Districts change, and neighbourhoods waver from generation to generation. What is cool one decade is considered gauche the next; what is decidedly rundown one year can transform to the chicest spot in the city faster than a New York minute.
Next door to New York City – who know the highs and lows of postcode waver better than anyone else – is, of course, the Hamptons, which remains as much of an entrenched status symbol today as it did last century. And the century before that.
The ultimate spot to be seen in the summer months for New Yorkers – and the undeniable location of fascination for the rest of the United States – the Hamptons still possesses that rarity of allusivity and exclusivity that has rendered it a coveted area for Manhattan’s high society since the days of Edith Wharton’s writings.
It doesn’t hurt that the beaches are spectacular, and the weather – especially in the summer – is warm in the sun, breezy by the sea. Once potato farming land, wineries flourish on the Hamptons’ pleasant, green landscape. The villages that compromise the district, spread from South Hampton to Montauk, are utterly picturesque, its gorgeous boutiques and cafes dotted on charming streets a far cry from the metallic bustle of the Big Apple.
And another aspect of Hamptons life that draws us back again and again is the cuisine. Somewhat of a shielded secret shared between the locals and holidaymakers alike, the Hamptons is, surprisingly, not known for its food across the country; Michelin doesn’t even make a dent. This is to the nation’s loss. From the sublime local seafood to the brilliant farm produce, the Hamptons restaurant scene combines the best of Long Island with all-American classics for vacation food we’ll be thinking about long after the weather cools and our tans fade. This is Elite Traveler’s best restaurants in the Hamptons.
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The Restaurant at Baron’s Cove
Located right beside Sag Harbor Cove, Baron’s Cove is something of a bastion of the Hamptons way of life, from its timeless nautical aesthetic to the quiet luxury of its all-American hotel-meets-inn ambiance.
Its restaurant, The Restaurant at Baron’s Cove, is just as charming. Using locally sourced produce, the menu elevates Long Island classics – think lobster rolls and clam chowder – and throws in some continental favorites (we like their burrata) for fabulous day-into-night dining. If visiting during the warmer months, request an outside table for gorgeous views across the harbor.
Despite only opening in 2015, Scarpetta Beach at Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa is the kind of establishment that feels like it’s been on the scene forever. Spacious and elegantly designed, this stylish space offers Italian classics infused with seafood elements that so define Hamptons cuisine; think lobster tagliolini, razor clams and diver scallops.
The postcard-perfect outdoor dining is an unmissable experience during a Hamptons summer – positioned right by the coast, it offers glorious vistas of the ever-dramatic Atlantic Ocean –but the interior is so delightful that Scarpetta Beach truly is a year-round establishment that renders it truly one of the best Hamptons restaurants.
Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House
With a farm-to-table menu that really takes advantage of the excellent local fishing and farming offerings, Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House is housed at the chic and stylish Topping Rose House Hotel, a short drive away from the beaches of Sagaponack. Being inland, don’t expect ocean vistas; instead, enjoy the gorgeous country air and the rolling greenery.
The menu is textbook Hamptons (lobster, oysters, the works) with an updated take on American classics, such as the brie cheeseburger and the black truffle and fontina cheese pizza. Do take advantage of the bar and lounge; it is impressively stocked with a summer club-like atmosphere.
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The 1770 House Tavern
A hotel older than the United States itself? Even for New York, that’s impressive. Dating back to 1663 – but not established as a hotel until, you guessed it, 1770 – 1770 House brings the grace and gravity expected of such a historic building right to the heart of the Hamptons in the East Hampton Village.
With only six rooms – plus the exquisite Carriage House – it is difficult snagging a spot to reside, especially within the peak summer months. But whatever the season, check out its restaurant, the Tavern. It is timeless in its authentic ambiance of warm, dimly lit dining, outfitted with antique wooden tables and Persian rugs, and feels more Louisa May Alcott than Scott F. Fitzgerald; a delight for history buffs.
Nick & Toni’s
In a micro-society built upon the rules of if you know, you know, Nick & Toni’s exists as the ultimate spot to establish yourself amongst the Hamptons’ regulars and long-timers. A firm favorite amongst the blue-blooded WASPs and East Coast celebrities, this pizza joint is a bonafide East Hampton institution.
Newbies to the scene might be surprised – perhaps even dismayed – that Nick & Toni’s is a somewhat normal-looking Italian restaurant, if not one with a fabulous outdoor deck. But that’s the Hamptons at its best, where the world’s biggest names treat staff like old friends, munching on pepperoni slices in the warm summer breeze.
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Bostwick’s Chowder House
As if we could assemble a Hamptons restaurant line-up without including a seafood restaurant, and what else could it be but the inimitable Bostwick’s Chowder House? The ultimate dining spot for the summer months, this nautical-themed joint doesn’t bother with frills and fancies. Refreshingly, it lets the food do the talking.
And what food. From the shrimp scampi to the lobster taco, locally sourced seafood is the happy main character within this establishment, as it absolutely should be. This Montauk Highway restaurant is the perfect spot for a long and lazy lunch spent on its patio. Don’t miss out on its beloved warm lobster roll, arguably the best across the whole of the Hamptons.
For serious foodies looking for something beyond surf and turf, Bistro Eté brings French dining with a fusion of Mediterranean influence to the heart of Montauk. Chef Arie Pavlou trained at Le Corbin Bleu in Paris and worked under two-Michelin-star chef Philippe Da Silva in Provence, and today heads up one of the best Hamptons restaurants.
The menu is small, and changes weekly; the food is locally sourced, something integral to Pavlou’s vision. As for the interior, it reminds us of one of our other beloved sea spots: the South of France, where white walls and elegant wooden furniture establish a sophisticated ambiance.