Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Tristate Archive >
May 12, 2009 08:22 PM

Semi-comprehensive Montauk dining guide (long)

Longtime lurker -- first time poster. Montauk is a topic i'm very passionate about. I've been about a half dozen times now (i live in jersey) with my wife and trusty black lab. We rent a small cottage usually for long weekends and love to fill our days with beach walks and great meals. After 6 visits, i now feel like i can provide a decent report and some on the culinary fun we've had. I'll start by admitting i'm not a local, but i do know good food when i eat it. I'll add to/update this thread again in july after the long weekend we have planned. for those planning a trip there in the near future, i hope this helps you and i hope you enjoy your time there as much as we do.

Best in class:

Dave's Grill ( wow. i must admit after perusing their online menu, i was not feeling the hype. positive reviews and solid word of mouth took us there for dinner last september and were we ever impressed. some memorable items included their day's appetizer special, a fresh fresh tuna tartar (likely caught that morning?) -- best ive ever had. they only made 10 servings that day- so for those thinking about going, don't sit down too late! a courteous waitress warned they were down to two left as soon as she greeted us at the table and asked if she should hold one for us which met with a resounding 'YES!'. skip the crabcake, do the chopped salad (a visual pleasure, but sorta blends together). will no doubt try the honey-hoisin spare ribs now that i know what these guys are capable of (tried not to outfinesse myself the first time... entree highlights including a potato/onion crusted flounder (their version of fish and chips) which was beyond magnificent. top2 fish&chip experience i've ever had, the other being a small halibut shanty in alaska. comes with fresh-cut fries and a wonderful cole slaw- a simple classic. i had the striped bass, which was quite pleasent- but clearly a sideshow next to my wife's lobster roll. now, the dave's grill lobster is NOT for the faint of heart. not your classic mayo/celery recipe, but rather a butter poached version served on a toasted brioche. holy rich. my wife loved her rice pudding desert. the bread pudding however was fouled by the grand marnier sauce. a simple new orleans brown sugar/butter version would be the perfect fit for them. their ressy policy is quirky, so make sure you know the rules. oh yeah, they open LATE for the season (not till mid-may this year) but stay open till late sep/oct i believe so call ahead if you're planning to arrive pre-memorial day... you can imagine how disappointed we were the to miss their 2009 opening by one weekend this year...

All seasons can't go wrong:

Harvest on Fort Pond ( the successful flag ship of a small family of great restaurants. our first restaurant destination the first night on our first trip to montauk and we weren't disappointed. it sits right on fort pond which creates a very soothing/serene visual-scape if you're dining prior to sundown, absent are the ocean waves and breakers you're used to at the other montauk harbor locales. in the autumn/winter, it's equally warm and inviting on the nights when the mist/fog settle on the pond. semi-casual, but sophisticated is the best way i can describe it. its family style with entrees suited to feed 2-4 people each depending on the number of dishes ordered. my wife and i felt fine ordering one pasta and one entree to split, knowing we would have leftovers. when my parents joined us last time, we split two pastas and two entrees- again, plenty to take home. if you're doing a pasta/entree combo for couple, i would suggest skipping an app- you'll be rolling out of there. the calamari salad seemed to be on everyone's table, but we just thought it ok. both times we had a fussili with large scallops, mushrooms and bacon (pancetta?) and this was nice, not overpowering- but a plainer simple. we lucked into a veal bolognese on our second visit as a daily special and waived it in- equally wonderful warmed in the microwave the next day. the parm they serve you at your table is weak and stands as their biggest place to improve- would've preferred a plastic bottle of kraft. iirc, they're bread couldve used a lift as well. the porterhouse was good, but not lugers good even though it had a balsamic finish which i really like on my steak. in any event, when eating here- know you're getting stuff FRESH. the corn in your salad or on your daily special halibut dish, if purchased in season, will be shaved right from the ear. no order here is complete without their sidedish spinach with mushrooms and shallots- my dad's favorite item. eager to try one of their pizzas next time- the one with jalapenos i think. if you have room for dessert, you're better than i was. i think we tried a blueberry cobbler on our last visit, and it wasn't as good as my wife's oatmeal/brownsugar/butter easy recipe. this is old reliable though when all the other places are closed for the season. i think this falls on the must visit list in montauk- the first place i recommend to friends doing montauk for the first time.

Best View/Location:

Inlet Seafood ( -- this is right on the opposite side of gosman's. very reminiscent of the classic seattle harbor/bay salmon/crab house. a newer construction with a very fresh feel and big windows. almost feels like a contemporary beach house turned restaurant from the exterior and the interior boasts a really great bar space and a nice open dining room with 2 great exposures over the inlet and out onto the ocean. the menu offers a range of surf and turf, which i hope to explore in more depth next time (my wife wants the scallops, i want to try the burger!). we instead opted for the sushi side of the menu which we heard so much about prior to our visit. wow. i hadn't had sushi this good and fresh since my family fishing trip in british columbia (sorry jewel bako). ruby red tuna, no doubt caught that morning or the day prior. blue crab california rolls. great spicy tuna/salmon (something with some mango on it). a great variety of offers on perhaps a slightly condensed menu that i look forward to giving a greater chance the next time we're there. we were on our way out of town at the time of our last visit and were forced to carry out and park at the point (on the beach) since we had our lab with us. will report back on this one in july.

Best Clamshack:

The Lobster Roll 'LUNCH' ( -- no fishing village is complete without a great clam shack. the lobster roll, at a glance, appears to be the most touritsty of all the options which maybe true. its also my most likely of all the amagansett roadside spots to be 'park sloped' (kid crowded), but it shouldnt take away from your meal. true to name, they're lobster roll is the real deal. classic, subtle, simple mayo/celery/lobster combo- toasted (hotdog?) roll - truly delish. a perfect 'first timer' lobster roll if you're looking for a true old fashioned lobster roll- and priced at a modest $18 (with cole slaw), its about 4-6 bucks cheap to the manhattan fishhouses. their signature fried puffer fish is a must try- i suggest splitting it amongst your table as an app. other good fried stuff include the shrimp (and i never order fried shrimp) and their oysters. didn't try the scallops, but i would say def skip the clams (can't tell if fresh or frozen). their fish and chips (cod i think) all are super fresh and the batter is wonderful- the best fish and chip combo in montauk (although i still haven't tried o'murphys). even the slaw and the crinkle cut fries are nice- solid orings too. arguably better is 'the clam shack' in kinnebunkport maine.

Runner-Up Clamshacks: The Clam Bar and Cyril's.

Personally, i didn't think much good came from Cyril's. if you're 20s (maybe 30s?) and looking for an afternoon, evening cocktail spot in a rustic/surfer setting then this is your place. if you're looking for the best clam strips (dodge the whole belly) out of the three roadsiders, then this is surprisingly your place (the only thing they do well). if you like a deafening about of dill in your almost grey colored lobster roll, then this is your place. if you're looking for great classic clamshack seafood- try someplace else.

My wife and I have a softspot for the Clam Bar. It most resembles a true clamshack fit with a plastic tabled 'steamer' garden and garner's my vote for best spot to chill with a bucket of beers for a fried snack. pretty decent whole belly friend clams (skip the strips) and a very good fried fish batter - light, but hearty tasting. my standing order when i go. popular are the steamer's and the fresh battered/fried tuna bites. both i found just ok. good lobby roll here too. but their winning offering imo if their soup. the best n.e. clam chowder south of new hampshire and if you're lucky, they'll be featuring their spicy crab and corn chowder (recurring theme in montauk: order anything/everything with corn in it btw july/sep). if you happen to hit town slightly offseason (none of the clamshacks open year round) and it's a cool day/night- stop by the clam bar for a blue pointe toasted lager and a bowl of the chowder(s). the perfect cold day sweatshirt roadside lunch. this is my spot for a bucket of beers and a fishwich on a nice day. if it's not too crowded, they'll let your dog sit shotgun at your table. they also boast the friendliest, most competent staff amongst the three (by far).

Best Breakfast:

The Montauk Bake Shoppe ( --- did i say best breakfast? i meant donuts... donuts are a food group right? anyway, get a boston creme, a jelly and a sugar cruller and call it a morning. good coffee too, enough turnover there that the oldfashioned pot/warmer system (which normally makes me think of burnt steakandshake coffee) still seems to work- not sure when/if ever they make the switch to thermos'. they have fresh baked bread and bagels as well, but you'll have had better in your not so distant past. the donuts however, are sublime. they also bring some sweet stuff cakes/pastries which also look good, but trust me when i tell you- stick to the donuts and you'll be just fine. maybe try one of their curious 'cruffin's' if you're feeling brave.

Pleasant Surprise:

The Hideaway ( -- a mexican/bbq joint hidden behind a couple drydocked boats in diamond cove marina. this place is a true gem. the kind of gem people on chowhound scour the internet for, and we only finally discovered it on our most recent trip. VERY casual setting complete with little plastic corona flags around the bar, you wouldnt think much of this place at first glance. you certainly wouldn't think that they're capable of wonderfully fresh sope's and fish taco's considering you may even have doubt's that they have a kitchen at all when you walk in! we waived in about 5 items (the grilled mexi-corn, the guac, pulled pork sopes, a shrimp quesadilla and the fish tacos) and they were all lovely, especially the fish tacos. the corn was offseason and it was still a pleasure although not the best of its kind (try westville in the west village for the best mexi-style grilled corn). truthfully, none of them were the 'best' of their kind, but they were pretty darn good. Still, the quality was WELL above average and imo superior to the fancier-fair at micocina, rosamexicano and doscaminos with the exception of maybe the missing tableside guac treatment. this is old school taqueria style complete with plastic squirt bottles full of sourcream/crema, green tomatillo and hot salsa. some fresh-fried churros and vanilla ice cream for dessert were a nice finish (although i'd love to see some old-fashioned casa gallardo syle sopapillas on the dessert menu- an item noticably missing from ny area mexican joints). will try their ribs next time in town (and hopefully they're tamales if they're not out of them). Almost forgot, the best rocks margarita i've had in a long time. no joke- might be the best blend ever, served in plastic cup no less- CLASSIC!!!

Places I would skip:

Second House Tavern: nice space- nothing memorable from our trip there though. fish batter needs def work. main dining room hadn't opened yet though- we'll give it one more shot next time we're there off season (noteworthy that they were one of the few open during our december visit)

Gosman's: most places in montauk are touristy if you happen to visit in season. this one oozes tourist though. it does have a nice outdoor deck though and if you keep your ordering simple, you'll get decent food. there are better options all around you though.

John's Pancake House: pretty good, but not epic, plain pancakes. nothing else of note. consistent with typical NY boring breakfasts though. you have to travel south or east of new jersey to find a real breakfast. on this trip at least, stick to the bake shoppe. will try anthony's and bird on a roof on one of our next visits- i expect more of the same though (bland uncreative diner food in a quaint setting).

Duryea's Lobster: place got a lot of hype and in my personal estimation failed the test bigtime. their deck is nice and it pretty much stops there. if all i wanted was a plain boiled lobster, i could pick one up at st. peters catch and do it back at my cottage for half the price. their sides (boiled potatoes and corn) are boring and freshness fails to compensate for the lack something. i never add salt to my food- i did here (bad bad sign). worst of all was their clam chowder- a very brothy (almost snobby) version. oh, and did i forget its expensive? someone needs to remind them they're serving on styrofoam plates with plastic forks. $35 for a 1.5lb lobby and $1 worth of baked potato/corn. thanks, i'll pass. sign me up for the eat-like-king menu at dave's grill for less the price. i gave this place only one chance- i will NOT be going back.

Shagwong: landmark eatery. could it really be popular with the locals? the divebar part certainly seemed to be (we were there in december). the food was, bleh. if you sniff the inside of this place between may-october, you've done something wrong.

ENJOY!!! hope this helps. will add more in july. looking forward to trying a sangwich at Joni's and the burger at O'Murphy's and maybe, just maybe the pasta at Manucci's...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That's a really comprehensive report, thanks! Can't wait to hear after your visit in July.

    I thought Second House Tavern went out of business? Never wanted to eat there anyway, guess no one else was that excited either.

    Montauk Bake Shop makes the BEST chocolate croissants I've had this side of Europe too.

    For breakfast, Anthonys is just like Johns but dumpier. Bird on the Roof is different though, with some interesting menu items, and they fresh sqeeze their orange juice.

    Nobody I know goes to Shagwong for the food, I'm afraid to eat there myself.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coll

      thanks coll. read some of your other responses to threads on montauk and i think you're always spot on. i went to second house tavern in december, they had just opened not to long ago (main room had not been christened yet even). they have some work to do. just doesnt feel like food is the focus. they have some fun looking things on their menu, but the execution was lacking. my wife had her fill of seafood on that particular trip and she tried their pizza. it was a disgrace. if you're a place like that, and you have the audacity to offer pizza in montauk- you better get it right. the venue and menu suggest a place good at doing everything well (like harvest and daves grill do), but they just dont. ill dismiss it to growing pains. they get a second shot, shagwong does not. lol.

      1. re: conordog

        I asked the person yesterday about Second House Tavern closing and they said that was just a rumour started by a rival restaurant, they are still open. Good luck, maybe they'll get a new chef that "gets" it.

      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

        thanks iealoic... my first post. took a while to sculpt, but i hope it really gives first timers (or even second or third timers) to montauk some helpful hints about where to go. finally re-read it today and went to edit the mistakes (meant west of jersey, not east) and couldnt. will take some getting used to. love chowhound!

      2. Very interesting report. Any places for a full breakfast? I can't abide donuts/pastries for breakfast (or for any time, really). John's (apparently skippable) is the only place in the area?

        9 Replies
        1. re: Scott_R

          Bird on the Roof is the one I like, there is also Anthonys across from Johns but that is even worse than Johns. There is also a diner right on the circle, related to the Modern Diner in Sayville. And the place up by the dock, across from Tipperary, they're good for breakfast and lunch, I always forget their name though. Looks like a Carvel stand. THere are plenty of places for breakfast, and really early too due to all the fishermen. Oh I forgot Joni's and other assorted healthy places, for the surfer dudes.

          1. re: Scott_R

            johns, anthonys, bird on a roof. all are probably ok, ive only been to johns. theyre not bad or anything- i just dont think breakfast is a strong suit in montauk (or in ny/nj in general). gotta go west or south of new jersey to get a great breakfast. ive lived in nyc since 1996 and i still havent found a 'great' breakfast in the city...

            when in montauk, i do a simple-light breakfast and then load up at lunch/dinner. save your calories!!!

            1. re: conordog


              I have been following your post since I'm planning my first trip to Montauk in early June. I would like your option as well as others on were to eat.

              We're traveling with our well behaved 1 yr old son and I'm looking for the best food were it would be appropriate to take him. He goes with us to nice places with the exception of quite romantic places. Upscale but verging on loud places work out fine for us. I'm looking for the best seafood for a couple of nice dinners out. Would Dave's Grill, the Inlet or Fishbar be ok for a 1 yr old? We will be going out on a weeknight. Also what about Harvest on Fort Pond?

              I'll probably check out the Hideaway for a late lunch early dinner as well. If anyone has any other more casual child friendly suggestions for the other nights I'd appreciate your suggestions. Thanks!

              1. re: The Dabbler

                i would suggest inlet or harvest if with a young child. couple sitting across from us our first time at harvest had a young child and was getting along just fine. we've been there three times now and never had a bad meal. iirc they have booths as well, which imo is nice with a young child- also, theyre family style, so you can order for yourself and will have plenty of food to pass your child without feeling you have to order some entirely separate dish of a kids menu or something when going to a nice restaurant.

                i was at inlet in the afternoon on mothers day and i thought it def looked accomodating for someone dining with a young child. nice wide open space, tons of windows, a very fresh feeling about it. i would recommend a lunch here if its a nice day out. consider a formal lunch here if you only plan on doing one meal out that day especially if the weather is nice. might be less sceney and you may feel more confortable with your child (plus, at lunch, they offer their full sushi spread). if you're not into sushi, consider dinner here as their lunch menu doesnt offer their full range of entree options.

                skip the fishbar. while ive never dined there (theyve been closed the 4 times ive gone by- even the time they had a sign on the sign saying open) it reminds me of a glorified open air marina snack bar. if thats what you want then go for it, but if you want to 'dine' hit one of the other spots.

                daves grill is the most intimate of the spots you mentioned. cozy booths, mostly couples dining i found. a small outdoor enclosed area. i would consider this the least friendly of the quality three options youre considering.

                the lobster roll 'lunch' you should hit either on your way in or out of town if you want to get your fresh fried seafood fix. classic roadside clam shack and will fit dining with a child well. clam bar is mostly 30s/40s and cyril is mostly 20s and lobster roll is BY FAR the most family oriented of the 3. dont goto cyrils. all three though you will pass and are easy access roadside spots on your way into montauk so youll be able to easily judge for yourself.

                enjoy!!! montauk is just awesome. nothing like the hamptons.

                1. re: conordog

                  Haven't actually eaten at fishbar yet, but they are more than a snack bar. The new owner is the former chef of the Inlet a couple of years back when it was very upscale. They have an interesting menu, featuring every kind of local fish right off the boat. Not too expensive, and opened Mother's Day. She even does vegan and vegetarian if you like that type of thing.
                  I think everyone just misses Paul too much.

                  1. re: coll

                    i dont doubt that they offer some great off the boat seafood (and i did say they LOOK like a snackbar)- but good luck trying to eat there unless you're there at sunset in july/aug and mayyyybe june. maybe if they scare off enough of the tourists like me though it'll preserve whatever special thing they might have going on. ive given up- to many other great consistent options. i will say though, absent from most of their writeups is that youre basically sitting at an open air booth/table on a marina right next to the ACTUAL marina snackbar. while i think this carries a certain charm (like eating outside at the hideaway) -- fishbar too often gets lumped into the same restaurant pool with inlet/daves/harvest which imo the wrong grouping-- its just not dining. its in its own eastern long island category with the gosmans deck, duryeas, hideaway ketchy sort of 'on a wood deck on the water' outdoor off-the-boat kindof thing. not a bad place to be, just different from those other places.

                2. re: The Dabbler

                  I was just reading the local paper and realized they have a listing for every restaurant in Montauk, and a map to find each one. Descriptons, not really a review unless you read between the lines, but one thing they tell you is which are child appropriate.


                3. re: conordog

                  I prefer to have a real (though not heavy) breakfast and skip lunch. Takes me a bit to get going in the morning, but once I do I don't like to interrupt things to eat. Still, I'm picky about breakfast. No eggs on a roll, DEFINITELY no doughnuts or pastries--staying away from the sweeter stuff overall (I'd much rather have a good omelet or the like).

                  Not Montauk, but I'm going to go to Maureen's Kitchen this Wednesday, after picking my nephew up from Stony Brook U; now THAT's a great place for breakfast.

                  1. re: Scott_R

                    im a bigger breakfast than lunch guy myself. put you have to take what the defense gives you i always like to say! when in montauk, i just really think you're going to struggle with breakfast. i did have a fantastic breakfast on eastern long island when staying at the millhouse inn in e.hampton- they offer a way above average b&b breakfast, but expensive to stay there in season.

                    if youre a biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, corned beef hash guy like me though, youll just be looking into a hole trying to find something worthwhile for breakfast in montauk. but by noon, you can be on the deck at inlet seafood or at the roadside in amagansett enjoying a great lunch at the lobster roll or clam bar. just comes with the territory out there.

                    it seems the locals/tourists are content with the few breakfast options they do have. i strong breakfast option could certainly enter the picture and do well imo, but the margins at breakfast time are so low compared with dinner (alcohol sales) so the incentive just isnt there. i mean, there is only so much you can charge for breakfast. the diner in the middle of the circle could have potential if it underwent a makeover- but im not sure id be willing to throw out the energy in such a food competitve area like montauk where really, people are just there for the seafood...

              2. Just want to reiterate what was said about the Hideaway. After Fishing used to be our under the radar spot until it closed down a couple of years ago.

                At the end of last season the Hideaway closed down due to restaurant permit/license issues. We were pleasantly surprised when they opened back up this year. I've been twice so far this season and will hopefully go again tomorrow. I wasn't there but apparently last weekend they were only serving food outside again because of a license/permit issue.

                Also if anybody has questions about anything out here feel free to ask since I've been to most places.

                6 Replies
                1. re: frankster

                  was their weekend of 5/09 and both inside/out were open and full service. from their menu though in the bbq section, they only had ribs (not the other stuff) and they were out of tamales.

                  1. re: conordog

                    Went there yesterday. Now there is no table service both inside and outside. You have to get up and order at the bar, and they won't bring the food/drinks all the way to your table. The former waitress (now bus-girl under the new restriction) said they were working on being allowed to provide table service again. Food was good as ever and it was fairly crowded too.

                    Side note: ENE two nights ago was just okay. Manucci's last night was good.

                    1. re: frankster

                      ive never been to ENE or manuccis. how does ENE hold up against harvest? is manuccis really legit italian or do you order other stuff there?

                      what is it about hideaway that theyre having these problems right now?

                      1. re: conordog

                        There's nothing really wrong with Hideaway, their kitchen is one of the nicest and newest in Montauk; however they opened last year without all the proper permits and now the town is on their case. Those kind of things move very slowly.

                        1. re: coll

                          Hi. My family owns the Hideaway. First, I'd like to thank all the Chowhound users that have written nice things about our place. Secondly, I wanted to provide an update on our permitting issues with the Town of East Hampton.

                          The issue has to do with our C/O (certificate of occupancy). We have an application pending to recognize us as a "restaurant", but until it is granted we can only operate as a "take out establishment."

                          When we first re-opened this season, we weren't sure whether we could have indoor seating so we removed it to avoid any further problems with the Town. Since then, we've been able to clarify what we can and can't do; and essentially we can't have waitresses or table service.

                          SO, the tables are back inside and at the bar, and the only difference from years past is that people now need to place their orders at the counter and pick them up themselves. I hoped this helped to clarify any questions.

                          As for food, we make everything in limited quantities until we're open seven days a week in late June.

                          Thanks again and happy eating.
                          -Marty Reichert

                        2. re: conordog

                          I prefer Harvest, but I've only been once and it was at the very end of last season. I've been to ENE twice now and didn't really care for it either time. Everything that we ordered at ENE was average. We were there on the first night that they opened this season and it showed - one entree came out a good 7-8 minutes after the other two.

                          I liked Manucci's quite a bit. I thought that the portions were really generous. The four entrees that we ordered were: 3 pasta dishes - two with seafood and one with meat, and one fish entree (I think tilefish). Everything was really good.

                  2. I agree with most of your picks but after going to the Hideaway I can't say I would recommend it for dinner. A good lunch place however.

                    The fish tacos and sopes are very good but the quesadillas were soggy and the nachos were just OK. You just can't give customers soggy quesadillas. That is just not acceptable in a descent Mex place. Also, be prepared for plastic dishes, plastic forks and a picnic table while you pick up your food. That's fine but just come mentally prepared for that atmosphere. View is of parking lot and Harbor...not bad.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jnic3933

                      I just went to Hideaway this week for the first time and really liked it. I had some really authentic and delicious tongue tacos, a Tuesday special at $2 each (!). We also had some steamed clams (simple and fresh), brisket tacos (also good), and the corn. It's definitely one of my top Montauk choices now.