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Enjoying Cape Cod’s Best Foods With Kids


Read more about Cape Cod and Newport, RI.

I can’t think of a better way to honor July 4th than with a blog about Cape Cod, the place where our nation ostensibly began. As a food writer from Queens, NY with family roots on the Cape and a school-age son who will try just about anything I feed him, I love to eat on Cape Cod.

Restaurants are one of our favorite reasons to go to the Cape. Fish is impeccably fresh almost everywhere from the simple fry shacks to the five-star restaurants. In many years of vacationing there, we’ve only had a handful of bad meals. Here are foods Cape Cod is known for and the best restaurants on the Cape for enjoying them.

Favorite Cape Cod Restaurants With Kids

Eat Clam Bellies

Here is my first essential rule for eating Cape Cod: clam bellies or bust. Don’t under any circumstances order clam strips at the myriad fry shacks for which Cape Cod is known; they’re more breading than clam.  Whole bellies offer a juicy, briny taste of the sea that will make you reel. We favor Seafood Sam’s, Kream N Cone and Captain Frosty’s (we’ve hit all of them in one hedonistic day). Try them all and lend your voice to the age-old local debate over who has the best.

Other Seafood Essentials

Don’t miss Sesuit Harbor Café, my favorite place to eat on Cape Cod. Nothing is better than sitting outside under the umbrellas on a warm, sunny day watching the boats go by with a Lobster Roll in hand.

In Chatham, chowder at the collegiate Squire is a must.

The Oyster Company has live jazz on Saturdays and fantastic fresh-from-the-flats oysters. You can slurp while the kids groove.

Brewster Fish House on 6A in Brewster has a wider menu than your average fry shack but still pretty casual and has been a consistent source of fabulous meals for us.

P’Town Portuguese

the lobster pot on Cape CodIf you make it as far as Provincetown, stop at the renowned Provincetown Portuguese Bakery on Commercial Street for kale, bean and linguicia soup for you and malasadas, their fried, sugared dough, for the kiddos.

Our main meal in P-Town is always at the Lobster Pot, a legendary place that serves up seafood with a Portugese accent. The with-dinner salad (with homemade dressing) makes up for the calorie-busting breadbasket (awesome pumpkin bread!) and linguica-crusted cod. If you have small kids though, be for-warned that it’s often crowded and cacophonous with surly service.

Local Ice Cream

we all scream for ice cream on Cape Cod.My other essential Cape Cod food rule: This is homemade ice cream territory; Take advantage of it. The Kennedys put Four Seas in Craigville on the map (peach was said to be Jackie O’s fave). Locals seem to go for Penuche and Rum raisin, but I think pistachio/pineapple, strawberry, peanut butter/dark chocolate, and banana are all just short of a religious experience. The homemade hot fudge topping is a must, especially with the banana ice cream.

If you are not inclined to drive long distances and endure ridiculous waits for ice cream (which Four Seas can have), Buffy’s Ice Cream Parlor in Chatham, Sundae School (multiple locations) and Cape Cod Creamery in South Yarmouth are also fantastic. The latter has an inviting wraparound porch and comfy lawn chairs where we sit and enjoy pistachio (me) and Caramel Crunch (my husband).

Avoid anywhere that offers mediocre mass-produced Hershey’s ice cream (which has nothing to do with Hershey’s Chocolate).

And other Sweets

Stop by Chatham Candy Manor for some dark-chocolate-covered cranberries or giant strawberries (or both if you’re me!), plus fudge to take home.

Outside of South Yarmouth, look for Mermaid Taffy, an outdoor stand on route 28. A stuffed box will run you about $15 dollars. It’s worth it, but if you don’t like taffy that much, at least pull up in the gravel parking lot and try a few of the more than 30 flavors including cranberry (my favorite) and fluffernutter (my husband’s).

Best for Breakfast

Thanks to its shady back porch, Chatham Cookware Cafe is a town favorite for reading the morning paper over an iced coffee (free wifi, too!).

In Harwichport, you’ll find the very kid-friendly Bonatt’s Bakery and Restaurant. No visit to the Cape is complete for us until we’ve had breakfast here. The solicitous wait staff will bring your kids milk in plastic cups with animals on them. If you have a sweet tooth, go for the blueberry-stuffed French toast. If you like your breakfast on the savor side, don’t miss the Portugese Eggs Benedict with linguica sausage.

Tip: Don’t be daunted by the crowds milling about outside; we’ve never waited more than 15 minutes for a table.

Cape Cod Date Night!

The Ocean House overlooking the water in Dennisport, and Red Pheasant Inn on 6A in Dennis are top choices for a fancy splurge meal. head to one of these if you manage to swing a vacation date night.

No matter where or what you eat, enjoy Cape Cod. It’s almost impossible not to.

Planning a trip? Check restaurant reviews on *Trip Advisor.

Look for dining deals on *Restaurant.com.

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Cape Cod has lobsters, clams, ice cream and so much more fresh local food for parents and kids to enjoy. Here are places and foods to not miss on your family vacation to the Cape.

Lisa Antinore is a food writer from Queens, NY. Her family owned a motel in Truro, Cape Cod, for 30 years. You can read more of her food writing on Chow Hound.


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3 Comments

  1. August 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm — Reply

    We enjoyed the ice cream at Sundae School (very rich and creamy) and the taffy at the Mermaid, which was less sweet than cheaper taffy. And we really enjoyed Clancy’s. Old standbys but done with care. And they were very attentive to Tiny Traveler (gave her crayons while we waited for a table and sped up our order without asking because we’d been waiting).

    We also had a yummy from-scratch breakfast at Wee Packet in Dennis and enjoyed an afternoon oyster happy hour at Winslow Tavern in Wellfleet.

  2. […] that time you’ll hungry again […]

  3. Erin Patrick
    July 11, 2012 at 9:09 am — Reply

    I went to Cape Cod one time as a child. It was beautiful. We got some clams, took them back to the hotel. My parents ate them and were both rushed to the hospital about an hour later with food poisoning. My sisters, brother and I stood there, in our hotel room, in a strange city, watching our parents carted off in ambulances. It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood. Because of that, I’ve never eaten clams! But, I would go back to Cape Cod!
    ~Erin

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