French Toast Smackdown: The Best Places to Have Breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard

Okay, the smackdown is really for Jasper. We all love French toast (really, who doesn’t)? Jasper is the only one who orders it, though.

Artcliff Diner, Martha's Vineyard

French toast at the ArtCliff Diner.

Breakfast is a great meal to have out with kids. It’s generally louder and more boisterous, i.e. casual, and the food is the easiest to serve up to children. So it’s the one meal we eat out on a fairly regular basis (sigh, as we fondly remember when we were regulars at many restaurants for DINNER). That and the fact that, even on vacation, we are up most days before 7am. Sigh again.

In our “research,” we’ve found great breakfast options for families all over Martha’s Vineyard — and all worth traveling for — including:

THE RIGHT FORK DINER, Edgartown — We know, you are all sick of us talking about it. But the coffee is really, really good. No it is. Like Peet’s Coffee, seriously. And for those of you just tuning in, the place has the added value of being located on an active airfield, with great-looking biplanes taking off and landing right next door PLUS a big yard for kids to run around in.

Right Fork Diner, Edgartown

View of the outdoor dining area and backyard at The Right Fork Diner.

Now, about the food: as satisfying as the coffee. Not the cheapest on the island, but since it’s breakfast with benefits, we can’t complain. All your basics are here, but done to perfection: pancakes, French toast, egg sandwiches (basic or more sophisticated), breakfast burritos, yogurt/fruit/granola combo, not to mention the humble two-eggs, any way. Go. Go now. French toast rating (on scale of 1 to 10): 8 (Jasper) 10 (moms).

LINDA JEAN’S, Oak Bluffs — We love this place! Cheery decor (without being too cutesy), great service, and good, basic food fast. More like a fancy diner than anything else: the portions are tremendous, and for kids there are crayons and a coloring page, plus a special cup (with straw!) and a children’s menu with kid-sized portions. Booths make child seating easy (and there are high chairs galore). This is a bustling place where, if you go early (before 9:00 am), you probably won’t have to wait a minute (be warned that if you go much later, there will be a wait — use the time to explore the main drag in Oak Bluffs). French toast rating: not available at time of publication.

THE BLACK DOG, Vineyard Haven — Obviously, a classic Martha’s Vineyard choice. And since it’s so famous, you can expect a wait. But they’ve got it down to a science over there and they keep things moving.

Black Dog Tavern, Vineyard Haven

Woof!

The food is good, the menu is extensive (lots of creative options beyond your generic eggs, ‘cakes, and French toast), and we’ve found the service friendly and efficient. Bonus: Plenty to look at while you wait (the Black Dog gear stores, the ferries coming and going, a walk out onto the dock, watching the black dogs play on the beach, pretty water views). French toast rating: 10 (Jasper) 7 (moms).

ArtCliff Diner, Vineyard Haven

A wait, even at 7:15 am.

THE ARTCLIFF DINER, Vineyard Haven, — This funky little place screams “we’ve got a great breakfast” — it’s like you’re in someone’s big home kitchen. It’s homey, there are TONS of menu options (including some great specials), and it’s bustling, so kids are not a problem. Also, they have breakfast tacos. This is always a plus. But in the end…..everything was just fine. Friendly service. The food: fresh, good — but our high expectations exceeded the culinary results. The biggest issue here, though, is the perpetual wait, with nothing to do but kick gravel while doing it (we showed up at 7:15 am and waited at least 20 minutes) — a drag with kids. Jasper on the French toast: Not into it. Brioche, and too much of it. Giant, too-crispy crusts. Rating a 2. From the moms: a 7.

ArtCliff Diner, Vineyard Haven

ArtCliff Diner breakfast tacos with salsa and chorizo.

THE STATE ROAD RESTAURANT, West Tisbury — Dinner entrees will run you $30 – $40 each at State Road, so it’s all about breakfast and lunch. The morning atmosphere is casual (no tablecloths) to stay, and easy if you want to order baked goods from the counter to take out. Does mommy need a hot cappuccino? Step right up, and pick up a blueberry basil muffin while you’re at it. The focus here is on organic, fresh and local, with much of the produce served grown right at the restaurant (fun for kids to pick out the berries, apples, tomatoes, etc. growing on the grounds). Awesome breakfast burritos — sophisticated, fresh, delish. And don’t miss the Bacon Cheddar Jalapeño Grits with two eggs, wilted spinach and roast shallots. For the kids: get a side of scrambled eggs and a banana-chocolate chip muffin from the counter. French toast rating: no French toast served!

State Road Restaurant, West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard

What a treat! Cheddar-y grits at The State Road.

Last….

A breakfast ordering TIP: A friendly waitress at The Black Dog suggested this to us…. Ask if half-orders are available for pancakes, French toast, etc. They are at The Black Dog, and it cuts down on the bill. Even if there aren’t technically half-orders, once we started asking, we found that places were willing to provide smaller portions of pancakes and more. Never hurts to ask.

As for the French toast smackdown: according to Jasper, The Black Dog was the hands-down winner (and he’s been asking for it every day since). The moms have to weigh in for Right Fork (love the brioche).

Wherever you dine, enjoy! You deserve a great cup of coffee and a yummy breakfast, too, mamas and papas, that SOMEONE ELSE prepared.

breakfast tacos at ArtCliff

Dang, that was good.

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