Waterfront dining on Long Island doesn’t have to be a formal affair. There are plenty of family-friendly restaurants and seafood shacks with great views — and some special perks.
La Casa Cafe
This restaurant has been a Crab Meadow Beach fixture for 26 years and, aside from a menu filled with pasta and grilled meats, families can order pizza and enjoy it under a brick pavilion steps from the sand “while watching their kids play on the beach,” says owner Joe Celano. Prices range from $8.95 to a kid-sized dish of spaghetti to $47.95 for twin lobster tails. Info: 445 Waterside Rd., Northport, 631-757-7720, lacasacaferestaurant.com.
The Buoy Bar Waterfront Restaurant
On summer Wednesday nights from 6 to 8 p.m., kids are given a pole and a life jacket to go fishing before grabbing a bite at the Buoy Bar. The eatery has been hosting the event for nine years and it sells out every week, says Andrew Doheny, son of owners Tom and Roberta Doheny. It’s $25 per child and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. “The kids get dinner included in their entry fee and then the parents just eat while their kids fish,” Doheny says. Info: 72 Bayside Dr., Point Lookout, 516-432-3975, buoybarli.com.
Clam Bar at Bridge Marine
This casual spot, open through Sept. 29, sits right on Mill Neck Creek, allowing kids to play in the water before or after eating. “There’s a beach here so most of the kids play on the beach,” says owner Richard Valicenti. Prices range from $8.50 for a hamburger with fries to $25 for steamed clams. Info: 40 Ludlam Ave., Bayville, 516-628-8688, bridgemarinesales.com.
This colorful Middle Eastern restaurant has outdoor seating on the Peconic River and is steps away from the boardwalk. There’s also a prime view of local events, including the annual Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race. “On the Fourth of July they do the fireworks and you can see them from the restaurant,” says owner Mustafa Gulsen. Info: 40 McDermott Ave., Riverhead, 631-591-1757, turkuazgrillriverhead.com.
This comfort food spot has a large outdoor deck overlooking Little Peconic Bay, next to a sprawling lawn that leads to a dock, with plenty of boat watching. “Kids play on the lawn and become friends,” says owner Maryann Birmingham, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Ken. “It’s nice to see them playing instead of sitting at a table with an electronic device.” While there’s no dedicated children’s menu, kids can order a regular beef hot dog ($8.95), chicken fingers made in-house ($9.95) and macaroni and cheese for ($5.95). Info: 650 First St., New Suffolk, 631-734-8686, casesplace.com.
The Shipwreck Tavern
This kitschy, nautical-themed spot on Long Island Sound features an outdoor seating at the tiki bar, next to a large wooden boat. There’s also a roof deck. Info: 10 Bayville Ave., Bayville, 516-628-2628, shipwreckpub.com.
Pop’s Seafood Shack & Grill
While more of a party spot in the evenings, this seafood spot welcomes kids earlier in the day. It has a man-made white sand beach with palm trees on Reynolds Channel with a deck and some fire pit tables. Info: 15 Railroad Place, Island Park, 516-432-7677, popsseafoodshack.com.
Claws Seafood Market
This roadside clam bar and fish market sits on Green Creek and features a beanbag-toss game. Order at the window, grab a seat and maybe feed the ducks that come to visit. “It wouldn’t be odd to see 20 or 30 ducks come up to the kids,” says owner Frank Palermo. “We’ll give kids a roll of Italian bread so they can feed them.” Prices range from $9 for fried clams to $22 for a lobster roll. There is also burgers and chicken tenders for the non-seafood eaters. Info: 20 E. Main St., West Sayville, 631-256-5900, clawsseafoodmarket.com.