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Hard-to-find local taverns worth the search

Patrons at the bar at Portside Bar and

Patrons at the bar at Portside Bar and Grill. The bar is hidden in a corner of Traders Cove in Port Jefferson. (Dec. 18, 2010) Photo Credit: John Griffin

They're considered "out of the way," "off-the-beaten path" or just plain "hard to find" - but they are venues worth making the extra effort to visit. Consider it an excuse to take a drive or explore a new neighborhood.

GREY HORSE TAVERN

Where: 291 Bayport Ave., Bayport, 631-472-1868, greyhorsetavern.com

Find it: Tucked near the railroad tracks along an unassuming stretch of Montauk Highway (Bayport Avenue), Grey Horse is housed inside a plain-looking tall house.

Why go: Over the past 140 years, the location has been everything from a stagecoach stop to a Prohibition-era speakeasy. These days, contemporary pub fare is served at tables spread through the meandering rooms, which are trimmed with vintage decor. The tavern hosts quirky events ranging from Bar Bingo to trivia nights and offers live music most Fridays and Saturdays after 9 p.m. Occasionally, live performances are staged in the upstairs loft. Expect a $5 to $20 cover charge on band nights.

PAINTERS

Where: 416 S. Country Rd., Brookhaven, 631-286-6264, paintersrestaurant.com

Find it: Look for a building marked with a "Food - Art - Bar" sign and a parking lot that seems to have been carved out of the woods.

Why go: Catch a band, hang on two outdoor patios, play some pool or just shoot the breeze. Almost every square inch of the walls and ceiling of this restaurant-bar is covered with paintings, streetscapes or abstract art - guests of all ages are invited to make their own masterpieces with crayons left at the tables. The menu includes a list of "genius" burgers named after famous artists. Painters is now hosting free Tuesday night film screenings in conjunction with the Bellport Film Society (showing tomorrow: "Almost Famous"). Cover charges range from $5 to $10 on live music nights.

LUCY'S BISTRO

Where: 135 Deer Park Ave., Babylon, 631-669-1640, lucysbistro.com

Find it: The address is, indeed, on Deer Park Avenue in Babylon Village - but you'll need to head to the parking lot behind the storefronts and look very carefully for the doors labeled "135 Anderson." Turn the first doorknob on your right - and you're in.

Why go: The tiny cafe has a mere nine tables and a petite bar - but it hops with patrons who come for American fare, including organic roasted chicken and pan-seared red snapper served in saffron-butter sauce.

THE EATERY AT TULLULAH'S

Where: 12 Fourth Ave., Bay Shore, 631-206-2988, tullulahs.com

Find it: Turn off Montauk Highway onto Fourth Avenue - go slow, Tullulah's is the last storefront on the left.

Why go: Plank wood floors and candlelit tables are among the sparse trimmings in the slim space, which offers cuisine that incorporates French and Spanish fare. The ever-changing menu is short but revolves around tapas and desserts.

PORTSIDE BAR & GRILL

Where: 242 E. Main St., Port Jefferson, 631-331-3390

Find it: Port Jefferson's slender, hilly East Main Street is tricky enough - but you'll need to make your way to the parking area known as Trader's Cove and walk to the farthest, deepest corner to get to Portside. Keep an eye out for the large deck, which is packed with people, summer and winter.

Why go: The casual neighborhood bar is a homey place with an upbeat vibe. It's popular with sports fans on game nights, but also hosts live music on the weekends. Diners can find reasonably priced burgers and wraps.

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