It has been almost a year and a half since I last traveled due to the pandemic that saw most of the world’s population homebound. Now that my family and I are vaccinated, it is finally time to let loose and enjoy our summer. The first destination was to the quintessential New England escape, Cape Cod. Luckily, our friend has the cutest cottage in a small beach community in Dennisport that we rented for a long weekend. It was our first time in this area of the Cape and we were thrilled. The area is filled with charming beach bungalows, each roughly 400 to 700 square feet, and decorated to showcase the owner’s personality – typically some kitschy variation of the nautical theme. Everyone was so friendly or maybe it was the halo effect of having normal human interaction again. Nevertheless, the locals were easy going… as you might expect from a beach retirement community. This is as low key as you can get on the Cape.
After spending each day lazing away and listening to the waves crashing onto shore, the only other activity was feasting. There are a few restaurants catering to locals and tourists, which can be hit or miss. Of course, we came prepared with recommendations. Here’s my list of eateries that are worth the visit.
The Dog House – This is an inventive and whimsical hot dog “stand” that serves more than its namesake and is a must-stop on your way to the beach. This place has been around since 1971 and for good reason. We had the fish sandwich, the Glendon Beach Dog (classic chili cheese hot dog), the Fourth of July Dog (a sweet BBQ iteration), Hot ‘N Spicy Dog (topped with Flaming Cheetos and a lot of peppers), the Pastrami Reuben Dog (self-explanatory), Pork Carnitas Fries (a meal by itself and oh so good) and Dynamite Fries (cheesy and a kick in the mouth). All were excellent but the standout for me was the Glendon Beach Dog and the Carnitas Fries. A word of caution: you will inevitably have a severe food coma after this tasty meal, so I would plan to be immobile for a while.
The Oyster Company – This is another classic Cape Cod casual seafood restaurant that is always bustling. They have a $1.50 oyster special before 6:30pm with oysters from their own farm. Stick with the traditional seafood fare and you will be happy. We really loved the Oyster Company Cioppino (1/2 fresh lobster tail, scallops, shrimp, mussels and little necks in a lobster saffron sauce with leeks and served with linguini) and Pan Seared Chatham Scallops (perfectly seared scallops with lobster risotto, asparagus in a sherry lobster sauce). Both dishes were fresh, scrumptious and just cooked perfectly. I also had to try the clam chowder, a creamy concoction loaded with clams, bacon and potatoes. I made a mistake and ordered the Sashimi Oysters. It sounded interesting on the menu and ended up being just awful since it was drowned in soy sauce, which obliterated any taste of oyster or tuna sashimi. The drinks are also a bit hit or miss, likely due to the current staffing shortages. Otherwise, this is on our list for repeats… but we will be sticking to the tried-and-true New England fare.
La Tacodilla (from the Green Slate Eatery) – I never thought I could like tacos so much, but this may be one of the best taco that I have had in the northeast. La Tacodilla comes from the chefs at Green Slate Eatery, an inventive tasting menu restaurant. Due to Covid, they switched gears and opened a taco truck. They have been on a tear ever since. They were so busy that we were the last order at 7pm (for 8pm pickup!) even though they technically closed at 8pm. The takeout joint specializes in Tacodillas, Tijuana SoCal style tacos with braised meat or veggies in a 6-inch griddled corn tortilla with a side of consommé or soup for sipping and dipping. My favorites were the classic Birria des Res (Guajillo chili stewed beef) with side of beef consommé and shredded Brussel sprouts with cumin and lime with melted cheese and an ancho chili almond coconut sweet potato puree. The regular street tacos were simple, slightly healthier and just as delicious. These tacos are much smaller than the tacodillas so plan accordingly when ordering. Everything that my family ordered was a home run.
Wooden Shoe – This is a no-fry food restaurant (a rarity around the beach) and offers only a few items on the menu. If you want fresh New England seafood without the frills, this is it. We had the clambake with fresh lobster, sweet succulent steamers, refreshing coleslaw and juicy steamed corn. The scallops entree was another win and perfectly seared in a white wine. A big surprise for me was the crab cakes – usually a miss at most restaurants. This may have been one of the best renditions that I have had in a long time. Each crab cake was loaded with meat that was succulent and moist while retaining its golden crispy crust. The clam chowder and lobster bisque tasted like the ocean and we would’ve eaten more if our stomachs had allowed it. This was a big hit with our family.
Wolfie’s Old Fashion Bakery – This bakery is only open on the weekends and is a local favorite. They make delicious muffins and other breakfast pastries. Their goodies resembled something straight out of your grandmother’s kitchen.
Sundae School Ice Cream – This classic homemade ice cream purveyor has been open since 1976. This is a crowd-pleaser and they have picnic tables under the tree canopy next to the parking lot for all to enjoy the summer treats.
Wee Packet (Honorable mention)– This casual eatery, open since 1949, was highly recommended to us and, unfortunately, we did not have enough time to try this out. They are very popular for brunch fares and classic Cape cuisine for dinner. They are on our list to try for our next visit.
What are your favorite eateries on the Cape?