If you’ve never been to Cape Cod, it can be hard to know where to go or what to do once you arrive. The 65-mile long peninsula is replete with hidden gems tucked away in the most unassuming of locales—think quaint inns and stately hotels, white sand beaches and pristine ponds, clam shacks and fine dining establishments. Finding the top eateries can be particularly difficult if you’re not a local, as the best restaurants in Cape Cod aren’t always in the obvious places.
Through the years, I’ve found all the top spots to grab a bite, from both my own experiences visiting Cape Cod as well as from my mother and grandmother, who have been traveling to the idyllic New England beach town for decades. There are tried and true restaurants that have a long history in the area, as well as newer additions to the community. The variety is part of the beauty and allure of the destination; there’s something for everyone. Whether you want to sit on a picnic bench and savor an authentic lobster roll from Mac’s Seafood, or watch the tide ebb and flow while dining at a white tablecloth establishment like Chatham Bars Inn, there’s food and ambience that suits all styles and preferences.
You can always hop on a ferry and head to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard to discover even more culinary surprises, but if that’s not in the cards, don’t fret. Below, see all the best restaurants to try on your next Cape Cod adventure.
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Brewster Fish House
2208 Main St, Brewster, MA 02631
Right off of the historic Main Street is an unassuming yet charming cottage, which happens to be one of the best seafood restaurants on the Cape. Brewster Fish House doesn’t allow reservations, so make sure to come early, so you can select seating in either the cozy dining room or at one of the outside tables. The menu offers modern twists on classic dishes; you’ll find everything from house-made lobster rangoon to local littleneck clam linguini. This is Cape Cod charm at its finest.
1291 Main Street Route, 28, Chatham, MA 02633 (multiple locations)
If you want to grab a casual bite without sacrificing quality, look no further than Mac’s Seafood. Upon first glance, this might not seem like a typical Cape Cod spot, but just trust the process here. This local mini-chain boasts a few locations, from Provincetown to Wellfleet to Chatham; the Chatham outpost is a favorite, where you can sit on a bench and enjoy a delightful cold lobster roll with a side of coleslaw. If you want something a bit less traditional, try the fresh tuna poke or prosciutto-wrapped cod.
15 Chatham Bars Ave, Chatham, MA 02633
Elsewhere in Chatham, try the Impudent Oyster for an upscale meal in a unique setting. This fine dining restaurant and bar is housed in a former church, and has been serving up local seafood for over 40 years. Situated right off of the main road, Impudent Oyster is all about a rustically romantic setting, where patrons can delve into dishes like Oysters Rockefeller, mussels and homemade potstickers. Come hungry, because the chef does not skimp on portion size.
The Ocean House Restaurant
425 Old Wharf Rd, Dennis Port, MA 02639
Those looking for dinner with picturesque
Beach House Grill at Chatham Bars Inn
297 Shore Rd, Chatham, MA 02633
The stately Chatham Bars Inn is one of the most luxurious hotels in Cape Cod, and aside from plush accommodations, this property is also home to a lovely beachfront restaurant. The Beach House Grill is perfect for elevated seaside dining; the eatery sources all of its produce from the resort’s farm, ensuring that every item on your plate is as fresh as it gets. Sit on the deck and enjoy clam chowder, lobster rolls (of course), and seasonal salads. Oh, and they have private clambakes with the chef, if you’re so inclined.
C Salt Wine Bar and Grill
75 Davis Straits, Falmouth, MA 02540
C Salt Wine Bar and Grill is a buzzy restaurant and wine bar, with an elevated take on classic American cuisine. The oft-changing menu features a variety of dishes like steak tartare and lobster garganelli, which you can enjoy while sitting in either the lively bar or, for a more relaxed atmosphere, outside on the breezy patio.
Cobies Clam Shack
3260 Main St, Brewster, MA 02631
Cobies is a quintessential Cape Cod clam shack, which has been serving up unfussy New England staples since 1948. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more authentic seafood spot on the Cape, with classic items like fried clams (and a whole lot of other fried seafood specialities), burgers, hot dogs, french fries, and ice cream. You’ll dine on paper plates while seated at a picnic bench, and you’ll absolutely love it.
Four Seas Ice Cream
360 S Main St, Centerville, MA 02632
If you’re on the hunt for an ice cream treat on the Cape, I know just the spot. Head on over to Four Seas Ice Cream, which first opened in 1934 and is, in my opinion, the very best ice cream in New England—in fact, I think it’s the best ice cream in the country. It’s a bold statement, yes, but once you’ve tried their delicious, homemade ice cream, you’ll understand. This petite ice cream shop is situated on a slightly slanted hill, and has truly stood the rest of time. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, whether you’re in the mood for a sundae, soda, split or frappe. I highly recommend the Butter Crunch, Mint Chip or Peppermint Stick flavors.