The ferry is already running. Summer’s almost here. And that can mean only one thing: it’s time to hit up Provincetown. Whether you visit for the queer nightlife and the “everyone’s welcome so long as they’re not a jerk” vibe, the longstanding connection to Portugal, or one of a million other reasons, one thing’s clear: Come hungry. This haven on the edge of the Cape is home to plenty of fabulous restaurants and bars that are hopping even during the remarkably “on” off-season for a beachy town.Read More
15 Essential Restaurants in Provincetown
Savor seafood, fresh pastas, and other top bites on the tip of the Cape
Ciro & Sal's
Tucked in a little courtyard, this Northern Italian eatery might as well be a million miles away from the thudding bass of the bars down Commercial Street. And what a breather it offers, with a cozy and low-ceilinged dining room that’s rich with the alluring scent of garlic and butter. The old school menu offerings are classics for a reason. Start with cured beef carpaccio topped with grated Pecorino Romano before voyaging through fresh salads, pastas (even linguine sautéed with just extra-virgin olive oil and garlic is a play of pristine flavor), and crowd-pleasing entrees. Must-tries include the chicken parmigiana and the traditional tiramisu.
The Mews Restaurant & Cafe
While this two-level New American dinner restaurant is a beacon of warmth during the starkly beautiful winter months, the French doors and windows let in sea views and summer breezes, too. Order up the burrata and tangerine appetizer, which is finished off with a drizzle of lavender honey. The many global-inspired plates call for lots of return trips to try them all. First-class favorites include the miso- and mirin-marinated cod with sake butter sauce, and the smoked duck breast served over gnocchi and a velvety truffle-gorgonzola cream sauce. The vindaloo packs a punch, too, with tomato chutney and grilled naan to sop up that tangy sauce.
Once a French-Italian affair, this restaurant within the Waterford Inn has a new “Sabores de Mexico” menu, helmed by chef Eduardo Rios. Hearty bites, best enjoyed on the beautiful outdoor seating area, include chicken enchiladas with kicking mole sauce, and slow-braised octopus served with a trio of sauces. Or, traipse through the small bites and snacks — chicken taquitos, plus chips and dips, and a chef’s whim barrio taco — as a first stop on a culinary crawl. There are plenty of gluten-free options on the menu, too, plus drinks (with an emphasis on tequila).
Provincetown Brewing Co.
Much more than a brewery (and the town’s first on-site brewery at that), Provincetown Brewing Company is a beloved hangout for brews, wallet-friendly bites, plus trivia and other events that last even through the off-season. Bring the crew and hang on the patio or in the queer artwork-adorned and perfectly kitschy taproom, and graze over dishes like crispy artichoke cakes with zippy chipotle mayo, plus chicken tenders, and nachos stacked high with melted cheddar, pico de gallo, and verde sauce. Do add jerk chicken to a dish, or better yet, order up a jerk chicken sandwich from the heartier meal offerings and savor that smoky, slow-cooked taste.
The Lobster Pot
A town institution since 1979, follow the glow of the iconic sign to a bounty of beautiful, fresh seafood (including lobster, of course). Start with scallion crudo and the winning clams casino, which sees six littleneck clams broiled with bacon, breadcrumbs, and lots of butter. Then, chart a course through four different bouillabaisses — incarnations of French fish soups brought to life by chef Tim McNulty. Lobsters are offered based on weight, starting at a pound and a quarter, and include baked and stuffed (and overflowing with buttery Ritz crackers) and pan-roasted preparations with herb butter sauce.
Provincetown Portuguese Bakery
With a centuries-spanning connection to Portugal thanks to generations of immigrants, you’ll find ingredients from the Atlantic nation all over town, from kale soup, to hearty sausages. This casual bakery remains the only spot in Ptown where Portuguese cuisine takes top-billing. Drop in for breakfast sandwiches on fresh Portuguese rolls and quick bites of croissants stuffed with chourico and cheese. But ask those in the line that trails out the door during busy season what the real draw is, and they’re likely to rave about the pastries, notably the malasadas, sublimely soft fried dough delights that are tossed in sugar. Be sure to try a pastel de nata, or egg custard in a crispy pastry shell, too.
In a sea of New England plates, sail on over to warmer waters at Irie Eats, which offers Jamaican dishes for breakfast — check out the plantain and peanut porridge — lunch, and dinner, in a warm atmosphere. There’s hearty oxtail stew and lobster rolls enhanced by earthy curry. Spice fans can opt for the jerk chicken or pork, which sees proteins marinated in traditional pepper-packed seasonings, and tossed on the grill. The goat curry is fall-off-the-bone tender with a spice-stocked sauce.
“Let’s meet at the Canteen” might as well be shorthand for “Let’s see where the day takes us.” Stop in for a quick bite and you might end up staying the day on the back patio overlooking the water. The casual New England eatery serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, with creative spins on favorites like grilled cheeses (try the crab rangoon version, which adds sweet chili and crab to a melty sandwich of sharp cheddar and gruyere), plus clam chowder with leeks, smoky bacon, and a touch of lemon. Other winners: the crispy brussels sprouts tossed in their own fish sauce, and of course, the legendary frosé.
This cash-only spot is a frequent haunt for night owls looking for a little nosh after the bars close at 1 a.m. But don’t sleep on laid-back lunches and dinners here. A classic, crispy slice of cheese will set you back just $3, with pepperoni and Greek slices — love the addition of earthy feta with olives — $4 a pop. Plus, with ice cream and shakes on offer, try a multi-course meal on the cheap, and save some cash for more splurgy meals (or, more likely, several cocktails). Order up a whole pie and take it to go, or better yet, unwind in on the cozy back garden.
Those who get a hankering for a burger can hoof it to this relaxed pub-grub restaurant in the middle of all the action. The “favorite” burger is named just that for a reason. With blue cheese from Great Hill in Buzzard’s Bay and a savory-sweet bacon jam, best of luck to any burger you bite into after it. Also on the medal podium: the surf and turf burger topped with lobster, and the Frenchie gussied up by gruyere and onions. Check out the singular hot dog, plus buckets of fries, including an option tossed with hot sauce and blue cheese.
There’s a little sleuthing involved in spotting this subterranean New American nook with its lovely patio. The extra effort is worth it just to savor dinners that start with grilled oysters with zinging jalapeno-lemon butter. Vegetarians, check out the tofu “wings” with hot sauce and blue cheese, plus the gluten-free tofu Napoleon — layers of tofu and vegetables topped with roasted tomato and basil pesto —t hat might win over the carnivores. Depending on your mood, pick plates off the comfort menu, offering spins on fish and chips and southern fried chicken with whipped potatoes. Or lean more luxe with the entrees, including the spicy Portuguese fisherman’s stew with piri piri sauce, and the scallop piccata, which is served with a potato pancake to soak up that white wine sauce.
Liz's Cafe Anybody's Bar
Lest lunch and dinner get all the love on this list, venture off Commercial Street and hit up Liz’s for bountiful breakfasts, which are served until 2 p.m. — an act of downright charity considering Ptown’s legendary late nights. You can’t go wrong with its breakfast sandwich — a fried egg with cheese on a Portuguese roll — and should absolutely opt for spicy linguica or chourico Portuguese sausage. Other dishes globetrot, too. Take the Norwegian three-egg omelet with smoked salmon and scallion cream cheese, and the Florentine, a standout on the six-plate strong Benedict menu, which sees fresh spinach and roasted tomato atop two poached eggs on an English muffin, with the whole shebang lovingly covered in hollandaise sauce. Find handmade pastas, generous salads, and more on the lunch and dinner menus, too.
Johnny Thai Monkey Bar
Come for Thai specialties like chicken sautéed in a spicy-sweet peanut sauce, plus creative sushi named after celebrities — especially the Katy Perry roll, which might having you singing “baby, you’re a firework” thanks to that spicy mayo. Stay for the rollicking atmosphere and exceptional drinks at adjoining Monkey Bar, which slings just about every martini under the sun. Particularly, a delicious (if sneaky) espresso martini for that post-tea dance perk-me-up. A fixture in town for thirty years, the dining room and menu recently saw a total overhaul. Here’s hoping we can enjoy the pan-Asian plates for lunch, dinner, and late-night bites (other highlights include spicy Indonesian fried rice) for another thirty.
The menu at this homey, upscale spot changes often — and the whole restaurant skips the snowy months for pops-up in California — but you can expect a handcrafted focus on seasonality and beautiful pastas, alongside some of the best service in town. Typically on each menu iteration are certain staples, like the lobster pasta with its decadent creamy sauce, and the chicken parm that’s big enough for two meals. The meatballs with roasted plum tomato sauce are things of beauty, too. Just remember to hit up the ATM beforehand, as Sal’s is cash only. According to Siobhan Carew, who co-owns Sal’s with her daughter, Michela Carew-Murphy, they are aiming to reopen the spot for the season around June 29.
The Red Inn
Come for splurge-y dinners of filet mignon with Jack Daniel’s whisky sauce and dijon-crusted lamb shanks, all surrounded by sea views. Or drop anchor in the afternoon during the spot’s legendary raw bar happy hour — a perfectly luxe way to cool off after a day at the Provincetown Inn’s pool. Toss back Manhattans and Earl Grey martinis as you dive into Wellfleet oysters and clams, plus lobster tails, and ceviche specials of the day.