July 25, 2008 - Looking to squeeze the last few drops of fun out of your summer weekend? Make a Sunday afternoon date for frozen margaritas, sunny socializing and dining alfresco on Island Park's Barnum Island.
Barnum Island, the little corner of this South Shore enclave best known for producing former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, is a small but bustling restaurant district nestled next to Reynolds Channel. The party begins with local restaurants serving brunch at noon and keeps rocking with cool drinks and live entertainment until the wee hours of Monday morning.
You can leave your car in one of the restaurant parking lots - or your boat in a slip on the channel - and walk from party to party.
Define Sadlowski, 31, a mortgage broker from Franklin Square, is a regular at Paddy McGees, where she often enjoys a drink on the deck. For the whole enchilada, she'll cross the street to Montego Bay Grill & Bar or Jordan Lobster Farm. Here's a quick look at Island Park hot spots where you can close out a summer weekend in style.
Paddy McGees: 6 Waterview Rd., 516-431-8700. paddymcgees.com
Though busy Paddy McGees features a full-service restaurant with indoor dining and a bar decorated with fishing trophies, most of the Sunday crowd congregates on the 50-yard-long (that's half a football field), boardwalk-style deck along Reynolds Channel. The view isn't exactly romantic (the industrial side of Long Beach bristles across the water), but the crowd is cheerful and friendly, and the salt air invigorating. Last Sunday, young women roamed around hawking Jell-O and yogurt shots, couples dallied along the waterfront railing and small groups of revelers relaxed in the tied-up boats. (There's a $25-$50 docking fee on Sundays.) A raw bar served a steady stream of clam-slurping customers.
Montego Bay Grill & Bar: 2 Pettit Place, 516-897-0686.
A Sunday visitor described Montego Bay as " Florida without the beach." It's a bright, breezy place with seating inside, on the street or at the 60-foot-long, horseshoe-shaped bar. The frozen piña coladas come cherry-topped. You also can cool off with strawberry or raspberry margaritas or banana daiquiris. The menu offers salads, pasta and lobster. You can even glimpse the water from the bar. Shorts and T-shirts are OK, says general manager Billy Crandell. He estimates the Sunday crowd ranges in age from 21 to 50. Live entertainment keeps them moving from 6 to 10 p.m.
Places to dine in Island Park:
If you're part of the crowd cruising Island Park's waterfront on the weekend, you may want to check out one of these close-at-hand places for a real summer meal:
Jordan Lobster Farms: 1 Pettit Place, 516-889-3314.
Casual and consistent, Jordan is a local landmark. Eat inside or alfresco, order takeout, invest in the retail shop - you're ahead each way. The lobsters, of course, are first-class. The competition comes from the lobster roll, crab-cake sandwich, fish-and-chips with flounder, clam chowders and, yes, tuna salad.
Meson Iberia: 4335 Austin Blvd., 516-897-4911.
Spain reigns at this veteran restaurant. You'll enjoy the sizzling chorizo, paprika-dusted and olive-oil dabbed octopus, clams in a zesty red sauce, shrimp or scrod in lively green sauce, creamy chicken Villaroy, and the obligatory paella Valenciana, with shellfish, chorizo, pork and chicken.
Paddy McGees: 6 Waterview Rd., 516-431-8700.
A bastion of seafood, Paddy McGees has an old-fashioned fish-house style and savory fare. Skillet-roasted day-boat sea scallops, steamed or broiled lobsters, roasted clams, crab cakes, New England and Manhattan clam chowders, and fish-and-chips made with sole are among the mainstays.
Pancho's Cantina: 4245 Austin Blvd., 516-897-8300.
Pancho's has been sending out Tex-Mex food for more than 30 years at different Long Island locations. Some specialties: Texas tacos with barbecued chicken and caramelized onions; super burrito with skirt steak; chorizo-and-jalapeño quesadillas; a combo of chicken and baby back ribs; and, naturally, fajitas and margaritas.