A Local’s Guide to East Hampton

When in the Hamptons, do, eat and drink as the locals do.

East Hampton is beloved for its knack of balancing refined elegance and sunswept charm. And even though Main Street has transformed over the last twenty years from a beachy summer village to the warmer sister of Madison Avenue, there are still plenty of places that prize authenticity over glamour.

To Stay

The Baker House

The Baker House is a B&B for the record books. With only seven bedrooms between the Main House and the Carriage House, each accommodation is unique and carefully appointed.

The history of the Baker House is long – originally built in 1648, it’s served as tavern, meeting hall, private home, and guest house. In the early 20th century, owner J Harper Poor did a massive renovation inspired by the Anglophilia of the time, wrapping the shingled home in stucco and making it into the sprawling English manor that it is today.

East Hampton Point

Overlooking the serenity of 3-Mile Harbor, with a fabulous restaurant and unparalleled sunsets, East Hampton Point plays second fiddle to no one. Accommodations are mostly separate cottages, where guests can have complete privacy and a feeling of escape, but the manor house also has seven expansive bedrooms. Perhaps the best part is the exceptional music lineup East Hampton Point has going every summer in the restaurant, so you can listen to live reggae over a cocktail as the sun slips into the bay.

Cedar Point Park

Throw your tent and sleeping bags in the trunk, because if you want to experience East Hampton in all its glory, the best way to do it is to drive deep into the Northwest Woods, pitch a tent, and camp. The campgrounds are nestled in the forest, which allows for protected evenings by the campfire and the sound of owls lulling you to sleep. But wake in the morning, and a short hike away you’ll find isolated beaches and crystal clear waters. Cedar Point also has bathrooms, showers, grills, and playgrounds to keep the little ones entertained.

To Eat

Photo by East End Taste

Rowdy Hall

Sometimes in East Hampton, you just want something down-to-earth and genuine. In these moments, go directly to Rowdy Hall. The moment you see Joe, the bartender, you’ll feel like you’ve known him forever. Order the Rowdy Burger – it’s the best in the Hamptons – and a local beer of your choice. You’ll feel like you’ve come home.

Nick and Toni’s

The gardens surrounding Nick and Toni’s have grown abundant since the hot spot opened nearly 30 years ago. That’s because of the premium Executive Chef Joe Realmuto puts on the freshest possible ingredients.

“Our recipes are very simple, with very few ingredients,” said Realmuto, “to allow the main ingredient to speak for itself. We work hard on sourcing as much local as possible and getting as much from our garden as we can.”

Whether it’s a tomato that never sees the inside of a refrigerator or fish straight from the sea, Realmuto puts freshness first, and that means keeping it local.

“If you don’t start with great ingredients, there’s no cooking technique that can make up for it.”

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Dopo

Even though the homemade spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce might just be the best bowl of classic Italian pasta this side of the Mediterranean, the innovative dishes at Dopo are really what make it shine. Look for specials like the herb and flower salad, with strands of fennel frauns and bright spring flowers serving as a bed for the fresh ricotta and truffle honey. Or the tried and true polipo, a roasted octopus that achieves the rare balance between crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside.

The key, according to Executive Chef Nick Reisini, who’s been with Dopo since the opening of its first incarnation as Tiutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor, is listening to the octopus.

“It will tell you when it’s ready,” he said. “The octopus will actually separate itself from the pan.”

Reisini pays attention to detail, whether it’s pounding the veal scallopini with a slice of prosciutto on top or sourcing the carasau flat bread direct from Sardinia. With two locations to manage now, he’s watching how the demands of the East Hampton crowd diverge from Sag Harbor, and tailoring the menu to please.

Photo courtesy of Fresno

Fresno

The eldest of David Loewenberg’s restaurant trifecta, Fresno is a hidden gem tucked away behind the bustle of Main Street and Newtown Lane. But Loewenberg enjoys when his restaurants are a destination unto themselves, and his followers know that it will be well worth the journey. At the bar, nothing beats a glass of Wolffer’s Summer in a Bottle Sauvignon Blanc and the Salmon Tartare with scallions, lime, and jalapeno, though the fettuccine with braised short ribs and Fresno chilies has Loewenberg’s signature style of sparking the imagination with playful combinations.

Villa

From back in the day when a set of identical twins stood behind the counter, Villa hasn’t changed much. The heroes are still way-too-generous, the Italian combo the best of the best, and the fresh mozzarella so delicate it’s practically hydrating. The perfect Italian deli, with sandwiches to grab and go to the beach.

Photo courtesy of Carissa’s Breads

Carissa’s

Carissa Waechter always smiles when she passes a hot loaf of bread across the counter, and there is nothing fake about it. She loves what she does, and you can taste in in every crumb of her simple, perfect creations. From the sourdough with the local Amagansett starter to the farm loaf made with wheat sourced from local farmers, Waechter’s business is the definition of homegrown, and we are excited to watch her take it to the next level with her newly opened bakery.

To Drink

Bay Kitchen Bar

Surprisingly, there are very few places to watch the sunset over drinks in East Hampton. But hop on Three Mile Harbor Road and drive towards Gardiner’s Bay at dusk and you won’t regret it. Bay Kitchen and Bar has great oyster specials at the bar, from which you can watch the sky turn pink over the glassy harbor.

Photo courtesy of KD Hamptons

The Maidstone Living Room 

With a giant swing on the front porch, the Living Room is meant to be just that: a place to kick your feet up and feel comfortable. Of course, East Hampton comfortable is a lot more luxurious than comfort in other places. Get ready for the best fresh ingredients in a meticulously concocted cocktail, and then kick up your heels and swing, overlooking the swans of Town Pond.

Townline Barbecue

Even though technically about 10 feet across the border into Southampton, this barbecue joint is far closer to East Hampton. With views over fields of sunflowers and potatoes, you can still get gorgeous sunsets, and there’s no better place to enjoy a fantastically fresh lime margarita after a day at the beach.

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Emily Weitz is a freelance writer who pursues her idea of robust living from her home in Sag Harbor.