Best Port Jefferson restaurants: Critics' picks
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, venerable eateries await, too, some with water views. And there's no lack of places to find a sweet finale.
Here are the top draws for eating and drinking.
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; a fried chicken sandwich on a doughnut (The Dirty Mother Clucker); or a huge platter of poutine for the table. 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. More info: 631-473-0613, prohibitionpj.com
Wave Steak & Seafood
25 E. Broadway
The waterside restaurant at Danfords Hotel & Marina is the village’s best waterside dining. Raw bar items come a la carte or by the tower. Lunch and dinner mains include fish and chips, chicken and waffles, plus steaks and salads. More info: 631-928-5200, danfords.com
216 Main St.
Coal-fired pizzas have crusts with real integrity, puffy but substantial and not too tender. There are some complicated pies on the menu — including Buffalo and barbecue chicken — but you can hardly do better than the simplest, the textbook Margherita. Plenty of appetizers, salads and pastas, too. More info: 631-331-4646, thepieofportjeff.com
The Fifth Season
34 E. Broadway
This gracious dining spot, across from Port Jefferson Harbor, is committed to local and seasonal produce and also to dining value. A three-course prix-fixe menu is offered Tuesdays-Thursdays as well as 5-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Menu items change with the season; summer selections include Crescent Farms duck with ginger and a summer berry sauce; roasted chicken breast with caramelized onion and potato hash. Gluten-free selections available. More info: 631-477-8500, thefifth-season.com
109 W. Broadway
Japanese chef Atsushi Nakagawa was early on the Long Island ramen scene, and his version remains among the area's best. This no-frills spot serves destination-worthy ramen, starting with the milky signature tonkotsu ramen layered with chashu pork (flaps of sliced pork belly), a soft-boiled egg, red ginger and scallions. The Slurp Smooth brings together a lighter chicken-based shoyu broth with crunchy Japanese-style fried chicken, and add-ons range from corn to marinated ground pork. Nakagawa uses noodles from New York City’s Ippudo, and also serves a miso-based option for vegans. Rice bowls and bao have been added over the years, and while the harbor was always visible from the front window, the pandemic inspired a small outdoor garden, as equally relaxed as the dining room. More info: 631-509-1166, slurpusa.com
99 Main St., Port Jefferson
Roger's Frigate does it all: Hard ice cream, soft-serve ice cream, yogurt, candy, chocolates, gelato, popcorn, fudge, smoothies, cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels. For those seeking a slightly more restrained confection, there's the fruit cream blast, a combination of soft-serve vanilla ice cream and fruit sorbet blended — but not all the way — so you can discern the creaminess of the vanilla from the iciness of the sorbet. More info: 631-474-8888, portjeffersonfrigate.com
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, 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, steamroomrestaurant.com
PJ Lobster House
134 Main St.
The sprawling fish restaurant-market is a casual spot to order baskets of fried seafood or platter specials to enjoy at the booths. Naturally, lobsters star in myriad ways on the menu--steamed with sides, part of clambakes, tail-only or tucked into hot and cold lobster rolls. Nightly specials abound. More info: 631-473-1143, pjlobsterhouse.com
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 $1,500 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, and grilled cheese stuffed with pulled pork. More info: 631-743-9418, thewhiskeybarrelpj.com
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, portjeffbrewing.com
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 , strawberry-rhubarb, Key lime, banana-cream, lemon-meringue and brisket or chicken pot pie. Preordering whole pies is advised; the shop also sells one or two by the slice for impulse buyers. More info: 631-456-1532, tortejeffpie.com
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, billies1890.com
318 Wynn Lane
Among LI's top barbecue spots, Old Fields 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, steaks (the marinated flat iron is a house specialty) and the Old Fields burger with bacon, Cheddar and fried onions. The raw bar happy hour brings Blue Point oysters, littleneck clams and shrimp for $1 apiece. More info: 631-331-9200, of1956.com
106 E. Main St.
This funky, slightly industrial cafe (and corner patio) is often swarming with a vibrant meld of students, local creatives and tourists. The spot's cold brew is a smoky, caramel-like drink, and is served on tap 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 and matcha-tea lattes are some of the non-java offerings. More info: 631-509-0627, cafelocals.com
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, tigerlilycafe.com