Picnic lunches on Martha’s Vineyard

— File photo by Susan Safford

What’s better than a day at the beach? A day at the beach with copious amounts of good food and drink to go with it. Whether you are of the bring-a-grill-and-do-it-yourself school of perfect beaching or the pack-a-cooler-with-ready-to go sandwiches type, these places, scattered about the Island, have what you need and more for the perfect summer day.

Katama General Store

You have to drive by it to get to South Beach so if you forgot your sunblock or pail and shovel, you’re in luck. The Katama General Store has beach toys and chairs galore. They also carry specialty preserves, fresh fruit, chopped veggies, gazpacho, dumplings, and prepared salads like balsamic marinated veggies with farro for sophisticated snacking.

The sandwich case holds tuna, curried chicken salad, Caprese, roast beef, and ham sandwiches prepared in-house. If you have a cooler bring a pint of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to wow the crowd. In flavors like salty caramel and rhubarb-lime cardamom, these are not your average frozen treats. Visit the Katama General Store on Facebook for updates and specials and at 170 Katama Road, just before the fork to South Beach.


A small sign hanging above the register at Soigne reads, “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here.” But she would probably enjoying shopping there amongst their collection of accoutrements, artisanal pastas and sauces, chutneys and pates. Soigne has a tidy little wine section with interesting, unique selections. Take a world tour of cheese, from Spain to New Zealand, in the small but fully stocked dairy corner. Despite the fancy marketplace, the sandwiches are quite simple. Picnic favorites like roast beef, turkey club and Italian range from $7.95 to $8.95. The most popular, I’m told, is the no-frills chicken salad. Chicken is roasted in-house daily, mixed with the right amount of mayonnaise, served with lettuce and tomato on crusty French bread. To complete your picnic, Soigne has an array of sides like grilled artichoke hearts, feta stuffed peppers, and zucchini pancakes. Visit them at 190 Upper Main Street in Edgartown.

Shiretown Meats

If the grill is a no-brainer part of your beach day, a pit stop at Shiretown is a must. In addition to fresh corn, local peaches, heirloom tomatoes, salad fixings, chips and salsa, Shiretown has everything you might want to throw on the grill. Like the pre-assembled lemon chicken kebabs for $7.99/lb. or Cajun marinated ribs for $4.99/lb. They offer lamb burgers, prime rib, and a mind-boggling selection of sausage like the chicken sausage with feta and spinach. Huge portabello mushroom caps would make for a hearty, delicious veggie burger. Shiretown also offers made-to-order subs, which are all $7.29, including Shiretown’s homemade meatball with marinara sauce and provolone and the Italian cold cut with salami, mortadella, ham, capicola, provolone, oil and vinegar. Check them out next door to Stop & Shop, 227 Upper Main Street, in Edgartown.

Edgartown Meat and Fish Market

Upon entering the Meat and Fish market, you are greeted by bright vegetables that would look really good on the grill. Corn, peppers, zucchini, squash, and asparagus get the taste buds longing for a garden grill. Deeper into the market you’ll find boneless chicken breast basting in the Meat and Fish Market’s famous marinades, cilantro lime, Jamaican jerk, etc. Juicy steak tips are ready to go on the grill, marinating in molasses BBQ or teriyaki.

Choosing a burger is no simple matter when you have to decide between bacon cheddar, jalapeno cheddar, sweet onion, sirloin, Kobe, and more. Don’t forget the fish department with cilantro-lime marinated scallops and lemon pepper shrimp skewers as well as steamers, lobsters, and local oysters for a decadent day at the beach.

And of course the sandwiches. You can create your own for $7.95 or choose from the MV BLT, lobster roll, Black Forest with Black Forest ham, apple slices, Cabot cheddar, sprouts, and honey-Dijon. Keep up to date with Edgartown Meat and Fish Market on Facebook and at edgartownmeatandfish.com, visit them in Post Office Square in Edgartown.

Tony’s Market

At Tony’s Market in Oak Bluffs you can pick up beer, wine, soft drinks, fruit, magazines, and just about anything else you need to satisfy and help you relax at the beach. The deli is stocked with a large selection of hot and cold sandwiches like the Caesar wrap for $6.99 or with chicken for $7.99, or the grilled Reuben with corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on marble rye for $7.59.

For something a little lighter, being bathing suit season and all, the Mediterranean Chicken Wrap with feta cheese, hummus, baby spinach, and cucumbers in a wrap and the Veggie Sautee with grilled onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, romaine, tomato, and special sauce are both good choices. Tony’s welcomes call-in orders so your lunch is ready when you get there, 508-693-4799 ext. 4 to place an order and ext. 5 to hear the daily specials before placing that order.

7a Foods

In their mini-marketplace, 7a Foods offers specialty chips, crackers, and salsas to compliment your lunch spread. In the to-go case, pick up a Morning Glory bean and potato salad with green and yellow wax beans and red onions or the refreshing cucumber, red onion, tomato salad. They also keep pre-made green and potato salads and coleslaw on hand for you to grab and go.

It’s hard to decide on just one fantastic sandwich but there is certainly something for everyone: local chicken salad, pulled pork, CLT (capicola, lettuce, and tomato) or my favorite as of late, the grilled eggplant with roasted red pepper, feta, and pesto. On the flip side of the beach, stop in for an ice cream after 2 pm, when 7a is serving SoCo and Ciao Bella frozen deliciousness. Visit 7a on State Road behind Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, on Facebook, and at 7afoods.com.

The Chilmark Store

Under new ownership this year, the Chilmark Store has a revamped menu. Thankfully, the pizza is the same. The mini-market still has your basic grocery needs including some produce and, important if you’re heading out for the day, ice.

The changes you’ll see are at the lunch counter. Check out the specialty sandwiches like the tuna tapenade with tuna salad, olive tapenade, lettuce, and tomato on multi-grain for $9.25, or the Caprese with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and pesto on a baguette for $8.95. If you have the foresight to call it in, a pizza makes for an easy beach lunch, from the classic to the White & Green with mozzarella, ricotta, olive oil, Parmesan and choice of something green: broccoli, broccoli raab or spinach.

The Chilmark Store also carries a selection of prepared foods like lemon chicken and balsamic chicken salad. The dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, have become an obsession of mine, as counter girls can probably attest to. Visit them at Beetlebung Corner, and be sure to call your pizza order in ahead of time so as not to waste precious August beach time. 508-645-3739.