This is how my husband and I approach vacations (or staycations): First, we pick a destination. Then, we figure out our travel route and itinerary based on the places we plan to stop and eat. And finally, once we arrive and are ready to eat, we watch as marvelous, locally-focused, mouthwatering dishes are placed on our table—and we take photos of them.
If you’re anything like us, you do this too. You pause to take a photo once your food arrives and you share it on your social media pages with the explicit intention of “recording a memory”—and the implicit intention of making all your friends jealous.
It’s okay; we do it, too! Which is why I’m so happy to share this list of the best local places to do it.
So, prepare to feast with your eyes, feel a tinge of jealousy, and then take your own travel plans to visit these ten Instagram-worthy and delicious eateries on the East End.
Cowfish offers a panoramic view of the canal at Indian Cove Marina. Whether you’re dining on the first level or sipping beverages on the top floor bar and deck, there’s simply not a bad seat in the house. Enjoy a picturesque sunset with friends while experiencing a house specialty like the Nola Shrimp, enjoying sushi, or having a cocktail.
2. Red Maple at The Chequit
Slow down for summer and relax in the minimalistic rustic ambience and enjoy a lazy Sunday brunch at the Red Maple located in the Chequit. Delight in a range of specialties like a Bennie, a shrimp po’boy, or savor the French toast covered in berries whipped butter and real maple syrup.
3. Baron’s Cove
Choose between dining indoors or out at Baron’s Cove cobalt-blue-accented dining room which occupies the airy upstairs and offers a terrace for light fare and outdoor drinks. Enjoy an evening of mouthwatering dinner and take in the stunning views of the harbor. Afterwards, take a seat in one of the high backed rocking chairs overlooking the Sag Harbor Yacht Club.
4. Navy Beach
It just wouldn’t be summer without a chance to put your feet in the sand. At Navy Beach, you can enjoy the sunset with the whole family on this beautiful 200-foot private beach while dining on casual coastal cuisine. While the restaurant does offer indoor dining, too, there’s something irresistible about pulling up a seat at the crisp white picnic-style tables beneath the navy blue umbrellas and listening to the waves lap the beach.
5. Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen
I’ve been visiting the Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen (BCK) since my Hampton Classic debut in 1986. While I didn’t win first place in lead-line, I did score big afterwards, when my parents took me to the BCK. Not only is this old-fashioned ice cream parlor and diner air conditioned, which is important on a hot August day, it has an array of delicious homemade ice creams, shakes, and treats.
6. Vine Street Cafe
The Vine Street Cafe feels like another world—an idyllic little world, found on an island that you can only access by ferry, boat or magic. Embark on a romantic little getaway that pauses for dinner at the Vine Street Cafe. Their daily specials—or Plats du Jour—are listed on their outdoor wooden sign with specialties such as the Friday night special: Lobster Pot Pie. Enjoy a menu supported by local farmers, fisherman and winemakers because really, there is no better way to experience a place than to taste the food that’s local to it.
7. Almond Restaurant
Known as the place with vibrant Zebra wallpaper, crisp white subway tile and antique pressed-tin ceilings, Almond is an animated French Bistro with a dedication to utilizing seasonal and locally farmed goods. Enjoy some steak frites and Marilee’s fries while the summer breeze drifts in from the airy open windows.
8. The Lobster Roll
Summer isn’t really complete without checking lobster off your summer bucket list. Eating at The Lobster Roll is like going back in time, a nostalgic trip back to the days of simple family beach vacations and roadside food shacks—well, except that this shack also offers killer gluten free meal options. I could mention all the amazing fresh seafood and burgers that this family-friendly (and family-owned) roadside venue offers, but really, the lobster in all of its glorious forms is the real showstopper here—and it is called The Lobster Roll for a reason.
9. RUMBA Inspired Island Cuisine and Rum Bar
A friend of mine, originally from Trinidad, first introduced me to the idea of “Island Time.” It’s not so much about a total disregard for the clock as it is an actual way of life. Experience it first hand by throwing away your watch (or at least not looking at your phone or fitness tracker for a few hours) so you can forget your worries and sit back and listen to some reggae music while enjoying gourmet tacos and sipping on a Rumba House Margarita (camerena tequila, triple sec and fresh juices) or a Rum Sangria (Fresh pineapple, granny smiths, merlot and Cruzan Dark Rum).
10. Townline BBQ
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There’s nothing that says America and summer quite like some good barbecue and the South Fork of Long Island is offering some of the best Texas style BBQ. The folks at Townline are passionate about barbecue and deliver the most drool-worthy menu of humanely raised, all-natural antibiotic & hormone free meats. With counter style service ordering your smoked/BBQ meats and fresh sides are served on paper plates and your cold and refreshing drinks are delivered in stylish mason jars.