By Bri Thomas
Montauk has often been considered the low-key and laid back alternative to the Hamptons glitz and glamour. Whatever your preference, these restaurants represent the best of Montauk dining.
The Clam Bar:
The Clam Bar is a classic seaside snack bar, serving fresh seafood with the roar of the ocean in the distance. Specials straight-off-the-boat include swordfish, striped bass, and clams served on the half shell, in chowder, fried, or stuffed. Other favorites include a lobster roll, Cajun popcorn shrimp, crab cakes, and even burgers and hot dogs.
The owner, Dick Ehrlich, knows his stuff, as he also owns The Seafood Barge on Long Island’s North Fork. Ehrlich possesses a fleet of local fishermen and has relied on them for seafood for over 20 years.
The Clam Bar is the place where friends and families gather under the umbrellas at outdoor tables to relax after a day spent beachcombing or sightseeing. Shorts and sunglasses are required dress, as the casualness of the beach continues on into the eatery’s interior.
This seaside joint is open on weekends in March and closes when the wind starts to whip off the Atlantic in October or November. Lunch and dinner are served daily, beginning at noon.
Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina
The Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina is serenely situated on 35-acres of scenic waterfront property at the East End of Long Island. The area has been the preferred playground for a who’s who of visitors since famed entrepreneur Carl Fisher built the original clubhouse in 1929. After a multimillion-dollar redesign and renovation in 2009, though, the attractiveness of the resort was only heightened.
The place now features 107 guest rooms, 23 cottages, and a mega-yacht marina. Inside, visitors can find fine dining, a spa, a salon, and a fitness center. There is a private beach, three swimming pools, and an expansive Great Lawn that can accommodate up to 1,000 people.
The Backyard Restaurant
The Backyard Restaurant at Solé East is a hidden gem in Montauk. Nestled just outside the village, the Solé East hotel is located in an American Tudor building, featuring 60 bungalow rooms, eight cabana suites, a heated pool, lush gardens, and a full service restaurant. The Backyard Restaurant, headed by executive chef Larry Kolar, offers a fun, lively, and fresh concept, focusing on fresh Mediterranean foods.
With a laidback vibe, the venue is designed like a country club and is considered a Hamptons sanctuary, complete with a roaring fire pit, tiki torches, and day beds around the pool area. The dining room has a contemporary atmosphere, with white canvas director chairs paired with wooden tables. As a finishing touch, rotating art exhibits of local artists and photographers adorn the walls.
Mediterranean-influenced cuisine is boasted here, which features fresh, local, seasonal delights. The menu always contains a daily catch item, coming from the local Montauk waters, paired with produce from local farms and herbs from the on-site garden. Signature dishes include fluke ceviche infused with jalapeno and lime, grilled fish rubbed with Backyard herbs, lavender cheesecake, and cloe, a Prosecco and ginger liquer cocktail.
Each day of the week at Solé East’s restaurant hosts different nightlife and entertainment. Mexican Mondays offers Spanish-themed specials. Winton Irie performs on Reggae Thursdays. Sunday Brunch is served amidst Jazz and Bosso Nova. And from the July Fourth weekend through Labor Day weekend, summer concert series are held on Saturdays.
Since its opening in July 2006, The Backyard Restaurant has been enjoyed from July to September between 8 am and 10 pm and in May, June, and October on Thursdays through Sundays beginning at 5:30 pm.
Gulf Coast Kitchen
The Gulf Coast Kitchen at the Montauk Yacht Club presents a comfortable vibe and a vibrant menu, with locally raised, caught, and grown ingredients of American fare. Floor-to-ceiling windows enclose a dining rooms decorated in whites, wicker, and wonderful antiques. Food options include butternut squash gnocchi with sage sauce, pan-seared skate with rutabaga mash, and warm apple tarte tatin with ice cream and caramel.
At the Gulf Coast Kitchen, the philosophy is to use only perfect ingredients and impeccable techniques to generate intense flavors and an unforgettable dining experience.
When Yacht Club guests are waking up to the day, finishing up an afternoon sail, or wrapping up their relaxing day, they can stop in at Hurricane Alley, a popular indoor/outdoor eatery. Here, time-honored bait and fish of the Florida Keys can be enjoyed with a waterfront view.The menu boasts lobster rolls, tuna sliders, clam chowder, and deli sandwiches. There are also gluten-free options, as well as individual artisan pies cranked out on a new pizza oven.
Barracuda Bar/Turtle Lounge
Signature cocktails can be found at the Barracuda Bar, on the yacht-side patio, or inside at the Turtle Lounge, which is a replica of the famous Montauk Lighthouse. Adorned with vintage travel posters and maps, these intimate lounges offer tavern-style seating. Favorites include the Ditch Plains Punch, with three varieties of Bacardi and three fruit juices, the Montauk Monster Cooler, with several styles of rum, and the Club Margarita, rimmed with Habanera salt.
Experience coastal cuisine and comfort food at the laid-back Navy Beach. With local seafood and produce, this waterfront restaurant has a beach house atmosphere; whitewash walls are coupled with massive wood beams obtained from aged wooden ships. A 35-foot antique wooden bar complements exposed brick walls, while nautical blue tables dot the restaurant. Shadow boxes displaying vintage bathing suits and fun glamour shots of 1950s bathing beauties add color to the walls
Popular dishes include Montauk clam chowder, the Navy Burger with bacon marmalade, buttermilk fried chicken with cheddar cornbread, fried calamari, lobster Singapore with Asian vegetables, sundaes with marshmallows, and Sangria Rosa with St. Germain.
“One of the most buzzed about new restaurants and bars in Montauk,” according to The New York Times, Navy Beach was dubbed a “perfect destination for summer dining.” Family-friendly, the venue promises a memorable dining experience in a beach setting with coastal food and breathtaking sunsets. Navy Beach is open for dinner nightly beginning at 5:30 pm, and the bar opens at 3:30 pm daily. Lunch is served on Saturday beginning at noon, and brunch is served on Sunday beginning at 11:30 am.
A funky beach farmhouse with casual, airy seating, South Edison uses the finest ingredients for homemade products. The main dining room features turquoise-stained floors, while the second offers brick patio flooring accented by natural wood tables.
Guests can dine on corn soup with roasted oyster mushroom, organic Irish salmon, carrot cake cupcakes with candied ginger, and a Dirty Sandbox, with Weihenstephan and fresh lemon soda.
South Edison opened quietly in June of 2010 and began offering classic Montauk beach fare with a fresh and creative twist. A mere two blocks from the ocean, most of its food is sourced from the nearby fishing docks.
From the colors of the décor to the openness of the patio room, this restaurant definitely says Hamptons beach house. Whether one comes for a beach cocktail and a snack or a candlelit dinner for two, South Edison is the perfect summer spot.
Visit May through October when the bar opens at 3 pm or for dinner at 5:30 pm Monday through Saturday and at 4 pm on Sundays.