I have a continuous quest to find the perfect on-the-water outdoor dining spot on Long Island. You would think that a place that has so much waterfront property would be crawling with little crab shacks eager to appease our al fresco (and el cheapo!) demands during the summer months. So where do you go to soak up the sun, surf and suds on a nice LI day?
Here’s a list of a few places on the water where you can eat outside, and I’ll be adding to it as the summer progresses. I’d also like to hear suggestions from you on places you recommend! (Note: I’m not vouching for the quality of food at these places, just letting you know where you can eat on the water. ) UPDATED ON: 8.2.11
North Shore (alphabetically)
Acqua: Port Washington / Formerly known as Waterview Restaurant, this place is located on Manhasset Harbor and has a long deck with umbrellas where you can enjoy your food. Haven’t been here since it changed to Acqua, so I can’t say much beyond that.
Alure: Southhold / Really it’s in Port of Egypt, that strangely named blip between Southhold and Greenport along Rte 25. Situated right next to Pepi’s (below), it’s brand new as of Summer 2011 and took over the old Seafood Barge place. The pedigree of the chef & owner is fantastic, and the photos of waterfront dining look gorgeous, as does the menu.
Bad Bob’s BBQ: Port Washington / A shack serving up Memphis-style BBQ on picnic tables overlooking Manhasset Harbor – just the way you should eat those saucy ribs: in the sun & without any pretense.
Bridge Marina: Bayville / Imagine if your Aunt Mamie’s house backed up to the water and she put some plastic tables & chairs out in her backyard, along with a cheesy tiki bar setup, and served you fried clams with Bud Lite. Now you don’t have to imagine – go here for a back-to-basics, summertime-only clam shack experience.
La Casa: Northport / Family-friendly restaurant open year-round featuring Italian food and an old-fashioned salad bar, as well as full liquor bar. Located right on Crab Meadow beach, you can watch the soft waves of the LI Sound as you eat your linguine & clam sauce.
Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille: Pt. Washington / What started off as a floating dock restaurant in Manhasset Bay has now become a popular establishment on land, with a full seafood menu and docking for your boat.
Pepi’s: Southhold / Huge covered outdoor deck on the peaceful Peconic Bay serving equally huge portions of Italian food. I get the same thing every damn time: addictive, garlicky mussels in a white wine sauce sopped up with lots of fresh bread, followed by the chicken francese with angel hair pasta, and it’s all washed down with several glasses of chardonnay. Good for large parties, good for kids, but a little slow on service so let the wine & the view distract you.
Prime: Huntington / Lots of outdoor space for dining or just drinking right on Huntington Harbor, watch the sun set from an Adirondack chair or by the fire pit as the boats come home to moor . Can be a bit of a Hamptons wanna-be scene & is very pricey (eg: $16 for a hot dog). Check their website for frequent events & deals.
Wall’s Wharf: Bayville / Located at beach-level right on the LI Sound this seafood-focused, full-service restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining with a casual-yet-upscale feel. After dinner take two steps down onto the sand and stroll as the sun sets, or just get a beer and chill out.
Wave at Danford’s Inn: Port Jefferson / Seasonal outdoor seating right on Port Jeff’s harbor and a part of the charming Danford’s Inn.
Whale’s Tale: Northport / JM wrote in to recommend this marina restaurant (esp. the fish tacos). Can’t find a website for it, but it’s located deep in the Brittania Marina on 25A and I’ve heard from others that it can be a hoppin’ bar on weekend nights.
Beach Hut: Cedar Beach (& others) / I’ve only been to the Cedar Beach location, which while located at the beach is quite a long walk to the actual water’s edge. Still, there’s plenty of picnic table seating and a brand new (2011) upper deck with better views & lots of direct sun. There’s a snack bar that serves casual pasta and seafood as well as the usual burgers & dogs. Live bands, a full bar and a very kid-friendly atmosphere means this place is always busy. Summer-time only… flip-flops & bathing suits encouraged!
Kingston’s Clam Bar: West Sayville / Bright yellow umbrellas shade the 10 or so tables that line the marina just off the Great South Bay, giving you a great place to eat decent crab cakes, seared tuna or big salads on paper plates with your glass of vino. There’s also a larger inside with double French doors they throw open in nice weather so everyone can enjoy the breezy view.
Nautical Mile: Freeport / With over a dozen restaurants lining the water on an inlet marina, the Nautical Mile offers diners everything from fine dining to fried-clam bars. Stroll along until you find something that suits your fancy.
Nicky’s on the Bay: Bayshore / (A shout-out goes to my fabulous Aunt Judy for introducing me to this place!) If you’re not a town resident, you’ll have to pay to get into the park where Nicky’s is located, but they take that $ off of your dining tab so it’s okay. Grab a drink at the full bar and wait for your reservation at a waterside picnic table while watching the Fire Island ferries go by. The chef here serves well-executed, large plates of Italian and seafood dishes and this place is always packed.
Parkside Cafe: Seaford / Darlin’ Dale wrote in to tell us about this place situated on a canal in Seaford, with the note that it’s always packed so make reservations (oh, and try the osso bucco). Photos on the website show a nice outdoor seating area and gorgeous food.
Singleton’s Salsa Shack & Seafood Shack: Tobay Beach, Massapequa / Can’t find a website for this one, sorry folks. The Seafood Shack and Salsa Shack are located right next to each other, with the former offering pricey seafood along a small bay beach and the latter offering reasonably-priced Mexican food on a pretty deck overlooking mostly water punks, along with a nice hang-out bar area.
Snapper Inn: Oakdale / The inside is the kind of place my Gram really liked for an early Sunday dinner (aka, old school!) but the outside places you right along the Connetquot River and Great South Bay on a pretty green lawn where you can relax and be casual as you dine.
Tide Runners: Hampton Bays / Last summer MM & I were headed East & crossed the bridge over the Shinnecock Canal. I looked to my right and saw a sea of teal umbrellas on a huge deck at a restaurant located on the water and knew we had to go there. Stopping in on the way back home, that joint was jumping with all kinds of people eating, drinking, and dancing to the live band (translation: not Hamptons snobby). Boats going through the canal honk as they glide by & if you’re lucky you’ll see a boy get drunk, climb up the train trestle, and jump into the canal below to impress a girl. Ah, summer and youth….
The View: Oakdale / Gorgeous views of the Great South Bay from their large outdoor dining terrace, complete with an intimate gazebo seating option and swanky lounge chairs for just drinks or snacks. Inside it looks like a beach house – all white and blue with tons of candles & a “driftwood” feel. Food is excellent, which is no surprise since this is a Lessings establishment. Also a large indoor bar area for the colder months.
Now I know there’s more places out there where you can dine outside next to the water … share with us!