There’s no shortage of top notch dining in the Hamptons, from hotspot pop-ups to low-key clam shacks. If you’re lucky enough to spend an entire summer out east, you can leisurely eat your way around town. But, if you’re only at the beach for a few quick weekends, you’ll want to cram in the crème de la crème. Here’s the lowdown on the best Hamptons restaurants worth the hullabaloo and high prices. Don’t waste a meal — book a table, stat.
01 of 10
It’s hard to top the magical outdoor setting at this Montauk favorite. But the food comes close. Fantastic local fare includes an off-the-charts mezze platter, fresh locally-sourced seafood like day boat scallops and fluke, and a grade-A grass-fed rib eye. Rustic wood tables overlook a grassy hillside that rolls down to a little lakeside beach where a bar and more outdoor seating accommodate diners for after-dinner drinks and picturesque sunset views. This sweet spot is ideal for couples, groups, and families who can kickback and relax while their kids run amuck on the grassy knoll.
02 of 10
Manhattan’s “best restaurant in the world,” Eleven Madison Park, closed in June for renovations, but, fear not, East Hampton’s EMP Summer House pop-up will fill the void in the interim. Daniel Humm’s seafood-focused menu here is quite unlike that of the city flagship. Rather, the menu at EMP Summer House is a luxe compilation of summery favorites: family-sized lobster boil and seafood bouillabaisse, juicy tomato salad, fancy fried chicken. Tables are exclusively reserved for American Express cardholders but walk-ins are welcome to snag a seat on the tent-covered lawn which serves banging barbecue grub like Humm’s bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with gruyere and truffle mayo. EMP Summer House is only open through Labor Day.
03 of 10
Long Island’s top vintners perfectly pair a winning wine list with fresh “coastal american” fare at their new Amagansett outpost. Salmon tartar, crispy shrimp with papaya salsa, and wood-oven baked branzino are washed down with crisp rosé (aka “summer in a bottle”) or spicy margaritas with muddled cucumbers.
Note: Wölffer Kitchen Sag Harbor is also a top pick with a more Mediterranean-influenced menu.
04 of 10
A super laid-back vibe (though patrons include the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow) and killer New England-style chowder, lobster rolls, and fried seafood platters bring back devotees summer after summer. The low-key restaurant sports a nautical-themed space and a cute outdoor patio, complete with white picket fence.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
The raw bar and craft cocktails are the main draws at this casual beachy-chic seafood restaurant. The selection of oysters changes daily while the main menu showcases delightful classics with a twist (think braised baby octopus tacos and yellowfin tuna with harissa cauliflower purée, wheatberry, and hearts of palm). The drink list is equally as interesting with build-your-own pickled martinis and a curated selection of gin and tonics.
06 of 10
This perennial favorite is only marginally less packed in the winter as it is in summer, thanks to its classic chophouse menu and buzzy scene. Many deem the martinis the best in town and you can’t go wrong with the New York Strip or crazy-good chicken parmesan. On any given summer Saturday, the cozy space inside The Hunting Inn is chockablock with a veritable who’s who of the South Fork social scene.
07 of 10
The fish doesn’t get much fresher than at this new dockside eatery (formerly known as Dave’s Grill and located in a new space across Montauk Lake). The small-plate seafood menu includes Dave’s popular Cioppino, essentially a seafood cornucopia simmered in a rich fish and tomato reduction. Patrons are seated on a first-come, first-serve basis which translates to long wait times at primetime hours.
08 of 10
Book way ahead if you want to snag a table at this Italian hotspot — the Southampton offshoot to Gabby Karen’s Sag Harbor restaurant. The chic space comes with a charming garden and celebrity eye candy to spare. Delicious homemade pastas and daily specials of locally-caught seafood garner praise from its A-list crowd.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Farm-to-table American fare is brought to you by the same owners as NYC’s beloved EMP and Charlie Bird. Expertly prepared linguine with fresh local clams and sautéed lobster with burned lemon and arugula are served in a good-looking space (think upscale diner). There’s an excellent to-go menu for beach bites and a killer cocktail list, to boot.
10 of 10
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than at the East End’s go-to spot for Mexican-style street food. Picture tacos with meaty chunks of pork, roasted to perfection, topped with chipotle mayo, onions, shredded cabbage, and cilantro for, drumroll, please, $3.50 per taco or $14 for 5. Grab a few cold cervezas and a spot at a picnic table on the lawn or take your goods to go — you’ll likely be back for more.