Nothing ruins a good beach day like hunger. Okay, there’s rain. Sunburns. Shark attacks. But let us not stray down the path of cynicism. My point is, a long leisurely day on the beach is made much better by food. And what better food for a picnic than a sandwich?
Compact, easy to transport, easy to eat, delicious: it’s almost as if sandwiches were made for the beach. That can’t be why they’re called SAND-wiches, can it? (Actually, they are named for John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich…but I’m boring myself now.) Here are some of my favorite sandwiches for some of your favorite beaches.
Edgartown: Whether you’re headed to Left Fork or Right, stop first at the Katama General Store, which offers quick and easy prepared foods, including sandwiches, straight from their coolers.
Oak Bluffs: If you’re beaching it in Oak Bluffs, you pretty much have all the restaurants on Circuit Avenue, Kennebec, and the harbor to choose from. One local favorite is Humphreys, for monster sized sandwiches on freshly baked bread of your choice. I’m partial to their version of the Gobbler — turkey, cranberry sauce, and Thanksgiving stuffing on warm whole wheat bread.
Vineyard Haven: Really the only public beach choices in Vineyard Haven are Owen Park Beach and Tashmoo, but sandwich choices are aplenty. Best bet? Waterside Market on Main Street. Their toasty ciabatta bread holds up their dense sandwiches quite nicely, and it’s just a short walk from Owen Park. My favorite is the Farmhouse: chicken, bacon, onion jam, pecan goat cheese, and fresh spinach.
Up Island: The opposite of V.H.:many beaches, fewer dining options. It all depends where you’re headed, or where you’re lucky enough to get a beach pass. Lambert’s Cove? Fella’s Take Out take’s care of classic sandwich cravings. Their chicken salad, mixed with the crisp herbal flavor of tarragon, is great for a hot day. Otherwise, the Cronig’s deli also offers sandwiches to go, along with other prepared foods. (Stock up on fruit, chips, drinks, and other beach snacks here too).
Heading farther up Island? Stop at 7a Foods for a sandwich that usually contains a surprise ingredient, like blueberries or marcona almonds. I can’t say enough about the Liz Lemon sandwich: hot, housemade pastrami, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, russian dressing, and potato chips on rye. The genius of Tina Fey embodied in sandwich form.
If you’re up as far as Chilmark, better stop at the Chilmark General Store. There’s no turning back from here. Heading to Lucy, Squibby, Philbin, or beyond, you’ll want rations. For extra endurance, choose the “Road Race,” named for Chilmark’s Middle Road 5K, stuffed with roasted chicken, avocado, house-made romesco sauce, aioli, basil, and arugula on ciabatta.
Mission accomplished, you have the perfect sandwich for your perfect beach day. Don’t eat it in the car before you get to the beach. Do eat it before the bread gets soggy and the mayo turns. Protect it from sand and seagulls. Share with friends. Ignore that silly “wait 20 minutes before swimming” rule, and have a blast.