When it comes to dining on the Cape, I’m happiest when things are kept simple. All I need is a stellar location and some fresh food that’s cooked well. So, when I get the chance to eat out, and the weather behaves, my favorite place to go is the Sesuit Harbor Cafe, a well-kept secret tucked away amongst the towering boats in a Dennis marina. The views are outstanding, the napkins are paper towels, the tables are of the picnic variety, and the food (well, most of it anyway) is outstanding, golden-fried seafoody goodness.
But, there are a few crucial bits of information essential to making your trip to this gem a success. The first thing to know about going to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe is that it’s a cash only enterprise. This is important information because if you find yourself with only a credit card in the middle of a marina with no ATM in sight, you will feel marooned, angry, annoyed and hungry. Trust me – I speak from the pain of personal experience. Secondly, this is a BYOB joint. Bring wine, beer, or whatever does it for you. For my visit there, I brought some chilled white wine, a bottle opener, and some plastic glasses. And third, be ready to get grabby! Everyone seats themselves at the cafe and there tends to be more people than picnic tables. So, come with your A-game and be prepared to actively pounce on any available openings. But wait your turn, of course. Let us not get into a fisticuffs over seating – this is a family restaurant after all. And a final point, on your first visit here, it may be a bit hard finding the cafe. This place is surrounded by tall towers of motorboats, but don’t feel discouraged – it’s pretty easy to find if you click here for thorough directions to the harbor.
I arrived at the cafe around 6. The place was packed, so my party of eight broke into various divisions – one group busied themselves finding parking in the cafe’s crammed and chaotic parking lot, one group hunted for picnic tables, while the other group stood in line to order food. And though the line spilled out of the cafe and the tables were mostly full, it didn’t take us that long to find a free table, order, open our bottles of wine, and settle in. The scene at the cafe is bustling, jovial, and a great place to let kids run around. A lot of the people there were of the boating flavor. And though I envy their deep suntans, their disposable income, and their clever whale belts, I do not count myself as one of them. But seafood shacks, like public parks, are great levelers. We were all there to relax, eat, and enjoy – boat-owners and non-boat-owners alike, all are welcome and all will leave happy.
The menu is your typical seaside shack fare, but it’s excellently executed. And though they offer choices that are not cooked in a vat of oil, I recommend sticking with the fried seafood. There were a couple of women in my group who, out of a misguided attempt to respect the status of their waistlines, went with the healthier baked fish option. Both were audibly disappointed with their food and both were eyeing my fried clams. I had to keep them away from my plate by making rapid stabbing movements in the air with my plastic fork.
I ordered the fisherman’s platter, which is an obscene amount of food. The fried fish and oysters were the best parts of my seafood smorgasbord. I ate until I couldn’t eat another bite and then, acting like a royal dispensing favors, I shared my leftovers. A scallop for you, my good man. A fried oyster for you, my fine lady. But I do recommend two people for every one fisherman’s platter. It cuts the cost and is the best way to avoid overdoing it.
After a long, leisurely meal with friends and family, the food was finished, the wine bottles were empty, and the sky was beginning to darken, so we cleared out. Before we headed home, we went on a little detour (turning right, when we should’ve turned left) along the small streets that hug the shoreline. I highly recommend doing this so you can check out the incredibly beautiful homes (see how the other .oo1% lives) and watch everything around you turn electric gold and orange as the sun makes its glorious descent behind the horizon. An evening like this is when everything feels right and good. These are what Virginia Woolf calls Moments of Being. Or maybe they are just the best moments of being on Cape Cod.