You probably don’t need us to tell you that Montauk has changed quite a bit over the years - that what used to be a sleepy surf town full of artists and fishermen has slowly turned into an extension of the West Village on summer weekends.
However, what you do possibly need us to tell you is where and what to eat when you’re out there. The changing Montauk scene does mean you’ll find plenty of Manhattan-based pop-ups and high-end restaurants, but the mainstay local establishments also still keep this town running (and are where you’ll often find us). Below are all our favorite places in Montauk, which fall into both categories.
For our guide to restaurants in the rest of the Hamptons, click here.
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 at a close second). Their tacos and burritos are excellent, as is their grilled corn and all drinks made with tequila, which they have a deep roster of. People get sh*tfaced here, mostly locals, and it’s hilarious to watch. You’ll look like a genius for taking your friends here because most non-locals have no clue that The Hideaway even exists.
The Breakers Motel, a classic on Old Montauk Highway just before town, has gotten a full revamp for Summer ’17. As part of the upgrade, it now has an outpost of Seamore’s, the popular (and Infatuation-approved) Manhattan mecca of fresh fish and typically attractive people. The small indoor/outdoor Seamore’s space at Breakers overlooks the ocean, and is one of very few spots in the area that does so. Order the fish tacos or poké, or make your own “Reel Deel” fish and vegetable combo. People will definitely be hanging out here at all hours, but hopefully this won’t turn into Surf Lodge 2.0.
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 incredible, and we specifically recommend getting as many wings as they have in stock. Congrats, you’re about to become the most popular person at Ditch.
This lively seafood restaurant 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 are also plenty of other land-dwelling animals to eat too. The great wine list, solid local beer selection, and a Bloody Mary with a crab claw sticking out of it also keep us coming back.
Navy Beach has the best setup 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. In other words, 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.
Duryea’s was a Montauk classic for years - a place where you ate lobster on paper plates and ordered at the counter. You still order at a counter, but after a takeover and renovation, there are now bottles of rosé on every table and very tan, slick waiters who bring the food to you - think Sunset Beach, with people who are wearing slightly more clothes. If you want to feel like you’re on a fancy vacation, this is the place to be. When it comes to food, skip the lobster and stick to the straightforward raw bar items as well as one of the massive salads if you’re with a group.
Tacombi, the indoor taco courtyard in Nolita, opened up La Brisa a couple years ago, and just like its sister restaurant in NYC, has become a hotbed 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.
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.
The Gig Shack is a locals spot that gets minimal buzz, but it’s also a spot you should know about. Right smack in the middle of town, The Gig Shack is a low-key bar/restaurant quick hitter with a menu designed to please everyone. The burger is great, as are the ribs, tuna tartare taquitos, and the billy goat salad. Also, best key lime pie in town.
The most under the radar party scene in Montauk is at The Grey Lady. By day and early evening, the Montauk extension of this Manhattan seafood spot acts as a great place to enjoy oysters and rosè with a big group of friends. Later on, this place turns up. It’s not huge, but has enough room and a nice amount of outdoor space that even when it’s crowded, it doesn’t feel like you’re suffocating. Add it to your rotation this summer.
Arbor is what happens when you stick a big, glossy, Southampton-style restaurant in Montauk. So if you’re with your Wall Street boss, this is a great option for them. It’s a beautiful restaurant that, for dinner, attracts a crowd that’s more interested in appearance than quality. The food is fine, but the drinks are why you’re coming here. The Garrett, a popular Manhattan bar with both East and West Village locations, has popped up at Arbor this summer. They’ve taken over the whole outside, which will be key for Surf Lodge spillover since it’s just down the block.
Ice cream is an integral part of the Montauk experience. If you’re not eating ice cream out here, you’re doing it all wrong. And John’s Drive-In is, hands down, our favorite. 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 shell 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.
It was only a matter of time before Montauk had a proper Bavarian biergarten. This German East Village import opened a couple summers ago right by 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, spaetzle, 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, Joni’s serves iced coffee, breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches, wraps, and other healthy stuff. 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 (the bar upstairs) are certainly never a bad idea. However, you don’t want to eat up there. Head down for 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 by now, 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-to’s here are the mussels, the calamari salad, and the skirt steak.
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.
It used to be that if you wanted to party 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 messy at The Point and Memory Motel in Montauk (which is absolutely still a good idea). Now, everyone just goes to the Surf Lodge - or tries to. 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. Eating a full meal here isn’t necessary, unless you’re booking with the hopes of eating dinner here to skip the line.
Ruschmeyers is set up like summer camp, with an adult sand box/beer garden overlooking the lake, a restaurant, a bar, a “dancing parlor,” and all sorts of other activities. The restaurant serves solid, straightforward food like pizzas, burrata, grilled octopus, tuna crudo, and so on. Much like Surf Lodge, you can do a group dinner inside and avoid the lines. We like the food here a bit better though.
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 bright, colorful smoothie bowls that will definitely keep the Instagramming masses happy.