December 4, 2023

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Best bets for eating in Port Jefferson

Port Jefferson’s Main Street has a honky-tonk seaside feel that’s unique on Long Island, but don’t neglect East Main Street, where you can see remnants of the village’s shipbuilding past. While casual watering holes can be found on every block, among the more venerable eateries are The Wave Steak & Seafood for the village’s best waterside dining, The Fifth Season for upscale farm-to-table, Ruvo East and Pasta Pasta for Italian, The Pie for coal-fired pizza, Toast for breakfast and lunch, Roger’s Frigate and Kilwins for ice cream and candy, and PJ Lobster House, the sprawling fish restaurant-market that just moved into the heart of the village from its original location a mile down the road. Here are more spots that fly further below the radar.

Slurp Ramen (109 W. Broadway): Slurp is one of the Island’s top ramen shops, and it certainly has the best view. Watch the ferry dock as you slurp contentedly one of Slurp’s traditional ramen soups, from the classic tonkotsu pork version to yuzu-kissed broth with Japanese fried chicken to vegan ramen with tofu, corn and cabbage. Owners Francesca Nakagawa and her husband, chef Atsushi Nakagawa, met as students in Kyoto before eventually moving back to her native Long Island. In 2016, they opened this cozy, no-frills spot that also serves rice bowls, steamed buns and salads. The pandemic bestowed additional seating outdoors. More info: 631-509-1166,

Kara-Agé Chicken Bowl, with Japanese fried chicken topped with Hawaiian...

Kara-Agé Chicken Bowl, with Japanese fried chicken topped with Hawaiian BBQ sauce, sriracha and Japanese mayo and scallions, Slurp Ramen, Port Jefferson, June 25, 2021. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

SaGhar (111 W. Broadway, Port Jefferson): You wouldn’t expect to find some of Long Island’s most innovative Indian cuisine on an umbrella-ed rooftop overlooking the harbor, but that’s exactly what SaGhar brought to Port Jefferson in the summer of 2020. In keeping with the surroundings, there’s a seafood-centric menu including mussels masala, in a broth of coconut, curry and cilantro; sea bass sauced with bright notes of tamarind, saffron and pomegranate seeds; and lobster Malabar napped with coconut milk fragrant with mustard seeds and curry leaves. More info: 631-473-8300,

The Steam Room (4 East Broadway): The ferry from Bridgeport is aimed directly at The Steam Room and who can blame it? The menu, extensive and affordable, features seafood classics — clams and oysters on the half shell, steamers and mussels, fried shrimp and scallops, crab legs, fish and chips, lobster rolls and full lobster dinners — plus paella, sopa de mariscos, fried whole porgy and, for the kids, burgers and chicken fingers. The outdoor dining room (dogs welcome) is raised just high enough to be able to see across East Broadway to the water. More info: 631-928-6690,

Dine at Steamroom, enjoy a drink at Port Jeff Brewing...

Dine at Steamroom, enjoy a drink at Port Jeff Brewing Co. and Po’Boy Brewery and more: There’s plenty to do in Port Jefferson.  Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Port Jeff Brewing Co. (22 Mill Creek Rd.): This Colonial-style house is tucked away on a lane within the Chandler Square outdoor mall. Its deck, usually swarming with locals swilling pints and chatting, can sometimes feel like a low-key house party. Inside is a tasting room with a brick floor, 11 taps, barrels for tables and the bow of an old skiff doubling as a counter. There are usually a few IPAs among the lineup, but no food — you’re encouraged to bring in takeout from any of the spots that surround the brewery. More info: 877-475-2739,

Prohibition Kitchen (115 E. Main St.): This rollicking, cozy morning-til-night gastropub serves dishes that bounce from Latin to soul food to vegan, and that almost seem designed for social media cameos: mac and cheese egg rolls; banana pudding pancakes and piña colada waffles; a fried chicken sandwich on a doughnut (The Dirty Mother Clucker); a Tiki burger, topped with pulled pork, bacon jam, pineapple and a cherry; or a huge platter of poutine for the table, served with fried potato tots and sweet-potato tots (plus goat cheese, maple bacon and three dips). Breakfast is served all day, the wine list is wholly drawn from Long Island (beers are from New York State), and cocktails are eclectic but totally on point, from a mint-topped rye julep to a spiced paloma with fresh grapefruit juice and hot honey. More info: 631-473-0613,

The Dirty Mother Clucker at Prohibition Kitchen in Port Jefferson.

The Dirty Mother Clucker at Prohibition Kitchen in Port Jefferson. Credit: Daniel Brennan

The Whiskey Barrel (138 Main St.): This shrine to American spirits boasts nearly 100 Bourbons, from Maker’s Mark, Bulleit and Old Granddad to 15-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, 20-year-old Michter’s, and Colonel E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey ($200, $650 and $1500 per ounce, respectively). You’ll also find Scotch and Irish whiskeys, beer and wine and an exuberant menu that ranges from pub classics such as fish and chips, giant Bavarian pretzels and chicken wings to on-trend vegan burgers and sandwiches, grilled cheese stuffed with pulled pork and a Japanese-inspired pork katsu sando. More info: 631-743-9418,

Kyra Walls makes an old fashioned at The Whiskey Barrel in Port...

Kyra Walls makes an old fashioned at The Whiskey Barrel in Port Jefferson. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Billie’s 1890 Saloon (304 E Main St.): It opened for business in 1981, but with its pressed-tin ceiling, hex-tiled floor and burnished wood paneling, Billie’s could certainly pass for a bar born in 1890 — assuming the Crosley jukebox was a later addition. Chill at the bar and watch the game, or install yourself in one of the stools that look onto the sidewalk and watch Port Jefferson stroll by. There are 10 beers on tap and a traditional bar menu with a few surprises such as vegan crab cakes and Buffalo-chicken flatbread. More info: 631-331-1890,

Old Fields (318 Wynn Lane): In 2014, Old Fields of Greenlawn took over the old Pace’s Steakhouse and it didn’t take long before the new restaurant felt like it had been in Port Jefferson forever. The spot features lots of exposed brick and rustic wood, and the menu is full of homey, straightforward classics such as fried chicken, French onion soup, roast chicken on saffron rice, shrimp and grits, steaks (the marinated flat iron is a house specialty) and the Old Fields burger with bacon, Cheddar and fried onions. At “oyster happy hour” (5-6 p.m. Mondays at the bar), Blue Points, littleneck clams and shrimp are $1 apiece. More info: 631-331-9200,

Heartbrand Ranch Akaushi Wagyu steak with asparagus and mashed potatoes...

Heartbrand Ranch Akaushi Wagyu steak with asparagus and mashed potatoes at Old Fields in Port Jefferson. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Local’s Cafe (106 E. Main St.): The funky, slightly industrial cafe (and corner patio) at Local’s Cafe are often swarming with a vibrant meld of students, local creatives and tourists. Owner Jiten Singh learned his trade at Caffè Vita in New York City, and uses its roasts here; his 22-hour cold brew, in particular, is a smoky, caramel-like drink, and is served on tap, as are a few craft beers. In the morning, pastries, pancakes and avocado toast dominate; at lunch, burgers, quesadillas and Indian-ish bites such as a chana masala wrap filled with spiced chickpeas take center stage. Turmeric-ginger, beetroot and matcha-tea lattes, as well as kombucha, are some of the non-java offerings. More info: 631-509-0627,

Torte Jeff Pie Co. (218 E. Main St.): With its farmhouse sink and midcentury appliances, green glassware and striped dish towels, Torte Jeff looks like a vintage kitchenware shop, until you spy the main event and connect the dots to the name: it’s all about those pies. Flavors change daily but include apple crumb (owner Lisa Harris’s favorite), strawberry-rhubarb, peach-crumb, coconut custard, Key lime, banana-cream, lemon-meringue, pulled pork, brisket ale or whatever suits baker Keri Farnham’s fancy. Preordering whole pies is advised; the shop also sells one or two by the slice for impulse buyers. Harris recently closed her doughnut shop, East Main & Main, a few doors down the street, but the doughnuts live on happily here. More info: 631-456-1532,

The brisket pie at Torte Jeff Pie Co. in Port Jefferson.

The brisket pie at Torte Jeff Pie Co. in Port Jefferson. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Tiger Lily Café (156 E. Main St.): Tiger Lily Cafe has been serving tofu, tempeh and fresh-squeezed juices for longer than many of its patrons have been alive. The menu at this self-described “alternative” eatery, established in 1998, ranges from classic Moosewood era lentil-brown rice salad hummus to of-the-moment kale salad with butternut squash and veggie-quinoa salad. Vegetarians, vegans and gluten-avoiders will find plenty to eat, but there are also wholesome sandwiches, salads and wraps made with cheese, turkey, chicken and crab. Plus smoothies (dairy and soy), soy-protein energy shakes, coffee, tea and homemade sweets. The cafe displays the work of local artists and features local musicians as well. More info: 631-476-7080,