If you're on Cape Cod, head to Wellfleet: a little town tucked in the crook between the elbow of Chatham and the tip of Provincetown. Wander down the pier on Commercial Street and you'll likely spot a long line of hungry, sandy beach-goers.
They're waiting to eat at Mac's on the Pier, a weathered clapboard house turning out classic summer food like fried clams, homemade onion rings, and towering cones of soft serve.
Mac's Seafood, which opened as a fish counter in 1995, is owned and run by Mac and Alex Hay, who both grew up spending summers on the Cape fishing with their grandfather. Learning to fish got them hooked on eating off the sea (and the land): They were focused on local food well before the trend caught on.
They began their business as a seafood counter, selling fresh Cape Cod fish and shellfish, but at night, they would often host casual counter-to-table dinners, cooking whatever they caught. In their little storefront, they'd sear scallops or poach cod, and they quickly gained a serious following.
Mac Hay with his bluefish catch on Cape Cod in 1980.
Mac was working winters in Boston as a chef. In 1998, they leased a second space, hired their cousin Sam to help out, and opened their first sit-down restaurant called Mac's Shack. The name sounds casual, but the restaurant is all cloth napkins and rustic-yet-sleek design. They serve twists on classics, like their famous Ritz cracker-crusted bluefish, alongside modern seafood dishes like halibut in saffron lobster broth and green curry scallops.
With their popularity growing and a steady clientele amongst locals and summer visitors, they opened their third restaurant—Mac's Fish House in Provincetown—in 2013.
I snagged the recipe for the popular Ritz cracker-crusted bluefish, which is a rich but incredibly simple dish (only 4 ingredients!) that showcases the delicate flavor of the fish. The Ritz crackers give the crust a crunchy, buttery flavor (you can substitute another cracker in a pinch). And to gild the lily, the fish is cooked and baked in bacon fat.
In only ten minutes, you can make this dish. It'll transport you to a beachfront snack shack, the air heavy with the scent of crispy fried seafood and salt water, but Mac's bluefish captures that flavor in a lighter, more elegant take.
We want to know about your favorite dishes across the country! Email [email protected] to tell us about the blueberrry muffin at your local Brooklyn coffee shop, the rack of lamb you had on vacation in Arizona, or the pizza you grew up eating in Chicago. We'll track down the recipe and share it here!
Bluefish photos by Posie Harwood; all other photos by Mac's Seafood