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Beachside Dining? Open Off Season? This Cape Cod Restaurant Has It All

Falmouth's Shipwrecked has beachside dining at its best in a quintessential Cape Cod setting

Photos inside and out the restaurant Shipwrecked at Falmouth Heights on Cape Cod.

Cape Cod has no shortage of restaurants, but there’s a sweet spot that’s hard to land in. A lot of the more popular ones are not by the water, and many of those that are on the water are seasonal spots.

Finding a beachside restaurant on the Cape that’s open year-round, frequented mainly by locals, is right by the water and offers good food and drink, too, gives that sense of discovery that can make the simple act of dining out so exciting.

That’s exactly what you’ll find in Falmouth Heights, a sun-soaked neighborhood south of Falmouth Village with many jam-packed dining and drinking options. A former location of British Beer Company now houses Shipwrecked, an attractive restaurant and bar that residents and those in the know go to not only during peak beach season in July and August but also in the off-season, when things quiet down.

Falmouth is an interesting place. Even though it’s on the Cape, it has the feel of a year-round community, possibly because it is one of the only towns on the peninsula that Route 6 does not go through, which makes it slightly off the beaten path, away from easily accessible places like Hyannis, Yamouth and Dennis.

Because of this, if you head into the center of town even during the frigid days of December or January, most businesses remain open, including for the most part even closer to the water.

Sitting directly across the street from Falmouth Heights Beach and Vineyard Sound, Shipwrecked is in a prime location for everything from people-watching to sunsets, and its space makes the most of both. Outside is a wraparound patio that includes seating directly facing the beach, and there are more tables in a festive-looking space along the right side of the restaurant that has umbrellas and hanging lights.

The interior of the eatery has the feel of a seafood shack, with lots of nooks and crannies and front windows that fully open when the weather is nice, helping to bring the breezy salt air into the dining areas. A colorful bar sits near the entrance, as does a little sushi prep area, and the main dining room has plenty of seating, including for large groups.

When you think “beachside restaurant,” thoughts of fried seafood, burgers, fries and beer may come to mind. While Shipwrecked has all of those, this is really more of a modern American restaurant, and the menu has a little something for everyone.

PHOTOS: Eat Upscale American Food by the Beach at Shipwrecked in Falmouth

The sushi is one of the highlights — more than 20 options including Wicked Tuna, with spicy tuna maki and tuna nigiri — and the menu also has a Shipwrecked Poke Bowl for which diners can choose from tuna, salmon, sea bass or hamachi (yellowtail). Appetizers have the type of Cape Cod/South Coast influences you might expect: tender fried calamari served in a traditional fashion with banana peppers and “stuffies,” or stuffed quahogs, are also available for those who enjoy the briny flavor of chopped hard clams mixed with breadcrumbs and Portuguese spices.

Burger lovers can get a version topped with pulled pork and onion rings, and the turkey burgers are particularly tasty, served with the works, including cheddar cheese and mayo — and you can also have waffle fries with your burger, which really aren’t offered at enough restaurants these days.

If you’re into fried seafood, you may luck out if you happen to come when fish tacos are offered, though you can also get a fried codfish sandwich from the everyday menu. Speaking of cod, the buttery baked cod with Ritz cracker breadcrumbs may be one of the best items on the menu at Shipwrecked and is about as New England-y as you can get. It comes with mashed potatoes which only adds to the old-school vibe of this dish.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with the gourmet pizzas offered here. One option is a pie with sausage, tomato, ricotta and red pepper flakes.

To many, seaside restaurants and tropical drinks tend to go hand in hand, and Shipwrecked is no exception. Mai tais, rum punch, margaritas and sangria are all on the menu, plus Bloody Marys and martinis. You can also order classic takes on pina coladas and mudslides along with any number of mixed drinks or spirits. (A handful of wines and local beers are available, too, though this really does seem like more of a place for cocktails.)

By the way, if a full meal and a couple of fruity drinks make you tired, the property also includes an inn called The Heights Hotel, so this is one of those places where, once you park your car, you don’t really need to go anywhere else.

Visitors to Cape Cod often overlook the “upper arm” — Falmouth, Woods Hole, Mashpee and Bourne — even though it is one of the closest sections to Boston, but there’s a lot to see and do in this part of the Cape. Falmouth Heights is one of its most best spots, with glorious scenery, (relatively) warm water, weathered old cottages and a laid-back vibe.

And right in the middle of it all is a restaurant that, while still fairly new, has the potential to become a destination spot. Shipwrecked has it all — excellent food, terrific drinks, unforgettable views and the unique type of atmosphere that you can only get from an oceanside eatery.

Shipwrecked, 263 Grand Avenue, Falmouth, MA, 02540.

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