The Aquinnah Shop is arguably one of the Island’s most remote restaurants. Situated on the westernmost point of the Island and a 45-minute drive from the bustling down-Island towns, the casual observer would be surprised at the crowd forming at the door in the 15 minutes before the restaurant opens for lunch. A cynic would put this down to a lack of sit-down options nestled among the Gay Head Cliffs and sprawling woodlands. Any diner would credit it to the food coming out of the kitchen.
Appearances can be deceiving. While the restaurant could rely on the stunning views from its back porch overlooking the Gay Head Cliffs and the Atlantic to draw in customers, there is an attention to taste given to the appetizers, entrees, and desserts that keeps people coming back. Don’t be fooled, while this place seems to reject white-cloth dining and it would be socially acceptable to roll up in a pair of cut-off denim shorts and a T shirt, both of which look like they may have last been washed after Woodstock, this place isn’t priced for a casual sandwich to grab coming off the beach.
For mains, we got the Smoked Salmon BLT ($18), the Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich ($13) and the Grilled Vegetable Skewers ($14). There are more budget-friendly options, a burger goes for $7, and the stuffed quahog appetizer is priced at $5, however, most of the menu items are sitting comfortably above $10. For appetizers we indulged in the codzolez ($16), which are two cod cakes topped with guac and pico de gallo. The cakes were substantial and could be a light lunch, they came out on a bed of arugula and featured a hint of lemon juice, which gave them that extra kick to help them stand out among traditional fishcakes.
The sandwiches were both delicious, with the chicken featuring a pesto spread and the smoked salmon garnering the compliment of being the dish to get. They were both substantial meals, with various sweet potato fries, chips, and last few bites left on the plates after proclamations that “I just can’t have another bite!” The vegetable skewers were another knockout if you’re feeling a more vegetable-based meal. They included grilled pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki and were remarkably filling. It was a struggle to finish the two skewers. They included zucchini, tomato, pepper, and onion, and the flavor of the vegetables was such that you enjoyed getting these four of the five recommended servings a day.
The Aquinnah Shop has long ago moved past its description of a hidden gem. The restaurant, however, is not resting on its reputation or fabulous view. It’s worth the drive. The Vineyard-casual vibe combined with the gourmet concoctions coming out of the kitchen earn this place a spot on Islanders’ and visitors’ short-list for top dining on Martha’s Vineyard.
The Aquinnah Shop is located at 27 Aquinnah Circle. It’s open for breakfast from Thursday-Tuesday, 8:30am-11 am, for lunch every day from 12 pm-3 pm, and dinner from Wednesday-Monday 5:30 pm-8:30 pm. For a menu and other information visit theaquinnahshop.com or cal 508-645-3867.