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Hot damn! The Menemsha Fish Market

Martha’s Vineyard offers a treasure trove of delights to visitors: endless shoreline, nature walks, alpacas, one Eurasian eagle owl, sunsets, and lobster rolls. For the latter two pleasures, one is hard-pressed to beat the joys of Menemsha.

Menemsha, a fishing village on the west side of the island, is the home of the aptly-named Menemsha Fish Market. To get there for supper, one must compete with throngs of tourists and locals for parking. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: It gets vicious. There are lots of New Yorkers, well-known to be the most competitive people in the Americas. Also, Menemsha smells pretty bad if you’re downwind of all the bait.

But, oh, the reward! Once you place your order at the fish market—and I strongly recommend a couple of local oysters and the hot lobster roll with a cup of clam chowder—you can visit Lobsterzilla, the biggest darn lobster you ever did see, who lives in the tanks of the fish market. He has barnacles!

We had planned to take our meal and eat it on the beach, so it was a little awkward when I was handed three slippery oysters on a paper plate. (I ordered two—thanks, Menemsha Fish Market!) I slurped ’em down right there in the crowded store. They were tiny, and the sweetest, briniest, freshest oysters I ever did eat. I was crazy for those oysters. Gaga. Head over heels.

Soon after, our lobster roll was ready and we shlepped to the beach to join our friends. We weren’t sure what to expect, although the chalkboard menu had promised it would be “unforgettable.” The preparation was disarmingly simple: a small hotdog bun filled with warm, plump lobster meat, and a side of melted butter.

Artsy photo, eh?

The menu hadn’t lied. This lobster roll was transcendent. The meat was sweet and firm; the butter was, well, buttery; the humble hot dog bun complemented and did not overwhelm the supremely fresh, delicate lobster. The chowder was also delicious—not too thick and generous with clams.

(We visited the Menemsha Fish Market again for the regular lobster roll. It was fresh, but not unforgettable. Forget it and get the hot roll.)

After we finished our seafood feast, we sat back and enjoyed the sunset.

We weren't the only ones taking pictures.

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