Most Cape restaurants fall into one of two categories: beachy seafood shacks staffed by teenagers, or precious tourist traps with huge markups. The Naked Oyster is neither—just a sleek raw bar and restaurant featuring oysters fresh from chef Florence Lowell’s farm. Enjoy baked bivalves of every variety, inventive fish preparations, and a civilized bar scene fueled by well-made drinks. 410 Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601, nakedoyster.com.
For the second year in a row, we've been unable to resist the delectable charms of Radius patissier Paul Connors. The mere mention of his name in Greater Boston sweet-tooth circles produces a range of reactions from barely audible moans to downright drools. Chef Connors' meal-ending treats are passionate, inspired, and sometimes even quirky: The guy is as adept at "candy cape mushroom ice cream sandwiches" as he is at classic creme brulee. And he's a team player: Connors' desserts are the perfect complement to executive chef Michael Schlow's elegant continental dishes, never overshadowing their savory flavors. Calling all pastry chefs: Consider the bar raised. 8 High Street, Boston, MA radiusrestaurant.com.
Vacationers can play it two ways as they settle into this welcoming, wood-filled space for a midday meal: fuel up for an afternoon of high-impact romping in the sand, or just plain fill up for several hours of indolence under the sun. For the former, there's leaner fare such as grilled chicken on Portuguese muffins and a salad with gorgonzola, walnut, and sun-dried cranberries. For the latter, choose from plus-size portions of clam chowder, crab cakes, fish and chips, and other Cape Cod classics—and enjoy the wistful glances from those sticking to moderation (poor things). 23 West Road, Orleans, MA 2653, beaconroom.com.
Cape Cod sometimes feels as though it's sinking under the weight of its many ice cream shops, but Sundae School rises above with handmade, creamy flavors in such addictive permutations as espresso crunch, Kahlúa chip, and Bass River mud (coffee ice cream with fudge, almonds, and chocolate chunks). Add such toppings as fresh, plump blueberries, bananas, buttery hot fudge, homemade cream, and a fresh Bing cherry, and you've got more than just an ice cream treat. You've got a religious experience. 606 Main St. (Rte. 28), Harwichport, MA sundaeschool.com.
Want a side of local color with your Devil's Purse pint? Pay a visit to this neighborhood hang, where Cape Cod memorabilia—from family crests to vanity plates—fills every inch of wall and ceiling space. It's not all about the kitsch, though: Bartenders behind the lacquered wooden bar aim to please, and the late-night menu satisfies with grub for both landlubbers (burgers) and seafarers (fish and chips). 38 Main St., Orleans, 508-255-5165; 429 Main St., Harwich Port, 508-430-0404; land-ho.com. 38 Main St., Orleans, MA 2653, land-ho.com.
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Why limit yourself to one seafood venue when you can have it all on just one block? Main Street's dream team of major seafood players—Tom Shea's (for unbeatable grilled seafood), Woodman's (for topnotch classic fried clams, lobster tails, and scallops), and Periwinkles (for expertimental, fusion-minded fish dishes)—offers Cape Ann's highest concentration of fine fish. Put together, they provide what may just be the perfect seafood sampler. Main Street, Essex, MA .
Start your Saturday with a snack from the Great Cape Baking Company—we suggest the apple-cider doughnut or a hunk of rosemary bread. Load up on local seafood from C&C Lobster & Fish (based in nearby Hull) and fresh produce from Mary Bukujian's Hanson farm. Enjoy the view of Bathing Beach. Drive home happy. Hingham, MA 2043, hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
True, the Cape is an antique-hunting hub, but fun and funky finds abound as well. Provincetown's Roots has a unique, diverse collection of home and garden accessories, from Tibetan rugs and Tiffany-style lamps to bright hand-painted wooden bowls and bubbling slate fountains. If all this shopping leaves you looking to take a seat, choose from among classic wicker, soft leather, and fine wooden chairs. 193 Commercial St., Provincetown, MA shoproots.com/.
Cape Cod isn't exactly famous for its surfing, but the Beachcomber on Cahoon Hollow Beach is the quintessential surfers' hangout, with battered boards on the walls, sand on the wood floors, and an annual visit from surf god Dick Dale. Early on, the joint is full of families grabbing dinner, but once the sun goes down, a younger crowd moves in for strong mixed drinks and beer. 1120 Cahoon Hollow Road, Wellfleet, MA 2667, thebeachcomber.com.
It's actually two markets in one: On Wednesdays you'll find goods by the town clock in Hingham Square, while on Saturdays the vendors set up shop at Hingham Bathing Beach. Either way, South Shore denizens stream in for the colorful array of produce, meats, and seafood from stands like Weir River Farm, Great Cape Bakery, River Rock Farm, and more. Saturdays May through November, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Hingham Bathing Beach; Wednesdays June through October, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in Hingham Square, Hingham, MA hinghamfarmersmarket.org.
Overflowing pints of Bass and Guinness, live entertainment including Karaoke Tuesdays, the obligatory logo-embroidered polos for sal—smack in the center of Chatham, the often rowdy Squire is the quintessential Cape pub. Weekend nights host a medley of thirsty characters; stick around long enough, and you've got good odds of witnessing unlikely, though not altogether uncommon, end-of-the-evening trysts between local anglers and summering society types. 487 Main St., Chatham, MA 2633, .
A good breakfast joint is the kind of place where you can settle down with your morning paper, sipping from a bottomless cup of self-serve coffee, and order what mom used to cook (or what you wish she had). After seven years in Ball Square, SoundBites is still sans frills; just good home cookin' fresh out of the oven and off the grill. Order French toast or waffles with fruit and you'll get a mound of cool, glistening slices of sunshine atop the warm, light battercakes. The other side of the menu proves there's more than one right way to do eggs, whether they're Moroccan, Benedict, or an omelet. 708 Broadway, Ball Square, Somerville, MA .
Even overcast days at Chatham Bars Inn feel sunny. First, there's the setting: a graceful, 1914 building overlooking the Atlantic, surrounded by quiet, individually decorated (and kitsch-free) cottages. Second, there are the activities: croquet, tennis, biking, rides in the property's antique cars, or, for kids, shoreline critter hunts, pirate visits, and karaoke. The nightly candelit dinners of local seafood at the water's edge are almost absurdly romantic. Few properties on Cape Cod manage to balance kid-friendliness with that kind of genuine excellence. This one does—even when it rains. 297 Shore Rd., Chatham, MA chathambarsinn.com/.
When this hypnotically arty restaurant-bar designed and owned by a local architect made its debut four years ago, it not only lent zing to the South Shore dining scene, but also beckoned Cape-bound cosmopolites with its expertly shaken martinis, mod leather furnishings, and moody firelight. The arrival of new executive chef George Willette last fall boosted the culinary substance—e.g., tuna tataki, lobster and goat cheese pizza—to match Ember's abundant style, making this nightspot a white-hot proposition, indeed. 459 Plain St. (Rte. 139), Marshfield, MA 2050, .