This summer, Long Islanders are taking to the streets. Armed with knives and forks, they're attacking pan-seared tuna steaks, spicy kebabs and heaps of linguine with clam sauce.

Have you checked the main street in the downtown area near you? Chances are, you'll find an increasing number of restaurants setting chairs and tables right out on the sidewalk. It's all very Euro and cosmopolitan, but there are two sides to every street.

The downside: Forget intimacy; everyone in town knows who you're with and what you're eating. And what about those smelly trash cans waiting for pickup? The exhaust fumes from cars?

The upside: Get a good table, and you've got a front-row seat on whatever is going down downtown. Was that Billy Joel strolling through Huntington? Or Lady Gaga window-shopping in East Hampton? Check out some favorites.  

LONG BEACH 

When the weather heats up, so do the sidewalks of this beachy little city with two dining districts. West Park Avenue, a wide boulevard with an L.A. feel, seems genteel in comparison to West Beech Street, where the crowd spills off the sand and into the bars and restaurants. It's an all-day, all-night party - South Miami Beach meets Key West meets Long Island.

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WEST BEECH STREET:

SWINGBELLYS BEACHSIDE BBQ
909 W. Beech St., 516-431-3464

The sidewalk: 8 tables with natural shade (no awnings)

The eating: The art of barbecue is smoking hot at this casual eatery where the spice-rubbed meat doesn't even require sauce. Recommended: fried pickle chips, a Cubano sandwich made with smoked pork and brisket, and mac and cheese topped with brisket and onion "strings."

The cost: $$

CAFFE LAGUNA
960 W. Beech St., 516-432-2717, caffelaguna.com

The sidewalk: 10 to 15 tables with white linens; awnings

The eating: From the Italian menu, start with a margherita pizza from the wood-fired oven followed, perhaps, by a pork tenderloin with cranberry grappa sauce or old-fashioned lasagna. Linger over espresso.

The cost: $$-$$$

BEACH HOUSE
906 W. Beech St., 516-208-8733, thebeachhouselbny.com

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The sidewalk: 16 tables in front and on the side; outdoor garden and tiki torches; awnings. Live music amped out into street

The eating: A casual tiki bar restaurant with a seafood-focused menu. In summer, raw bar items (peel 'n' eat shrimp, oyster shooters, clams) are big, along with salads, burgers and such entrees as chipotle barbecue skirt steak and shrimp and scallops over linguine.

The cost: $$-$$$

MEDITERRANEAN SEAFOOD CAFE
952 W. Beech St., 516-665-8075

The sidewalk: 8 tables with tablecloths, candlelight; awning

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The eating: While the sign outside reads "Molly's" (the name of the fish market feeding the kitchen), the place takes on the identity of a fine seafood restaurant in the early evening, when you can catch red snapper, Chilean sea bass or lobster. Gradually, the clam bar (inside Molly's fish market) takes over the sidewalk scene, which rages until around 2 a.m.

The cost: $$-$$$

THE SALOON
1016 W. Beech St., 516-432-9185, thesaloonlb.com

The sidewalk:10 tables with place mats; awning and umbrellas

The eating: A kicked-up pub menu features Irish, Italian and American items (fish and chips, penne a la vodka, blackened scallop salad).

The cost: $$

MINNESOTA'S
959 W. Beech St., 516-432-4080

The sidewalk: A 2-foot wall separates sidewalk and patio tables at this pumping spot with 22 umbrella tables and three TV screens.

The eating: An eclectic menu has Asian, Caribbean and Southwestern influences, such as mango barbecue baby back ribs, yuzu shrimp and asparagus salad, as well as Mexican sushi.

The cost: $$-$$$

WEST PARK AVENUE:

DUKE FALCON'S GLOBAL GRILL
36 W. Park Ave., 516-897-7000, dukefalcons.com

The sidewalk: 4 tables with umbrellas, candles and flowers

The eating: Like the well-traveled "Duke Falcon" for whom the restaurant is named, the menu is all over the map - Sichuan beef and wild mushroom soft tacos, Cajun quesadillas, New Zealand lamb chops with rosemary rub.

The cost: $$-$$$

SUTTON PLACE
124 W. Park Ave., 516-431-3133, suttonplacelb.com

The sidewalk: 6 tables with place mats; potted palm trees; awnings

The eating: A buoyant spot whose versatile menu ranges from wings and burgers to Asian-style blackened ahi tuna. A wood grill fires up chicken, shrimp, mahi mahi and steak.

The cost: $$-$$$

HAMPTONS

It's see-and-be-seen on the East End, where a variety of downtown dining spots open up tables on the sidewalks, the better to watch the comings and goings of summer strollers.

CITTANUOVA
29 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 631-324-6300, cittanuova.com

The sidewalk: 6 tables with place mats; awning

The eating: Newtown Lane could just as well be the Via Condotti. Or Sunset Boulevard. At lunch, try a flatbread (pizza) with wild mushrooms, Taleggio cheese and white truffle oil. The prosciutto crudo panino works, too. At dinner, there's linguine with Manila clams and cherry tomatoes or free-range Cornish hen cooked under a brick. Gelato is a must.

The cost: $$-$$$

BABETTE'S
66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 631-329-5377

The sidewalk: 7 tables under a loggia

The eating: Celeb sightings are everyday occurrences at this low-key East Hampton cafe where the eclectic fare is organic, creative and often vegetarian and vegan-friendly. At breakfast, there are nutty whole-grain pancakes, zippy omelets (such as the Santa Fe, with jalapeños, avocado and fresh salsa) and even scrambled tofu. For lunch, try one of the fine salads or sandwiches. Dinner choices include pan-roasted cod and Creole Casbah (garlic mashed potatoes, kale, succotash, roasted garlic, pecans, barbecued tofu, salsa and soy Cheddar).

The cost: $$-$$$

SILVER'S
15 Main St., Southampton, 631-283-6443, silversrestaurant.com

The sidewalk: 2 tables with white linen under natural shade (best after 1 p.m.) from elm trees

The eating: This is lunch as luxury, as the lobster roll edges closer to the $40 mark. Here, you'll find the perfect BLT and the crab cake from heaven.

Cost: $$$-$$$$

SANT AMBROEUS
30 Main St., Southampton, 631-283-1233, santambroeus.com

The sidewalk: 4 tables with white linen; awning

The eating: The menu is simple, Italian, expensive. Lunch or dinner could be a salad of arugula with sliced Parmesan, a bowl of fettuccine Bolognese and the near-legendary gelato.

The cost: $$$-$$$$

GOLDEN PEAR
99 Main St., Southampton, 631-283-8900, goldenpearcafe.com

The sidewalk: 4 tables; awning.

The eating: A morning muffin with coffee, a midday panino and salad - it's all very casual and won't cost you a summer's rental money.

The cost: $

BARRISTER'S
36 Main St., Southampton, 631-283-6206, barristersouthampton.com

The sidewalk: 4 tall tables; awning

The eating: When is the last time you had a French dip sandwich? It's just one of several pub classics at this unpretentious spot with a street-eye-view of the Southampton power scene.

The cost: $$

75 MAIN
75 Main St., Southampton, 631-283-7575, 75main.com

The sidewalk: 8 tables with white linens, flowers and candles at night; awning

The eating: Under new ownership, the familiar address now serves a mostly Italian menu. In the morning, you could have a frittata; lunch could be chopped salad or a halibut panino. At dinner, there's zuppa di pesce and filet mignon.

The cost: $$-$$$

PIERRE'S
2468 Main St., Bridgehampton, 631-537-5110, pierresbridgehampton.com

The sidewalk: 13 tables; awning

The eating: This stylishly casual spot cooks with a French accent. Depend upon the classic salad frisee aux lardons, the lobster and the locally caught fish. At weekend brunch, catch house-cured salmon with toasted brioche; weekdays, have your morning croissant and coffee street-side.

The cost: $$-$$$

HUNTINGTON

This is one town whose street scene doesn't quit, especially on summer nights. Wherever you eat, the people-watching will keep you busy between courses.

WALL STREET:

SPICE VILLAGE GRILL
281 Main St., 631-271-9700

The sidewalk: 8 tables on both Main and Wall streets; tablecloths, candlelight at night; awnings

The eating: Since kebabs are street food, why not have them at a sidewalk table? This lively South Asian eatery will start you off with bhel puri (a street treat made with puffed rice and tamarind sauce) followed, perhaps, by hyper-flavorful chicken seekh kebabs or smoky-spicy Cornish hen. Finish with surprisingly light rasmalai, cheeseballs in heavy cream.

The cost: $$

CAFÉ BUENOS AIRES
23 Wall St., 631-603-3600, cafebuenosaires.net

The sidewalk: 8 tables with place mats; awning.

The eating: At restaurateur Hugo Garcia's homage to his native Argentina, you can share a pitcher of sangria and some tapas at a sidewalk table. Or address a heartier appetite with such entrees as grilled strip steak with chimichurri sauce or a parrillada mixta (mixed grill) of skirt steak, chicken, sweetbreads and sausage. On a Friday night or Sunday afternoon, there's tango dancing inside.

The cost: $$-$$$

NEW YORK AVENUE:

HONU KITCHEN & COCKTAILS
363 New York Ave., 631-421-6900

The sidewalk: 3 tables with white linens and flowers; awning

The eating: No longer a tapas restaurant, HONU offers traditional dining - which doesn't mean you can't make a meal of appetizers (such as Peking duck with scallion; edamame; seared scallops). Main course choices run the gamut from red snapper to filet mignon to cheeseburgers. End with the bread pudding of the season. And remember the inventive cocktails: How does a sparkling lemon basil martini sound?

The cost: $$-$$$

BESITO
402 New York Ave., 631-549-0100, besitomex.com

The sidewalk: 5 tables with tablecloths, candles, flowers; for sun worshipers only (awnings not used during the day).

The eating: At this chic Mexican eatery, the guacamole is made table-side. Other recommendations include the tamale de elote (fresh corn tamale), seviche, tortilla soup and budin de mariscos (seafood tortilla pie). Finish with gratis churros, warm Mexican crullers with cinnamon sugar.

The cost: $$-$$$

F.H. RILEY'S
400 New York Ave., 631-271-7600

The sidewalk: 3 tables with tablecloths and flowers; awning

The eating: A convivial setting for well-crafted classics and regional American specialties. Recommended dishes: the autumn harvest salad with warm sweet potato gnocchi croutons, a blue claw gumbo is as sassy as it is comforting, a fine blackened salmon pita.

The cost: $$

GARDEN CITY

In this meticulously landscaped town, each of the two intersecting main streets - Franklin Avenue and Seventh Street - has its own vibe. Franklin Avenue is a wide thoroughfare, where big businesses and small restaurants coexist. There's more foot traffic on Seventh Street, which manages to feel like Main Street USA and, at the same time, a Parisian boulevard.

SEVENTH STREET:

SEVENTH STREET CAFE
126 Seventh St., 516-747-7575, seventhstreetcafe.com

The sidewalk: 9 tables with tablecloths, white linen and flowers; umbrellas

The eating: A traditional Italian menu prevails at this gracious spot. At lunch time, a $14.95 prix-fixe is the main draw. Good entree pick: the well-blistered margherita pie.

The cost $$-$$$

WALK STREET
176 Seventh St., 516-746-2592, walkstreetgc.com

The sidewalk: 4 tables with place mats; awnings and umbrellas

The eating: This popular and casual New American has an appealing lunch menu of salads and sandwiches, such as the "Nelson DeMille" (the bestselling Garden City author) - Italian cold cuts on Portuguese bread. At night, you'll find such dishes as pan-seared Chilean sea bass and lemongrass breast of chicken.

The cost: $-$$$

LEO'S
190 Seventh St., 516-742-0574, leosgardencity.com

The sidewalk: 9 tables with place mats; umbrellas

The eating: "Where mountain men and debutantes meet" is the cryptic motto of this Garden City stalwart whose menu covers all bases: pot stickers, chili, baby back ribs and bacon cheeseburgers.

The cost: $-$$

FRANKLIN AVENUE:

CALAGERO'S
919 Franklin Ave., 516-294-2922

The sidewalk: 2 tables out front (there are more on the rear patio) have place mats and candles; umbrellas.

The eating: At this stylish (but never stuffy) Italian restaurant, you can start with rare seared tuna or a traditional antipasto, moving on to eggplant rollatini or grilled shrimp and scallops Florentine. Conclude with house-made tiramisu or gelato.

The cost: $$-$$$

WILD FIG MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
829 Franklin Ave., 516-739-1002, wildfigonline.com

The sidewalk: 4 tables with umbrellas

The eating: This branch of a popular Turkish-Mediterranean mini-chain features fragrant brick oven-baked pides (savory stuffed pies) and a kebab for every taste.

The cost: $$

GARDEN CITY PIZZA
670 Franklin Ave., 516-294-2929, gardencitypizza.com

The sidewalk: 4 tables with umbrellas

The eating: Nothing fancy, just good pizzas, calzones and heroes in the open air.

The cost: $

UPPER CRUST CAFE
931 Franklin Ave., 516-248-5677, uppercrustgc.com

The sidewalk: 3 tables with candles; umbrellas and awning

The eating: Nick and Ashley Lucchese's charming little New American restaurant-coffee shop offers everything from burgers (simple and ornate) to kicked-up lobster and truffle mac and cheese.

The cost: $$-$$$

JIN EAST
988 Franklin Ave., 516-877-0888, jineast.com

The sidewalk: 3 tables with umbrellas

The eating: Miso black cod and curry-glazed rock shrimp tempura are two of the nouveau Japanese offerings at this hospitable Asian spot where the sushi chefs are highly skilled.

The cost: $$-$$$

BK SWEENEY'S UPTOWN GRILLE
636 Franklin Ave., 516-746-3075, bksweeneys.com

The sidewalk 4 tables with candles; French doors and piped-in music bring indoors and outdoors together.

The eating A Garden City classic where you can get sliders, salads, burgers as well as the signature steak sandwich on garlic bread.

The cost $$

GARDEN CITY BISTRO
662 Franklin Ave., 516-747-3696

The sidewalk: 3 tables with umbrellas

The eating: Breakfast and lunch but not dinner are the draws at this casual eatery where omelets, burgers (beef, bison, turkey and veggie), panini, wraps and salads rule.

The cost: $-$$

 

HOW THEY RATE
Average meal price for each person:

$$$$ = $100; $$$ = $60; $$ = $30; $ = $15