It's just you and some friends gathered around the fire pit, oblivious to the whiz of traffic and the sight of surrounding office buildings. What matters is that you've got toes wiggling in the sand, a Margarita in one hand, a slider in the other. Who cares if there's no ocean in sight?
Thanks to a few resourceful restaurateurs, a beach can pop up just about anywhere on Long Island. All that's necessary is sand and a summery imagination.
Here are three places where the owners defied Mother Nature and made "beaches" of their own.
515 Broadhollow Rd., Suite 400, Melville
INFO 631-577-4444, fourfoodstudio.com
THE BEACH This year, partner Jay Grossman's summer revamp was skewed toward "a resort-type feel." The view of the Route 110 corridor is minimized by the new outdoor wood deck (or "boardwalk") shaded by a billowy white awning. Enclaves are filled with local-origin sand and have inflatable, white-tufted couches and coffee-table fire pits. Potted palm-like plants add to the ambience.
THE SCENE At lunch, a business crowd settles into canvas deck chairs under the awning. Later, out on the sand, happy hour evolves into a late-night club scene for a set that's mostly over 35. There's often a DJ, and dancing in the sand.
THE FARE From chef Ben Durham's seasonally driven New American menu, you might get a lobster roll or Thai beef salad at lunch and, at dinner, prosciutto-wrapped cod or lobster pasta. The cocktail-hour crowd might be sipping a "candy shop" watermelon martini or classic mojito and, perhaps, nibbling on flatbread. Late-night groups usually opt for bottle service and something communal, like a seafood tower.
15 Railroad Place, Island Park
INFO 516-432-7677, popsseafoodshack.com
THE BEACH Owner George Voutsinas Jr. aimed to make his restaurant's marina-side location into the emotional equivalent of a vacation. He brought in lots of sand -- a blend of Long Island and New Jersey varieties -- and, every year, puts in new palm trees. Because there's also docking, many people assume the beach is nature's doing.
THE SCENE A crowd, mostly in their 30s, converges around the restaurant's eight fire pits to eat, drink and socialize. Some nights, there are DJs and dance parties. On Sundays, a family crowd comes for live reggae that starts in the afternoon and runs into early evening.
THE FARE Chef Axell Uruttia's menu offers such dishes as a warm New England lobster roll, and fish and chips; you also could hit the outdoor Cranky Clam Bar for littlenecks or oysters on the half shell, ideal with a Margarita or mojito.
31 Baker Place, Patchogue
INFO 631-475-1723, offkeytikki.com
THE BEACH When owner Mike Bruemmer was about to build his faux beach, he inspected about 50 pails of sand before alighting on the "brightest and whitest" from the Gulf of Mexico. On the sand, you can relax in one of the 40 or so Adirondack chairs.
THE SCENE The crowd is generally older than 30 -- and, says Bruemmer, predominantly female. There's a relaxed, Key West vibe with live music and barefoot dancing. As on Key West, Sunday sunset parties are a ritual.
THE FARE To drink, there are such libations as a "sexy sand-sation" (involving both raspberry and passion fruit vodkas) and a "loaded" Margarita. Beach eating involves mainly finger foods, such as vegetable spring rolls and Thai calamari.