On a recent sandwich-scouting trip to Montauk with the family, I expected to encounter hordes of hipsters eating trendy light bites imported from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Austin, Texas. Fedoras aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the offerings and the low-key, friendly service at several new establishments.
Our first stop was La Brisa, an offshoot of acclaimed taco joint Tacombi on the Lower East Side. The Montauk branch is housed in a Jetson-style semicircular diner that was formerly home to La Bodega. An imported tortilla machine produces a continuous supply of excellent tortillas. The breakfast taco ($4.95), served all day, consists of two small soft corn tortillas topped with a well-seasoned tomato-and-onion-studded omelet, salsa and a few slices of avocado. It went well with a healthful house-made beet juice and ginger agua fresca, and gave me enough energy to stroll to the beach.
After some exercise, we were ready to hit Lucky J's on Montauk Harbor for the same gourmet chicken and waffles that are dispensed from a famous Austin food truck. The drive-in-style building was freshly painted with red flames. When my husband heard it is customary to douse the house specialty in both syrup (of the Log Cabin variety) and hot sauce, he demurred. So I ordered a chicken waffle taco ($7) for myself and a 1x1 (one piece of bone-in chicken and one waffle for $9) for my daughter. When my taco (a handheld marvel requiring no utensils) arrived, he took one bite of the light-as-air waffle surrounding a wonderfully juicy chicken breast tender coated in a crunchy and spicy breading and I had to fight him for the rest. Since it never closes during the summer, this place is sure to be popular with outbound fishermen and hung-over partygoers.
We ended the day at Red Hook Lobster Pound's tiny storefront just a block from the beach. After sampling fresh-squeezed Sweet 'Tauk lemonade (one of Red Hook's partners in this summer venture), including varieties infused with vanilla and mint, we took our lobster rolls to one of the picnic benches outside. I had the Connecticut ($18), a generous helping of tender lobster meat (including two whole claws) warmed in butter, sprinkled with sliced green onion and piled onto a buttered and griddled bun. North Fork potato chips and Brooklyn Brine pickles on the side were nice local touches. Joe & Liza's black cherry ice cream, from Sag Harbor (another partner here), was a tasty way to end the day.