(this is what a hamptons best of list
is supposed to look like.)
the drl summer '22 list
restaurants, bars, and other places worth knowing about.
This list is fully gonzo. And we’re good with that. Objectivity is pretty low on the priority list around here anyways.
For that matter, so is any semblance of ranking. That’s just not how we think about things. There’s a cut, and you’re either above it or below it. But to think that we might say that one of our faves is better than any other: unconscionable. These are all the best, each in their own unique little way.
Like any good Hamptons summer, we started furthest east and made our way west. That’s the only (rough) order you’ll find here. Fun lives in the chaotic random of it all.
This is our love letter to summers out east. We hope you enjoy your time.
The luxury of being out east over the summer is sometimes as simple as having the free time to sit on a beach and eat a sandwich, watching surfers wipe out and collecting the occasional shell or two for a necklace you’ll never get around to making.
If that sounds like an ideal way to spend a Saturday, your beach is Ditch Plains Beach, and your sammie’s a wrap from Ditch Witch. It’s just that simple.
Check your attitude at the door. Prepare to get a little sandy. And, well, just live a little.
The poke (poké?) bowls are legit, and a post-surf quesadilla is just the thing to break the chill of the Atlantic.
Honestly, this place gets slept on for reasons we can’t begin to comprehend.
It’s like if you combined a mixology bar scene straight out of the East Village / LES, stripped away all the pretentiousness, and added in a generous pour of MTK / island flair. That’s more or less South Edison.
A couple cocktails and a few small plates are the way to start off a night in Montauk.
In our minds, this place is the quintessential Montauk eatery. Its difference from most restaurants out east is emblematic of the difference between Montauk and the rest of the Hamptons.
(We’re not going to get into the debate over whether MTK is or is not part of “the Hamptons.” Just…not here, not now.)
Gig Shack seems ripped from New Yorkers’ fantasies of what a local spot in San Diego, Waimea Bay or Bondi Beach might look like. The quirky, rad culture of surf as expressed through food and drink. These guys nail it, for the better.
Innovative specials that never miss are the highlight here. Ribs that fall off the bone every time. A duck empanada to die for.
Things to know: there’s often (good) live music; it’s almost always packed; and it’s almost always loud. Good for a raucous night out, maybe less so for quiet date night.
If Gig Shack is an argument for Montauk NOT being part of “the Hamptons,” consider Harvest a counterpoint. Distanced from the boardshorts vibe of a lot of MTK, Harvest presents an elevated culinary experience to rival the best of Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, and any other Hampton you might care to name.
The red sauce Italian take on fresh seafood sends missives of the Amalfi Coast, one of the few places on earth to potentially out-Hamptons the Hamptons.
Of late, they’ve returned to being something of a local secret. We’re almost reluctant to change that, but this is definitely a place you should know about.
The best lobster roll in the Hamptons. We’ll die on that hill.
But really, if Harvest (above) gives Amalfi Coast, Duryea’s answers with memories of a summer in Provence. From the super-chic guests to the sunny dockside patio at which they’re all sat, there’s just something so effortlessly cool happening here and we’re all in.
A new thing is this system of paper tickets they’ve got going on. You get handed a slip menu with checkboxes, and a tiny pencil. You fill it out with your order, bring it up to a counter, pay, and it gets brought out to you. Shockingly efficient, and devoid of waiting around for someone to get to you; we love everything about it.
If there’s a con here, it’s the ridiculously sharp speed bumps on the way in to Tuthill Road. We get it, nobody wants to hit a pedestrian, but who’s paying for new tires on our Porsche? Call it a casualty of our Duryea’s addiction.
Spirited away from a cozy, dreamy vision of the west coast and dropped just steps from the beach in Montauk: that’s Left Hand Coffee.
Places like this are what give Montauk its distinct identity versus the rest of the Hamptons. Without much pretense, and with a vibe that’s equal parts indie rock and surfer bungalow, Left Hand exudes an authenticity in Montauk culture that so many newcomers to the scene try—and fail—to co-opt.
Beautiful. Just utterly beautiful. That’s everything that Crow’s Nest does.
There’s a sense of rustic charm evocative of the Catskills, mixed with a beachiness that is inarguably east end.
A whiskey cocktail in hand, strolling the shore of Lake Montauk under the warm glow of string lights. The Crow’s Nest offers a vision of a life at once aspirational and effortlessly within reach.
There’s a lot of restaurants from NYC and elsewhere that try to come out to the Hamptons and either: a) change nothing about themselves; or b) create some hacked up version of what they think “the Hamptons” is. The former, eh. The latter, epic fails.
But where most go terribly wrong, Il Buco Al Mare goes fully right. Their east end iteration is a perfect translation of their stellar cuisine and chic Italian aesthetic into a beachy eatery that fits in seamlessly to the Amagansett scene.
Taking over a local favorite is a daunting task. Even more so when that local favorite is in the relatively quaint little Hamptons town of Amagansett. So, when the original owners finally hung it up last year and some new guys from the city came in, well, we were reasonably concerned.
The old spot was OK, if maybe a little below OK in the last few years. But the place had character. It had vibes. And it’d been the site of memories for us and whole lot of others. “These new guys had better bring it,” we thought.
The small-town pizzeria vibes live on in this new iteration of the old mainstay. They’re still open late enough to stumble to after nights at Talk House. Unlike those nights, though, these slices are distinctly memorable. And this summer, memories of red sauce glory will definitely be made.
There’s some saying out there about “the right tool for the job.”
That’s what La Fondita is to us. The best tool for a very specific job: a craving for authentic Mexican food out east.
Are there frills? No. There are no frills.
Are there quesadillas? You bet your quesa-ass there are.
But the tacos are the real star of the show here. A plate of La Fondita tacos and a beer after a long day out in the water? Heaven.
Keeping on the theme of “right tool for the job,” there’s two reasons why we brave the line at Carissa’s every once in a while.
1. For whatever reason, we just need REALLY good bread.
2. We’re uncorking a ’96 Dom after dinner and need something sweet and worthy to go with it.
Carissa’s is an expression of craft. Their cakes? Pure edible art. But even their breads have a sense of careful curation despite their natural rustic charm.
The line is going to be long. Doesn’t matter when in the season, or what time of day. Go prepared. Maybe bring a newspaper. But to take your at-home dining up this many notches, it’s well worth the wait.
Cove Hollow is something of a poorly kept local secret. The cozy space right on Montauk Highway is always busy, but seems never to be too busy to accommodate us, even on short notice.
The food would have you thinking it’d be an impossible table to book. Think New American staples presented in an elevated but accessible way, complemented by a rotating selection of rather authentic takes on various cuisines of the world. On one hand, there’s diver scallops presented simply with lemon and mixed greens. On the other, there’s a Thai yellow curry that’ll put tears in your eyes (good tears, but also spicy tears).
For us, the space / ambiance reads casual date night, or dinner with your parents when they’re in to visit. But for really any purpose, Cove Hollow is a consistent, surefire winner.
The Hamptons restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart. It’s hyper-competitive, largely seasonal, and full of customers ready to turn up their noses at, well, anything.
So, when we first stepped in to Armin & Judy a few years ago, we remember saying to ourselves, “God, I hope this place survives.” And survive they did.
Armin & Judy is a place the Hamptons needs, and deserves. A chic little roadside bistro with world-class traditional French baking, owned by some of the nicest people we’ve ever encountered among restauranteurs.
This one here is dual-purpose. It’s a great spot for a dine-in meal, featuring delectable takes on classic bistro fare. But not to be ignored are the retail bakery and dry goods shop. From astoundingly good baguettes and brioches to a deep assortment of imported spices, jams and other chic pantry finds, the team at Armin & Judy have solved your problem of finding an elevated beach picnic quickly and easily.
Living larger than life on the east end is Chef Arie Pavlou. And at Bistro Été, there’s a slice of that life on offer.
Nestled in that cute little shopping pavilion in Water Mill you’ve driven by a thousand times (often pausing to gawk at the people doing Soul Cycle in a tent on the lawn), Bistro Été offers up Chef’s distinct and flavorful take on French Mediterranean cuisine.
Truffles abound. (See above re: flavorful.) The cocktail menu is not to be missed. And there’s even pints of house-made ice cream for takeaway. It’s food to remember, always.
And Chef Arie always has something up his sleeve. Be it a whole-lamb barbecue for Father’s Day, or new, on-the-spot cocktail inspirations at the bar, a night (or a few) at Bistro Été is a must for any summer in the Hamptons.
Southampton’s dining scene can be hectic and annoying. There’s just too many people, too many new restaurants, and it’s hard to tell what’s worth it and what’s not.
Pause. Let us solve that for you. It’s Plaza Cafe. The Plaza Cafe is the best place to eat in Southampton. You’re welcome.
With one of the most stellar CVs of any chef on the east end, Chef Doug Gulija brings both taste and technique to bear on the nouveau-French, seafood-centric cuisine he serves at Plaza.
And did we mention the plating? Your Instagram grid just made you a reservation.
If there’s anyone to rival the above-mentioned restaurants for best French chef in the Hamptons, it’s Christian Mir of Stone Creek Inn. (Get this: he’s even actually French!)
Located in what, for the Hamptons, is basically “flyover country,” this East Quogue gem is something of a local secret. (Side note: so many of the best spots out east are.)
With a menu evocative of the New York greats (Daniel, Picholine, etc.), Stone Creek is just on another level vs. its east end “competition.” It’s no surprise, then, that the parking lot is littered with Rolls Royces and Bentleys. It’s that kind of spot. (Hint: gentlemen, wear a jacket; ladies, break out your Chanel.)
If you’re looking for a restaurant in the Hamptons with a more formal vibe and true haute cuisine fare, Stone Creek Inn is basically your only option, and what a worthy option it is.
Despite what anyone from east of Wainscott might have told you, Westhampton Beach is still part of the Hamptons. And that means The Patio, a nouveau American spot in WHB, still has a place on this list. (When Westhampton Beach secedes, we’ll let you know.)
Jokes aside, there’s nothing funny about The Patio’s commitment to fresh pasta. With an IG showcasing the making of everything from tagliatelle to ravioli, these guys mean (semolina) business.
Like Montauk, Westhampton is known for its distinct lack of “frills.” The Patio is no different. The cuisine is rustic and homestyle, like your nonna in Italy used to make. (Or the nonna you wish you had; sometimes it’s okay to pretend.)
And we’ll be honest; we’re not often in Westhampton (see above re: “flyover country”). But when we are, it’s usually to grab dinner at The Patio.
This is about where we'd expect people to come at us saying "Oh, you forgot Tutto" or "Hey, what about Dopo?"
Relax. We're getting there.
THE GREAT DEBATE
There’s no sense in giving this debate an introduction. You guys already know. We’re going to re-assess head-to-head this year and come up with a verdict.
The thing about food out east (judging food out east, more specifically) is that restaurants’ kitchen quality differs every season. Chefs might change. Line cooks almost always change. Menus should change. And so everything should be both new and familiar, year over year.
We haven’t had a chance to visit both Tutto and Dopo yet this year. But we will, and we’ll update this piece once it’s all said and done.
cocktails & wine list
This can, and should, vary year on year. And like with food, we’re in no position to judge for 2022. Stay tuned; we’ll be back with a verdict soon.
Even for us, there’s solid places out east we just haven’t been to. Some are new. Others, for one reason or another, we’ve just never gotten around to. Nevertheless, by reputation alone, we know that these spots are likely candidates to make the cut for our list; we just need to see for ourselves before we lift that velvet rope. We’ll update on a spot-by-spot basis once we’ve had a chance to do our due diligence. Like with most things, it’s either up or it’s out.
If you live under a rock (or are just an unabashed philistine), Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a very famous chef. He has his name on a restaurant located inside Topping Rose House. The restaurant is even on his website, jean-georges.com. But, that’s no guarantee that it’s any good. Hell, it’s no guarantee that Chef JGV himself has ever even been there. So, we’re going to need to investigate. A few of his restaurants have been favorites of ours in the past, but we’ll try not to let that influence our view of his east end outpost.
Now it’s maybe time to call ourselves philistines, because we’ve actually somehow never been. We know, we know. This needs to be corrected. Immediately. Maybe even this weekend.
This is another one of those ones we’ve weirdly never been to, but at least this time, we have an explanation. And it’s rooted in the fact that there’s two Mexican spots sharing the same parking lot. It’s no excuse on our end, but every time we try to go to Coche, we just wind up getting takeout from La Fondita and a sixer of Tecate from the bodega down the street. We’ll get to Coche eventually, probably after our next day on the beach.
There’s a chapter in Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential where he talks about the Fulton fish market and who comes when to get what fish. Basically, one of us ate way too much questionable sushi as a kid (which was, apparently, just a cut above “cat food grade”) and now that team member is allergic to sushi. So we’re not quite philistines for avoiding Kissaki (and the other great sushi spots), we’re just…trying to avoid a post-meal trip to the emergency room.
Does anybody want to be a guest reviewer for us here?
Itameshi (Italian x Japanese) cuisine is super interesting. It’s also not something all that new. The argument “for” is the elevation of rich Italian with the attention to detail of Japanese culinary training. We’ll see how it all plays out at O.
So this one, we have actually been to. And that it’s on the TBD list and not the list is a point of controversy here at DRL. Because, well, we used to champion this place as one of the best restaurants in the Hamptons, and certainly the best within reasonable driving distance of our Amagansett HQ. But recently, we’ve had reason to take a beat and reassess. And we plan to, sometime soon this summer.
Like with Highway (above), this is another one we’ve been to. But here, whether fortunately or unfortunately, we just can’t quite fully remember whether the meal lived up to what we consider “best of.” We’ll investigate and come to a determination sometime before this summer’s out. Competition’s stiff, but we’re optimistic.
This is a controversial one for us. Yes, we’ve been. We’re actually pretty familiar with Bostwick’s. But, while the chowder is pretty damn fine, we’re not ready to up and say it’s “best of” just quite yet. Based on some reader / follower convos, we really need to try their lobster roll to know for sure, one way or the other. This summer, we’re going to find out.
Another “flyover country” spot we haven’t been to in quite some time. You might say this is just an immediately correctable omission from the list, but we’re going to revisit sometime this summer and make a decision based on fresh intel.
It’s been a while since we’ve trekked up to Sag Harbor for dinner at Bell & Anchor. It’s a fan fave, to be sure. But we need to check it out again for ourselves to be sure.
Despite being in EH, Fresno is somewhat off the beaten path. Call it a sleeper entry, if you will. Is it fairly slept-on? Or does their stuff merit some increased notoriety courtesy of DRL? Time, and a revisit, will tell.
We’ve been, and we’ve enjoyed. But like a lot of spots in Sag Harbor, it’s been a minute since we’ve been. Time for a 2022 revisit and reassess.
A new-ish entrant into the Montauk pizza wars (see further on, below). This spot is a one-off with more than just pizza. Could a more diverse set of offerings set these guys apart? We’ll be the judge.
That New New
There’s a few new entrants on (or coming to) the scene out east that we’re amped about. Some might even make it onto the list. One (the redux of Astro’s) already has. And they all deserve a shot. Here’s the new spots we’ll be checking out with an eye to inclusion on our best-of list this summer.
And we’re talking here specifically about their new spot in East Hampton. Babette’s left some decently big shoes to fill, and we don’t know enough to say that Sant Ambroeus is up to the task. Time will tell, and so will we.
There’s a bit of a pizza war going on in Montauk. It’s honestly hard to keep up. And that was even before these guys decided to throw their (Brooklyn) hat into the ring. We won’t let them just ride in off their NYC fame. No, it’s only right that we put their east end outpost to the test.
Newly sprouted in a spot that housed (in our fond memories) Tacombi, among other things. We’ve been in to check out their cute / cozy vibes and sample some coffee offerings, but we’re reserving judgment until we’ve had more.
When Hampton Chutney closed up and moved out of their location in Amagansett Square, we were (a little) bummed. Doubles has come in to fill the void. Three white guys cooking homestyle Caribbean food. This is either going to go really well or really poorly. We’ll keep you posted.
We’ve followed Chef Jeremy Blutstein on Instagram for quite some time now. And between posts featuring his beautiful home life and hip-hop obsession are some of the most epic food pictures taken on the east end. If the man’s home cooking will be what’s on offer at his new resto venture, it just might earn Maverick’s our “best-of” honors.
Though it’s already appeared on some “best-of” lists by now, at the time of this writing, Tutto Caffé in East Hampton hasn’t yet opened. Nevertheless, when it does, we’ll be sure to check it out / rate their brunch as “best of” or not.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Also, consider branching it out. That’s apparently the advice at hand over at Dopo, with a new Bridgehampton location open this year. Sporting a different menu than the others, we’re keen to see how this new edition performs.
The property up at EHP brings good and bad memories to us. With the obvious drawbacks of location and shoddy (e.g., no) cell service, we’re curious as to whether this new spot can make us want to repeat the trip up to the north end of East Hampton. Stay tuned.