Montauk once meant lobster and lighthouse, Gosman’s Dock and Gurney’s Inn. These days, historical classic restaurants mingle with trendier new favorites, meaning you can dine your way through town however you’d like.
Here are Newsday’s food critics’ picks for essentials for food and drink in Montauk.
Little Ruby’s (161 Second House Rd.): Ruschmeyer’s hotel has turned its restaurant into an outpost of Manhattan’s Australian restaurant, Ruby’s Cafe. The menu features “fan favorites” such as crispy rice salad, rigatoni with spicy sausage and peas and, for breakfast, ricotta hot cakes with honeycomb butter, Nutella, banana and maple syrup. More info: 631-668-2877, ruschmeyersmontauk.com/restaurant
Roberta’s Montauk (240 Fort Pond Rd.): Since it opened in Bushwick in 2007, the cult pizzeria has expanded to Los Angeles, Singapore, Nashville, and Williamsburg. Now it has taken over the former Arbor space — 5,400 square feet and more than 150 seats including an outside patio and two bars. Wood-fired pizza is the main event, from simple Margherita to the “famous original” topped with tomato and mozzarella, Parmesan and caciocavallo. The rest of the menu concentrates on seafood: roasted day-boat scallops with husk cherries and ramp oil, crispy squid and Maine sea urchin served with buckwheat crepes and horseradish. Open for dinner Thursday to Monday. More info: robertaspizza.com/montauk
Duryea’s Montauk (65 Tuthill Rd.): The bayside perch and former family-run business has been nearly synonymous with Montauk for seven decades. Now it’s much more upscale, with cushy seating and higher prices that reflect it all. Still, the lobster salad roll is grand, as is the two-pound steamed lobster. Add the shareable lobster Cobb salad and local oysters. The major splurges: seafood plateaus; grilled three-pound octopus; grilled swordfish; and grilled skirt steak. Visit the fish market, too. No reservations. More info: 631-668-2410, duryealobsters.com
Naturally Good Sushi (38 S. Etna Ave.): No bigger than a tuna roll, there’s a garden setting for eat-in and plenty of reasons for takeout. Definitely try the sushi or sashimi: tuna, fluke, yellowtail, local scallop, wild shrimp, salmon; as well as seared pepper tuna, spicy tuna wrapped with sashimi and spiked with wasabi-yuzu sauce. The sushi rolls are colorful, and the compact eatery also offers organic vegan rolls. More info: 631-238-5791, naturallygoodsushi.com
Navy Beach (16 Navy Rd.): Sit at a picnic table, put your feet in the sand, daydream while viewing Fort Pond Bay. The lively, sunny restaurant offers 200 feet of private beach to go with the travelogue sunsets. You can eat indoors too, spend some time at the antique bar, revel in general. While you’re at it: salmon tartare; tuna crudo; charred octopus; Yunnan-style ribs with chiles; clam-and-corn chowder; buttermilk-fried, honey-drizzled chicken with Cheddar-jalapeno cornbread; soy-glazed halibut with black sesame, and red curry coconut. Not enough? Then, try cavatelli diavolo or the Navy burger, with bacon-onion marmalade, Cheddar, house pickles. More info: 631-668-6868, navybeach.com
Joni’s Kitchen (28 S. Etna Ave.): Since 2000, Joni’s Kitchen has long been an easygoing stop by the beach-bound seeking informal dining, eat-in and takeout. Build-your-own breakfast wraps, acai bowls, organic oatmeal, smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, coffees and teas, ginger shots, fresh coconuts, salad, and sandwiches are the lures, along with reverie. Thai Me Up includes gingered tofu; Curry Up is a curried chicken salad with pineapple and mango chutney; and Sorry Charlie, featuring fresh yellowfin tuna salad. Grilled shrimp tacos and grilled fish-of-the-day burritos, too. Enter via South Edison Street. More info: 631-668-3663, jonismontauk.com
Hooked (34 S. Etna Ave.): Hooked is the counter-serve eatery that excels with the casual, addictive seafood that makes you want to eat, and maybe live, in Montauk. Order and sit at one of the picnic tables. Standouts include chowders, lobster bisque, Montauk Pearl oysters, the lobster-salad roll, whole steamed lobster, grilled tuna or swordfish, tuna poke, fish tacos, fish and chips, fried clams and the fried soft-shell crab sandwich. For those averse to seafood: bacon cheeseburger, baby back ribs, grilled chicken sandwich. More info: 631-668-2111, hookedmtk.com
Scarpetta Beach (290 Old Montauk Hwy.): As the centerpiece restaurant at Gurney’s Montauk Resort, this airy, oceanfront dining room serves incomparable views, with tables both alfresco and indoors. The refined fare does the rest. That starts with glistening crudi, including yellowtail, fluke and raw scallops; and superb pastas, such as short rib-and-bone marrow agnolotti or spaghetti with tomato and basil. Next: black cod with caramelized fennel, Wagyu strip with smoked mushrooms and asparagus. More info: 631-668-1771, gurneysresorts.com
Montauk Bake Shoppe (29 The Plaza): Feeding the community for more than a half century, the bakery-breakfast-lunch union is diverse and appealing. For old time’s sake, you should sample the jelly-filled croissant. Or veer toward the pancakes and French toast, wraps and panini. Irresistible: lobster-shaped sugar cookies with red sprinkles or multicolored fish-shaped ones. The crumb cake and the sunflower seed-strewn bread get your attention, too. Likewise, cupcakes, crullers, turnovers, pies, and pastries. More info: 631-668-2439, montaukbakeshoppe.com
Inlet Seafood Restaurant (541 E. Lake Dr.): The motto is “respect the ocean, harvest the bounty, feed the people.” Since 2006, Inlet Seafood, owned by fishermen, has done all three, preparing some of the best seafood, cooked and not, on Long Island. The water view puts it all in perspective. So do dishes as vibrant as fluke piccata, sliced yellowtail-jalapeno and tuna sashimi. Also twirl linguine with clam sauce and cut into roast duck sauced with sweet chiles and hoisin. The steamed lobster is as reliable as the raw bar combo; and the Cajun-fried flounder taco as dependable as the lobster-salad roll. For the dissenters: sirloin steak, roast chicken, grilled hamburger. The double-fudge brownie sundae brings everyone together. More info: 631-668-4272, inletseafood.com
Montauk Brewing Co. (62 S. Erie Ave.): Three lifelong friends (and ex-East Hampton lifeguards) established the brewery, which began in a basement and is now a fixture in downtown Montauk. Hoist a crisp and refreshing pilsner, channel England’s pale ales with the house’s Driftwood Ale, find the fruity notes in Watermelon Session Ale, and just settle into the warm weather with the light Summer Ale. The tasting room gets busy in a hurry. More info: 631-668-8471, montaukbrewingco.com
South Edison (17 S. Edison St.): South Edison opened in 2009 and stays as bright as a sunny July weekend. The look: country meets contemporary, streamlined but warm in its own way. The artful presentations of the food matches the flavors. Raw seafood includes oysters, tuna ceviche and pearly sashimi of fluke, the latter with harissa-chili jam. Their competition comes from crispy oyster tacos. From here, move on to the seared yellowfin tuna or the Wagyu smashburger with bacon aioli. Somewhere either before, during, or after, treat yourself to street corn with coitja chese, lime aioli, and Aleppo pepper, or the fried Castelvetrano olives. More info: 631-668-4200, southedison.com
The Crow’s Nest (4 Old West Lake Dr.): A cult-favorite hotspot for creative cocktails and stylish cuisine, traffic jams and long waits. Hang out at the fire pit, sip a mezcal Negroni. When you’re eventually seated, share the meze platter, local fluke and yellowfin tuna crudi. Slather freshly whipped ricotta, treated with local honey, bee pollen and pink peppercorns, onto grilled ciabatta. Spend on local striped bass with hemp, coriander and red quinoa, accented with harissa and honey. Maybe end with gelato. More info: 631-668-2077, crowsnestmtk.com
La Fin Kitchen & Lounge (474 W. Lake Dr.): This French-focused eatery, which opened last summer, is heading into its second season with the same dramatic Montauk Harbor views and stylish, health-conscious food and drink, created by chef Chris Brandt (he’s also the culinary director of Organic Krush). The seasonal fare starts with a “Recovery Brunch” (think crab-and-watermelon salad or lobster eggs Benedict) before moving on to a dinner spread that might include local fluke with lemon and lentils, pan-seared scallops with a corn-tomato salad or a grass-fed ribeye for two. The wine list has plenty of rose, DJs contribute to the ambience, and zero-alcohol cocktails fuel sober revelry (though there’s plenty of spirits, too). More info: 631-668-8344, lafinkitchen.com
Mostrador Marram (21 Oceanview Terrace): The rooms may be pure swank and booked long in advance, but one way to hang out at this elegant, laid-back resort is to drop in for breakfast (think pain au chocolat and coffee), lunch or drinks at the outdoor bar. A walk-up counter hosts a rotation of salads and small plates, such as spring-pea salad and lobster rolls. Dinner offers enchanted beachside dining and fresh local seafood — but booking is essential. More info: 631-668-2050, marrammontauk.com/dine
Former restaurant critic Peter Giannotti contributed to this story.