When editor, writer and native New Yorker Peter Davis is driving to Montauk to socialize at The Surf Lodge, he likes to turn the scenic journey into a fried, greasy, über-fattening seafood crawl. He takes Elliman Magazine on a road trip to his must-stop spots in the summer 2016 issue. We’re giving you access to his list here.
Roadside seafood shacks are the In-N-Out Burger of the Hamptons: deliciously addictive, fast and easy and insanely popular. But unlike California’s legendary fast-food chain, where you can score a drive-thru lunch (the “Animal” Style” burger is my choice—no bun, fewer carbs, totally L.A.) for less than ten dollars, a pit stop at, say, the iconic Clam Bar at Napeague on Montauk Highway in Amagansett has a price list that’s more Nobu than Jack in the Box.
A luscious lobster salad roll here ca-chings at $26, a bowl of clam chowder is $6.50, a half dozen Montauk Pearl oysters are $13.50 and local corn on the cob is $3. It’s the Hamptons, so get used to it. And it’s cash only, so take out at least 100 clams (pun intended) at the ATM beforehand to feed yourself and a friend. But who cares about prices (or calories) when the grub is this good? It’s counter service only, so order your feast (the steamers are my favorite) and park yourself under one of the bright yellow umbrellas. The Clam Bar is only open during the summer season. Weekends become massively crowded, so expect to park way down the road and hike for that lobster roll.
Very, very near the Clam Bar (kind of how there’s always a McDonald’s across the street from a Burger King) is another popular joint with a simple name: Lobster Roll. With a big blue neon sign that announces “LUNCH,” this joint is routinely called Lunch, even though it’s also open for dinner. With a patriotic red-white-and-blue striped awning, red umbrellas and red tables with white chairs, it feels like the Fourth of July all season long. Open since 1965, the Lobster Roll brags that they invented the cold lobster roll. Frankly who cares whether they did or not–the lobster roll here is my absolute favorite; it’s loaded with juicy meat, and the roll tastes like it was birthed in butter.
Once you get to Montauk, stop at Duryea’s, which is famous for the most beautiful sunsets on the East End. But if you get bored with a pretty view in about three seconds (like I do), you can focus on the important stuff: food. The New England clam chowder here is perfect, as are the crispy crab cakes. And the steamed lobster is fresh and expensive and delicious. You may even run into Montauk’s chic set on the outdoor deck—Cynthia Rowley and her brood of cute kids, Sean MacPherson and Rachelle Hruska, Jenné Lombardo—it’s as if it’s always Fashion Week, but with flip-flops and an ocean breeze. Duryea’s is kind of a MTK insider secret, so dress like you just jumped off a surfboard.
The last stop for juicy seafood is Gosman’s Clam Bar, smack on a busy (and working) dock at the far end of Montauk. A tad touristy (including a gift shop selling plaster sharks), the food here is still as good as it gets. Pig out on their Lobster in the Rough—a 1⅛-pound lobster, mussels and clam chowder with potatoes, all served on a plastic tray that’s reminiscent of a school cafeteria. You get warm melted butter all over your face and clothes, and eat so much that the car ride home is painful, but it’s all worth it. There’s an ice cream shop nearby too, so you can top off your meal with dessert.
The Seafood Shop
The best seafood shacks are all the way east—Montauk really rules the Hamptons when it comes to lobster rolls and clam bakes and creamy chowders. But that doesn’t mean the only road to fried clams is the long haul to Montauk. If you’re too lazy and/or weekend traffic–phobic, hit The Seafood Shop in Wainscott, a combo fish shop/no-frills eatery that advertises four lobster rolls for $48—a bargain! This is also a great to-go spot.