Can’t get a table at Nick and Toni’s? Sick of the scene at Media Beach? Check out these South Fork treasures, where you won’t run into Lizzie Grubman (or vice versa).
1. Belles Cafe
at Gabreski Airport, Westhampton
(631-288-3927). On top of its inventive Caribbean-Creole cuisine and live music, Belles offers a tarmac-side view of private planes taking off and landing. Try the Louisiana eggs and the fresh-baked corn bread.
2. La Tasca Española
48 Jagger Lane, Southampton
(631-287-6814). Come to this low-key little storefront tapas joint for fresh, delicious food cooked by Spanish émigrés. The best part: An assortment of tapas will run you less than $8. Bring your own bottle.
84 Wainscott NW Road, Wainscott (631-537-0955).
Nancy Thompson isn’t quite Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, but the pretty and prickly proprietor of this unassuming bakery and lunch takeout joint has been known to tell rude customers to take a walk. Initiates swear by her nine kinds of bread, fruit tarts, mouthwatering doughnuts, and cheese Danish.
100 Montauk Highway, East Hampton (631-324-3939).
“The place that used to be the Quiet Clam,” as locals call it, is now a comfy, roadside restaurant and pub. Run by a British husband-and-wife team, Nichols serves nine kinds of draft beer and a seafood pie that’s baked fresh daily. At $19, spice-rubbed lamb chops are the priciest dish in the house.
5. Multi Aquaculture Systems
429 Cranberry Hole Road, Amagansett (631-267-3341).
On a stretch of beach in Amagansett called Promised Land, next door to a former fish-processing plant, you’ll find this live-seafood distributor with a tiny fish shop open to the public. Take your fish to go, or have them grill it up for an on-site lunch or dinner.
6. Surfside Inn
685 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk (631-668 5958).
Take your house guests for a leisurely drive along the Old Montauk Highway to the Surfside for an all-you-can-eat Sunday breakfast buffet, which includes an omelette station, eggs Benedict, and lox platters. It’s also a B&B, but you won’t be staying here – the rooms are sold out for the summer.
7. The Montauket Hotel and Restaurant
88 Firestone Road, Montauk (631-668-5992).
Head toward the Montauk docks, hang a left at the Shebeen restaurant, and follow an unpaved road back in time to the Montauk of the thirties. Frequented by neighborhood fishermen, this fabulously shabby hotel and saloon is the real deal. The late-night scene isn’t for the faint of heart – leave your pashmina at home.
8. Louse Point and Gerard Point, Springs.
Don’t come here to ogle babes in bikinis: These bayside beaches separating Accabonic Harbor from Gardiners Bay are largely made of pebble and rock – and are usually deserted. Do bring a date and a bottle of wine to watch the sunset.
9. The Dockside Bar & Grill
26 Bay Street, Sag Harbor (631-725-7100).
With a million-dollar view of the yacht basin and a great, affordable grill, this family-owned restaurant inside the American Legion Post No. 388 is Sag Harbor’s best-kept secret. On July 2, and every Tuesday night thereafter, the Sag Harbor Community Band plays outside while you dine.
10. Murf’s Backstreet
Tavern, 64 Division Street, Sag Harbor (631-725-9749).
Dark, smoky, and filled with serious drinkers from all walks – everyone from your pool boy to Jimmy Buffett – Murf’s has a classic bar menu and a pumping jukebox loaded with Beastie Boys, the Doors, and Billy Joel.
11. The Mashomack Nature Preserve
On 2,000 acres held by the Nature Conservancy, this preserve offers walkers and bird-watchers ten miles of beaches, salt marshes, grasslands, and primeval forest to wander around in. Leave the dog at home, though, and stick to the trails – this place is tick heaven.
12. The Elizabeth Morton
National Wildlife Refuge, Noyac Road, Noyac.
It’s practically a rite of passage for local kids to spend afternoons hand-feeding the chickadees on these 187 acres of rocky beaches and brackish ponds. The area also has hiking trails of various lengths (it takes about an hour to do the shortest). Pack a picnic.