(Note: Make sure to check out part 2!)
As promised, we are finally going to share our gluten free experiences from Martha's Vineyard! Better late than never, right?
For those of you who may not be familiar, Martha's Vineyard is one of two inhabited islands off the coast of Massachusetts. (The other is Nantucket.) Only reachable by ferry or plane, Martha's Vineyard is a very popular vacation location due to its great beaches and truly unique atmosphere. Parts of the island feel very rural, but there are also several towns with restaurants, bars, and shops - the best of both worlds! The island also has a really rich history and is home to many beautiful old houses, including beautiful old mansions built in the whaling boom.
Needless to say, Martha's Vineyard is one of our favorite family vacation spots! Hannah and I have family who live on the island, and we vacationed there many times growing up. We have many great memories of being there as children and teenagers, and now we're finally enjoying it as adults!
But in the past, I have had one criticism about Martha's Vineyard: the lack of gluten free options. After Hannah and I were diagnosed with celiac disease in 2013, Martha's Vineyard was one of the first places we vacationed as a family. We expected that it would have plenty of gluten free options, as it's known for attracting a wealthier crowd, but when we got there, we were unpleasantly surprised to find that this wasn't the case. It was really hard for us to figure out where we could eat, and our family ended up cooking most of our meals at the house we were staying.
This year was the first time we'd been back since that trip. We were particularly nervous after we realized that the one restaurant we'd been to that had extensive gluten free options (a barbecue joint) had closed since our previous trip to the Vineyard. So we were determined to do some more research into gluten free options and see what we could dig up - and pass along our recommendations, so that other gluten free vacationers don't have the same struggle that we did! Finding gluten free options on Martha's Vineyard was hard compared to most places I've been, but I feel pretty happy with the great choices we found! I'll be doing a second post with a more extensive list of all the places we found while researching, but this post will focus on places where we actually ate. Based on where we were staying, our choices focus mainly on the towns of Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven/Tisbury.
Martha's Vineyard Chowder Company has next to no gluten free options, with one very important exception: the chowder! And that's what you're there for anyway, right? Yes, their delicious namesake chowder is gluten free, and it made for a very tasty lunch after landing on the island. I also splurged on some oysters, which were super yummy! (Hannah doesn't like them.)
There are countless ice cream shops on Martha's Vineyard, but Ben and Bill's is our favorite! Hannah can't get enough of their butter crunch (with some M&Ms, of course).
Our absolute favorite meal on the island was at Park Corner Bistro in downtown Oak Bluffs. It's a tiny little place that used to be a fine dining establishment and then rebranded to be a casual bar that serves appetizers. But even though they now serve bar food, it still has the same high quality of a fine dining place, in my opinion. The menu changes frequently, but gluten free items are marked, and more items than not are gluten free! One of the owners informed us that they made several easy fixes to the menu to avoid gluten in most dishes, such as using gluten free soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce. We went there for a big birthday dinner and between the members of our group, tried nearly all of their gluten free options! Everything was absolutely phenomenal. The portion sizes are relatively small, but a bit larger than at a tapas restaurant - I would say 1.5 dishes per person is the right amount. It was a little pricey, but worth every penny. Truly a hidden gem. My favorites were the steak tips and the PB&J wings, but everything we ate was fantastic.
Lola's does not have any gluten free dinner options that I know about, but if you want $1 oysters (and you do), this is the place to go. Lola's offers $1 oysters and clams every night from 4-7pm (12 limit per person). The oysters were some of the best I've ever had - I ended up having to go back a few days later for more!
Not Your Sugar Mama's is a fully gluten free facility that sells all kinds of gluten free chocolate treats at their Vineyard Haven store. The store also includes an organic cafe that's completely gluten free and vegan, if that's your thing. Hannah and Dan (@guywithamap) were big fans of the tikka masala chickpea curry, so much so that they went back and ordered it a second time!
Rocco's Pizzeria is located in the same shopping center as Not Your Sugar Mama's, so if not everyone in your group wants a vegan meal, there's another option just next door! While Hannah was getting tikka masala chickpea curry for the second time, Kerrey (@k_rrey) and I got a gluten free cheese pizza from Rocco's to split. It was cheesy and warm and gooey, just as a pizza should be!
Nat's Nook in downtown Vineyard Haven is kind of tucked away in a corner, but it was a nice find! There's plenty of seating, lots of coffee, and gluten free crepes! Kerrey ordered an apple butter crepe while I got some coffee, and I stole a bite. It was delicious, and the food presentation was also nice!
Scottish Bakehouse was a bit of a trek from where we were staying, but it's worth a trip (or two). It sells lots of baked goods, including gluten free baked goods! We made a few trips there to stock up on breakfast goodies, including muffins, breakfast bars, and cheese bread. Yum!
We don't spend much time in Chilmark, but Hannah, Dan, and our dad did a cheese tasting and tour at The Grey Barn and Farm, and they brought back lots of cheese to share! I'm a cheese fanatic, so I was very grateful. Their cheese was delicious - definitely worth checking out, especially if it's not a nice beach day!
We like Edgartown a lot and like to do day trips there, but we don't spend a ton of time there overall. This year, we made a pit stop for coffee and (for the non-gluten free folks) desserts at Behind the Bookstore Cafe, which was an adorable place with great outdoor seating located, sure enough, behind the bookstore. While it seems that their gluten free options are limited, we did notice that they had gluten free griddle cakes indicated on their breakfast menu!
And there you have it! I hope this is helpful to anyone gluten free trying to plan a trip to Martha's Vineyard - we know from experience that it's difficult! And if you're looking for more options, we plan to write a second post soon that lists other restaurants with gluten free options that we became aware of while doing Martha's Vineyard research... So stay tuned!