Before Bobby Vans became a favorite chain servicing the bankers of Manhattan, the original location in Bridgehampton was a 1970s hangout for writers, poets and artists. The old classic is still cool, and scoring a Saturday night table earns bragging rights. The quintessential steakhouse has a heavy seafood offering, and the light, airy dining room with white wicker chairs feels refreshing and comfortable. Outdoor seating is available.
This Wainscott bakery is a go-to for everything from freshly baked treats to delicious prepared foods and creative made-to-order sandwiches. The granola is a must-have (and a gluten-free version is also available).
Clam Bar at Napeague
The Clam Bar is an iconic seafood shack on the long stretch of highway between Amagansett and Montauk. Clam Bar has a daily rotation of specials that reflect the days catch. Perfect for Sunday dinner before heading back into New York City or a casual lunch on the way out to Montauk.
Cove Hollow Tavern
The Crow’s Nest restaurant, located in the boutique hotel of the same name, is one of the best-kept secrets of the Hamptons. The charming spot, which feels quintessentially New England with rustic décor and water views, is open seasonally and serves dishes that emphasize Long Island’s local, organic fare. During evening, the yard is lit with torches and fire pits, making it the perfect spot for lounging or stargazing. After dinner, grab a cocktail and walk down to the water’s edge for a scenic nightcap.
This popular take-out seafood joint sits right in the marina of Sag Harbor, with great views of the boats and busy town scene, especially in the summer. You can’t be shy when fighting the masses (mostly of other impatient New Yorkers) when ordering from the menu featuring simply prepared seafood. But the excellent seafood is worth the hassle. Dock House is perfect for such old-school seaside fare as clam chowder, steamers, lobsters and anything fried (shrimp, clams, scallops, flounder). You can sit on the dock right out front.
Dopo La Spiaggia
This cozy Italian restaurant, formerly named Tutto Il Giorno and run by Donna Karan's daughter Gabby Karan de Felice, is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner. The 38-seat place with a patio does not take reservations, and dishes like light and crispy fritto misto and indulgent homemade pastas ensure the wait will always be long. There is also a location in East Hampton (31 Race Lane).
Estia’s Little Kitchen
Everything is super fresh at the “Little Kitchen” as much of the produce is grown right outside in the on-site garden. There’s only eight table (and a counter) though fans don’t mind in waiting in line for the apple pancakes, fresh-squeezed juices and huevos rancheros, which you can order every day until 2:30 pm. At dinnertime, the lights go down and the tablecloths come up creating a more intimate and (slightly) less casual atmosphere.
Eight Fresno Place, which used to house the Southwestern joint Santa Fe Junction, got a sleek new makeover in 2004, when it was taken over by David Loewenberg, a co-owner of both the Beacon in Sag Harbor and Southampton’s Red Bar and Michael Nolan, the former owner/manager of New York’s Miracle Bar & Grill. The décor is minimalist with exposed wooden ceiling beams, a long leather banquet on one side (as well as several round, individual tables for diners who want more space) and a chic, zinc-topped bar located in the back of the restaurant. Executive chef Gretchen Menser previously worked at Nick & Toni’s and her New American menu emphasizes fresh, local produce.
Hampton Chutney Co.
The perfect place for a quick breakfast or lunch or snack on the go, this casual eatery serves up delicious dosas (Indian sourdough crêpes) stuffed with fresh ingredients. Their not-to-be-missed homemade chutneys can be purchased to enjoy at home—the cilantro variety is a particular favorite.
Harvest on Fort Pond
Harvest on Fort Pond has long been a crowd pleaser in Montauk not only for its wonderful outdoor space but for its consistently stellar Mediterranean fare. Ingredients are, of course, sourced locally and the restaurant’s outdoor seating is surrounded by their vegetable and herb garden. It’s another wonderful spot to watch the sunset on Fort Pond especially if you want something a bit more upscale from Duryea’s.
Highway Restaurant and Bar
This tiny Hamptons outpost of the New York City chain stocks pre-made bottled juices, smoothies and healthy snacks for those in need of their daily green fix.
From the same owners as Nick and Toni’s, La Fondita is a casual taco stand off of Montauk Highway in Amagansett. It’s perfect for a quick snack or a casual dinner, and customers order in the main building and then take tacos to the outdoor seating area or picnic tables. Highlights include the fish tacos and house salad.
Opened in May 2015, this Hamptons outpost of the Upper East Side mainstay was a welcome addition to the dining scene in Southampton. The food is hit-or-miss, but the atmosphere makes a visit worth it. Grab a table outside and enjoy moules frites with a side of people watching.
Laurent Tourondel (of BLT fame) has outdone himself at LT Burger with burgers of a wide and gourmet variety, including a spiced tuna burger. Consider lunch instead of dinner.
Lulu Kitchen & Bar
Lunch (Lobster Roll)
Lunch is an iconic seafood shack on the long stretch of highway between Amagansett and Montauk known best for its lobster rolls. Perfect for Sunday dinner before heading back into New York City or a casual lunch on the way out to Montauk.
Because beach lovers needed an alternative to the Surf Lodge —and if you arrive by boat, you are given a free bottle of rosé. Navy Beach is the perfect option for a lazy Sunday bunch or sunset cocktails that melt into dinner. Park yourself on one of the large daybeds overlooking Fort Pond Bay and you wont be disappointed. Open for lunch, drinks and dinner; reservations recommended.
Nick & Toni’s
Every chick-lit novel that takes place in the Hamptons mentions Nick & Toni’s, or more precisely, the protagonist’s attempts to score a table at this East Hampton institution. There’s a simplicity here though that you wouldn’t expect at the South Fork’s most celebrity-crammed restaurant. (Billy Joel and Steven Spielberg are regulars.) The Mediterranean menu features lots of organic, local produce most of which is grown on the on-site garden (which even features a compost pile) while the three dining rooms are understated with simple white walls and tablecloths, long windows and a central wood-burning oven. In summertime, the bar and outdoor patio are particularly popular while in winter the restaurant offers its beloved Kids Pizza Nights, where kids ages 6-12 can learn the art of piemaking for $5/session. Not something you normally see at New York City’s most chichi restaurants. Nick, a.ka. Jeff Salaway, who founded the restaurant with his wife Toni Ross, died in a car accident a few summers ago, and is still sorely missed by locals and loyal diners.
North Fork Table & Inn
Judging by the packed dining room at the North Fork Table & Inn, whose Gerry Hayden has been a James Beard nominee for the past three consecutive years, you’d think you were in downtown East Hampton on Labor Day Weekend. But what may be the best restaurant on the East End is actually not in the Hamptons at all; it’s across Shelter Island Sound in the unassuming hamlet of Southold. So compelling is Hayden’s “progressive American” fare, in fact, that off-duty servers are often to be found back at the restaurant, whiling away their free time over multi-course dinners. After my first sip of sparkling wine with rosé-poached rhubarb syrup, I could hardly blame them. By the time a perfect English pea and morel risotto was cleared from the table, I had fallen completely under Hayden’s spring-inspired spell.
Though the restaurant’s seasonal menu changes frequently, its accessibility is a perennial virtue. The standout dessert offerings, overseen by Hayden’s wife, pastry extraordinaire Claudia Fleming (formerly of Gramercy Tavern), include a “To Bring Home” section, from which diners can order just-baked chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies by the half-dozen (as if it weren’t hard enough to choose between honey-ricotta cheesecake and warm sugar-and-spice doughnuts).
Dinner here is always special, but never fussy – or even fancy. Wood-beamed ceilings warm the otherwise simple white interiors, and tables are topped with aromatic herbs in terracotta pots. The entire space is pervaded by a wonderful sense of community. If you aren’t able to get a reservation for dinner – or even if you are – stop by the inn’s beloved Lunch Truck between 11:30 and 3:30 pm for a legendary lobster roll or an artisan hotdog with apple cider vinegar-glazed onions.
American bistro Page added a new chef, James Carpenter, in 2015, whose influence rapidly transformed the restaurant. The toque, legendary in the Hamptons dining scene, serves wildly popular appetizers including grilled Spanish octopus and vegetable spring rolls. The space is sleek and modern, with soaring ceilings and contemporary décor. One of the most interesting aspects of Page is its use of vegetation for decoration; lettuce and herbs grow straight from the walls in the dining room and contribute to the greenhouse-like theme of the restaurant. The al fresco tables, located on the sidewalk on Sag Harbor’s main street, might be the best people-watching spot in town.