This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Doors - The End
At the end of the Summer (don't worry, we are not there yet!) I often lament about what should have been, what could have been. That place I heard about and never went. No more! This Summer I am going to be deliberate and go to all those places (so you don't have to). I guess then that it is appropriate that most of the places I wish to go in the Summer happen to be in Montauk, affectionately and geographically considered The End.
I am sure most of you have either heard of or been to the Surf Lodge, Ruschmeyers,Navy Beach, or Crow's Nest. All great spots, but these are hardly new Finds and overrun with tourists (like myself). This year I dug a little deeper, talked to (really quizzed!) a variety of locals, and found either the new, the local, or the hidden in Montauk ... the End!
This store epitomizes Montauk. It is located adjacent to Duryea's new location and has been for 7 years (the beginning of what I would call the Montauk renaissance). Founded by local creative named Jesse (pictured above). The gear (tee shirts, sweatshirts, hat and more) is comfortable and well designed. It was so laid back that I am pretty certain he could care less whether we purchased anything! Nonetheless, I couldn't resist the gear. More recently (1 year ago), the brand expanded itself with a local magazine by the same name. Think the opposite of Hamptons magazine. This publication, Whalebone Magazine, and weekly email has a sardonic, surfer edge that features local businesses and gives an insider scoop to what is really going on in Montauk and beyond. A great place to start your adventure in the End.
What is great about Montauk is when it is casual, easy going, and stylish. A place where you can roll off the beach, your surfboard, or your boat in your bathing suit and flip flops and not be self conscious about how you look (no offense South Hampton). Duryea's is this place. This 80 year old institution has recently changed ownership and gone through a significant renovation. Order at the counter from an amazing selection of family style salads, assorted seafood, and lobster; I understand that the lobster roll is epic, but I happen not to eat lobster. They only serve beer and wine so feel free to BYOB. Go before sunset (no reservations) as it has a perfect view back West as the sun descends towards the horizon.
Right on Main street in town is this instant classic restaurant. I may sound like I am repeating myself, but the food is great and the funky energy is just right. 668 The Gig Shack, or as the locals call it simply “The Shack," is steps from the beach and the perfect place to grab lunch, a post beach cocktail and/or dinner with friends. Everyone raves for good reason about the Spicy Tuna Tartare Taquitos and the Blackened Local Fish Montacos but it's the nightly live music, surfer vibe (boards on the ceiling), and family run warmth that makes it a local favorite.
One of the best spots in town and another local favorite if you are rolling off the beach. A very easy going vibe inside. The drink menu includes martinis with your choice of top shelf vodka/gin with pickled vegetables (try the chili, possibly the best martini I have tasted). Or try a shot of vodka or tequila with a raw oyster as the substitute for the lime & salt! From there go straight to the raw bar which includes incredible creations and combinations of the classics. Everything is delicious and seemingly effortless. If you happen to be in Montauk hungry late night (and even later on Fridays and Saturdays) walk over to Disco Fries, the take out window of South Edison for some unhealthy treats!
Located right on the dock, this stylish outpost is the second location of this Long Island establishment. It is one of the few places opened year around and therefore is a local favorite. Swallow refers to a nautical bird that always returns home season after season and therefore can be found on many sailors' arms; It is a place you will want to return often! The menu riffs on classics like fries (tempura asparagus) and fried calamari (thai style with sweet chili glaze, scallions, and peanuts). Everything on the menu is meant to be shared, so bring a group (they only take reservations for 10 or more) and your appetite (hunger and thirst). They have live music (Reggae Sundays and more) so check the calendar for the music that suits you. One thing worth trying on the diverse drink menu is the Sail Away Coffee Company'scold brewed coffee mixed with your alcohol of choice.
Hands down, the best sushi in the Hamptons! I have been coming out here for almost two decades (maybe not always as far as Montauk) and finally have a reason to eat sushi outside of New York City! This restaurant is located on the dock, so you can watch commercial fishing boats come in and out, or even what they caught at one of the nearby filleting stations. Then, of course, you can literally eat what comes off those boats with an amazing sushi selection featuring the classic sushi and sashimi, as well as house specialty rolls. The rest of the menu looks amazing as well, particularly the drink menu which features local beers and cocktails. As if that wasn't enough, there is also live music most nights.
I know that is a lot, but amazingly there is a lot more. Feel free to email me about my favorite Tiki Bar or Mexican restaurant --- both too good not to know about. Catch the Montauk wave at Whale Bone Creative, Duryea's, 668 Gig Shack, South Edison, Swallow East and Westlake Fish House and consider laid back vibe, amazing sunsets and good food/drink Found!