Highlights from the on-Island food scene in 2016

There is no shortage of food and dining options on Martha’s Vineyard. While many restaurants cater to the seasonal summer community there is also a plethora of year round local gems that can be enjoyed throughout the off-season. This year introduced some new favorites and solidified some culinary mainstays.

Marnely Murray, food writer for the MV Times, shares some of her highlights from this year:

Offshore Ale served a Brewhouse Breakfast, and it was the first time I had a true Irish breakfast. Two eggs, bangers (Irish sausage), grilled rashers (Irish bacon), grilled tomato, baked beans, home fries, and Irish bread — it was a great way to kick off January.

I discovered the fish tacos at Little House Cafe, and understood why so many people rave about them. They are crispy, packed with flavor, and just what you need in the dead of winter.

A plate full of buffet items from Bite on the Go.
A plate full of buffet items from Bite on the Go.

I grabbed a Bite on the Go, and learned that Brazilian food is just close enough to Dominican food to satisfy my weekly cravings. It’s a spot I’ve gone back to on various occasions because their food is always delicious and affordable. When owners Valerio and Sonia opened up Sweet Bites bakery recently, “grabbing a quick cake slice” became a reality.

Edgartown Diner reopened under new management, and chef and owner Ralston Francis has been cooking up a storm ever since. I still have dreams of his Southern Eggs Benedict with sweet cornbread, topped with gravy.

Pizza di Napoli was the new slice in town, and boy, did they stay busy, making thousands of pizzas. The spot in Nevin Square became an overnight sensation, and their pizza became a favorite of many. We were excited to hear they would begin serving slices at the Loft in 2017.

Wash Ashore Beer and MV Distilling Co. kept it boozy, both introducing new products to the Island market, with incredible support from the community. I’m looking forward to seeing what these companies have up their sleeves for 2017.

Nat’s Nook continued serving up delicious crepes, and still might just be the only spot on the Island where you can get crepes every day of the week. It also became one of my favorite spots to meet with people — great seating, Wi-Fi, and tucked away on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, it’s a true nook.

Down Island in Oak Bluffs offered a daily prix fixe menu their opening summer, and stopped at just that. There was no à la carte option, which was actually what I loved about it — no need to pick and choose, just let the chef cook up what inspired him most that week.

Coop de Ville celebrated 30 years on the Oak Bluffs Harbor, and wow, did they celebrate! Every time I dined there I felt like I was on my own vacation.

Breakfast, our mothers always said, was the most important meal of the day. Thus, I consumed a lot of it: Biscuits, Beetlebung Cafe, and the Winnetu Resort were some of the standouts.

Shiitakes from MV Mycological.
Shiitakes from MV Mycological.

The day MV Mycological emailed me an invite to check out their secret mushroom garden, I almost screamed — I had followed the project for almost a year. That secret mushroom garden visit was all I hoped for, and their mushrooms are hands down my favorite.

Mangku Food Truck rolled up and down the streets of Vineyard Haven and into Island events: a very welcome sight. Whenever I attended an event and saw their gorgeous turquoise truck, I knew I was in for a treat.

Atria hosted my favorite BBQ of the season with Local Smoke’s Tim Larsen. I still dream about those Farm Institute beef ribs they prepared — massive, deliciously seasoned, and cooked to perfection. Running into Larsen at the MV Food and Wine Festival, where he and his wife were serving up their smoked chicken, was another amazing moment in food.

I’m not a golfer, but I enjoyed food at Farm Neck, and look forward to doing so again next year. In the meantime, I plan on recreating their chicken, date, and olive dish, which was the epitome of sweet and salty goodness.

Not Your Sugar Mamas opened an organic, plant-based cafe, and now I’m considering going vegan for a month in 2017. There, I said it. With NYSM cooking up the food, it might not even be that difficult. Have you had their Mexican Rice Bowl? Yum.

Island Cocktail Co. raised the bar all over the Island at private home events and annual gatherings. Doriana and Kate are killing it with this venture, and I wish them the booziest 2017 anyone could have.

An assortment of taco choices from Backyard Taco.
An assortment of taco choices from Backyard Taco.

Backyard Tacos pressed handmade tortillas, and I ate 10 tacos in a single sitting. Don’t blame me, blame the tacos.

I had the short ribs at L’Etoile on their last night of the season, and regretted the entire summer. Why hadn’t I had these before?! Tender and served atop a creamy polenta, it’s the stuff foodie dreams are made of. Now, I guess, it’s all a waiting game until they reopen next year.

The Barn, Bowl and Bistro changed my dining expectations — who knew you could find good food at a bowling alley? I can’t wait to have their veggie burger again (a veggie burger — crazy, right?).

Brunchfast is the new weekend breakfast, and Islanders have agreed. Family-style breakfast served up with margaritas at Sharky’s Edgartown might just be everyone’s winter project.