For this week’s compost bin I have compiled a list of links to some of the places we dined at in the past week. This list includes past favorites, new treats, and one or two places that are popular, but highly over-rated. All offer vegetarian options, or I would not have eaten there. I hope in the future to convince some of these places to share a recipe or two here with you.

  • Van Rensselaers has the best salad bar anywhere (I love the Honey Sesame Dressing) and great vegetarian selections despite being a First Class seafood and grill restaurant. My family have been coming here for years, first falling in love in 1990 in the week after Hurricane Bob, when VR’s was one of the few restaurants in the area with power. The owners, Peter and Diane Hall, feel like family to us, and the staff is always friendly.
  • Chach is a favorite with P-Town locals, and it’s not hard to see why. The food is great, the portions are generous, and the service is friendly. This joint is way off the main strip, but well worth the trip out of town center. Try the Jalapeno Corn Muffins, which are the right mix of heat and sweetness. Lunch is also served all day, so you can have a black bean burger for breakfast if it strikes your fancy.
  • The Orleans Inn is rumored to be one of the most haunted buildings on the Lower Cape. Ghosts or no, we always enjoy our meals here. In the summer they serve lunch on the back deck, which offers scenic views of Town Cove, and you might catch some of the Pirate Adventure’s boating adventure playing out in the background if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your preference). If I could do my wedding over again, I would have had it here.
  • Pizza at the Red Barn the first night on the Cape is a tradition with my family. The pizza and salads are pretty good, and the kids can run around the arcade and mini golf course to blow off steam after being cooped up on the car for a few hours. They also have Cape Cod Red on tap, which helps Mom and Dad relax after the drive.
  • The Hole in One serves my favorite donuts ever anywhere. Their sour cream donuts are the standard by which I judge all others, and it infuriates me to see Dunkin Donuts expanding into this territory. If you are up this way, do yourself a favor and try the local donuts rather than the corporate brand-you will not regret it.
  • Cottage Street Bakery has great muffins and excellent locally roasted coffees. If you’re really hungry, try the dirt bombs.
  • The Hot Chocolate Sparrow is the heart of Orleans right on the bike trail. They have great coffee and specialty drinks (frozen hot chocolate is my favorite), great desserts and treats, soups and sandwiches, ice cream, and candy made on site. We visit the Sparrow daily. I wish I had one of these places at home-Starbucks is OK, but local coffee shops are always so much better.
  • Arnold’s Clam Shack is over rated and over priced. We have never had better than an OK experience there, and this year it was just plain bad. They didn’t have any salad, they forgot to season the onion rings, and the handicapped access is insulting to the disabled. We brought my mobility challenged mother with us and had to lift her scooter out of the restaurant because there is no accessible exit. Rachel Ray may endorse this place, but I will never return. Tourist trap.
  • Karoo Kafe is a hidden gem in the heart of Provincetown. Yes, I go to the tip of Cape Cod to dine South African rather than chowder. I love the pumpkin kibbi, which is a pumpkin based falafel-type treat. The sweet potato fires are also excellent, and we always grab some South African candy on our way out.
  • The Old Jailhouse Tavern is a traditional family-style restaurant located in the buidling which was once Orleans jail. We usually enjoy a mid-week lunch here, but avoid Sunday brunch time because it can get crowded. Becareful if you order the Frimps-they are served dangerously hot, and this year Thing 1 blistered the roof of her mouth when she ate one too quickly despite the warnings from both her parents.
  • The new gem of the trip is Messina, a family style Italian eatery that opened just last Thursday. Though they only offered a limited menu this week, what we sampled was amazingly good. The pasta was cooked perfectly (many places up here overcook it and you get gummy noodles), the kids meals were genuine, not microwaved, and the staf was warm and friendly. We’ll be going again probably on Saturday when they plan to offer the full menu.