by Rick Conti
Some folks think Martha’s Vineyard rolls up its streets and byways some time after Columbus Day. The stores and restaurants batten down their hatches until Spring shines its vernal light on the island.
To paraphrase Carnac the Magnificent, “Wrong again, barnacle breath!”
The Vineyard is a special place. Time has no bearing on that fact. There is no reason not to enjoy its varied graces in January as well as July. In many ways, it’s better in the off-season. When the Byrd’s sang in “Turn, Turn, Turn” about a “time of peace” in the 60’s (or when Pete Seeger wrote the song in the 50’s or when Solomon wrote the original words in the… way long time ago) they might have been (but weren’t) talking about MV in Winter. There is a still to soothe the soul and a calm to rejuvenate the body.
Plus, there are ample parking spaces at Sharky’s.
Since eating is a favorite activity on the island, let’s consider our options for eateries in the lower season.
At the aforementioned Sharky’s in Oak Bluffs or Edgartown, it’s Cinco de Mayo every day, no matter the season. If you are among the unfortunate ones who have never visited our south of the border friends, there’s already a whole post on it here: https://www.vineyardsquarehotel.com/2010/08/marthas-vineyard-has-greatest-place-to-eat-in-the-whole-wide-world/
The Wharf Pub in Edgartown is also a year-round hangout. It’s been there since, oh, about forever. Rumor has it that Thomas Mayhew (1593-1682) used to attend their Trivia Nights. (No one beat him in the history category.) It’s a family place with good food at good prices.
Espresso Love deserves its own post and will likely get one. Virtually everyone within 10 miles stops there for their morning java fix, regardless of the month. Beyond the beans, their sandwiches and pastries keep me coming back.
A new restaurant on Water street – a stone throw from the hotel – is making waves as a high-end joint that’s open year-round. 11 North features fare from chef Matt Stogryn. Stogryn has has created gastronomic happiness all over the country at Elisabeth Daniel in San Francisco, Tremont 647 in Boston, and on the Island at The Sweet Life Café in Oak Bluffs. Dishes feature a combination of organic meats and local veggies for a nicely varied menu that includes burgers, tuna tartare, and whole poussin.
For cold-weather ambiance, it’s hard to beat The Newes from America on a brisk night. Besides having one of the coolest names ever, this place seems to generate its own warmth. From the dark wood furnishings, to the fieldstone wall, to the etched glass, the place feels as warm and inviting as the British pubs it emulates. A massive and ever-changing selection of brews simply completes the picture. The fact that it’s only a few dozen steps from Vineyard Square Hotel & Suites makes it the perfect place to stroll to, no matter what Old Man Winter throws our way.
The only things missing in the off-season are the ice cream shops. For some reason, they all close down for the winter. You’ll just have to settle for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s from Cronig’s. You’ll survive.
There are, in fact, lots of restaurants open year-round on the Vineyard, but there’s more to do than just eat. Look for my post next month for some ideas.