Meet Your New Favorite Beach Town: Montauk, N.Y.
Surfers, artists, and adventurous types have made Montauk their summer mainstay for decades. Now it's your turn to fall in love.
A crowded beach is one thing; crowded restaurants are another—and all the better for swapping opinions with strangers about who makes the village's best lobster roll, the unofficial signature sandwich of Montauk. On any summer afternoon, East End lifers, seasonal residents, and tourists alike sit elbow to elbow on the patio of the Westlake Clam & Chowder House in the Westlake marina, a happy coexistence made possible by the harmonizing powers of just-caught seafood and sunny, open-air dining (352 West Lake Dr., 631/668-6252, one dozen clams $13). A similar camaraderie is common at Inlet Seafood, a split-level dockside restaurant that Foley opened in 2006 with five other commercial fisherman (sushi from $6). There, the catch of the day is grilled, fried, sautéed, or carved into sushi just a few feet from where it was hauled out of the boat. And even the newly arrived big-city chefs quickly learn that the best burger in town is at the Shagwong Restaurant, a family-run watering hole that's been a mainstay on Main Street since 1927 (burger from $15).
The new-wave culinary love goes both ways: At Schwarz's gig running the Crow's Nest's new kitchen, he brings mealtime variety to a community that's subsisted on fresh but fairly standard fare for years with his "Montauk-meets-Mediterranean" menu of North African-inspired meze, organic chicken kebabs, and lemon pasta. His partner in that venture is Sean MacPherson (of the Bowery Hotel and Ye Waverly Inn in New York City), who renovated the Crow's Nest's 14 guest rooms, all of which overlook Lake Montauk and make their public debut this summer. Another reimagined motor lodge nearby is the 26-room Solé East Beach motel, complete with vintage bathroom fixtures, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and retro, lime-green doors (double rooms from $169). Guests can rent cruiser bikes, an essential amenity in a town that requires parking permits for all beach lots (which cost a whopping $375 annually for nonresidents). They can also take full advantage of the swimming pool, gardens, and beach-volleyball court at the hotel's pricier sister property, Solé East Resort, one mile away. "I see it all as a positive," says Perry Duryea III, who heads up one of Montauk's oldest commercial fishing businesses and the restaurant Duryea's Lobster Deck (lobster roll from $20). "We are kind of the end of the line. People see Montauk as the next frontier—perhaps, the last frontier.
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