Travel to the far reaches of any place you’ve been before, and once you’re there its closeness feels instantly familiar. At the very end of Long Island, NY is Montauk. This Atlantic surf town welcomes you to The End. Last month we shed our city selves and settled into a roadside motel across from the beach for a late pandemic—yet open and more than ready for the summer—reprieve. (Oh, did you think this piece was about nearing the end of the pandemic? We’ll get there too.)
Come as You Are to the Un-Hamptons
Over the past few years pre-pandemic, the Hamptons scene spilled into Montauk. Low-key sun and surf had become high-key party spot, locals and vacationers be damned.
“Montauk is returning to what brought people to love this place.”
(Side note: A John Legend concert at The Surf Lodge enjoyed with my dog Pepper looking out on Fort Pond is an indelible memory, but it was indeed an unwieldy see-and-be-seen scene.) But this year, Montauk seems to be returning to what brought people to love this place like anywhere else — whether they have chosen to stay forever or just a short while.
This inclusive seaside village boasts stunning geography, and naturally the freshest food of the summer season. While Montauk is not necessarily known as a “vegan hotspot”, plenty of fresh options abound to suit your new beach life, morning to night.
A List That’s Worth the Wait
Now for the list of our top picks to check when you go there. This is what you came here for, right?
Left Hand Coffee
Coffee and surf culture meet at this locally-owned roaster just a block from the beach. It’s the best cup of joe in town. The oat milk flows, as do the blends named after nearby historical places and surf spots.
83 S Elmwood Ave
Surf shack serving healthy organic fare for takeout or dine-at-picnic table outside. Our favs: Avocado for Breakfast, Grateful Veg, Hail Caesar, or one of the many fresh fruit smoothies.
28 S Etna Ave
El Taco Ole
Delicious Mexican food that does not disappoint. How could it with – listen to these picks – vegan carnitas, jackfruit al pastor, and avocado tacos. Don’t choose, just get all three.
805 Montauk Hwy
A go-to natural food store and cafe catering to early risers and health nuts since 1985. Sub tofu and vegan cheese for the dairy and eggs you see on the menu, add an organic smoothie and trust us, you’ll be here on the daily. Well, except Thursdays which they’ve deemed mental health day. We can dig it.
779 Montauk Hwy
“Serving legends, groms, and hodads since 1994” is all you need to know. Step up to this family-owned food wagon, spot something vegan on the surfboard menu, then hit the beach 20 steps away. Open for breakfast and lunch, Fridays through Mondays.
Ditch Beach Plains Beach
2nd parking lot
Vegan scoops, toppings, shakes next to the town dock in Montauk Harbor. We’ll take the triple scoop Coconut Caramel Chip with whipped cream and chocolate on top, while you’re at it.
478 W Lake Dr
Seasonal fare with a few small and large plate vegan options that’s a popular neighborhood spot. Our favorite addition to the menu are the non-alcoholic Seedlip cocktails.
17 S Edison St
Asian cafe that welcomes dietary accommodations so queue up and come hungry. They cook your own catch, so while the “catch” is lost on we vegans, we say go bold, bring your fresh-pressed tofu or mock fish filet and see what happens. An umami rub, flash sear, and hoisin glaze sounds good on fleshy plants, doesn’t it?
440 Westlake Dr
Jack’s Stir Brew
If you feel like venturing about 12 miles west, and a vegan cider donut and organic coffee is enough to convince you, hop over to this NYC outpost in Amagansett. Part of East Hampton, with a more posh but still come-as-you-are vibe, it’s worth exploring further while you’re there.
146 Montauk Hwy
More Than Just Food:
Other Can’t-Miss-Spots on Montaukett
Where to Shop
You may not really need any of the things in this boutique, but when you’re there its spiritual-material goodness will take over and convince you that you do. Catch our drift? These drifters bring handmade, fairtrade goods back from their travels to support artisans local and afar.
752 Montauk Hwy
Where to Hang
A chill spot at the end of the world from the Whalebone mag crew. Sip a cold one (coffee or beer), shop beach gear, listen to records, or read magazines. All of the above and what’s beyond contentment? This.
541 E Lake Dr
Where to Explore
Camp Hero State Park
A former Air Force station turned state park. Hike the numerous paths and trails in wooded land passing by a monolithic radar tower and obsolete bunkers, the iconic Montauk Lighthouse, or Bluff Lookout. Be thankful for activists in the 80s, then again in the 90s, who saved the land from development of its unique ecosystems and habitats.
1898 Montauk Hwy
Where to Be All Day, Every Day
Ditch Plains, Edison, Gin…You can’t miss the beach anywhere you look (which is a damn good thing). No boardwalks, just coastal dunes and cliffs Dog friendly in the mornings and evenings, soul friendly at all times.
Where to Stay
What can we say, we’re suckers for an Irish dive bar turned into a hoppin hotel. Its Saturday concert lineup is on the horizon once again this summer but the scene promises to be more low key. If it’s booked out on the weekend any time soon, fret not and enjoy its chill side during the week.
183 Edgemere St