Nantucket harbors a score of restaurants that easily match, both quality- and price-wise, Manhattan’s finest. Culinary bargain-hunters should follow the “Restaurant Specials” listings in “Mahon about Town,” a free e-newsletter published by Gene Mahon, a society-photographer who “washed ashore” as part of the 1960s hippie influx. He also lists cultural events.
No-cost and low-cost entertainment
With Gene’s listings and those in the I&M newspaper, a multigenerational dance card fills up fast.
By day, Cisco Brewers (about two miles southwest of town) doubles as a complimentary open-air cabaret, hosting local bands like the “cowpunky country” sextet Buckle and Shake, and the puppeteer Lizza Obremski. She also performs in the garden of the venerable Nantucket Atheneum (site of free lectures since 1834) and at the Parks & Rec performance shed at Children’s Beach, where family-friendly films screen Friday nights, and Sunday evenings showcase local bands, such as Roma-inflected Coq au Vin (all free events).
Art-lovers and noshers alike look forward to the traditional Friday evening “gallery stroll,” when a dozen or so art galleries entice with wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Many bars on the island — such as the Gaslight, which until recently served as a minuscule movie theater — throw in a folk singer or contemporary ensemble with the price of a cocktail. A loyal cadre flocks to Sconset’s Summer House to sing along with pianist (and Grammy-winning soundtrack restorer) Jamie Howarth.
Donation-optional concerts abound: The African Meeting House hosts jazz concerts on occasional Sunday afternoons, and the Unitarian church’s “Thursday Noonday” series ranges from classical to contemporary. The prize freebie is the Congregational Church’s “Rose Sunday” concert (July 14 this year), when the 1834 sanctuary is festooned with wild roses.
Shop with abandon …
That is, as long as you patronize two commendable charitable enterprises. The Nantucket Hospital Thrift Shop, right in town, raises hundreds of thousands of dollars every year off top-drawer hand-me-downs, and the Seconds Shop, mid-island, supports the Fairwinds counseling center. (True, Nantucket has its own Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer shops, but it’s easy to find their good-as-new output for a fraction of the price.) For some of us, the weekend yard sales listed in the Inky classifieds constitute a religious ritual. As for the recherché shops clustered in town? Consider them free entertainment.