For evidence of Montauk’s transformation from sleepy fishing village to full-on Hamptons, just take a look at its dining scene. Local favorites have undergone chic renovations, trendy farm-to-table menus are the norm, and familiar Manhattan exports have made their way out east. Here are a few of the best.
If you make only one upscale dinner reservation in Montauk, make it at Scarpetta Beach. The eastern outpost of this Manhattan favorite focuses its menu on seafood — fresh crudos, grilled branzino, lump crab meat tagliatelle — without abandoning the perfect pastas that made it famous in the first place. But you’re really here for the views. Outdoor tables on the sprawling deck overlook the Gurney’s private oceanfront beach, while the glass-enclosed indoor space offers sea views even on rainy days.
At Showfish, Montauk native Jeremy Blutstein — chef behind Hamptons favorites Almond and Crow’s Nest — takes full advantage of the east end’s natural bounty. Montauk fishermen supply seafood, nearby farms provide produce, and even the lobster kimchi fried rice uses goods from Blutsein’s own Bridgehampton-based Kimchi Jews. The kitchen will prep your own catch of the day, but you truly can’t go wrong with the standard menu offerings. A dry-aged tuna steak served bone-in like a ribeye will delight the most dedicated carnivores, the selection of crudos are light but flavorful, and even the lone pasta dish incorporates buttery uni and feathery chunks of Jonah crab.
Beloved Manhattan taqueria chain Tacombi opened this airy town center location in 2013. Not surprisingly, the menu focuses more on seafood than its city siblings. Snack on seared Montauk tilefish tacos topped with red cabbage (and served with a kick), ceviche piled on top of avocado crema, and crispy fish tacos so large the handmade corn tortillas can barely contain them. Don’t skip the house-made tortilla chips, which are thick and perfectly fried, and wash it all down with a Mexican Mule (tequila or mezcal, ginger beer, and lime).
Once a no-frills, BYOB spot, this 80-plus-year-old Montauk institution got a major makeover under new ownership in 2016 — think teak patio furniture, waiter service, and a fresh liquor license. Most entrees are for sharing (a 2-pound steamed lobster, 3-pound grilled octopus, a rotisserie chicken) but you’ll want to keep the lobster roll all to yourself; the buttery sandwich is frequently named one of Montauk’s best. One thing that hasn’t changed? The postcard-perfect sunsets over Fort Pond Bay.
Gosman’s is about as OG Montauk as it gets — the seafood shack has been serving lobster rolls and chowder since 1943. Today, the dock is a walkable shopping village with boutiques, an ice cream stand, a proper fish market, and four distinct places to eat. Inlet Cafe, on the ground floor, overlooks Montauk Harbor and splits its menu between fresh sushi and classic New England seafood; Gosman’s Topside mixes frozen drinks and cocktails on a second-level patio with panoramic views; Gosman’s Seafood Restaurant serves grilled fish, fried seafood, and raw-bar specialities overlooking the harbor; and Gosman’s Clam Bar dishes take-out versions of its clam strips, lobster rolls, and chowder.
Three friends started New York’s easternmost brewery in a basement in 2012; soon after, they began delivering kegs to local bars via bike. Today you can pick up the classic summertime brews in bars and shops statewide, but they taste even better sipped fresh in the little red brew house. The compact space — two small tables in the tasting room and a spacious front yard patio — doesn’t serve food, but you can order in from local restaurants. Even better? Picking up fried clams or a lobster roll at neighboring St. Peter’s Catch; they might even deliver over the short picket fence if you ask nicely.
No guide to Montauk would be complete without mentioning The Surf Lodge, the hotel, restaurant, and concert venue that’s hosted the likes of John Legend and Patti Smith. Though famous for its celebrity clientele and rowdy parties, the largely sustainable restaurant is a worthwhile stop for lunch or weekend brunch — especially if you can grab a seat on the outside terrace overlooking Fort Pond. For lunch, sample crab arancini, yellow fluke crudo, and pan-seared scallops; for weekend brunch, dig into heartier fare, like a bacon-egg sandwich with creme fraiche or waffles with rum-marscapone and maple syrup.
Another NYC-based transplant, the Van Leeuwan ice cream shop at Gurney’s Star Island is worth a visit out east if only for its specialty flavor, Weekend at Gurney’s, a cheeky blend of peanut butter, marshmallow, chocolate fudge, and graham cracker crumbles — just imagine an amped up s’more, but cold and creamy. Van Leeuwan is also scooping its standard menu options, including popular vegan blends, fresh milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches, and house-baked waffle cones.
If you hear Hamptons regulars mention “lunch,” they might actually be referring to this retro diner. A giant, vintage, light-up sign spelling “LUNCH” sits atop the bright red-white-and-blue exterior, giving the restaurant is nickname and all but guaranteeing that curious drivers will pull off of Montauk Highway for a snack. Though not technically in Montauk proper (it’s located in neighboring Amagansett) this diner-meets-beach-shack is an iconic stop en route to the end of the South Fork. Grab a picnic table on the umbrella-shaded back patio and dig into summertime favorites — fried clam strips, steamers and broth, and of course the namesake sandwich itself — or swing by just for dessert. Homemade seasonal fruit pies, frozen Key lime pies, malted milkshakes, and baked-in-house cupcakes are worth a stop all on their own.
Postcard-perfect sunsets make this beachfront restaurant a must for warm summer evenings. Claim an outdoor spot on the 200-foot-long private beach, once occupied by the U.S. Navy, to watch the sun sink behind Fort Pond Bay while sipping on a glass of rose — the restaurant has one of the longest lists of the pink stuff in the Hamptons. Seafood, naturally, is the menu’s star, with local ceviches and crudos, clam-corn chowder, and roasted fish all on offer.