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Sharkey's Cantina

As a writer, I love hyperbole. It grabs the reader’s attention, making the point and then some – stretching the truth for good purpose. The title of this post is a great example.Sharky’s Cantina may not be the Greatest Place to Eat in the Whole Wide World, but if it isn’t, it’s darn close. Seriously, given the choices out there, I think I’d just as soon eat at Sharky’s as any other place. Why? I’m glad I asked.

First and second, it’s funky and fun. Third, fourth, and fifth, the food is great, the selection wide, and the prices reasonable.

I first came to an awareness of Sharky’s when there was just the Oak Bluffs location, a cozy little spot that they’ve occupied since 2003. It was great, but a bit crowded. (More hyperbole. Think: squeezing the New England Patriots defensive line into a Smart Car.) The place was consistently bursting at the seams with people stuffing their faces with tacos, chimichangas, and burritos, all the while washing them down with sangria and margaritas.

An added attraction, if the mob scene wasn’t enough to draw you in, was the requirement to visit “The Shark Tank” next door if you had to (how shall I put this delicately?) deal with all those drinks you’d been downing. As a guy, there’s something distinctly unsettling about doing my business in a facility called “The Shark Tank”.

Note that none of this kept me away. The pluses far outweighed the downsides. My family went there at every opportunity. Still, it was clear that they needed more space. In 2005, the much-needed larger Edgartown location opened. It can almost handle the crowds who continue to flock there. The outside seating under the lights helps a great deal in the good weather. (Yet another benefit: Sharky’s is open year-round. No unrequited hankering for tacos in the dead of January!)

Truth be told, Mexican food would not be my first choice of cuisine. Much of it I can take or leave. That’s OK. My family is heavily (no pun intended) into it and I like enough of it to appreciate the place. Just the awesome freshly-made chips and pico de gallo are enough to sate my appetite. I have two burrito-devotee daughters who swear by that selection. My wife considers the veggie tacos to be unsurpassed.

The funny thing is that I don’t order Mexican from their menu anymore. Not because it’s not good. It is! However, I’ve discovered the Sharky’s Special Sauce Burger. I know it’s not a burger joint, but this is one of the best burgers on the planet. Between the burger and the excellent fries, I rarely find a need to stray from that selection. Look, if I ate there thee times a week – and I might if I could – I’d mix in the tacos, fajitas, and quesadillas. Unfortunately, I only get there a few times a year. Thus, it’s generally the burger for me.

If there’s any room after the chips and pico de gallo, that is.

Image courtesy of roolrool.

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A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Where to Get the Best Lunch in Edgartown
Go Exploring with the Best Martha’s Vineyard Tours
Treat Yourself to Fine Dining at the Top Edgartown Spots

There are plenty of sounds I associate with the Vineyard. A few are annoying (motorcycles without mufflers and loud cell phone conversations) but most are enticing: sea gulls calling, waves crashing on the shore, the bells of the Old Whaling Church peeling, and children laughing. And lest I forget, the call of, “Your table is ready!” at Sharky’s Cantina.

One of my favorite sounds is named after a sound that can’t be heard. Sound confusing?

The span of water separating Martha’s Vineyard from the Elizabeth Islands is called Vineyard Sound. When I hear that name, however, I think of the melodious tones of the a capella singing group of that name that graces the Island every summer with songs and good times.

Begun in 1992, The Vineyard Sound consists of a group of college students, changing each year, who summer on the Vineyard and literally sing for their suppers. The 2009 edition consists of ten gentlemen who will perform four nights a week at locations around the island.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard them. My wife and I were simply strolling the streets of Edgartown one sultry summer night back in 1994. In the distance we heard harmonizations that could be aptly described as enthralling. Up Water Street came the members of The Vineyard Sound like vocal Pied Pipers leading a large band of followers who had been caught up in their magical sounds. Soon we were among them.

The makeup of the group has metamorphosed many times over the years, but the quality and style remain consistently virtuosic. Each year, they manage to recruit an incredibly capable, charismatic crew of collegians. They sing classics and current tunes, both funky and funny. An evening with this troupe will have you laughing, toe-tapping, and maybe even joining in.

Warning: Take in a single concert and you’ll want to hear them again and again. Picking up one of their CD’s, always available at their shows, is a proven antidote to Vineyard Sound withdrawal!

Image courtesy of  The Vineyard Sound.

 

Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Where to Get the Best Lunch in Edgartown
Go Exploring with the Best Martha’s Vineyard Tours
Treat Yourself to Fine Dining at the Top Edgartown Spots

Those who know me well would probably describe my spending habits as “cheap”…  but I prefer the terms “economy minded” or “frugal”!  I don’t eat out often (college tuitions to save for you know), and I really appreciate a Value.  For all of these reasons, I am sympathetic to visitors who want to vacation on this beautiful island without taking a second mortgage out on their house.  Eating out every meal can be expensive, but if you know where to go, a little planning will go far and you can then splurge without guilt on some of our more posh gourmet dining options.

Because the island offers a vast array of eateries, this post will focus on Edgartown, which is the area I know best.  Let’s start with breakfast…   Please don’t underestimate the value of a breakfast included in your room rate, even a simple continental. Especially if you have more than 1 or 2 mouths to feed! It is one less thing to think about & budget.  It also makes the mornings a little more relaxed.  You don’t have to consider where to go, or even wait until everyone in your family is awake.

beach-picnic2I highly recommend solidifying your lunch plans before you take off for your day.  If you are headed to the beach or off for a hike or long bike ride, you can get sandwiches, etc. to go and have a picnic at a scenic spot along the way.  Two deli’s that offer great value are Humphreys Bakery (right behind The Colonial Inn on Winter St.) and Shiretown Meats (the butcher shop beside Stop & Shop).  Both offer huge portions, so it’s possible to make 1 sandwich into lunch for 2.  Another less expensive and popular option is fast food to go at the Quarterdeck on Dock St.  You can grab a hotdog for the kids (or an inexpensive soft ice cream cone) and enjoy your feast on a bench along the harbor, while watching the boats and ducking the seagulls (I understand that the gulls really like those french fries… watch your fingers!).

If you are looking for a casual, kid friendly spot to “eat in”, check out Among the Flowers on Mayhew Lane.  They have a wonderful patio area from which to people watch, & good food (celebrating 30 years in business, they must be doing something right…also a great option for a full breakfast).

There are numerous fabulous dinner options in Edgartown, depending on your mood and budget.  For casual pub fare, I like to recommend the Newes from America Pub, on the corner of N.Water St. and Kelley St.  It’s a cozy spot with a kid’s menu, and  microbrews on-tap.  Another popular restaurant with reasonable prices is Sharkey’s Cantina on upper Main St.  Yes, I know that most people don’t come to Martha’s Vineyard expecting to eat Mexican food; but the food is good, the atmosphere is fun, and variety is the spice of life, right?!

Another moderately priced dining option is Lattanzi’s Pizzeria.  Off of Courthouse Square, they offer exceptional “traditional Italian cuisine” (with a fine dining option next door).  The pizzeria is more casual, and offers something on the menu for everyone in the family.

If you are interested in a more upscale dining option, the Best Value in Edgartown is atChesca’s, on N.Water St. at the Colonial Inn Courtyard.  They offer delicious “urban Italian & American cuisine”, a comfortably elegant atmosphere, an extensive wine list, and the service is always top notch.  If there is a wait (it’s a really popular spot), you can enjoy your favorite beverage and people watch in the most comfortable rockers on the Island… on the covered front porch of the Colonial Inn.  Although everything on Chesca’s menu is a good bet, they offer a few Bento Box options that will help minimize the bill.  Their American version of this Japanese tradition offers smaller portions of an entree, salad, choice of soup or chowder, mashed potatoes and a fresh sautéed vegetable all for one attractive price ($28-32).

So what are your favorite choices when “eating out” on a budget on Martha’s Vineyard?  Did I miss you favorite Edgartown eating tradition?  I hope to expand on this list and cover other towns in future posts, so please let us know what your favorites are!

Image courtesy of edenpictures

 

Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Where to Get the Best Lunch in Edgartown
Go Exploring with the Best Martha’s Vineyard Tours
Treat Yourself to Fine Dining at the Top Edgartown Spots