Nantucket: Before, Between and After the Films

By Gene Mahon

When you’re not watching a film at this year’s Nantucket Film Festival, you’ll need to eat and you should make some time to explore the island. Here are some suggestions for both.

New Restaurants

Some of the fare at Nautilus

Nantucket is a gastronomic paradise, but it seems to get better with each restaurant that pops up. Nautilus is a new tapas bar and restaurant serving Asian Fusion under Executive Chef Liam Mackey, formerly chef at The Pearl. Located downtown at 7 South Water Street, dishes include Oyster Tacos, Hawaiian Poke, Shortrib Tartar, and several noodle plates. It’s a lively scene throughout the evening with maybe a dozen tables, a dozen bar seats, and half a dozen high stools to watch the kitchen prepare your food, or turn around and watch everyone in the room – my favorite seat.


the bar at The Proprietors
the bar at The Proprietors


The Proprietors on India Street comes from the owners of American Seasons restaurant on Nantucket, in partnership with well known Boston chef Tom Berry. Located at 9 India Street and open for lunch and dinner, The Proprietors offers mostly half share plates – some of the best include Apalachicola Shrimp, Shaved “Pork-Umms” (a slider), Tuna Sunomono (cucumber salad), lobster roll, as well as some full-size entrées like Grass Fed Heart of Ribeye. There’s a lively and fluid bar scene all night long, always with interesting people.

Cocktails at B-Ack Yard BBQ
Cocktails at B-Ack Yard BBQ

B-ACK Yard BBQ wasn’t open when we went to press but will be ready for the NFF. They’re located at the bottom of Main Street, just across from the Stop and Shop, serving authentic barbecue with a Nantucket twist from former Brant Point Grill Executive Chef Fred Bisaillon. The menu will include BBQ styles from around the country, Kentucky bourbons, Tennessee whiskeys and craft beer – oh, and TV screens for sports enthusiasts. All food is available for take-out.

The ambiance of Mersault's main dining room
The ambiance of Mersault’s main dining room

For a quieter spot with European ambiance, try Meursault, a wine and cheese and charcuterie cafe located at 18 Broad Street. From an article by Candy Bearman in Mahon About Town: “Meursault is meant to be an experience, quiet and intimate and designed for asking all those questions that float best on a whisper. Sunk beneath the bricks of Nantucket and emanating a warmth only the Earth herself can provide, it is beautiful and glowing. Small tea lights flicker in walled recesses and warm wooden alcoves invite handholding and sun kissed knees sliding together in cocoa butter trysts.” Get the picture?

cisco-brewOld Favorites Cisco Brewers is still considered an essential part of any trip to Nantucket, a flashback to the 70s: open air, dressed up and dressed down people who all know each other or feel that they do, with a smattering of local dogs and children and locally made beer, wine and spirits. Located on Bartlett Farm Road several miles out of town, there’s a shuttle in front of Visitor Services in town at 16 Broad Street with frequent pick-ups.

Some friendly folks at the Chickenbox
Some friendly folks at the Chickenbox

Some say you can’t leave the island without going to the Chicken Box nightclub on Dave Street, a five minute ride from town. When you imagine what Nantucket nightspots looked like back in the 70s, “The Box” comes close to what you’re thinking. The bands are usually great rock from Boston – last year during the film fest, it was Spookie Daly Pride, an island favorite you shouldn’t miss if they play again this year.




Best restaurants for sunsets:

Spectacular sunset dining at The Galley

Galley Beach, 54 Jefferson Avenue, just past Jetties Beach, Jetties Beach Restaurant, and Millie’s in Madaket.

The Bean counter

For a quick cup of coffee, try The Bean at 29 Centre Street, serving coffee from beans roasted here on the island, or The Hub at the corner of Main and Federal, with newspapers, bagels, or a smoothie.


Take some time away from the festival and walk in any direction out of town and you’ll find tended homes, gardens and window boxes, and the largest number of historically preserved 18th and 19th century homes in America. Take a tour (vans park at the bottom of Main Street), rent a bike (shops are centered around Steamboat Nantucket Wharf), or go on a fishing or sailing trip (docked on Straight Wharf).

Are there empty beaches on Nantucket in summer?

Yes there are. Make it a point to find one.

Gene Mahon, Nantucket resident since 1970, is a photographer, writer, and publisher of the Mahon About Town Nantucket e-newsletter covering the arts and social life of the island. For photos from previous film festivals, go to MahonAboutTown. com where you can also subscribe to the free Nantucket e-newsletter.

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