Ferries stop by twice a day, and that’s when the shops open. There’s not a lot of gift shops, but you’ll also find gifts available to purchase in the restaurants.
For those who boat in, be aware that shops close between ferry arrivals. Most restaurants close after “supper,” which runs from noon to about 5pm.
The island has no bar, nor do any of the establishments sell alcohol. Islanders aren’t teetotalers, but it’s kept discrete out of respect for others’ moral beliefs.
The island has a few B&B’s, no motels. You’ll find several gift shops on Main near the boat landings. There are about a half-dozen restaurants specializing in seafood (but they also serve chicken, burgers & BBQ).
The island has one small grocery store, just big enough for the basic necessities.
Locals say all restaurants have good crab cakes. They use fresh, local crabs. You rarely find shell, and the crab is tender and flakey. Locals are expert “pickers” and are proud to say they use only fresh crab, while mainland restaurants often mix in frozen crab.
This means Tangier Island crab cakes have smaller chunks than mainland versions.
Be patient with the restaurant staff. Help is limited on the island and only a few women typically work in each restaurant. There’s a rush when the ferries arrive.
All of the restaurants feature rural cooking in a homey setting. And islanders don’t generally recommend one over the other. You just need to pick the one that appeals to your tastes for the day you go there.
Lorraine’s specializes in fish platters, soft shelled crabs, crab cakes and cream of crab soup.
Fisherman’s Corner across the small street is known for crab cakes, flounder, stuffed shrimp, soft shelled crab tidbits and crab bisque.
Four Brothers Crabhouse has covered picnic tables for those wanting to pick crabs.
Chesapeake House has all-you-can-eat crab cakes and clam fritters served family style (sharing tables and dishes of food).
There’s also the Waterfront Sandwich and Seafood Shop by the ferry. All serve non-seafood options.
The island is generally cash-based, but the restaurants accept credit and debit cards.
Be aware that you may find a shop that doesn’t take cards and the shopkeeper will then actually dash over to a restaurant to run the card.