alphabetically (on a 5 point system).........
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.
133 Bradford Street, Provincetown
Mistralino occupies a location on Bradford that has been home to numerous restaurants. Some of them have been quite good and yet few have had a long life. Unfortunately, Mistralino has only average food to boast about together with some rather strange décor. The combination of these factors in this particular location does not bode well.
The interior décor consists of ceramic dinner plates scrawled with loving testimonials by customers (presumably) and carefully mounted to the walls. Covering every wall, it is essentially ceramic wallpaper awaiting an accident. It is alternately sweet, and creepy.
The food looks like a standard Italian menu with its mix of Northern dishes and the standard red sauce Southern plates, leaning toward the latter (think Chicken Parm, Eggplant Parm, meatballs, etc). During one visit, I opted for the Milanese special. It was crunchy and tasty as Milanese should be. It was covered however by under-dressed arugula leaves and a side of orzo, the taste of which could have been improved with a box of Near East brand orzo from the shelf of any supermarket. Chicken Marsala fared a bit better although a lighter touch on the salt would have improved it. There are many apps to choose from including several salads where both a Caesar and an Iceberg wedge were shining stars (the latter could be shared by two people). The bread served at the table was quite nice and accompanied by a tasty olive butter. Prices here are a bit less than the town average.
The wait staff was quite cheerful and nice and in one case directed us to a better wine choice than we originally decided on, and it was lovely. There are ample selections on the wine list both by the glass and bottle. There is also a house cocktail list. I decided on the standard Cosmo which was somewhat bitter and not as smooth as I would have liked.
Mistralino can be summarized as a mixed bag. Possibly a good place to save a few bucks and get a decent meal. On that basis alone, the line should have been out the door but we saw only a handful of occupied.
3.5 / 5
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 as the Patio seems to take the advantage by having a more creative kitchen. 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 on that one. The fish tacos were quite tasty. The tuna poke was large and interesting but was too much of a good thing. If you were to mix it up on some days with the Patio and Bubala's you may be hard pressed to choose one over the other.
There is a very good value at happy hour with their $1 oysters, sliders and shrimp, not to mention the frose (frozen rose wine).
371 Commercial Street, Provincetown
Can we thank the Lord for the new ownership of Pepe’s? I not so fondly recall the No Substitutions splayed across the top of the menu in 20-point type under the previous owners. So let’s count our blessings not only for the new more customer-friendly vibe but the updated decor and the re-vamped menu.
Fried fish platters are tasty and not a bit greasy. Salads all looked inviting and include a very tasty Caesar and a beautiful and plentiful burrata with grilled veggies with plenty of good bread on the side. All salads can get the addition of grilled chicken or a scoop of lobster salad. I went with grilled shrimp which did not disappoint. The buttermilk fried chicken sandwich was super tasty with an added kick of spicy remoulade and some nice greens. As a side, my choice of cole slaw on one occasion was a slight disappointment, too bland and dry for my taste. It is unfortunate that the lobster roll looking large and beautiful on the plate was so ordinary served on a too big tasteless roll.
And if only every other restaurant in town had the harbor view that belongs to Pepe’s Wharf. 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.
There is also a lovely little bar on the upper deck where you can eat and drink to the view.
Guests of mine come to town with their small child and want a place with great ambiance for lunch. In the past, when I thought of Pepe’s as a choice, I recalled the “no substitutions” policy and went elsewhere. I now think again and consider Pepe’s one of the go-to places.
Guests of mine come to town with their small child and want a place with great ambiance for lunc . In the past, when I thought of Pepe’s as a choice, I recalled the “no substitutions” policy and went elsewhere. I now think again and consider Pepe’s one of the go-to places.
82 Bradford Street, Provincetown
https://www.opentable.com/the-pointe-restaurant (and by phone)
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
RESERVATIONS BY PHONE
There is a lot to be said about predictability, especially when it's mostly positive. The Red Inn which has been serving up the same menu for at least 20 years (some say forever) is predictable and wonderful at the same time.
OK, the iceberg wedge salad glistening with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing topped with diced tomatoes and smoked bacon looked rather perfect even though it was not served quite cold enough. Or the coconut shrimp that needed another minute in the fryer. On one occasion, I needed to explain to the waiter why my white wine needed more of a chill. But for the remainder of the meal, the waiter could not have been more attentive and sweet.
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 for the very first time. No, that’s not the Red Inn way. And 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 up 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.
But oh, the excellent codfish stacked high over the evening’s veggie, lobster rolls that are meaty and fresh, perfectly dressed salads and tender filet of beef with a pepper crust are all wonderful. The pork chop with a choice of sauces is perfect. As is the roast chicken although I wished it were presented a bit more crispy. The scent of a smoked pork shank arrives long before it reaches your table. 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 a few mistakes 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
https://www.opentable.com/ross-grill (and by phone)
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 as I'm sure it would make Dr. Atkins shriek in horror all the way from the grave.But it is unfortunate that Ross' has taken a bit of a downward slide over the past few years. Ross' has always been a big plate restaurant but portion size now exceeds creativity. There are a few standouts nonetheless. 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 but its accompaniments on the plate are so huge that it becomes too much of a good thing. Swordfish and halibut (kudos to the special on one night with a Thai lobster sauce) were standouts and while they were listed as specials, make a relatively frequent appearance. Salmon with a miso glaze was superb as an entrée as well as an addition to the classic BLT. The shrimp from the raw bar are perfect for that just-caught flavor. At lunch, the salads are tasty, large and make good healthy options.
But then we take that downhill slide with entrees such as grilled tuna and apps like the under-dressed caesar salad or the ceviche special (I have never before been served ceviche without a single drop of liquid present). 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 definitely needs its accompanying olive oil for any flavor. And at lunch, a simple burger should have been 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 even by Ptown standards making the above comments even harder to swallow 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
https://www.opentable.com/saki (and by phone)
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've always gone with one of the exotic drinks and have never been disappointed at all.
The food can be 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 under-salted and lacked real flavor. Crispy fried brussels sprouts were tasty but did nothing to convert anyone who doesn't swing toward this veg. The papaya salad was delicious however and often accompanies some of the entrees.
Entrees fared much better. A very large portion of sushi consisting of two rolls (at times we had tuna, spicy salmon, crunchy salmon and others) 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 the papaya salad, also enough to serve two people. The pad thai is also a standout , a heaping portion of well-seasoned noodles with either a chicken or shrimp option. The curry pot with a choice of veggie or chicken was flavored perfectly. In fact, the only entree that I would not recommend is the overly bland Saki stir-fry (with an abundance of tofu not mentioned on the menu).
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
RESERVATIONS BY PHONE
RE-OPENED AS OF JULY 13, 2019 WEEKEND
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 PtownOrecchiette 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. A ceviche app was delicious but unlike anything at Sal's, quite small. 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
https://resy.com/cities/cpc/spindlers (and by phone)
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 outdoor patio 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 grilled peach salad which gets a change-up each season 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. The grilled veggies with hummus was totally awesome. I could look around at the dishes served to other nearby tables and know for sure that I was coming back for them too (probably that amazing looking burger).
And I did. There was 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 kitchen followed with 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
https://resy.com/cities/cpc/strangers-and-saints (and by phone)
(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.
In prior years, the restaurant has a very odd policy to get seated which involved putting your name on a list earlier in the day and waiting for your call back. Thankfully, online reservations are now possible with RESY (see link above).
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
https://www.opentable.com/victors (and by phone)
Several years ago, I shrugged off Victor's. Perhaps it was all due to the mad rush during 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 has gone from very good to superb and deserves to be in the top 10 in Ptown. I am no longer reminded of the Victors of years ago. Service all around is efficient but where smiles were few in years past, the faces have improved. The staff at the front door as well as the waiters try to be helpful throughout the meal and occasionally there is a slight language barrier.
These days 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 and served several ways most impressive as a deconstructed Napolean, 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. Curried chicken is just delightful 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. There is also an impressive list of house cocktails.
By the way, should you be in for dessert, you wouldn't go wrong with the fruit cobbler, one of the best of its kind.
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.