Loaded hot dogs carry the rock-and-roll theme at Rock City...

Loaded hot dogs carry the rock-and-roll theme at Rock City Dogs in Bay Shore. Credit: Randee Daddona

Bay Shore is the very model of a revitalized South Shore town, with restaurants, bars and shops lining its Main Street and wide, gracious avenues leading down to the Great South Bay — where you’ll find even more restaurants and, in season, ferries to Fire Island.

This scene, plus the Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, has long attracted weekend visitors from nearby towns. Now Bay Shore is catering to even more local weekday customers with the opening of The Shoregate, Eleven Maple and other luxury apartment complexes.

The first thing you need to learn to become a Bay Shore insider is the difference between two excellent, long-standing venues around the corner from one another, Tula Kitchen and Tullulah’s.

Tula Kitchen

41 E. Main St.

With its antique furniture and crystal chandeliers, Jackie Sharlup’s restaurant has a dainty, ethereal charm. And this is the rare eatery where both meat and plant-based eaters can enjoy themselves in equal measure. Breakfast or lunch, served in the adjacent juice bar, might be baked steel-cut oats, an egg “sammy” with avocado and turkey bacon, or a tempeh Reuben served with hearty slaw. The dinner menu includes rarely seen large-format meals for two to three people, including a full-blown mezze platter featuring labneh, za’atar bread, hummus, spinach pie, vegetarian kibbeh and sumac salad. More info: 631-539-7183, tulakitchen.com

The vegan Reuben sandwich made with marinated and grilled tempeh...

The vegan Reuben sandwich made with marinated and grilled tempeh at Tula Kitchen in Bay Shore. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Tullulah's

12 Fourth Ave.

It's a bundle of contradictions: The center of this establishment, founded in 2006, is a rollicking, rough-hewn bar serving more than a dozen craft beers and wildly original cocktails. But Steven Scalesse’s kitchen puts out food of enviable imagination and refinement, from small plates like Little Gem salad with green tahini dressing and rice congee with savoy cabbage and mushrooms to housemade pastas such as bucatini all'Amatriciana to a seared flatiron steak with broccoli rabe and shaved Parmesan. At the popular brunch, sandwiches (fried chicken on a biscuit, crab cake BLT, croque madame among them) come with the dreamiest hand-cut fries. More info: 631-969-9800, tullulahs.com

Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar

12 E. Main St.

Expertly crafted “travel-inspired cocktails” and Caribbean beers complement a menu that draws principally from warm-weather destinations such as Jamaica (jerk salmon with charred pineapple), Cuba (Cubano sandwich), Colombia (bandeja paisa), the West Indies (seafood in a coconut curry), Hawaii (poke) and Mexico (tacos and quesadillas) — with side trips to Japan (chicken katsu sando) and Korea (kimchi fried rice). More info: 631-665-3030, coastalliny.com

Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar in Bay Shore.

Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar in Bay Shore. Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

Verde Kitchen & Cocktails

70 E. Main St.

A contemporary Mexican restaurant whose name not only describes the greenhouse dining room but also the overarching fresh approach to a cuisine that, too often, relies on canned ingredients and clichéd preparations. Start with one of the margaritas, made with fresh citrus and housemade syrups, then head for tacos such as barbacoa, filled with jiggly, chile-rubbed brisket with pickled serranos. Groups of two or more should consider the Oaxaca market platter, a huge ceramic plate piled high with grilled skirt steak, chicken thighs and roast pork shoulder; garnished with charred scallions, halved avocados, radishes and roasted chilies; served with rice and warm tortillas. More info: 631-665-6300, verdekitchen.com

Sweet Jane

64 E. Main St.

The jewel box of a cocktail bar's seafood game is strong with local oysters, octopus salad, plateaux of shellfish and seared scallops with sunchokes, leeks and tender turnips. There are also cheese and charcuterie boards and hearty dishes from seared foie gras to pork ramen. To drink: well-chosen wines by glass or bottle and a list of spirits that runs to nine pages and includes absinthe fountain service. More info: sweetjanebayshore.com

Scallops at Sweet Jane in Bay Shore.

Scallops at Sweet Jane in Bay Shore. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

King's Chophouse

52 E. Main St.

Another small space delivering big flavors, this is one of LI’s top steakhouses. With its intimate dining room, matte-finish bar, soft lighting and William Morris wallpaper, it provides a stark contrast to the Island’s flashier meat palaces. All the beef here is dry-aged by Babylon Village Meat Market and your server will tell you which steaks — how big, how aged — are available. If you care to gild those juicy lilies, King’s makes its own sauces (steak, au poivre and Béarnaise) and compound butters. Traditional sides — from creamed spinach and roasted mushrooms to potatoes every which way — are prepared with care. Steak avoiders will find happiness with excellent salads, seafood, chicken and a bang-up pasta primavera. More info: 631-647-2688, kingschophouse.com

The Linwood Restaurant & Cocktails

150 E. Main St.

Bay Shore is as much of a drinking town as an eating town and the line between restaurant and bar is often blurred. So, choose your poison in an atmospheric spot for dining, quaffing or listening to live music. The $45 Sunday-Thursday prix-fixe menu includes almost all the best loved items from the regular menu — housemade chips with cheese fondue, loaded deviled eggs, seafood fritto misto, short-rib bibimbap, shrimp and grits and grilled octopus, plus a terrific chocolate pot de crème. More info: 631-665-1256, thelinwoodbayshore.com

A trio of seasonal spreads at The Linwood in Bay...

A trio of seasonal spreads at The Linwood in Bay Shore. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Salt & Barrel Oyster & Craft Cocktail Bar

61 W. Main St.

Raw seafood is the highlight here, where a wide selection of East and West Coast oysters is expertly shucked and served at one of the town’s loveliest bars. The dinner menu skews less piscatory and more New American. More info: 631-647-8818, saltandbarrel.com

Rock City Dogs

3 E. Main St.

The frankfurter ascends to headliner status. While The Rolling Stones and The Knack hum in the background, customers groove on hot dogs inspired by owner Stevie Reno’s favorite musical acts: the basic Thin Lizzy, a Feltman’s of Brooklyn all-beef dog topped with nothing but mustard and sauerkraut, and the inevitable Chicago dog, served exactly as it would be in the Windy City, complete with “imported” neon relish and sport peppers on a poppy-seed bun. The Deep Purple is topped, of course, with red-beet-tinted pickled cabbage, as well as whipped goat cheese and pink peppercorns. Drinks such as Rocket Man, Purple Rain and Comfortably Numb continue the theme. More info: 631-876-2530, rockcitydogs.com

Loaded hot dogs carry the rock-and-roll theme at Rock City...

Loaded hot dogs carry the rock-and-roll theme at Rock City Dogs in Bay Shore. Credit: Randee Daddona

Toast Coffeehouse 

9 S. Park Ave.

The all-day-breakfast chainlet Toast has booths that resemble carnival rides and a Coney Island mural covering one wall. Breakfasters, lunchers and their spawn, the brunch set, descend here for Toast stalwarts such as scrambles, Nutella-drizzled French toast and sandwiches. Ornate bloody marys, and sometimes long waits, round out the weekend brunch experience. More info: toastcoffeehouse.com

JBBQ & Shabu Shabu 

11 E. Main St.

You have 90 minutes to eat as much as you can of food you cook yourself. Each table is equipped with a grill (for BBQ) and a hot pot (for shabu shabu). Prepared meats, seafood and vegetables are delivered to your table and you have the option to either grill or simmer them in a seasoned broth. Can’t decide? You can opt for both methods. More info: 631-647-7777, jbbqrestaurant.com

Kismet Coffee Co.

17 E. Main St.
This jewel box of a coffee shop had a tough act to follow: It moved into the space vacated by ultrahip Roto Grocery. But Jackson Davis and his crew (who already operate a location in Kismet, Fire Island) have not missed a beat: It's still the village's chic-est java joint. Beans here are custom roasted by Farmingdale’s Flux Coffee and barista Owen Eubanks (AKA The Groovy Cookie) supplies his own cookies and cakes. More info: kismetcoffeecompany.com

Cinnamon coffee cake and a cortado at Kismet Coffee Co....

Cinnamon coffee cake and a cortado at Kismet Coffee Co. in Bay Shore, March 9, 2024. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Stroll south from Main Street on Ocean, Maple, Cottage Avenues or Shore Lane and you’ll discover Bay Shore’s other center of culinary gravity: the restaurants that line the banks and inlets of the Great South Bay.

The LakeHouse

135 Maple Ave.

The 300-seat restaurant (a Newsday Top 100 spot) manages to combine three elements that aren't always found together: superb food, accomplished service and a spectacular view. Start with whichever local oysters are being shucked or the exceptional clam chowder, and segue (depending on the season) to Long Island duck breast and crisped leg confit, herb-marinated steamed halibut or double-cut Berkshire pork chops with warm root-vegetable salad. More info: 631-666-0995, thelakehouserest.com

Grilled skirt steak with roasted garlic potatoes at the Lake...

Grilled skirt steak with roasted garlic potatoes at the Lake House in Bay Shore. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Chowder Bar

123 Maple Ave.

Built as a yacht brokerage office in 1946, the shipshape structure became a restaurant in 1975 and it feels like very little has changed since then. Pull up a stool at the U-shaped counter or in the sunny dining room and start with Manhattan, New England or Long Island chowder, a combination of the two. The menu ranges from clams on the halfshell and coconut shrimp to burgers, grilled cheese, fish tacos, shrimp scampi and linguine with clams. Exemplary fried whole clams are dredged in seasoned bread crumbs rather than batter. Like the sign says, “Once you’ve nibbled, we’ll have you hooked!” More info: 631-665-9859 

Fatfish on the Water

28 Cottage Ave.

It may be tucked away on the edge of town — literally on the edge, perched directly over the bay — but scores of regulars find their way here each summer for the vibrant outdoor bar (and frequent live music), uberfresh seafood and generally good vibes generated by chef-owner Brian Valdini and his staff. From Spanish-style tapas to a raw bar to whole grilled fish and a killer tarte Tatin, Valdini has kept his menu refreshed for more than 20 years. (And the décor, too: After Superstorm Sandy took Fatfish down to the pilings in 2012, he rebuilt it). Open May to October. More info: 631-666-2899, fatfish.info

Lobster risotto at Fatfish in Bay Shore.

Lobster risotto at Fatfish in Bay Shore. Credit: Daniel Brennan

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