Montauk is an incredible place that has a completely different vibe than the rest of The Hamptons. It's the only actual beach town that exists on East End, which has long attracted communities of fishermen, surfers, and artists, in addition to a laid back, ocean loving brand of Manhattanite.
Well, the secret got out over the last couple of years. On summer weekends, certain Montauk hangs have essentially become an extension of lower Manhattan and haute Williamsburg. And, you know what? We're not complaining. We'll save that for the locals.The recent hipster invasion of Montauk has resulted in all kinds of new drinking and dining options. Some of them are worth a trip, but the thing we love about Montauk are all the local mom-and-pop establishments serving up lobster rolls, steamers, tacos, beers, and ice cream with no frills and excellent views.
Here's a rundown of our favorite spots to grub and hang on Long Island's furthermost tip.
Oh The Hideaway, how we love thee. Hidden off West Lake Drive inside a marina, The Hideaway is the best Mexican spot in all of The Hamptons (with La Fondita coming in a close second). Their tacos and burritos are gangster, as is their grilled corn and all drinks made with tequila, which they have a deep roster of. People get sh*t faced here, mostly locals, and it's hilarious to watch. Don't sleep on brunch either. You'll look like a genius for taking your friends here because most non-locals have zero clue that The Hideaway even exists.
Herb's is the local, family owned market in town. It's a great place to pick up sandwiches and beers to take to the beach, but the real reason to come here is for the fried chicken, which is the best on the East End. Their crispy, moist, super salty poultry is magical, and we specifically recommend getting as many wings as they have in stock. That's where it's at. Congrats, you're about to become the most popular person at Ditch.
A more modern approach to Montauk, this breezy, happening seafood palace is two blocks away from the ocean and consistently putting out some of the best restaurant food on the East End. The menu is loaded with exciting seafood, but there's also plenty of other land-dwelling animals to eat too. The awesome wine list, solid local beer selection, and a bloody mary with a crab claw sticking out of it also keep us coming back.
And just like that, Montauk has late night EEEEEATS. This season, the good people of South Edison opened up a late night french fry window at the restaurant, capitalizing on the hoards of drunk people littered across town. Genius. From Midnight-3AM, you can get an order of fries topped with everything from bacon and egg, to sausage and meatballs. Don't worry, you'll feel GREAT on the beach the next day (at 2pm).
Navy Beach has the best set up of any restaurant in all of The Hamptons, let alone Montauk. It's situated in a little hidden alcove of bayside beach off the backroads, and over the train tracks. You have to really know where you're going to find. They have tables on the actual sand, excellent beers on tap, and the food has improved dramatically since it first opened a few years back. Due to its incredible ambiance, it's slammed, always. Good luck getting a table. Drink a beer on the beach and wait it out.
Tacombi, the uber-cool Mexican courtyard in Nolita opened up La Brisa a couple years ago, and just like its sister restaurant in NYC, has become a hot bed of super cool, family-friendly activity. Tacos, cocktails, beers, juices, sangria all in the middle of Montauk village. Grab a juice on the go, or sit down for a low key, reasonably priced meal. Either way, you'll enjoy the positive vibes and delicious food.
Ice Cream, it's an integral part of the Montauk experience. If you're not eating ice cream out here, you're doing it all wrong. John's Drive-In is, hands down, our favorite. And not just our favorite in Montauk, this is our favorite ice cream shop that exists in the entire world. They make everything themselves, from the soft serve, to the hard stuff. We're obsessed with the double chocolate fudge Oreo, as well as the mint chip. Plus, they have the best rainbow sprinkles in town. They also have incredible french fries and cheap, simple, snack bar style burgers and dogs.
Support your local brewery! A couple years ago, three friends had the dream of brewing beer in Montauk. Endless permits and town hall meetings later, that dream has now become a reality, and we couldn't be happier. We love ourselves some Montauk Brewing Company beer, especially the Off Land IPA. NY's easternmost brewery has a great little tasting room, space outside to hang and drink on, and new this summer, they're finally brewing beer on premises, so you can take a little tour of the facility. Screw happy hour at The Sloppy Tuna, go drink some local MTK brews at the brewery.
Gurney's, the storied hotel and spa located on an incredible strip of beach between Amagansett and Montauk, received a modern makeover last year and this year, a whole new food and drink situation. Scarpetta Beach is the big name new restaurant in the mix, which means pasta with a view - it may be the only restaurant that actually looks over the ocean in Montauk (Sloppy Tuna doesn't count). There's also a new Miami imported cocktail bar called Regent Cocktail Club, and a brand new restaurant called Tillie’s that's open all day.
Drive all the way around Lake Montauk and pull into a parking lot/shipyard, and you'll find the best sushi around. Seats are up on the second floor, right across the lake from Gosman's, giving you a ridiculous view of the Long Island Sound. In addition to the sushi rolls, there's a solid menu of salads, sandwiches, and fried seafood things. Go for lunch, when you can take in the view. Also, if you ever find yourself on a boat, it's an excellent destination - there's plenty of room for docking.
Montauk is a drinking town. It's filled with fishermen, surfers, and now, lots of party people coming in from NYC to have the best, and drunkest, weekends ever. It was only a matter of time before they had a proper Bavarian biergarten. This German East Village import opened a couple summers ago just steps from the beach and immediately fit in perfectly. Drink huge German beers whose names you can't pronounce and soak them up with a menu full of things like bratwurst, spatzle and soft pretzels.
Red Hood Lobster Pound's Montauk location is steps from the beach, and serves one of the best lobster rolls around. Get one and hit the sand.
Montauk’s go-to breakfast spot. Iced coffee, breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches, wraps, healthy stuff...you get the picture. Everyone goes to Joni's, so be prepared for organized chaos during prime time. Plus, you never know who you’ll run into here. Our best sighting ever: Jerry Seinfeld.
Got kids? It doesn't get much better than Gosman's. The dock, the boats, the clam bar, the ice cream...it's a child's paradise. But big kids like us can appreciate it too. Drinks overlooking the water at Topside are certainly never a bad idea. However, you don't want to eat up there. Eat down at the clam bar on the dock where you can dig into freshly caught local fish, delicious clam chowder, and other good stuff.
The menu hasn't changed in forever, and many of us who've been coming here for years are kind of over it, but there isn't a better location for patio dining than Fort Pond at Harvest. It's a good choice for the family or a big group of friends, just be sure to bring bug spray and some bread to feed the enormous fish by the dock. Our go-tos here are the mussels, the calamari salad, and the skirt steak.
Surf Lodge single-handedly changed the Hamptons nightlife game, and has remained relevant over the years due to the fact that the indoor/outdoor lakeside space is unbeatable. It used to be that if you wanted to seriously get after it on the East End, you were either battling the lines and awful people at horrible clubs like Pink Elephant (RIP) and Jet East (RIP) in Southampton, reverting to your old college ways at Stephen's Talkhouse, or getting really dirty at The Point and Memory Motel in Montauk (which is absolutely still a good idea). Now, everyone just goes here. At this point, Saturday nights are completely off limits. It's an absolute zoo. We get our Surf Lodge in around 6 or 7pm for an early cocktail and live music, or on a rainy Friday when it's empty. Don't eat a full meal here though, that's definitely not necessary.
Since Surf Lodge literally can't fit any more pretty people (just ask any of the 75 girls waiting in the bathroom line), Ruschmeyers opened around the corner out of necessity a few years back. It's set up like summer camp, with a sweet adult sand box/beer garden overlooking the lake, a restaurant, a bar, a "dancing parlor," and all sorts of other activities. The restaurant seems to go through changes every year, and 2015 is no different. This year though, we're pretty excited about what's going on. Brothers Eli and Max Sussman of Mile End/lots of awesome cookbook fame have taken over the kitchen and we're definitely looking forward to see what they've got cooking up this summer. Their Mediterranean flair has always appealed to us.
Pink pants and polo shirts have obviously started to seep into parts of Montauk, but the Crow's Nest still seems mostly safe... for now. The small hotel and restaurant are run by the same owner as The Bowery Hotel and The Jane, and is basically the beach version of those. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but come early, have a drink under the strings of tea lights, and watch the pretty people eat crab pasta and burrata. (Then eat some yourself).
Right on schedule, Montauk now has an açai bowl bar for when you need to detox from your diet of lobster rolls, beer, and fried stuff. Happy Bowls serves up bright, colorful smoothie bowls that will definitely keep the Instagramming masses happy.
Dave's Grill is extremely challenging to get into - the only way to get a reservation at Dave's Grill is to call the minute they open at 4:15pm, the day of. And when you get there, it's going to be extremely expensive. That said, the food is excellent, and worth it if you're down to splurge on a fun experience.