Best Restaurants in Cape CodOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
By Inspector 87
as told to Suzanne Lemon
Old driftwood posts support the sign at Captain Frosty's , so if you blink you might miss it—and if you do, turn around. For more than 30 years, this seasonal clam shack in Dennis has been dishing up lightly breaded, deep-fried clams and one of Cape Cod's best lobster rolls—plentiful chunks of meat packed into a buttery grilled bun with a dab of mayonnaise. Choose from a board above the counter, place your order with the pleasant staff and pay the cashier (there's no table service). Have some yummy soft-serve ice cream to top off your meal.
Family-owned The Ebb Tide Restaurant, originally a captain's home, has been serving fresh seafood since 1959. Dennisport residents eagerly anticipate its reopening every summer. Classic ocean-blue Naugahyde armchairs and an intimate setting allow guests to settle in comfortably and peruse the menu. Samplings include rich and creamy seafood fettuccini, lobster fritters and a cheesy baked crabmeat. Those who prefer turf over surf can savor roasted prime rib, apricot-almond chicken and other temptations.
Offering one of the cape's best waterside views, Ocean House in Dennisport presents a panorama of Nantucket Sound. New England meets Asia in such savory preparations as seared tuna sashimi with coriander, roasted teriyaki salmon and herb-grilled swordfish. Pan-broiled porterhouse steak, Peking duck tacos and Asian vegetable spring rolls entice those inclined to skip the seafood.
Hungry Eastham diners head to Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar every summer. Diners order and pay at the counter, retrieving their food when the staff calls their number; presentation is informal with paper plates and plastic utensils. Since 1976, the family at Arnold's has been wowing locals and tourists alike with quality lobster, steamers, oysters, mussels, terrific fried clams, burgers, sandwiches, and another contender for the cape's best lobster roll.
Barley Neck Inn is in the original attached barn of a sea captain's 1868 house. Traditional New England fare includes fried whole clams, Cape steamers and baked stuffed lobster or cod; meat-and-potato aficionados delight in barbecue ribs, burgers, grilled marinated chicken and filet mignon. Fireplaces and wooden plank floors contribute to a cozy, intimate and casually elegant dining experience in East Orleans.
When in Falmouth, look no further than the silver and red dining car with the neon sign urging patrons to “EAT HEAVY.” Betsy's Diner, a gleaming reminder of the Fabulous '50s, serves breakfast all day, plenty of classic lunch plates and an assortment of home-style dinners. Order the meatloaf or the roast turkey meal (with a helping side of mashed potatoes, of course), then find a tune on your at-table jukebox while you wait.
Beachgoers in cover-ups sit alongside professionals in starched shirts during lunch at Tugboats, where the atmosphere is comfortable and casual. The second floor overlooks Hyannis harbor and has a popular outdoor dining section with awning-covered decks and a heated, glass-walled lounge. Tasty fresh seafood preparations include clam chowder, fried seafood, locally caught steamers and broiled scrod. Tugboats also offers burgers, sandwiches, steaks and pasta, along with free valet parking.
The Lobster Pot presents waterfront and terrace dining in addition to the Top of the Pot lounge, a lively spot for food and fun. Sample masterfully prepared lobster, a Cajun bouillabaisse, chowders or the pan-fried seafood cakes made from lobster, stone crab, shrimp and scallops. The atmosphere is casual with simple nautical decor, paneled walls and views of Provincetown's harbor. Parking is tricky, if not darn frustrating; be patient, it's worth the effort.
The Skipper Restaurant & Chowder House is within walking distance of South Yarmouth's seaside lodgings. Good menu choices include homemade soups, native steamers and littlenecks, grilled swordfish, fried seafood, lobster rolls, roasted herbed chicken and prime rib. Guests can take a stroll on the beach right across the street after lunch or dinner.
An institution since 1953, the Kream 'N Kone in West Dennis wins many local polls for its fried seafood, and the lobster rolls aren't too shabby either. Of course, burgers and hotdogs are on the menu, but the fried stuff is what draws summer crowds. As the name suggests, this also is a good place for ice cream. Diners may sit inside or outdoors on the patio, or order food to go. Don't let the lack of a beach or waterside view dissuade you—the fare is top-notch and well prepared.
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Cape Cod, MA
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.