Do I have to mention apple fritters from Back Door Donuts? No, I didn’t think so. The characters in my Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries eat them so frequently that it has become a running joke. So far this trip—I’ve been here a month already—I have managed to eat only one. My friend Tessa suggested we grab one the other night but I held fast. They are one of my favourite tasty treats and I hold off until I just can’t take it anymore and then I have one. So no, I will not be talking about Back Door Donuts; however, this trip has been singular for me because I have been spending a lot of time in O.B. and loving every minute of it! In the past, Most of my time down island has been spent in Edgartown; however, this time, it has been in Oak Bluffs and I have been thrilled to discover it all over again for the first time.
Oak Bluffs For Breakfast
There have always been great options for breakfast in Oak Bluffs. Linda Jeans has always been a popular spot and now there’s Tigerhawk just a little farther down Circuit Avenue. I have been to Tigerhawk and loved it but not for breakfast but keep reading, we’ll get there. There is also Biscuits at 26 Lake Avenue! I had always seen Biscuits and noted their incredible popularity. If you don’t want to wait, you have to get there early. That tends to be the rule of thumb for the entire island and breakfast spots in particular. Art Cliff, The Black Dog, Linda Jeans—they’re all the same. My recommendation is take full advantage of the fact that you are on Martha’s Vineyard—one of the most beautiful places in the world—and get up early, see the sunrise, and have a great breakfast.
When a friend reached out and asked me to meet him and his family for breakfast before they left the island, he recommended Biscuits. I was thrilled. I had only been to Biscuits once and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to return. I’m in Vineyard Haven but I love the walk to Oak Bluffs. The walk is especially beautiful at dawn. There are sections of Beach Road that—let’s face it—will never be on the cover of tourist brochures for Martha’s Vineyard. Sections of road that I had never even entertained photographing. That is until my walk at sunrise. It was picture perfect. Literally. The walk is a great way to build up a healthy appetite first thing in the morning and the views are breathtaking.
When we got to Biscuits I had the Cod Cakes Hollandaise as recommended by my server. The first time I went my server recommended the hash and that was great. So, this time I asked for a second recommendation and this one even topped the first! Cottaging in Northern Ontario my whole life, I am used to my uncles going out early, fishing, and catching trout and bass for breakfast. The cod cakes fit perfectly in that tradition. Biscuits staff is enthusiastic and friendly and the food is great. I highly recommend them if you aren’t a big fan already!
A New Sandwich In Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard
One evening as I was leaving O.B., I bumped into my friend Chef Jimmy Alvarado. We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. In fact, thanks to COVID, I hadn’t kept up with his professional going on. Jimmy said, “You have to come and check out my new sandwich place, man!” I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about but I love sandwiches (they really are my jam). He continued, “It’s Tigerhawk on Circuit Avenue! Come in and check us out! We’re only open for breakfast and lunch for now.” I told him I definitely would and true to my word, I was in there the next day.
Jimmy wasn’t there but his partner Nate was. True to form, I asked Nate what his favourite item on the menu was. He said it was the Pork Banh Mi. I told him I would take that. It blew my mind. I didn’t even know what ‘banh mi’ meant or was! It turns out that ‘Banh Mi’ is a vietnamese sandwich served on a short baguette. The Banh Mi sandwich at Tigerhawk consists of pickled daikon and carrots, cucumbers, jalapeño, bacon-chicken liver mousse, fish sauce caramel, cilantro, and kewpie mayo! You have your option of proteins—pork, tofu, and fried chicken. The next time you are in Oak Bluffs looking to try something new, I suggest heading to Tigerhawk. With it’s Asian fusion deli foods and it’s punk-funk atmosphere, you will not be disappointed.
Dinner In Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard
Yes, that’s right—I’m still eating. There are just so many cool places to try in Oak Bluffs! My friends Ryan and Maïlyse texted me as they were sailing to the island one evening and asked me what I was doing. As it happened, I had no plans so we made arrangements to connect as they docked in Vineyard Haven Harbor. We sat on their new sailboat, Ryan showed her to me and Solange is indeed a beautiful boat! I have since taken quite a few photos of Solange so you never know, I may just have to write a blog post about her history and adventures. Anyway, as we chatted and had a brew or two, we all got hungry and decided to make our way to Oak Bluffs for dinner.
Ryan was in the mood for barbecue so naturally, I thought of SeaSmoke; however, it’s still not open for dine-in. When it is, we’ll be there. This did give us all the perfect opportunity to try Flavors on Circuit Avenue! Flavors had been on my list since it opened. Live island music and authentic Caribbean cuisine made it a natural fit for me!
We were hungry and we ordered a lot of food. We started with bang bang cauliflower tempura, and crispy Brussels sprouts. For Entrées we all had the Jerk chicken—it was fantastic. When your server is Jamaican and she recommends the Jerk chicken, you order the Jerk chicken. That’s just how it goes. It comes with rice and peas and plantains. We all had such a good time. When we were finished Ryan yelled out, “So, are we going to ride the Flying Horses?!” Without hesitation, I blurted out, “Yes!!” I knew Ryan wasn’t expecting me to agree let alone be so exuberant about it but I wasn’t backing down. I hadn’t had any friends who had even showed a modicum of interest for a long time but I knew that Ryan and Maïlyse were the perfect people with whom to ride the carousel.
Carousel & A Night Cap In Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard
Ryan, Maïlyse, and I made our way over to the Flying Horses and purchased three tickets. There was a bit of a line-up but no more than would fit on the next ride. The line-up actually made me happy. I loved the fact that the carousel was so high in demand! When you think about how long she has been around, the fact that so many people still see her as a must-do in their vacation itinerary is pretty darn cool.
When we boarded the carousel, Maïlyse and I got horses side by side and Ryan took the carriage in front of us. If you haven’t ridden the Flying Horses, then you need to know that there is a ring dispenser for the riders on the inside horses and there is a ring dispenser for the riders on the outside horses. The object is to collect the rings and get the brass ring. If you get the brass ring, you get a free ride.
Now, my friend Ryan is tall and his arms are long. It didn’t take him long to figure out that if he slid back and forth on his carriage seat, he could get rings from both dispensers! He was also quick enough that he could get several rings with each pass! It was hilarious! However, the “ringmaster” caught on quick! Every time Ryan tried to grab a ring from the inside dispenser, the ringmaster flung it out of Ryan’s reach!! We couldn’t stop laughing. Alas, when our ride was over none of us had grabbed the brass ring. Until next time…
As we wandered away from Flying Horses, Ryan said “Well, what kinda night is it going to be? Are we getting ice cream or are we getting cocktails?” Without missing a beat, Maïlyse chimed in, “Why do we have to choose?” I knew exactly where she was going with that. “Dirty Bananas!” The three of us headed to Nancy’s and grabbed some prime real estate along the rail on the upper deck.
Oak Bluffs is an island experience like no other. It is the town that invites you to let your hair down. Oak Bluffs is the only township on Martha’s Vineyard that was designed with tourism in mind. I mean, that’s why it’s there. So, the more you act like a tourist in Oak Bluffs, the more you fit in and even if you don’t—Hey, it’s the Vineyard!