It’s fair to say Oak Bluffs is officially out of its winter hibernation. If the sun’s out, the workweek’s over, and you’re strolling down the harbor, follow the sound of the crowd to Coop deVille — the first of those dockside restaurants to open for the 2018 season.
You’ll see what looks like one giant family reunion. The main dining area is filled with dark wooden picnic tables and a bar lining the space’s perimeter, capitalizing on the number of seats with a view. It’s packed but comfortable. There’s an outdoor bar and shuck shack for crowd overflow, creating plenty of places to take in the summertime spirits, calypso reggaeton, and the harbor’s golden hour.
That’s the thing about Coop — you’re right there. You’re steps from the water, and at the heart of what Martha’s Vineyard’s all about. Views of bobbing moorings and the subtle sounds of chiming buoys make you want to trap the moment in a bottle to relive whenever possible. But enough about feelings, let’s talk about food.
At the top of the menu are the World Famous Wings, which can be ordered single ($12), double ($23), or bucket ($42). Get ready for flavors, because there’s an extensive list: Mild, Medium, Hot, Dragon Fire, Suicide, 3-Mile Island, Cajun, Jamaican Jerk, Maryland Style, or New Orleans Voodoo. Wings come with blue cheese, celery, and sauce, and you can add extras for $1.
The Golden Fried Clam Strips ($10.99 for a half-pint, $17.99 for a pint, $26.99 for a quart) are another Coop favorite. They’re fried lightly enough that you can taste the chewy, yummy clam necks without being overwhelmed by crispy batter — although crispy batter isn’t such a bad thing.
Which brings me to my next recommendation, the Fried Oyster Basket ($17). It’s served with fries, tartar sauce, and a lemon wedge, bringing together summer’s most iconic tastes.
The Mahi Tacos are served with mango salsa and fresh and blackened mahi. They’re wrapped in a warm flour tortilla, or can be served gluten-free on a fresh piece of lettuce. Choose chips, greens, or fries on the side.
All of this goes best with a glass of beer. There’s over 100 to choose from, on draft and bottled. You can get a pint or the 22-ounce, which range in price from $6 to $9. A favorite is the Kona Brewing Co’s Longboard Lager, which is harder to find at bars on-Island, but almost always on Coop’s draft list. It’s a crisp pale-gold lager made with aromatic hops. There’s also tons of IPAs, including the Over Easy Light, which is a new brew from Otter Creek, the Even Keel IPA, which is another light one from Ballistic Point Brewing, and the Dogfish 60 Minute, which is an ale from Delaware. They also carry East Chop Lighthouse, made right up the street at Offshore Ale. Coop’s also has its own Shuck Shack Extra Pale Ale, which is worth a try.
This is also one of the rare on-Island restaurant’s that’s dog-friendly, so if you feel bad leaving a certain someone at home, you don’t have to. When you eat at Coop’s, you’re dining with the locals, and living like it’s summer.
Coop deVille is located at 12 Circuit Ave. Ext. in Oak Bluffs. It’s open from 11 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.