alphabetically (on a 5 point system).........
Baie Bar Resto
336 Commercial Street, upstairs, Provincetown
When I notice a new restaurant in town, I will make a mental note about it and then, without fail, the public opinions will start rolling in. As for Baie, it was just the opposite. On several occasions, I heard the jabbering about a new high-quality restaurant in town and apparently this was it. It was 2017 and lunch was my first venture there and as we ascended the steps to the restaurant two very nice ladies coming in the opposite direction grabbed my arm and whispered, “you must have the cauliflower. Fabulous.”
The wait staff here are all very pleasant and obviously trying to elevate this place (with no great difficulty) to something above-average for Provincetown. And based on my initial visit, they were quite successful.
And the two ladies, well they were quite right. The cauliflower is fabulous along with many other dishes. At lunch, the menu is relatively short with a few appetizers and a handful of larger plates. But the appetizers are sizable enough that you can put together several of them for a great meal. And at dinner, the portions increase making them even more desirable. The cauliflower sat in a Moroccan-inspired sauce with the consistency of a remoulade and accompanied by chickpeas and some wonderful Mediterranean spices. Delicious and unusual. The cod fish sandwich was a winner as well with it's very delicate batter, extremely fresh and mild taste and accompanied by a terrific tartar sauce. Grilled octopus was served sliced (a rarity) over a beautiful green salad accompanied by a mango puree. Lovely as well. Judging by the number of portions of razor clams that I saw go by, they were obviously a big hit as well and yet another example of a food item not prevalent in town. At dinner one night, the veg-barley salad was awesome as was the grilled salmon and the chimichurri coated steak. The pasta with garlic shrimp is quite delicious. The kitchen strives to be different and does so with remarkable success.
It should be noted that some of the portions here especially that of the cod fish sandwich and the fried chicken slider are relatively small even by lunchtime standards.
And, should you have room for dessert, you might want to try the berry parfait which elevates the dish to a new level.
Seating is all open-air on a no-frills veranda. The kitchen faces you and provides a whiff of the last wonderful thing on the grill. All seating is on a veranda and can get a bit cool at night but can be helped by the outdoor heating lamps. Reservations are accepted and given the very limited number of tables, highly suggested.
Ptown may have found its newest 5* restaurant.
17 Truro Center Road, Truro
Traveling up Route 6 to Provincetown and gazing out on the neighboring towns of Wellfleet and Truro, I had convinced myself that there really was no good reason to venture out of Ptown for a good meal. Yes, I’ve been to Moby Dick’s and thoroughly enjoyed it (see separate review) but I was sure that little else existed of appeal.
In Truro, hidden a half mile off the main road lies Blackfish restaurant. And for people spending their days and nights in Ptown, I do suggest you do the tuck and roll down Route 6 and get yourself here. Everything about it spells professionalism.
After entering the restaurant to what is a rather nondescript waiting area and bar, the first dining room is more likeable and has a rather tavern-like ambience. Deeper into the restaurant a more garden-like room is revealed, my preference being for the latter.
You are first presented with a rather extensive wine list with many offerings by the glass. Specialty cocktails have their own lengthy list. Prices vary but you will find some very good lower-priced options.
Chef Eric Jansen has a terrific hand and knows exactly how to take what could be ordinary and turn it into extraordinary. A delicious crispy haddock was served over a pea puree with diced carrots and an orange zest accompanying the fish. The chef’s signature tuna Bolognese is a riff on the ordinary Bolognese and works just wonderfully. Short ribs of beef served with carrots, onion and mashed potatoes tastes as if it were all pulled out of a large pot of boeuf bourguignon, Julia Child quality. The seafood stew was a wonderful and generous mix of shellfish and white fish, all in a tasty tomato broth. A special one evening of cucumber and mint soup was terrific as was the seasonal heirloom tomato salad with a generous heap of burrata cheese to go around and a good sprinkling of fresh basil. Bread is a menu item here and the crust alone would be worth its $3 price tag but it is all served with a very good olive oil containing a large dole of white bean puree for swiping your bread. Desserts vary by day and it won't be an easy task having to choose from among them. On a recent night there, I went with the olive oil cake with basil ice cream. Nice! On another night, the financier with chocolate center was good but did not live up to the others. And while it wasn’t my choice that evening, blackberry bread pudding with brandied ice cream didn't look as if you would suffer through it.
Wait staff is very professional and helpful and has always steered us in the right direction whenever we've been undecided.
It's not easy to pull P-towners away from Ptown. But if you don't have wheels, I suggest you find someone who does. Let them know that one of the best restaurants may be just 15 minutes down the road.
Bubala’s by the Bay
183 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Unlike the Lobster Pot, here is a diner sized menu that is an overall winner. They got me on the first visit. Completely confused as to which of the 50 items to order, I went with the most dangerous food, a fried fish and chips platter. In the wrong hands, this could be one greasy mess. But on the contrary, it came out light, not greasy at all, and completely delicious although on one or two occasions, some very limp fries accompanying it. Every subsequent visit to Bubala's has proved the same. Salads are fresh and delicious and although there are burgers on the menu, I dare say that they won't be winning top prize. Omelets are light and fluffy and the fajitas (which are really burritos) are packed to the gills on a too small plate. Egg scrambles, relatively new to the menu are quite nice as well. An ooey-gooey chicken prosciutto sandwich was quite tasty.
Bubala's will not be garnering any gourmet awards. And that's OK. That's not what they do here. And the prices, slightly less than most, give it an advantage. There is indoor seating with a slight eau de public restroom. The outdoor area is much sought after and quite large and heaters in chilly weather make things more comfortable. Bubala’s has earned a rite of passage and most everyone would like to sit outside and be seen, and vice versa.
I’ve personally never seen a customer with a glass of wine but I do know that they have several decent selections by the glass. An unopened bottle may be the way to go.
And on some given Sunday in August, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, you can watch the Drag Brunch crowd make their way into, or passed the restaurant and literally take over. What a hoot!
Bubala’s has been our go-to place for lunch (and occasionally dinner). If you are spending an extended time here, you will find yourself returning again and again.
225 Commercial Street, Provincetown
The Canteen is certainly unusual. It came onto the scene just a few years ago and was an instant hit. Its popularity has not changed much over time. It is unusual not just for its overnight success but for its unique combination of excellent food, cheerful staff and less than no-frills ambience. Google defines the word canteen as “a restaurant provided by an organization such as a military camp, college, factory, or company for its soldiers, students, staff”. Excellent choice of words and in the case of The Canteen (the restaurant), I would lean more toward the military camp description.
Let’s get the good news right up front. If you’re out for a lobster roll, this is the go-to place for Ptown’s best. The lines out front will attest to that. They are served on a good roll and packed to the gills with quality lobster meat and while I don’t purport to know their secret, there certainly must be one to be able to come up with this flavorful lobster roll. They have a rather lengthy list of other choices ranging from salads to various sandwiches (pulled pork, chicken salad, fish and chips, etc), all done with varying degrees of success. They also have a lengthy list of sides inclusive of their signature brussels sprouts cooked in a fish sauce which happened to do nothing for me on more than one occasion. But the lines are long for one good reason….those amazing lobster rolls, leaving your only big decision as to whether to go for the cold or warm version.
The staff are very pleasant and, like their lobster meat, are no doubt hand-picked by caring owners. Ordering is done at a counter where you will be met by one of the helpful staff. You will be given a number and when ready, staff runners will find you wherever you may be sitting. They are very adept at it too.
But wait! 2018 has brought a whole new seating arrangement to the Canteen with a larger seating area. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea that you bring a sense of humor along with your appetite. There are a few “choice” tables inside, although I use that word loosely as they tend to become surrounded by those waiting on line to place an order. Then there are two bar-height benches out front with stools. Most however opt for the rear-end of the building, with its well-worn tables and chairs, stone ledges and other furniture that appears to be minutes away from their final destination at the town dump. Not glamorous but then again, it’s the canteen!
247 Commercial Street, Provincetown
By most, this restaurant sitting in tourist central on Commercial Street which is part of a small hotel and amid a large entertainment center would be shrugged off.
And how about those ratings on certain tourist websites? Eeeeeks. Some of them are fine but overall not in the excellent category. Or at least not as excellent as I think they should be because this remains one of the most underrated places in town.
When Michelle Ragussis took the helm in the kitchen several years ago, she transformed this very ordinary place into something rather special. As of 2018, she is gone but the kitchen staff remains. The change is mostly in concept with a new "all-day" menu in place and more outdoor seating.
A burrata salad with stone fruit and a drizzle of balsamic is nearly perfect and her signature Caesar salad, a wedge of Romaine drizzled with blue cheese dressing and dolloped with pickled onions is a winner. The main courses do not disappoint either. A perfectly cooked halibut one night and on another, seared scallops with a corn risotto that was delish. Lobster pappardelle was terrific. The tuna tartare with avocado gets a sesame oil kick and is billed as a small plate but can easily stand in for an entrée. The rosemary chicken brough back a homestyle cooking feel that was delightful.
There are also strange things happening here particularly surrounding lunch which can either be another wonderful meal, or a slight disappointment. I wish that the kitchen did not feel it was mandatory to offer a lobster roll simply because we are in Provincetown since this version is nothing to speak of at all. On the other hand, the lobster BLT is over-the-top excellent. And a lobster Cobb salad was light and fresh but when we asked for bread or crackers we were told that there were none available because all the bread is apportioned for each dinner meal, with no surplus. Strange indeed.
Service is always super friendly and helpful and seems to be way above the average for summer help.
An extensive selection of wines live here alongside a whole bunch of specialty cocktails.
If you're lucky, you will get a table near the railing’s edge on the outdoor deck of the restaurant and you can watch the P-towners go by. Or perhaps listen through the walls as locals sing show tunes around their indoor piano bar.
Totally worth the visit.
73 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown
Located on a somewhat remote stretch of Shank Painter Road, I must have passed this place a dozen times without giving it any thought. Then several years ago a friend recommended a great place for breakfast. That place was Chach and ever since then it has become one of our go-to places for a great breakfast or lunch.
I can only imagine the lines out the door if they were located on a busy strip of Commercial Street. As it is, they do a rather brisk business in their current location just across the street from the town's big supermarket and a short bike ride from the center of town. In fact, I find it frequented by many of Ptown’s celeb status residents.
Viola “Chach” Briseño created this Ptown go-to place for a good omelet, eggs benedict, good overstuffed sandwiches (try the turkey club), very good freshly cooked fries and always, a whole bunch of specials most of which will be quite tasty. The breakfast burrito is perfect for kids of a certain age with a certain appetite. Even a simple iced tea is obviously fresh from the tea leaves.
Everything about it says old-fashioned. Their 50’s decor, the slightly saucy wait staff, the daily specials scrawled out on a blackboard, and the portions always larger than an average stomach.
They close relatively early each day and they are dark on a certain day each week. Definitely consider the operating hours before you head up there.
Fanizzi's Restaurant by the Sea
539 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Despite the fact that it's been in Ptown for a century, if you don't frequent the far East End of town, you may never have known that Fanizzi's exists. Being East End travelers, we knew that it existed but it took some time to finally take the plunge after constant recommendations from townie friends. Interesting to note....and spoiler alert.....that everyone told us it was "good" but few told us that it was "great."
Cut to the meal and I can understand why that's the case. This is not a restaurant that anyone would love to hate....quite the contrary. It's a good, basic Italian restaurant that will serve you a very nice meal at a fair price. If you keep your expectations somewhat low, you will have an even better time.
Caesar salad was good and lemony but not outstanding. A stuffed artichoke was filled with bread crumbs but lacked a distinct flavor. Grilled salmon was tasty but mainly due to the cucumber sauce layered over it. And scallop scampi (also available with shrimp) over pasta was tasty but never provided that real punch of flavor that you would expect from scampi. Sides were all tasty and the bread selection was better than most.
This is an extremely busy place with a large staff that needs to keep on their toes in order to service the large dining room. They do an excellent job of it. Staff is friendly and helpful and in the case of a nearby table overheard, eager to make things right when it began not quite so right.
Fanizzi's has an extensive wine list and I am happy to report that they do not feel the need to serve only Italian wines but instead, offer a broad spectrum.
There is a small parking lot and a rack for bikes, not something that very many Ptown restaurants can claim.
230 Commercial Street, Provincetown
If any restaurant looks, acts and feels like a throwback to some earlier day in Provincetown, Front Street is that place. This below street-level restaurant is a bit like a cave and not unlike that of some smoky New York Village hideaway. And if there is a brief list of places that may not be quite as wonderful as some others but one that you return to time and again for so many other reasons, Front Street would no doubt make that list.
The menu is exhausting. If you include the evening's specials, of which there are many, we are probably looking at over 30 entrees to choose from on any given night. Appetizers the same. And no doubt when they hand you what looks to be a relatively brief list of desserts it will be complemented by a lengthy list of special desserts verbally communicated to your table by the wonderful staff here.
This is and has always been a very active and busy restaurant. Wait staff moves around what appears to be a giant maze of tables. But it's the wait staff that is primarily giving this place some magic. No matter how hurried or frantic they may seem, when it's your turn, they will be with you 100% and make you feel like you are the only person they need to attend to. That's their little magic.
Front Street has mostly an Italian style menu supplemented with a bunch of Continental dishes. Shrimp parmesan on one occasion was deliciously crunchy with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. In fact, a bit more cheese would have made it nice and gooey in all the right ways. Swordfish was perfectly tasty with a nice accompaniment of veggies but all a bit boring, A special pasta with lobster scampi was fantastic and just the right size. Caesar salad was dressed perfectly with just the right amount of crunch, escarole and beans was fresh and light but could use a punch more flavor, pappardelle with a Sunday sauce of meatball and sausage resembled that of any good homemade kitchen.
This is not your Italian grandmother's kitchen. Portions are just right but not overblown. You will absolutely leave here satisfied and still able to walk through town when you're done.
Front Street has been on my list every summer since I have been coming to this town. I suspect it will be on my list each year in the future. They will be here through every economic downturn, Armageddon, and the next World War. Or at least I hope so.
179 Commercial Street, Provincetown
I have forever been a loyal contributor and reader of TripAdvisor reviews. Four or five years ago, when I begin paying even more attention than ever, I noticed that Jimmy's was the #1 rated restaurant in town.
How is it possible that the number one restaurant eluded me? With its tiny sign on the street and its subterranean position, it was no wonder. It was 2013 and Jimmy's was going to be on my list for that summer. And after eating a very hearty meal there, I was somewhat puzzled over its number one ranking but I was surely not disappointed and could understand why it received genuinely high marks.
Perhaps now my visits to Jimmy's pale in comparison to some of the other restaurants in town. The venue has been reliably the same for years, the food incredibly plentiful, and the wait staff just as pleasant as could be. But while I continue to patronize Jimmy's, I am less and less enamored with it over the years. The fact is that I've discovered a few dishes that I really like, and little else. An extremely large portion of well-seasoned and delicious loin of pork was followed on the next visit by a terribly tough and dry steak. In fact, even my pork loin on the third try was a bit under-seasoned and the sauce thin. Salmon Wellington, one of their signature dishes is delicious in its puff pastry and served large enough to feed two people. Linguine with a white clam sauce had way too much going on for my taste beyond the clams with its addition of artichokes and peppers. Pasta needs to be ordered al dente or it will arrive overcooked.
It's not the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last that Trip Advisor ratings have baffled me. Had it been the 10th best restaurant on their list, I would have made no mention of it. But #1 is a tough spot not just for Jimmy's, but for anyone. Dissenters will always abound.
So, let's just say that I really like Jimmy's and it's definitely worth a visit there at least once. And possibly two and three times if you order right. A few years ago, I took it off my list of must-do’s. And then I found myself gravitating right back. Jimmy’s will do that to you.
170 Commercial Street, Provincetown
More so than any full-scale restaurant in town, the outdoor seating at Joe Coffee may be the most sought-after in town. With less than a dozen tables on a patio right on Commercial Street, no venue offers a better view of the Ptown traffic (on two and four legs as well).
Now under new management, Joe is so much more than a good seat and what makes it entirely attractive is the excellent coffee and espresso and a selection of some of the best-looking pastries and cookies. Here is also one of the few places that you can buy good freshly ground coffee by the pound.That might be enough of an attraction but Joe goes one step further and offers breakfast and lunch sandwiches, some of which are the tastiest in town and easy on the wallet.
SAD NEWS IN THAT JOE HAS STOPPED SERVING LUNCH AS OF AUGUST 2018. I LEAVE MY COMMENTS BELOW IN THE HOPE THAT IT WILL RETURN......
If you are a turkey club lover like myself, this would be your first and last stop. Everything is made to order, arrives with a pickle and a bag of chips, leaving you just enough room for one of those tempting desserts.
Years ago, I went to Joe infrequently and primarily due to some rather customer un-friendly people on the staff. Things have changed for the better in recent years as well with the new owner. Most of the staff is quite helpful and pleasant.
An accessible bathroom available to customers, good coffee, good eats, a relaxing view of the street and on-site bicycle parking. As Provincetown restaurants go, it's The Four Seasons of coffee joints!
133 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Having opened approximately 5 years ago, Joon Bar is one of the newer residents in town and has gone from unknown to favored in short time.
The appreciation of really good food and what it takes to operate a well-run restaurant is what leads us back to Joon Bar time and again.
Spoiler alert---- this is now one of the town's most sophisticated restaurants and one of the very few that work effortlessly when it comes to earning its five stars.
At the front door, you will be greeted very warmly. The attention to service details will be present throughout the meal. Just an accidental fork falling on the floor is cause for the staff to come running over within seconds and if takes longer, will be met with sincere apology. This is an attentive staff serving up amazing food helmed in the kitchen by Paul Krikorian.
On one occasion, scallops were expertly cooked and surrounded by an amazing relish. Flatbreads were once a regular and amazing feature of the menu but are now sadly gone (I recall a fig and prosciutto combination with the figs thinly sliced, the prosciutto cooked to a crispy and salty perfection and all laid over a Manchego cheese base). On one occasion, we were told that there would be no flatbreads due to a breakdown of their special oven. But now that they are seriously gone for good, does the menu still hold up? The answer, Yes.
On another occasion, the lentil salad , anything but typical with its hint of cumin, was absolutely delicious. An appetizer made primarily from Hen of the Woods mushrooms is a mushroom lover's paradise. A special of short rib served with just perfect oily toast was nearly spreadable and quite delicious. Tuna poke with an expected douse of sesame oil was quite yummy. Bouillabaisse was well stocked with several kinds of white fish and shellfish and was excellent and filling. If there was any misstep recently it was a special of Persian chicken stew that while tasty was too much of a good thing and served with white rice that took over the plate. But you can expect to be wowed not only by a few dishes that I'm describing here but nearly all of them.
And, given that the word Bar is an integral part of the name, very inventive and delicious specialty cocktails are in order. As well, a beautiful selection of wines, many by the glass, include an unoaked Chardonnay, a rarity in any restaurant these days.
Desserts tend to be small and sample-like in their presentation but do not disappoint either and range from the delightfully gooey to the simple and tasty (a strawberry shortcake, a saffron gelato).
The interior space, designed by Kevin O'Shea, is also a winner in its simplicity, beauty, and coziness. Reservations are taken only one month in advance. I suggest you mark your calendar.
The Landing (at Pilgrim Inn)
336 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Tucked away in an alley from Commercial Street you will find the Pilgrim House. Under relatively new management, their restaurant re-emerged as The Landing.
In years past, I knew that a restaurant existed here but for some reason it did not seem to hold much appeal. This time however, after attending a show at the Lounge, it seemed like the right thing to do. And apparently there is a good following given only one available unreserved table on that night. There are indoor and a small sampling of outdoor tables and although not fancy or charming, the restaurant does not at all look like it belongs to a hotel.
Romanesco? Who else dares to serve this alien-looking broccoli-like vegetable? The Landing kitchen dares and that sums up quite a bit of what they do here. Grilled salmon with a lovely beurre blanc sauce was accompanied with a currant laced wild rice. Grilled halibut was crispy on top and as white as halibut should be inside and was delicious. This was accompanied by a celery root puree and both dishes with steamed romanesco. The flatbread pizzas were interesting but did not fair quite as well with a dough that was soft and chewy and ingredients that were pleasant but nothing extraordinary not to mention a distinct lack of seasoning. Papardelle Bolognese was delicious and sized right. And a special ceviche app was plentiful and quite wonderful. While we did not order the steak and fries, it seemed to be a very popular dish and by looks alone, worth trying. It was served to the neighboring table and I had to restrain myself from reaching over for some amazing looking fries. There appear to be at least a dozen entrée choices and many starters.
The wine list is a book unto itself and there are many choices and varieties including a relatively extensive list by the glass.
The chef made it a point of coming around to the tables to check on each of his customers and to introduce himself, a very nice touch that is often not seen in town (or anywhere for that matter). His attentiveness and care for his customers may have sealed the deal. We planned on coming back in 2018 and we kept our word.
31 Bradford Street, Provincetown
Having moved into the former Devon's location on Bradford, Liz's was going to be promising. Could it be that good and reasonably priced breakfast sit down that the town could really use? In my mind, I was there weekly (at least) with its stones-throw location from where I live.
There are few restaurants in town that I could seriously dislike and unfortunately Liz's Cafe comes up near the top, much like cheese in a glass of spoiled milk. And sadly has not at all been that regular haunt I was hoping for. Was it the slightly dank smell upon walking through the front door...a stewed combination of table top cleaner and a foul bay breeze? Hmmm, this is Bradford Street and not waterfront! Even so, we took our seat and somehow, my mind forcibly allowed the odor to dissipate. What lingered however was the very cloying and fake howdy from the wait staff that presided over the meal.
My first visit to Liz's was at lunchtime and for those all- day breakfast eaters, eggs and omelets are served throughout. Nice. I went with the turkey club sandwich, my partner with an omelet. Not only was there nothing extraordinary about it, I have all too soon discovered several turkey club sandwiches in town that are far and away better than the one served here (see Joe's and Chach). Omelets could use some improvement as well. A good French cookbook in the kitchen would be a perfect start. Say, you know those occasions when you just didn't get a really satisfying meal but wonder whether the kitchen can do better.... and so you glance around at the other tables visually inspecting the other diner’s food? The result of that experiment here proved no different than the food I was served at my table. The second visit was sure enough for breakfast and I went with the traditional breakfast sandwich of eggs, bacon and cheese. The result....a mess of a thing that included a roll so soaked in butter that it was difficult to pick up and bacon that was so fatty that I removed it entirely.
Service is artificially pleasant, the french fries were pleasant but artificial and the 50’s style menu and decor, well, you guessed it.
C’mon Ptown, are you really going to make me pedal up to Chach’s for a good breakfast?
321 Commercial Street, Provincetown
(The following review is based on a single visit)
For years I wanted to go to the Lobster Pot, but didn't. My partner, who had been here many times in years before we met, swore It off. Then came the year that I insisted…….and he caved.
Sitting smack-dab in the middle of the two most tourist driven blocks (which I lovingly refer to as the vortex of commercialism) on Commercial Street should say a lot. It is poised there for a reason. Here you will find every day- tripper to Provincetown along with their families and small children. It’s as though every day-tripping tourist received some book of “must do” family restaurants and there in big letters is The Lobster Pot. Some great marketing feat that must have been, given their long lines at the door! Is there a good wine list lurking in the shadows? hmmm, probably not.
Join the line for your helping of some of the town’s most ordinary food, all served by a congenial staff that understands they are serving up a glorified diner food menu and served in an environment that is slightly musty and dated. If it all sounds good, then this is your place! And the prices on the menu, reflective of the better restaurants in town really spells tourist trap. Believe me, I am all for the cheap lunch or dinner in town. But if you're getting a mediocre generic lobster roll you expect to pay medium prices.
The other items did not fare any better. The fried fish platter was plentiful but somewhat tasteless and the vegetable side dishes tasted like they had been cooking all day but not necessarily that same day.
I'm sure that my partner would add the following…. Don’t say I didn't warn you!
186 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Scattered around this relatively small town is a decent burger or two. Local 186 is more than that. It's simply the best burger in town. And in addition, they’ve got a darn good lobster roll and other Ptown standard fare. In fact, one of our guests decided on the mussels and they were quite good sitting in a delicious broth and served with a tremendous piece of bread. Who would have thought so at Local?
But more than lilely it's the burgers that you are here for and they do shine, and with choices more than just beef and turkey. A Kobe beef substitute is available as are lamb, and veggie. In fact, their turkey burger combo known as The Bird is far and away the best TB I know. Fries are done shoestring style but were too often a bit soggy and yet nearly perfect on other visits (a salad can be substituted if you're watching your waistline). There is a large variety of suggested combinations but you can always craft your own burger.
Almost everything is cooked to order and this translates to a bit more waiting time at your table. Service is pleasant but be warned that this is a very popular place in town. Lunchtime waits can often exceed 1 hour and it is best to get there long before you are hungry. In nice weather, they have a fairly large amount of outdoor seating, some covered on the patio and others on street level. But not to fear if these seats are filled. Their interior space is smart, spartan and clean and you won’t feel deprived having to eat indoors.
And it’s not just for lunch. We’ve had many a satisfying dinner here as well.
Mac's Fish House
85 Shank Painter Road, Provincetown
I recall the years driving up the Cape and stopping for lunch in Wellfleet at Mac's Shack at the beach. It was a stop that I always looked forward to and we continued that for quite a few years. And so, when I heard that Mac's was opening a new full-size restaurant in Provincetown, I thought that my prayers had been answered.
It's also interesting that during those Wellfleet luncheon years, Mac's started losing a bit of its touch. Too often did I get a lobster roll on bread that was soaked through from the dressing, a soggy mess that couldn't be handled politely. The Wellfleet visits began to peter out but it was around the same time that I heard about their new opening.
Ptown Mac's is a bit off the beaten path compared to most restaurants in town. Perhaps that is why it seems to attract a lot of families with children, being that most have arrived with a car whether for the day or an extended stay. In fact, on my visit, the restaurant was packed with families and lots and lots of small children lending to the high-decibel atmosphere.
I told our waitress that it was our first visit there and asked for her recommendations. Without a doubt, she said, the lobster pot pie is awesome. As it turned out, not so awesome. The lobster meat was scant and the entire dish felt like something devised by a diner found on Route 6. Grilled swordfish did not fare much better with no discernible flavor along with a mélange of veggies and accompaniments that did not seem to pair very well. Side dishes were ordinary. Desserts are of a size that make everyone ooh and aah but resemble something found on the lazy-Susan of a Greek diner.
By the way, I never did see that waitress much over the course of the evening. Maybe she was in the parking lot having a good laugh over the pot pie suggestion.
There are many restaurants in town. It was time to leave Mac's for those without much ability to discern well-prepared food from all else. Not all is lost however. See my page regarding take-away food and Mac’s seafood market next door.
429 Commercial Street, Provincetown
If you've been to Ptown only once, then chances are that you know The Mews. It may not roll off your tongue quite like The Lobster Pot but it's up there. Kudos must go to any restaurant here that stays open year-round and serves locals during the bitter cold months.
Like so many people, I found myself returning year after year. But then, with quiet abandon, did not. Time has not been a friend to The Mews. Quite likely it was squeezed out by the newer (and better) places, or perhaps it was just looking older and mustier. Or did I only now realize that it was always just OK.
Here, unlike other places, the never changing menu is a bit of a drag. The pastas are interesting but a bit overdone, the fish good but somehow should be better and the salads crisp but lacking something. I've now come to know that this “something” is an inspired kitchen rather than the dutiful one that promises a meal in sun or snow, rain or sleet. While you will probably never have a bad meal here, it also won't be an exceptional one and I feel that the prices should reflect that. Somehow, they do not.
The staff have always been over the top pleasant and could be the cause of your own guilt trip if you decided not to return. The atmosphere is hurried and clubby on the main floor, quieter and subterranean-like on the lower with a view of the water as if witnessed from underneath your neighbor's deck.
And when I promised myself that I would put it on my list again for the summer, I did and once there, thought long and hard as to whether it would make the cut next year.
3225 US-6, Wellfleet
Driving up Route 6, it's hard not to notice Moby Dick's. The place seems huge, the signage similar. We couldn't resist. And over the years, it somehow became our regular stop on ou way to Ptown.
It has all the right things going for it. The front desk staff where all of the ordering is done are sweet and helpful. The food is all fresh and cooked to order, the choices plentiful, the service to the tables is quick and the parking lot is made from crushed seashells. Who could ask for anything more!
On many occasions, I've ordered the fried shrimp which I would call "fried shrimp for those who really don't want fried fish." The batter is extremely light which means that you're eating 95% shrimp and little else. The cocktail sauce is also quite nice. Other fresh fish is also done well including a good fried cod sandwich and a salmon platter. The lobster roll excels here too...a very meaty salad on a nice roll accompanied by mighty tasty cole slaw. The kitchen is also quite accommodating in that they will substitute wherever possible and the counter servers will even make suggestions on how to combo your meal to your taste.
Seating is either in a small room of cloth covered tables or, a larger room filled with picnic tables and a camp-out quality, the latter being my preference. This is definitely no-frills dining and it's best to know that before setting your sights too high.
And even on the occasional visit where the food may be a little less spectacular than you recall, it's still considerably better than most and a welcome sign on the road.
See you on the way up to Ptown next year, and thanks for being there!
328 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Always crowded, this favorite of locals and tourists alike seems to have the magic trick. They have managed to snare a regular crowd in spite of the fact that there are fewer good street-watching tables than Bubala's. And the comparison there doesn't end.
The upside is a lot more shady tables with umbrellas. And that may be it when comparing them to our friends up the block. The food is all quite tasty from large, well-prepared salads to sandwiches on some hefty bread. The wait staff here differs in that here at The Patio "up-selling" seems to be common. The fries here are quite good but Bubala's has the edge. And as far as almost every aspect of The Patio, the edge does indeed go to the other guys.
371 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Splayed across the top of the menu at Pepe’s are the words No Substitutions. For a born-and-bred New Yorker these are fighting words. The devil in me is going to ask for some sort of substitution and I’m going to see just how far I can get.
Let’s see…. The fish platter sounds good but if only I could get it with coleslaw instead of fries. The iceberg salad sounds good but I'm not in the mood for blue cheese dressing. If only I could get it with something else.
If only. Words that are descriptive beyond that of the lengthy menu. If only the service was just a little bit better here and I felt like someone was paying attention to my table. If only the prices were a little bit less than they are. If only each time I came here the waiter did not forget to bring my drink. If only.
And let’s face it. They are now going to need to work pretty hard at the food to offset some of the customer-unfriendly vibe. There are the fried fish platters, not greasy and well-presented but a bit banal. Salads are a real mixed bag. The accompaniment to the green salad (fish, a scoop of lobster salad, etc.) are the highlights making it even more unfortunate that the greens have a slight day-old taste as if they came from a pre-washed bag of greens at your supermarket.
But if only every other restaurant in town had the harbor view that Pepe’s Wharf does. Sitting under a covered porch with an expansive view of Ptown harbor, I can only imagine that even on the most overcast and rainy day it would be marvelous.
Guests of mine coming to town with their small child wanted a place with great ambiance for lunch. I immediately thought of Pepe’s and then asked the magic question. Is your child good eating off the menu as is or is he a finicky eater? If the latter, I can think of only two words. No substitutions.
IT IS MY UNDERSTANDING THAT A NEW OWNER IN 2018 HAS ELEVATED THIS PLACE QUITE A BIT.
82 Bradford Street, Provincetown
Well-hidden within the confines of the The Crown Pointe hotel lies the mysterious Pointe restaurant. Perhaps it remains elusive because The Pointe is so unlike other restaurants, but the mystery unravels once inside.
Enter an old-fashioned historic inn complete with heavy wood wainscoting, tin ceilings and creaking staircases. Heavens me, could lace doilies be far behind? The good news….no lace doilies. Yet that is just about where the good news ends. We were warmly greeted to a table no so much to our liking and when we asked for another, we were told that it would be one hour until another table became available. And so, we took our seats at the original table. Within twenty-five minutes I noticed two other available tables, but I move on.
Our waiter’s efficiency was sharpened to a fine point, smiles in absentia and punctuated by a thick and not-easily understood accent. I watched the other wait staff service their own tables with many of the same characteristics in place. The wine choices are nice, reasonable and quite good. And, as he took our drink order, he wasted no time in the proceedings. “I will now show you the specials” he said, as he whipped out his tablet and scrolled through a catalogue of items one by one. It would have taken a miracle to bring these dishes to the table in a manner resembling their photos, but I kept the faith, even though I was a bit taken back by that entire process. After all, the last time I saw pictures prior to ordering my meal was probably at TGIF.
On to the food. A garden salad was served chilled and well-dressed as it should be. An appetizer of crab cakes was tasty but lacked any exterior crunch. Even if they were baked rather than fried, a good coating of panko would have resolved it. They were indeed served with a tasty little pink sauce on the side. Entrees did not fare very well. If you go as far as saying that your tuna is “sushi-grade”, then cook it appropriately (or perhaps, not at all). Their version was sliced into a thin wedge and cooked well-done. The result…a dried-out affair that should not have been brought to the table. The accompanying green tea soba had no flavor other than the heavy-handed soy it was tossed in. A halibut entrée looked more promising but lacked any real flavor, again due to overcooking but the plate was redeemed by a cheesy risotto side. Accompaniments such as the pleasingly described brussels sprouts were once again, overcooked. Upon complaining about some of the food, we were indeed treated to a gratis dessert. Our choice was the carrot cake, simple and tasty but served moister at Joe’s Coffee in town.
The staff, from front desk to kitchen are all very well-intentioned but the execution was something substantially different. Make no mistake about it, the Pointe serves up country club food, the kind you would expect from a well-meaning kitchen that is too aware of the fact that you just spent a day on the golf course and now need to eat, anything.
The Red Inn
15 Commercial Street, Provincetown
For a starter, I ordered the iceberg wedge salad. There it was glistening with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing topped with diced tomatoes and smoked bacon and looking all rather perfect. Served with a sharp knife just as a wage salad should, I took my first bite only to find out that it was not quite cold enough. And a wedge needs that extra special crutch that it can only get from the big chiller.
Apparently, the well-known joke about the Red Inn is that they are celebrating their 100th anniversary......of the menu! That makes their menu either annoying or comforting, depending on where you stand.
After many meals over many years at the Red Inn, I have always found something no matter how small it may be that isn’t quite perfect about the meal. In most cases, it was something rather small. Today it was about the iceberg wedge. Yesterday, it was the coconut shrimp that needed another minute in the fryer. Shrimp from the raw bar were tasty but varied a bit too much in size. On one occasion, I needed to explain to the waiter why my white wine needed more of a chill. The quizzical look that I received after the wine debacle was followed up by a wonderful experience from the same waiter who was then attentive and suave. And so it goes. And what I have learned like most people who come to this very special place is that there is also something magical going on here. And those of us know that once we dispense of the minor “mistake” of the meal, you can sit back and anticipate a very wonderful and beautiful evening.
At the Red Inn, you will not be presented a wait staff cutting its teeth at your table tonight for the very first time. No, that’s not the Red Inn way. I will always arrive there long in advance of my reservation time. Fewer restaurants have a better harbor and sunset view (see Best of the Bars), served by a very efficient cocktail wait staff, while you are seated in one of their coveted lounge chairs. And they will gladly carry your unfinished drink to your dining table. If the cocktail hour starts off with a bang, your expectation is to be continuously delighted.
But oh, the excellent codfish stacked high over the evening’s veggie accompaniment, lobster rolls that are meaty and fresh, perfectly dressed salads and tender filets of beef with a pepper crust are wonderful. As is the roast chicken although I wished it were presented a bit more crispy. The scent of a smoked pork chop arrives long before it reaches your table. All are usual quite large and most prepared to perfection on every visit. There is no doubt that each time you are there, your experience will include a nearby birthday or anniversary celebration. Given the size of the restaurant, what better place to throw the party. Because after all, once the not so crispy fried shrimp arrive, or the slightly under temperature lettuce, or the slightly off glass of wine, you know that you are in for an experience that you will not soon forget. And you will be back again and again, as I have.
237 Commercial Street, Provincetown
After my first visit to Ross’ some years ago, I dreamed that I would return for the halibut shrimp and scallop fettucine. I did. And then again. Whatever goes into this gooey pile of a dish, please don’t tell me. I do not want to attempt this at home since it would most likely make Dr. Atkins shriek in horror all the way from the grave.
I can think of several other things on the Ross’ menu that would also qualify as artery-busters, and yes, arrive with equal tastiness. Not to fear however, the kitchen team behind this place knows how to knock out other killer dishes kinder to your heart. Fried fish is light and delicious both as a fish & chips plate and a cod sandwich. The fries by the way could not stand up to the fish and were a slight disappointment. There is an even better way to go at dinner with the choice of the Tuscan Cod. Swordfish and halibut (kudos to the special on one night with a Thai lobster sauce) were standouts and while they were listed as specials, seem to appear on most nights. Salmon with a miso glaze was superb as an entrée as well as an addition to the classic BLT. The pork ribs served as an appetizer is delicious and plentiful. The shrimp from the raw bar are perfect for that just-caught flavor.
So, if the entrees are winners why can’t they get a few of the simpler things right? A grilled romaine salad was so awful that it tasted as if you were eating soggy lettuce with a dollop of dressing. Yich. Bread, served at every table should be scratched from the restaurant. Why serve tasteless diner style bread along with an ordinary olive oil? What sort of introduction is that to the entrees that follow? Better yet, improve the bread and accompaniments and turn this place into the 5-star restaurant it deserves to be. And a simple burger should be a reliable staple but here it is dry and tasteless.
You may have heard of Ross’ but perhaps never laid eyes on it. That’s because you would have had to frequent the shops at Whaler’s Wharf (think movie theater) but also make your way to the far reaches of this mini-mall’s second floor. Despite that, it has quite a following and reservations are a must for both lunch and dinner. Prices are a bit high here even by Ptown standards but that doesn’t appear to deter anyone given its reservation book.
Tables by the window come with a view advantage and a lovely bar with ample seats for walk-ins is always a good choice.
258 Commercial Street, Provincetown
(this review is based on a single visit)
Saki is an odd restaurant in that you probably need specific directions to find it even though it's right on the main drag. Located up the stairs in a very commercial block of town, it's not one that you are likely to just stumble into. However, once you're there, it's hard to imagine that you have not heard more about it given it's glamorous look (by town standards) and its huge cavernous space.
The staff was very pleasant from front entrance to the final bill and they definitely aim to please here. The wine list is extensive and they offer a full bar as well. I went with one of the exotic drinks and was not disappointed at all.
The food at our table was a bit of a mixed bag but leaning to the positive side. Appetizer of lobster egg rolls had a scant amount of lobster meat and were a bit too oily for my taste. Edamame were tasty but a bit undersalted and lacked real flavor. Crispy fried brussel sprouts were tasty but did nothing to convert anyone who doesn't swing toward this veg. Entrees fared much better. A very large portion of sushi consisting of two rolls (tuna and spicy salmon) were quite tasty and crunchy where necessary. There was more than enough here to share. The lemongrass chicken had quite a spicy punch and was of a very good quality. It was served with a delicious papaya salad, also enough to serve two people. And by looking around at what was served at other tables, there was much to admire and look forward to. With the meal ending on a high note, we will definitely be back despite some glitches. The decor alone makes it hard to imagine that you are really in Ptown, and can be well worth the escape.
99 Commercial Street, Provincetown
At an unmarked beachside house surrounded by a very large crowd of people, you’ve arrived at Sal’s Place. The very lovely owner will instruct you to hang out nearby and your name will be called soon enough. We have waited up to 30 minutes beyond our reservation time and apparently that is not highly unusual here. Patience however is greatly rewarded. A few others flew the coop. I suggest you stay put.
The owner knows how to take care of her customers. Whether it's an extra glass of wine or a complementary this or that, she doesn't miss a beat. And when our wobbly table needed some help, she and three others took to it for at least ten minutes as if it were their only task that evening.
Summer 2016 appeared to be a test year. The former restaurant in that location had closed and the new owners apparently chose to operate it only for a limited season. We are so glad they returned. While there are a few other good Italian restaurants in town, some of which have been here for many years, I can truly say that superb Italian food has now arrived in Ptown.
Orecchiette pasta with sweet sausage is incredible if a bit spicy. The meatball appetizer comes plentiful and in a rich sauce with a few wonderful slices of bread to soak it all up. Caesar salad has just the right crunch and perfectly dressed, and grilled salmon on two occasions was perfect with a wonderful sauce to accompany it along with an arugula salad. Roasted cod fish was to die for with its sauce of chopped tomato and green olives. It arrived with a side of linguine and although it was very simple, I will probably never be able to duplicate it with its drizzle of olive oil, garlic, and laced with an anchovy tapenade. The seared scallops were cooked just right and accompanied by a terrific faro and veggie salad. Eggplant parm is not your traditional style here but rather a more sophisticated and easier to eat version. The steak pizzaiola was delicious and rich. There is no dessert here but a complimentary offering that ranges from tiramisu to macerated stone fruit.
You should note the cash only policy and that dining could be either indoors in a warm-ish but breezy (and beautiful) room, or at one of their outdoor tables. Preferences should be given with your reservation.
The restaurant has no sign in front but the crowd out front will give it away. I wish the owners a long and happy life in Provincetown.
386 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Once a relatively unknown restaurant at the Waterford Inn, Chef Barbara Lynch of Boston restaurant fame came to town and transformed their restaurant into what is now Spindler's. In this case, transformation is a mild word to use. What was a banal restaurant that could be passed by without notice has now become the restaurant that should absolutely be noticed. Perhaps a block or two beyond the center of Commercial Street, a turn to the East may be worth your while.
The interior looks pretty and inviting but I have always tried to snag a seat on the upstairs level, open to the street and overlooking the Commercial Street traffic. There you will find a long bar which, if the outermost tables are taken, seem to be a good choice.
The wine list is ample by the bottle and short by the glass with descriptions that scream out for help. Sommeliers may be in short supply.
Mussels served in a saffron broth are amazingly delicious and plentiful even if they will temporarily dye your fingers orange by the end of the meal. A burrata salad with grilled peaches and a drizzle of balsamic is top notch. A meaty, absolutely delicious yet costly lobster roll is stuffed to perfection and the gazpacho is world class and made even better with an addition of lobster or crabmeat. A perfectly cooked halibut adorned with roasted fennel was amazing and the roast chicken with its corn and tomato salad was a perfect summer dish. Scallops, perhaps a bit overcooked are redeemed by its accompanying lobster risotto. I could look around at the dishes served to other nearby tables and know for sure that I was coming back for them too.
And I did. But then came a visit during which the kitchen sous chef must have taken a nap. Dishes were served less than luke-warm, then corrected. But on further inspection of my pork shank (a special on that night), it appeared to consist of exactly two bites of meat and the remainder of bone. When I called this to the server’s attention, he admitted that it looked bad when he picked it up. Really? Isn’t it your job to challenge the kitchen when something doesn’t look right? And the roast chicken, previously a winner looked as if someone threw the ingredients onto the plate without order. The remainder of the meal was spent watching the kitchen bring out several “we’re so terribly sorry” offerings to make up for the events of the night.
Overall, it has not deterred me from coming back and service has improved quite a bit based on a recent visit. They are capable of great things. Service really can be sweet and attentive. And if on some future visit I find myself locked out due to popularity, it will be good news for a restaurant that deserves the kudos, if the missteps indeed remain seldom.
Strangers and Saints
404 Commercial Street, Provincetown
(the following review is based on a single visit)
There's been much said about this restaurant from local publications, flapping lips, and a few rumors. I had heard that their reservation system was a bit quirky and requires you to phone in to a reservation list and then wait your turn, all conveyed to you via text messaging.
Following the law of the restaurant, I left my name on that list and approximately 45 minutes later was informed that my table was now ready. This also requires you to be in somewhat close proximity in order to get your rear end over there without delay. One would think that a traditional reservation system would better serve both the restaurant and the customers.
The restaurant has many outdoor tables both on street-side and in the rear, all part of a very large house on Commercial Street. The exterior space is probably larger than the number of tables inside but also provide a good seat in a comfortable setting. Staff, from the front desk to the wait staff are helpful, professional and can even be quite adorable and will guide you through the small plate menu.
Yes, another small plate menu. If I have a demi-strike in me at all, it may just have to be over small plate menus. Its concept is somehow growing a little weary on me.
I'd like to say that I had the same fabulous meal that so many people claim to have had here but my experience was a little different. Perhaps my selections will be a little bit more to my liking on the next visit. Marinated olives were a hit with a hint of rosemary and orange. Shrimp ceviche not so much so….... I would have expected a real punch of citrus flavor but it was entirely lacking here. Scallops were grilled to perfection and served over a smoked tomato, chickpea combination. Looking at neighboring tables, the pizzas seemed to be a really popular choice so we went with the arugula and prosciutto version. What was served was a rather traditional thing…… a heaping mound of fresh arugula topped with yet another heaping, untamed mound of raw prosciutto. The figs that were part of the ingredient list seemed a little non-existent and the addition of heavy-handed gorgonzola a bit sharp and overpowering. It all became a very difficult thing to eat and I soon gave up.
I will be back here as I'm certain the restaurant is capable of better. But I think ultimately this is a place where you need to be a little bit more selective about what you order because the kitchen is not a guarantee. As we walked by a couple leaving the restaurant at the same moment, I asked if they enjoyed their meal. She paused and then said…”it was good.” Mhmm.
175 Bradford Street Ext., Provincetown
Several years ago, I shrugged off Victor's. Perhaps it was all due to the mad rush of a Carnival week visit. Victor's is a small plate, sharing experience. But when we were told that we needed to order every one of our dishes up front, we were a bit turned off. From entry to exit, our dinner lasted a total of 45 minutes and we were out the door.
I'm glad that I gave Victor's several more chances in subsequent years. Their food is quite good and perhaps even on par with some of the best restaurants here in town. But they have since made amends and I am no longer reminded of that initial experience some years ago. Service all around is efficient but where smiles were few in years past, the faces have improved. The waiters, also efficient, try to be helpful throughout the meal and occasionally there is a slight language barrier.
Despite the chilliness, Victor's should be on everyone's go to list. Their kitchen is top notch and at this point have sampled quite a number of their dishes from an extensive menu and they are nothing short of excellent. Tuna is rare and Sushi quality, pork chops served thin and tonkatsu style, beef short ribs as tender and flavorful as can be, dumplings light and crispy, seafood cakes delicious and crispy and, were there a few more to the order of either the cakes or dumplings, would have made a satisfying dinner entree. On the other hand, the halibut was a bit dry and screaming for a sauce to pick it up. You would do very well however with their delicious, crispy and flavorful pizza.
But this is all about small plates and it is best to go there with someone willing to share. Sampling more than just a few dishes is to your advantage. The wine list is quite nice and compliments go out for offering wines by the glass in such a wide array of prices.
The interior has a lovely, beautiful and serene design and may in fact be the nicest looking white tablecloth restaurant in town.
So absolutely put Victor's on your short list for an all-around winner.