recipe since 1887; kids enjoy watching it being made right there in the storefront. Shops are open in summer daily 10am to 11pm; call for off-season hours.
The Legend of the Black Dog
Back in 1969—or so the story goes—Captain Robert Douglas, a local sailor, spent a late cold night in Vineyard Haven and wanted a good meal. There were no restaurants open, and the only food he could find was a packaged stale donut from a convenience store. From that experience, he got the idea of building a good year-round tavern on the harbor in Vineyard Haven. The rest is (marketing) history, as the tavern logo—a silhouetted Black Lab—has been plastered on t-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, and just about everything else possible. You’ll find the gear sold all over the island (and on Cape Cod as well); go to www.theblackdog.com for locations. Or buy the stuff on the website and just say you went to Martha’s Vineyard to get it.
Nevertheless, the Black Dog Tavern (Beach St. Ext.; tel. 508/693-9223) remains on the Vineyard Haven harborfront, open all winter long for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (summer hours are 7am–9pm; call for off-season hours.) You can still get a steaming cup of quahog chowder on a winter day here, as well as fish and chips and chicken potpie. Old-time favorites are clams casino, grilled swordfish and, for meat-lovers: bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Friday is lobster night: On sunny days, try to get a seat on the porch next to the harbor. Main courses range from $20 to $45. Reservations are a very good idea.
Just as popular is the Black Dog Bakery (11 Water St.; tel. 508/693-4786), which is the first place you pass as you get off the ferry in Vineyard Haven;this is where travelers in the know get their coffee and snack for the ferry ride. Muffins are a specialty, as are—naturally—dog biscuits.
Island to Island
Want to travel between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket? Hy-Line Cruises (tel. 800/492-8082 or 508/228-3949) runs passenger-only high-speed inter-island ferry service from Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard, to Nantucket and back, from late May to early September (there is no car-ferry service between the islands). Each crossing takes 1 hour and 10 minutes; service runs three times a day. The one-way fare is $36 for adults, $24 for kids 5 to 12, and $7 extra for bikes; round-trip is $65 adults, $45 kids, $14 bikes.
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.