Cape Cod is not only an excellent place to go for a vacation, but it’s an excellent place to go to get a bite to eat. I’ve heard people say that there’s nowhere to eat here. I’ve heard people say that there’s nothing to do here. I disagree with both of these statements. Here are ten reasons why…
10. Flynn’s Irish Pub, Bourne
With over 40 beers on draft, this one is on the list simply for having the best selection of fermented fun on Cape Cod. Flynn’s Irish Pub is easy to get to, and easy to enjoy! But if you don’t get a seat at the bar, you may be disappointed. It can be tough to get the attention of the staff in this rather crowded little spot. Go for the beer and head elsewhere on this list for food if you have to, but you must stop by at least a dozen times to get through their fine, fine list of brews. I used to stop by here quite regularly, but the popularity of the establishment made it difficult to enjoy on some occasions. Can you really complain about something for that reason? I can, but you might not! So stop in and have a pint, or six!
9. PEARL, WELLFLEET
It was a tough call to put Pearl on this list and not The Lighthouse, The Bookstore, Winslow’s Tavern, or The Wicked Oyster. To me, Pearl represents the best of all of those establishments rolled together into one spot. Keep in mind, all of these places are within a mile of each other, so please visit them all in the same day! I’m pretty sure I have. You really can’t go wrong with any of them, but Pearl is the new kid on the block and deserves the business. Their artistic flair and their fantastic views alone are worth visit. Stop by The Jewelry Studio of Wellfleet while you’re out there and say hi to Jess.
8. Anejo, Falmouth
This is the only “non-traditional” drinking establishment on this list. But it deserves the spot if you ask me. It’s more than just tacos, burritos, and chimichangas. There are other great places around if that’s all you want. In fact, there’s a strangely large number of them. Anejo Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar is like an Agave plant growing in your front lawn when you compare it to the other establishments on this list. It stands out, and it doesn’t taste the same. Not that you should eat…your grass… Nevermind. Suffice it to say you’ll find flavors in this restaurant that’ll blow your mind and make you wish you had more mind to blow. The drinks are great (not the town water…no offense Falmouth but that stuff is nasty) and the artwork is impressive too. ¡Cuidado! The tab grows quick!
7. BRITISH BEER COMPANY, SANDWICH
I’ve heard mixed reviews of the food at this location, but none of the menus at any of the several British Beer Company locations has ever given this customer any trouble. Enormous pizzas and sandwiches are a welcome addition to the American take on traditional English fare. The beer selection is fantastic as well, as one might expect from a place with “beer” in the title. Hit the BBC on a Wednesday night for trivia with DJ Cubey, a highly entertaining gentleman with a penchant for Michael Jackson tunes, and you have a chance to win a handsome prize. The staff is polite and the atmosphere is welcoming, but parking goes fast when it’s busy so go early!
6. The Squire, Chatham
This is probably the place on this list that everyone has already visited. Want to sip a Cape Cod Red while staring at a collection of humorous vanity license plates? Want to eat at a place that David Carradine was never kicked out of? Want to pull up a stool…wait what? What’s going on here? Is this thing nailed to the…what the?! Oh ok… I get it. The bar stools are like the pilings at a harbor. Nice. They don’t budge, and neither do the locals. Grab a spot, grab a beer, grab a delicious item off of the menu, and let the hours melt away. Does it get better? Who cares, you’re in The Squire!
5. THE BOX OFFICE CAFE, CHATHAM
The first time I ate at the Box Office Cafe I fell in love. The novelty movie theme of this establishment is really a cover for a pair of owners with several culinary tricks up their sleeves. I’ve never been disappointed with a single thing I’ve eaten in this restaurant. Why is it on this list? They just added a bar! It’s small, but it’s got eager bartenders and an amazing craft beer selection. Fifty bottles? Sixty? Who’s counting? By far, the biggest flaw that this place has is that it’s got a bit of an identity crisis. A third of the building is taken up by a DVD rental service, and the seating plan suffers as a result. Sure, it’s cute and novel, but when you can’t get a seat at the bar you’ll find yourself wanting to yell, “Blow that wall out! Lose the discs!” Parking can be a crap shoot too, but if you show up on time, your drool-o-meter will be working overtime.
4. THE LOCAL BREAK, EASTHAM
I can’t say enough great things about The Local Break. Eastham traditionally isn’t a good place to open a restaurant, as evidenced by the two vacant ones flanking The Red Barn. This time around it looks like things are going to be different. The menu is innovative (and delicious), the staff is talented, the drinks are amazing, and, best of all, nothing costs an arm and a leg. Have a Cucumber Collins and you’ll forget you’re a two hour drive from Boston. That is, unless that’s what you were going for. I can’t wait to go back to this place, and you shouldn’t wait either!
3. THE HOT STOVE, HARWICH
What a gem! If Willy Wonka was tasked with building a baseball-themed bar on Cape Cod, this is what it would look like. There are two levels of dining (you’ll see what I mean) and drinking excellence here, and if you don’t want to watch baseball, football, basketball, or golf, there’s a separate dining area that features totally different programming! Usually soccer. Whatever that is. And guess what? Their ATM doesn’t charge fees! That might be a mistake on their part so do us all a favor and don’t tell them that. What a great menu for such a small place! And the baseball theme would make even Pete Rose feel nostalgic. The Hot Stove is where you need to go for your next Sierra Nevada Pale Ale!
2. BOBBY BYRNE’S, MASHPEE
There are three Bobby Byrne’s locations on Cape Cod, but the Mashpee Commons location is, by far, my favorite. Despite the fact that it’s somehow squeezed in between a number of boutiques and upscale apartments, this pub manages to have quite a relaxed atmosphere. The staff and the crowd is always polite, the food is reliably good, and the prices don’t hurt too much either. Try their Bloody Mary, it’s pretty tasty. There’s a mixture of patio seating and a full dining room to boot, so if you don’t feel like trying to pass your kids off as adults by putting them in a hat and sunglasses, you can still enjoy a Guinness. If you haven’t already, be sure to give it a try.
1. OLIVER’S & PLANCK’S TAVERN, YARMOUTH
You know how some antiques work better than the modern version of that object? Oliver’s & Planck’s Tavern is a bit like that. It has a certain old-world nautical charm that simply feels like it’s more satisfying than some more trendy and artsy locations on the Cape. The crowd is sometimes a bit on the experienced side at times, but that doesn’t mean it’s stuffy: they offer trivia, karaoke and live music like any other bar does. The bartenders are, perhaps, my favorite segment of the staff here (surprise!) but you won’t be put off by any this establishment’s staff. They all dress for the occasion and take their work very seriously. Lots of great viewing angles for sports, lots of great beers, and lots of great food. Did I mention there’s a giant outdoor bar with patio seating and that the parking lot is giant? Win win.
If you find pubs boring, you’ll hate all of these places, even the tequila bar. If you hate smiling, helpful people, none of these are for you. If craft beer and seafood aren’t your bag, go someplace else on vacation. If you want girls to dance on a glass bar in front of you while you do your best to fake a foreign accent, try a city. And if you need to spend more than hour getting ready to go out for dinner, you may need to turn your attention elsewhere. Cape Cod has some great places to hang out, and some great people to hang out with. Open your mind (and your wallet) and I’m sure you’ll be pleased.