I’m an early riser. That statement is never more true than it is when I’m on Martha’s Vineyard. I will have a beer now and again in the evening—I love a Guinness at The Newes From America—but I will never drink to get drunk because I know that the price will be missing a Martha’s Vineyard morning and that, quite frankly, is unacceptable.
I like to try and make it out before dawn, when the light is just coming over the horizon. It’s almost always just me and my camera, although my friend Ali came out with me once to get a few shots of his own. Getting a good photograph on the Vineyard is not hard. It’s a beautiful place. There are some places that are real prize winners for sunrises. It’s hard to beat a Chappaquiddick sunrise, but to be fair, it’s hard to beat a Chappaquiddick anything. Edgartown Lighthouse is one of my favourite spots. I’m also a big fan of Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs and East Chop, when it comes to welcoming in the dawn. No matter where I see in the new day, my next step is always breakfast and my go-to is The Black Dog Tavern. Oh, I know that any islanders reading this just rolled their eyes and some probably just closed this link completely, but if you’re still with me, hear me out. A breakfast at The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven is a beautiful thing.
I’m a tourist. I don’t live on Martha’s Vineyard year round. There are some great breakfast spots in Toronto, where I live year round, but they can’t offer me, or any other lover of the Vineyard, what The Black Dog can. The Black dog gives a very Vineyard experience.
The tavern was built forty-eight years ago. I know this because it was the year I was born. Yet, while it is not that old, the owners have successfully filled the space with enough island nostalgia to satisfy anyone desperate for decompression from city life and a little sea air. Toward that end, when you head up to The Black Dog like I do at 7:00am sharp, the place is empty and you are guaranteed a window seat. There are very few places that can offer you—make that none in Toronto—a table almost literally, on the beach. Weather permitting, I prop my wood-framed window open, and let the rush of sea air envelope me. From this seat and table (both of which look like they were salvaged from Queen Anne’s Revenge), I can drink my coffee, listen to waves lap the shore, and watch the steamships come in and go out.
The food is excellent. Ambiance will only get you so far in the restaurant game. Eventually, you are going to need a reputation for good food to keep you honest. The Black Dog has the bite to back up its bark. I’m a ‘Loretta’ man myself with eggs over-easy, bacon, and white toast. I have friends who have to get their pancakes every time. In fact, I highly recommend that you try to go with friends who like pancakes. The pancakes are delicious but they are enormous—you are guaranteed to get a cut.
There are a lot of wonderful places on Martha’s Vineyard to have breakfast. I make a point of hitting all of them on each trip. The Black Dog though… it’s something special.