Welcome to the Hamptons: A Newcomer's Eating Guide
Photo By: Michael Weber ©MWP
Photo By: MARK_JORDAN ©Copyright: MARK JORDAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Photo By: VICTOR RUGG / JEREMY THOMPSON ©VICTOR RUGG / JEREMY THOMPSON
Welcome to the Hamptons
The East End of Long Island, N.Y., is home to beautiful beaches, incredible real estate and reputable traffic (especially during prime summer season). In the many villages and hamlets of the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, restaurants can cycle through as quickly as summer tourists. But an abundance of local produce and access to both the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean for fresh seafood mean you're guaranteed to get a great meal at any time of the year. To help craft this tour we reached out to a few experts, including Food Network stars Katie Lee and Geoffrey Zakarian; the publisher of the local iconic paper Dan's Hamptons, Dan Rattiner; and Kathleen King, founder and owner of Tate's Bake Shop. And we added a few of our personal favorites.
Estia's Little Kitchen
1615 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike, Sag Harbor, N.Y.
This favorite of locals and summer visitors alike was opened by Chef Colin Ambrose in 1998 and has been attracting crowds ever since. The menu is influenced by Mexican flavors, with breakfast and brunch platters like the George's Ranch (tortillas with eggs, avocado, black beans, cheese and salsa) and Fish Creek Huevos Rancheros (refritos, tomatillo salsa and queso fresco). Even better, the hefty portions won't break the bank.
Chef Ambrose built a kitchen garden on one-third of an acre behind his restaurant and supplements his entrees with local produce from neighboring farms. While you can call ahead to make dinner reservations, brunch is your best bet. Waiting for a table has never been more enjoyable: Read the paper on an Adirondack chair in the grassy area of the garden.
Head farther east to Joni's for a wholesome breakfast with plenty of vegan options (South Edison Street between South Etna Avenue and South Elmwood Avenue, Montauk, N.Y.). The breakfast wraps are customizable, the smoothie menu is epic and the homemade granola is so tasty you'll want to take a tub of it home.
Topping Rose House
1 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Iron Chef, Chopped judge and host of the The Kitchen Geoffrey enjoys both a meal and an overnight stay at Tom Colicchio's first establishment on the East End. The property features a luxury hotel and restaurant complex complete with a spa and a pool.
Photo Courtesy Michael Weber
With seasonal and fresh ingredients, often from Topping Rose Farm, dinner here is perfect for celebrating a special occasion. Start with English Pea Ravioli or Fried Montauk Oysters, then indulge in Braised Short Rib with Baby Carrots and New Potatoes, or enjoy Roasted Monkfish with Heirloom Beans. The restaurant keeps the meal going with a sample of its housemade granola to go before you depart.
Another spot for celebrating is also one of Geoffrey's favorites: Sant Ambroeus (30 Main St., Southampton, N.Y.). The East End location of this romantic Italian restaurant features a signature branzino. Save room for dessert; Kathleen always orders mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Photo Courtesy Mark Jordan
Bay Kitchen Bar
39 Gann Road, East Hampton, N.Y.
New for 2014 and already establishing itself as a destination for seafood and waterfront dining, this hot spot is a perfect location for watching the sunset.
Seafood with a View
Father and son team Eric and Adam Miller have designed a menu with the local catch in mind. Montauk tuna and calamari, plus local striped bass and fluke, are all featured items. There's also a stellar cocktail list with drinks like the muddled mint and blackberry julep, one of a few of those Southern favorites on the menu.
Head farther east to Gosman's Dock (500 W, Lake Drive, Montauk, N.Y.) for a view with more traditional seafood favorites as well as an entire lobster menu.
Jack's Stir Brew
146 Montauk Highway, Amagansett, N.Y.
This New York-based coffee shop brings its delicious blend of beans, plus Hudson Valley Fresh milk from cows in Columbia and Dutchess counties, to the East End.
Pick Your Drink
There's more to the menu here than iced coffees and lattes. Try The Mountie, a latte with maple syrup and cinnamon, or a Happy Jack, which swaps maple syrup for honey.
Another local favorite and the drink of choice for Food Network star Katie is Hampton Coffee Company (869 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, N.Y.). Hampton Coffee Company is Long Island's largest independent coffee roaster-retailer, and they roast coffee for their cafe locations as well as for restaurants in the area.
89 Division St., Sag Harbor, N.Y.
This trifecta of to-go eating starts with one of Ina Garten's favorites: the cheese shop. Here you'll find an enticing array of cheeses from all over the world, as well as baguettes and crackers for pairing. In addition, the Cavaniola family owns Kitchen, with foods and baked goods for takeaway, as well as a wine shop housed in the historic Umbrella House, which housed troops during the Revolutionary War.
Round out your menu further with a stop at The Seafood Shop (356 Montauk Highway, Wainscott, N.Y.) for fresh seafood salads and ready-to-eat meals.
Wolffer Estate Vineyard
139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, N.Y.
Long Island is also home to dozens of vineyards, many with their own public tasting rooms. Head to Wolffer Estate Vineyard for a tasting of local sparkling and rosé wines, as well as a cheese plate for pairing. The Wolffer Estate Wine Stand (3312 Montauk Highway) around the corner is a family-friendly option for Friday and Saturday nights when there's often live music and plenty of space for the kids.
Low-key and dining aren't always hand in hand in the Hamptons. Southampton Publick House is home to some award-winning ales as well as easy-on-the-wallet fare. For $9, you can sample the year-round brews and a few seasonal favorites.
Tate's Bake Shop
43 N. Sea Road, Southampton, N.Y.
Even if you've never been to the Hamptons, you might have already tried Tate's chocolate chip cookies. This bake shop began more than 30 years ago and has been churning out nationally recognizable crunchy cookies ever since.
Skip traditional chocolate chip and try butterscotch, ginger, white chocolate macadamia and even a few gluten-free varieties. If you're feeling like the classic, be sure to try one of the Tatewiches, made with vanilla ice cream and their famous chocolate chip cookies (it's also Kathleen's favorite way to eat ice cream).
If cakier, chewy cookies are your thing, check out Levain Bakery (354 Montauk Highway, Wainscott, N.Y.). The chocolate chip walnut cookie is one of the largest we've seen, but you're sure to devour it all anyway.
468 W. Lake Drive, Montauk, N.Y.
For a low-key dinner, Katie heads to Dave's Grill in Montauk. It overlooks the marina, so you can have fresh seafood right off of the docks. Their same-day reservation policy can be a challenge, but don't let it discourage you: Keep calling until you get through.
When dining at Dave's, Katie orders some of their most well-known dishes, like Dave's "Original" Cioppino or the Butter-Poached Lobster Roll.
If you're looking for your lobster roll fix in a more casual setting, head to the Red Hook Lobster Pound (34 South Etna St., Montauk, N.Y.). This New York City-based establishment pops up each summer with drinks from local Sweet’tauk lemonade.
Or wait until you're headed back along the highway and make a stop in Hampton Bays at Canal Cafe (44 Newtown Road, Hampton Bays, N.Y.) to sample one of Kathleen's favorite lobster indulgences.