Imagine you were a South Shore version of Rip van Winkle, waking up from a 20-year-slumber. You wander into Patchogue — hungry, of course — and the disorientation is very real: Once-dark storefronts are buzzing breakfast spots, burger joints, juice bars. Even if you had only been asleep for a year, you would have been faced with a jangling new world of poke bowls, crème-brûlée macarons, pulled-pork-topped hot dogs, Samoa cappuccinos, and opulent seafood towers crowned with caviar, most of which were not around even two years ago.
If that sounds like a register of dishes that might appeal to the 35-and-younger-set, it sort of is. Over the past 20 years, the village has grown younger; the average age of a resident is now 34, compared with 42 for all of Suffolk County. On a weekend night, Patchogue feels like a party, with traffic at a crawl, bars brimming and parking woes aplenty.
Here are some of the dozens of restaurants, bakeries, bars and cafes that jockey shoulder to shoulder along downtown’s two main thoroughfares, throwing down broiled oysters and brisket sandwiches, turmeric smoothies and spiked milkshakes.
For a date over dessert: Bar A Dessert
Bar A Dessert (38 S. Ocean Ave.): Leave it to a tropical country (Thailand) to forge the concept of flash-freezing ice cream on a subzero griddle. Thai rolled ice cream has conquered both hearts and Instagram since it appeared on these shores a few years ago. In February 2018, Ansen Wang — also the owner of 360 Taiko Sushi & Lounge — debuted the desserts inside this tidy, white-on-white cafe. Choose blueberries, or Oreos, or another flavor, and it will be frozen into an origami-like dessert as sculptural as it is tasty. More info: 631-730-8688, baradessert.com
The Dragon Punch batter is frozen and rolled for a sundae at Bar A Dessert in Patchogue.
Office-away-from-the-office: The Bean of Patchogue
The Bean of Patchogue (62 W. Main St.): The village’s newest coffee shop is many things: A coffee bar (there’s an actual marble bar), a cold-brew lab (12 drip on the wall at any given time), a juice bar, a gelateria and an events space, with regular live music and plans for a podcast. Owner Rob Cutrone, 25, drew on his background in both live events and coffee roasting to create a place where customers (especially students) are encouraged to linger: There are USB ports under the bar, free Wi-Fi and a printer, plus a communal table made from 300-year-old German oak. Pastries come from local bakers and the gelato from Gelato King, but all of the coffee comes from East End Coffee Roasters, which Cutrone also co-owns. More info: 631-569-4900, thebeanofpatchogue.com
Barista Felix Torres brews espresso behind the bar of The Bean of Patchogue.
Veteran of the block: BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant
BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant (67 W. Main St.): In 1996, a group of business owners opened a brewery and pub in a historic dry-goods building and began brewing beer and serving food, long before Main Street became chockablock with restaurants or craft brewing gained a foothold on Long Island. BrickHouse channels the pioneering brewpubs of the 1990s, with a tavern-like bar, exposed tanks, a chalkboard listing the day’s beers (brewed here), and no-nonsense pub food such as burgers and fish and chips. More info: 631-447-2337, brickhousebrewery.com
A flight of locally brewed beers is available at BrickHouse Brewery and Restaurant in Patchogue.
Breakfast power spot: Buttermilk's Kitchen
Buttermilk’s Kitchen (76 W. Main St.): “Breakfasting” has been elevated to an art form lately, and Buttermilk’s Kitchen is its poster child: airy and artsy, with a shabby-chic vibe and whimsical takes on breakfast (served all day) and lunch staples such as grilled cheese sandwiches. Behind the bar are mimosas, sake-spiked Bloody Marys and coffee drinks galore; breakfast ventures to S’mores French toast, steak-and-manchego omelets, and the those buttermilk pancakes. More info: 631-654-6455, buttermilkskitchen.com
Samoa pancakes topped with toasted coconut flakes, chocolate chips, caramel sauce and chocolate syrup at Buttermilk's Kitchen in Patchogue.
Bona fide oyster bar: Catch Oyster Bar
Catch Oyster Bar (63 N. Ocean Ave.): Last year, the father-son team of Jim and Michael Avino, behind the bar, took over a former hair salon and transformed it into Catch Oyster Bar, a bright, tiled, cozy oyster-centric hangout for tucking into one of Long Island’s greatest local assets — oysters. A handful of varieties are on the menu at any given time, from plump Fire Island Blues to West Coast Kumamotos. Slurp them dabbed with house mignonette, or go for oysters Rockefeller or grilled oysters showered with Parmesan. More info: 631-627-6860, catchoysterbar.com
A plate of oysters offered at Catch Oyster Bar in Patchogue.
Step into the 7th arrondissement: Mademoiselle of Patchogue
Mademoiselle of Patchogue (61 N. Ocean Ave.): Passersby might spot baker-owner Michelle Gillette Kelly shaping pastry in the front window. Step inside, and you can sit at a small counter and taste her handiwork: Macarons, croissants, apricot Danish, fruit tarts and an array of sweet and savory pastries that are turned out fresh daily inside this petite patisserie, which opened earlier this year. More info: 631-627-8560, mademoiselleofpatchogue.com
Baker and owner of Mademoiselle Patisserie, Michelle Gillette Kelly, stands with a basket of baguettes in the window of her bakery in Patchogue.
Poke-and-juice-bar nirvana: Nole Cafe
Nole Cafe (90 E. Main St.): It was only a matter of time before Patchogue’s surfeit of tacos, burgers and beer was changed up with poke bowls and “wellness shots.” Belly up to the handsome bar here for anything-but-booze: Cold-brew coffee, cold-pressed juices, kombucha and smoothies. Poke bowls and salads are made to order, and finished with splashes of soy-wasabi sauce or Meyer lemon vinaigrette. More info: 631-714-5777, nolecafe.com
A poke bowl comes with fresh tuna, avocado, pickled ginger, seaweed salad, cucumber, shredded carrots, edamame, zucchini noodles, mango and black sesame seeds atop brown rice at Nole Cafe in Patchogue. At left is a turmeric oat milk latte.
Veteran of the block: PeraBell Food Bar
PeraBell Food Bar (69 E. Main St.): As with BrickHouse (but 10 years later) the arrival of PeraBell signaled a dawning era of chef-driven downtown eats. You can chill here with a local IPA and a chophouse burger while your fussier friend chows down on Thai glazed short ribs or almond-crusted barramundi. More info: 631-447-7766, perabellfoodbar.com
A chophouse burger stands tall at PeraBell Food Bar.
Rooftop escape: Rhum
Rhum (13 E. Main St.): On the top floor of this bold, trilevel restaurant is one of the downtown’s most atmospheric spots: A rooftop bar and deck with swings for bar stools and a cityscape view. With a prickly pear margarita and some Caribbean-style wings in hand, it’s a fine place to while away a Sunday afternoon, and maybe even sing a bar of Rupert Holmes. More info: 631-569-5944, rhumpatchogue.com
A key lime martini, prickley pear margarita and rum punch are all popular drinks at Rhum in Patchogue.
Small plates away from the throng: Toro Tapas & Tequila
Toro Tapas & Tequila (224 E. Main St.): Toro Tapas is a few blocks east of the center of town, but worth the wander, a cozy, rustic spot with tons of heart and polished small plates turned out by chef Andrew Molina. (Happy hour brings some incredible deals on these). Don’t overlook the dainty fish croquettes with lemon aioli; the gorgeous, paprika-dusted grilled octopus; or garlicky shrimp confit with nora peppers. Cocktails are among the best in town. More info: 631-438-0775, torotapastequila.com
Grilled Octopus, Pulpo a la Gallega, with lemon aioli, paprika, potato, sauteed onions and lemon foam at Toro Tapas and Tequila in Patchogue.
Viva l’apertivo: Virgola
Virgola (5 Village Green Way): This tucked-away oyster-and-Italian-wine bar doesn’t necessarily bill itself as a place for apertivo, or pre-dinner snacks and drinks, but Virgola might revive that late-day ritual. Its cocktail menu is dotted with bittersweet drinks (go for the Aperol-laced Margarita Italiano); its thoughtful wine list is entirely Italian; and its menu doesn’t wander far from shellfish, crudo, ceviche and caviar, plus imported Italian cheeses and salumi. More info: 631-714-5000, virgolausa.com
A salumi board at Virgola in Patchogue with Robiola, felino, speck, and pomodorini misti.
The burger polestar: Local Burger Co.
Local Burger Co. (15 W. Main St.): The yearning for burgers (and burger photos) can never be sated, which helps explain the immediate popularity of Local Burger Co., which opened its second location on East Main Street this spring. (The original is in Bay Shore). The base model comes draped in American cheese and branded with the local ZIP code, 11722; but bacon, eggs, mac-and-cheese, even peanut butter are all in the kitchen’s toolbox. When the weather is warm, a garage door rolls up to lend an al-freso vibe. There’s plenty of craft beer and cocktails, too. More info: 631-714-5220, localburgerco.com
The Local Burger features American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle on top of a burger with Local sauce, on a potato bun served at Local Burger Co. in Patchogue.
Veteran of the block: Bobbique
Bobbique (70 W. Main St.): Opened in late 2006, Bobbique is consistently one of the best spots for barbecue on Long Island. Order at the counter, grab a table and soon you’ll be elbow-deep in pulled pork, brisket and St. Louis-style ribs, slow-cooked inside a 700-pound Southern Pride rotisserie-smoker. Don’t bypass the jumbo barbecue chicken wings, either. More info: 631-447-7744, bobbique.com
St. Louis style barbecue ribs are served at Bobbique, a popular restaurant, bar and live music venue in Patchogue.