The thing about Provincetown in the cold months is that a lot is remarkably “on” even for the off-season, with themed weekends and events stretching well into winter. Instead of the summertime crowds, you’ll find sleepy streets and quiet beaches that exude an almost haunting beauty. In fact, the town’s off-season was the setting for the first half of the 10th season of American Horror Story, though as of yet there have been no sightings of actual vampires in town. What you should take a bite out of, though, are the dishes offered by the stellar restaurants that stay open through the winter.
Plus, if you’re itching for some retail therapy, many of the local shops offer steep off-season discounts. It’s the perfect time of year to book a weekend at a B&B — preferably one with fireplaces like Eben House — and check off as many spots on this dining itinerary as you can.
Breakfast and Brunch
First, you need some fuel. While Kōhi Coffee Company has branched out in Boston, its roots lead back to a sea shack-like spot on Commercial Street, where you can savor seasonal lattes and a bit of New Orleans with a latte or cold brew inspired by the city, slightly sweet sips with a hint of chicory. There’s a second to-go location of Kōhi at the other end of town at Spindler’s, so as you stroll and get to the bottom of your first coffee, you can order up another. And on the way, if you’re here on the weekend, be sure to head to the legendary Provincetown Portuguese Bakery for a malasada — delightful fried dough tossed in sugar — and rolls stuffed with chouriço sausage.
For sit-down breakfast, the Post Office Café and Cabaret offers generous classic plates, stacks of fruit-topped pancakes, and an entire eggs Benedict menu, with the lobster Benedict as the star. Liz’s Cafe, Anybody’s Bar lures with savory egg plates served out of its cottage-chic space, with the flippers (fried dough topped with Vermont maple syrup, sweet butter, and a dusting of powdered sugar) a sweet standout.
Don’t be surprised if you head to Provincetown Brewing Company for a quick bite and end up staying for hours. The vibe of the queer-owned and operated spot is welcoming and funky — just check out the Dolly Parton pinball machine — with shareable plates, sandwiches, and more accompanying the craft brews. Be sure to try the artichoke cakes, the scratch-made chicken pot pie, and the snapper served with sweet Jamaican dumplings. Then take off with a beer flight, making sure to include the refreshing Golden Hook Ale and the Asphalt Glitter light stout. The latter features coffee from Three Fins Coffee Roasters in West Dennis and edible glitter that swirls hypnotically in the glass.
Tin Pan Alley serves up New American fare alongside some of the best people-watching in town. Snag a table by the eatery’s expansive windows that look out on Commercial Street and dig into a stellar katsu chicken sandwich or the classic fish and chips. Or if a quick bite is more your style so you can keep hoofing it around town, hit up Rosie’s Cantina for an enormous and flavor-packed burrito.
After dropping anchor at Harbor Lounge to drink in the sunset over the water (plus, one of its famous espresso martinis), head to the the Canteen. The six weekends after Thanksgiving see the favorite seaside spot transformed into a holiday market and winter lodge. Stop at the food hut on the spacious back patio to warm up with grilled sausages, raclette, and soft pretzels, which you can wash down with mulled cider, hot chocolate, and eggnog. Enjoy the treats at the fire pits and then stroll the stalls where local vendors sell everything from jewelry to kitschy wreaths. Meanwhile, the front dining room, heated outdoor tent, and a storage space turned into a cozy bar serve the usual Canteen menu (the crispy Brussels sprouts tossed in fish sauce might be worth the trip to town alone) alongside comforting specials like schnitzel and currywurst. Apple cider whoopie pies, house-made pate de fruit, and coconut-passionfruit snowballs bring the sweetness.
If you’re hoping for a quiet date night, Jimmy’s Hideaway dishes out American fare with European flare in its cozy and inviting subterranean dining room and bar. Favorite entrees include the Provincetown fisherman’s stew (with a kick, thanks to Portuguese piri piri sauce) and the grilled filet with dreamy whipped potatoes.
There’s something to be said for the pared-back perfection at ScottCakes. The petite patisserie offers only yellow cupcakes topped with fluffy pink buttercream frosting in regular or mini sizes. The bright beauties are scratch-made every day and are all you need to satisfy those cravings. And for a sweet treat for later — if you have the self-control to stay away from the ice cream counter, that is — head to Provincetown Fudge Factory for blocks of fudge, house-made peanut butter cups, and truffles that are almost too gorgeous to eat.
No trip to Provincetown is complete without hitting up Spiritus Pizza for a slice. The colder months mean there are no swarms of hungry revelers heading to the family-run joint once the bars close. It’s open until 11 p.m. on the weekends; pop by for a few slices, notably the Greek white pizza with feta, black olives, onions, and spinach. A slice is $4 — be sure to go to the ATM beforehand as Spiritus is cash-only.