Our Guide to the 12 Best Restaurants on Nantucket

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Our Guide to the 12 Best Restaurants on Nantucket

If you’re heading to New England’s favorite small island with dune beaches this summer, we’ve found the best stops.

Topper’s in Wauwinet is a beacon of elegance. / Courtesy of White Elephant Resorts

Known among summer residents and visitors as an excellent culinary destination, the tiny island of Nantucket offers even more fine dining options than the (usually flip-flopped) atmosphere of Martha’s Vineyard. However, alongside the most popular local institutions, there are always new offerings, bites and places to try. Here’s our list of the best places for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between in this little slice of heaven.

Note: Call before visiting or check restaurant websites for opening times and dates, especially in the off-season. Many restaurants are only open in the summer and may not open early or late.

Last updated on May 21, 2024.

Photo of Breeze Restaurant via Yelp

Breeze Restaurant

Breeze is a picture-perfect, nautical-themed spot that combines casual dining with an upscale menu (one that tastes even better on the back patio). It’s tucked away in the Nantucket Hotel – so don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of a celeb or two overnight. (Former Pats coach Bill Belichick was even spotted there, proving he’s a man who appreciates well-prepared coastal cuisine.) The most famous dish by now may be the restaurant’s clam chowder, perhaps the best on the island, although the lobster -Tacos are also part of the A-list.

77 Easton St., Nantucket, 508-228-4730, breezenantucket.com.

Photo by Foggy Nantucket via Yelp

Foggy Nantucket

After a long day at the beach, there’s nothing more satisfying than pizza. Except maybe barbecue. Why not have both? This family-owned business offers thin-crust, deep-dish pizzas, and since the owners grew up in the South, their slabs of dry-rubbed, hickory-smoked BBQ are seriously on point, too. Think burnt ends, beans, coleslaw and all the trimmings, including the “Family Packs” offered for your next beach picnic.

147 Orange St., Nantucket, 508-680-1737, foggynantucket.com.

Galley Beach

This beautiful spot is located right on the northwest shore of the island, literally on the beach overlooking Nantucket Sound, so the restaurant already has the right vibe. On the menu? New American, of course, eats with a strong focus on seafood, such as the lobster poached in yuzu butter. While your toes dig in the sand, sip a premium selection from a 5,000-bottle wine cellar (not bad for the site of a former ’50s clam shack) or perhaps mix cocktails by the beachfront fire pits in the bar.

54 Jefferson Ave., Nantucket, 508-228-9641, galleybeach.net.

Handlebar Café

The cafe is our favorite place to grab a caffeinated sip with their famous cold brews and matcha lattes. It has a lovely bike theme and plenty of dog-friendly outdoor seating. It is probably the best coffee on the island. So be prepared to wait for your cappuccino on weekend mornings. With any luck, the lines will be over by the time you drive back from your adventure and are ready to treat yourself to something sweet from the daily selection of pastries.

15 Washington St., Nantucket, 508-825-5929, handlebarnantucket.com.

Photo of island kitchen by Tracey L. via Yelp

Island kitchen

Pretty, elegant, and as unpretentious as it gets, this friendly indoor-outdoor spot in the middle of the island is open year-round, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to hungry locals and tourists alike. Breakfast includes everything from classics like Eggs Benedict to healthy options like smoothies and açaí bowls for that post-sunrise yoga set. (Imagine sipping a pomegranate-cranberry mimosa.) For lunch and dinner, there are subtle twists on favorite classics like fish tacos and shrimp scampi, while a seasonal ice cream parlor has 30 homemade ice cream flavors available at any given time—cake batter, anyone? – served for dessert.

1 Chins Way, Nantucket, 508-228-2639, nantucketislandkitchen.com.

citrus press

From morning to midday, this bright and cheerful lunchtime café is the place to be to get fueled up for whatever comes next. It offers plenty of grab-and-go dishes and spreads that will make you want to linger: perhaps the Persian breakfast of eggs, duck confit hash and date chutney, or a kofta burger with herbed feta and pickled onions. Healthy açaí bowls and smoothies are also very important here and even the cocktails are prepared with fresh juices – such as the refreshing Apricot Cooler of Rye, apricot-peach puree and ginger beer.

41 Main St., Nantucket, 508-228-3800, lemonpressnantucket.com.

Millie’s photo by Albert S. via Yelp

Millie’s Restaurant

Hop on your bike or take the shuttle to Madaket if you haven’t tried this West End and West Coast institution yet for the cold margaritas and fresh fish tacos that will be on your mind when you walk up the T in the dead sitting of winter. At this simple, breezy spot, you’ll find flavorful dishes inspired by New England and Baja California—try summer quesadilla stuffed with lobster meat, slow-roasted tomatoes, and grilled zucchini—as well as the Madaket Mystery, a rum punch of local legend.

326 Madaket Rd., Nantucket, 508-228-8435, milliesnantucket.com.

The Nautilus / Photo by Georgie Morley

The Nautilus

If you’ve already tried Nautilus’ new Seaport outpost, you know you’re in for a treat when you visit this upscale, seafood-focused spot on the island. His creativity is particularly evident in global small plates like crispy monkfish bites with caramel fish sauce and Vietnamese fish sauce, but the whole roasted Peking duck stands out among the larger-format dishes. Look out for the crab fried rice. If it’s on the menu, it’s a must. Another “must”? Reservations are strongly recommended.

12 Cambridge St., Nantucket, 508-228-0301, thenautilus.com.

or: The whale

There’s no shortage of lovely patios for dining here on the island, but the one at The Whale, where you’ll find vegan and vegetarian options as well as delicious Korean pork BBQ for the table, is extra special, with a casual backyard intimacy that is suitable for a date night or brunch with a crowd of friends. Don’t oversleep lunch though, as there are smaller versions of the same style, like country ham toast and a falafel gyro.

38 Main St., Nantucket, 508-825-5897, otwnantucket.com.

pizzeria Twins

Pizzeria Gemelle emphasizes Neapolitan-style cakes with matching side dishes and wines – all simply and expertly prepared. Pizzaiolo Elio DiMambro, who grew up north of Boston as a first-generation Italian, conjures up combinations like the Calabrese with ‘nduja sausage, tomato sauce, basil, red onion and chili flakes, and a local mussel pizza with parsley crema and bacon, using only the freshest ingredients and a wood stove. The small trattoria doesn’t have much seating, but what’s better than pizza on the beach?

2 East Chestnut St., Nantucket, pizzeriagemelle.com.

Straight quay

Seasonal menus don’t get more seasonal than at Straight Wharf, where the prix fixe menu changes nightly to offer the freshest dishes from the farm and from the sea. For example, you could start with salmon crudo topped with pickled gooseberries and leek ash, then move on to a spice-coated catch of the day with artichokes, ‘nduja, and a Meyer lemon green olive tapenade. You’ll probably even be able to see where the catch was caught: The recently expanded outdoor seating offers great harbor views from the dock.

6 Harbor Square, Nantucket, 508-228-4499, Straightwharfrestaurant.com.

Photo courtesy of White Elephant Resorts

Topper is on Wauwinet

The Wauwinet Resort’s exceptional location on a Far Eastern isthmus overlooking the water deserves Nantucket’s best restaurant. That’s what you’ll find at Topper’s, a seasonally inspired beacon of elegance with decades of refinement and a regal wine cellar. Comte cheese-stuffed morels, scallops, and tender sweetbreads can show up on the evening prix fixe, while breakfast and lunch offer a la carte offerings like vanilla bean french toast and lobster crab cakes with sweet-spicy mustard and roasted-corn relish.

120 Wauwinet Rd., Nantucket, wauwinet.com.