When Farmingdale native Marc Anthony Bynum opened Hush Bistro three years ago, he introduced of-the-moment tasting menus and his take on fine dining ingredients. Yet, the two-time winner of Food Network’s “Chopped” wanted his place to be a hub for couples and families who’d stop by for a burger, a kale salad or St. Louis-style ribs, a dish that earned national love with a shout-out from “O, The Oprah Magazine” in July.
But Hush Bistro isn’t the only place on Main Street cooking up bold dishes or pouring your new favorite drinks.
Suddenly, dozens of places are attracting Long Islanders to this quintessential Main Street, from longtime mom-and-pops to spirited new spots. Here is a guide.
Marc Anthony Bynum 's progressive projects
Hush Bistro (291 Main St., Farmingdale):A sliver of a restaurant that seats 26, now for dinner only, Hush Bistro has assembled memorable multicourse meals as well as casual experiences. It starts at the bar, with an ambitious cocktail list, and a substantive collection of craft brews and wines by the glass. Consider a starter like foie gras on toast, gnocchi with tomato and pearl onion, mushrooms, pecorino and brown butter. More info: 516-293-4874, hushamericanbistro.com
Soup-or-Hero Kitchen (396 Conklin St., Farmingdale): Check out Soup-or-Hero Kitchen for lentil soup and New England clam chowder, inventive sandwiches, fresh-squeezed juice and cold brew coffee to go. More info: 516- 927-8484
Southeast Asian soups and snacks
The Rolling Spring Roll (189 Main St., Farmingdale): When The Rolling Spring Roll opened on Main Street in 2013, it was one of the international restaurants that drew residents from outside Farmingdale. Many of them had become fans of what started as owner Joe Bui’s food truck. Pho steals the show at the restaurant, with its fragrant broth scented with star anise. Rice noodles nest in the bottom of a bowl layered with thin-sliced beef brisket and meatballs (the place also serves chicken and vegetarian pho). Doctor the broth as you go with basil, bean sprouts and spikes of lime. Turn up the heat with jalapeño slices and sriracha. Be sure to order crispy spring rolls with that pho. More info: 516-586-6097, therollingspringroll.com
Tiny Thai (187 Main St., Farmingdale): A modest slip of a restaurant that has resided here for more than a decade, Tiny Thai is the place for familiar Thai comfort food. Consider a tom kha gai with chicken and coconut, or the hot and sour tom yum goong spiked with lemongrass. Share a plate of steamed dumplings, little pouches of minced pork and shrimp, crunchy water chestnuts and savory mushrooms. Consider a sweet and savory meat snack like satay chicken, marinated in coconut milk and herbs and served with a side of peanut sauce. More info: 516-694-3302
Local microbrew and neighborhood wine bar
Lithology Brewing (211A Main St., Farmingdale): Open since July, Lithology Brewing is the first place in town brewing its own beer in-house. A tiny little spot with Wednesday-to-Sunday tasting-room hours, it has big ambitions — winning a silver medal at this year’s New York International Craft Beer competition for its American-style brown ale. The brand comes from Kevin Cain, Lee Kaplan, Marc Jackson and Manny Coelho, home brewers who opened their own brick-and-mortar spot in July. For such a small place, there’s plenty to choose from, with 10 taps that include house pours like the Gold Coast IPA and L. Bees Knees with honey, sage and rosemary. A few guest taps dispense a rotating roster of local brews. Look for Wednesday growler fill-up deals. More info: 516-962-0585, lithologybrewing.com
Vintage Wine Bar and Bistro (185 Main St., Farmingdale): If you’re looking for wine flights, here is your spot. Owner Jeff Rumman’s Vintage Wine Bar and Bistro opened last year, offering value and variety among wine, beer and eats. With equal representation of Old World and New, more than 40 wines list for $10 to $12 a glass. If beer is your jam, choose from 30 craft beers (including seven on tap) and there’s a full bar. Eats range from the nontraditional Sicilian egg rolls or Kung Pao pierogies to bruschetta, pizza, and meat and cheese boards. More info: 516-586-8833, vintagewinebarbistro.com
Italian-American, old and new
Vespa Italian Kitchen (282 Main St., Farmingdale): Having opened in June, Vespa Italian Kitchen is a magnet on Main Street, with a boldly lettered sign and textured wood facade. Though you won’t find Italian scooters here, you will find a red-sauce menu tailored for modern cravings, such as kale in a sausage soup thick with white beans, along with an array of vegetable choices as mains and sides. For lunch, look for deals like a half-salad and sandwich for $13.95, a half-salad and soup for $10.95 and 10-inch pizzas that start at $9.28. More info: 516-586-8542, vespaitaliankitchen.com
Tre Scalini (196 Main St., Farmingdale): With the modest charm of an old-school Italian-American spot, Tre Scalini is a family-style restaurant from Angelo Barrera that’s good for a crowd — the dining room seats nearly 100. This is the place for osso buco, whole branzino or chicken Caprese. More info: 516-249-0140, tre-scalini.com
La Bottega (257 Main St., Farmingdale): Here’s a place for picky eaters looking for a fast Italian meal on a budget. La Bottega, having opened in 2013, offers a huge menu, an endless array of panini that starts with pork, chicken, turkey, steak or cured meat. Yes, there are vegetables, both on the sandwiches and the bruschetta with tomato and avocado, grilled zucchini or ricotta. Gluten-free folks aren’t ignored, with salads and tailored breads. Look for a kids’ menu and a few desserts, too. More info: 516-586-8195, labottegafarmingdale.com
Big bars and outdoor spaces
That Meetball Place (206 Main St., Farmingdale): The newcomer on the block, That Meetball Place, is a convivial spot that’s a sibling to the one in Patchogue. If every bar stool is spoken for on the ground level, head upstairs for a different scene — a cozy, intimate indoor-outdoor bar. For eats, consider a nontraditional meatball dish like meat loaf or chicken Marsala, an over-the-top salad or a winter classic such as butternut squash soup. More info: 516-586-8880, thatmeetballplaceli.com
Croxley’s Ale House (190 Main St., Farmingdale): One of a handful of locations from a local chainlet here since 2008, Croxley’s Ale House is an unpretentious bar. A magnet for sports fans, there’s no shortage of seating — it also has a year-round beer garden — nor is there a shortage of beer, with more than 50 brews on tap, and more than 40 bottled and canned. Weekday happy hour runs 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays usher in a free buffet from 4 to 7 p.m. More info: 516-293-7700, croxley.com
Library Cafe (274 Main St., Farmingdale): A cushy-yet-casual spot that’s anchored the street for a decade, Library Cafe displays a formidable bar with a library ladder and many shelves of booze. This Lessing’s family restaurant also is a meeting spot for all ages, from grandmas to girlfriends. Look for food truck-inspired finds like waffle fries and tacos, comfort food classics like potpies and meat loaf, and standard bar food eats — the menu offers a wide reach. More info: 516-752-7678, lessings.com
Mexican fare, regional and otherwise
CaraCara Mexican Grill (354 Main St., Farmingdale): Don’t be surprised by the temptation for sangria or a margarita at CaraCara Mexican Grill — here since 2011 — where colored ceiling lights and bouncy tunes can turn a weeknight into something more festive. For a starter or snack, servers make guacamole tableside. Continue on with tamales, tacos or enchiladas with rice and beans. Tortas, or Mexican sandwiches, are served with fries. Brunch also is popular, with breakfast tacos, Mexican omelets and quesadillas con huevos. More info: 516-777-2272, caracaramex.com
Chichimecas (169 Main St., Farmingdale): Pozole or pork and hominy soup stud the menu at Chichimecas, a restaurant from Alejandro (Alex) and Maria González that opened in 2012. The couple behind Huntington’s Oaxaca and Quetzalcoatl show off a serious side of Mexican cuisine. Barbecue fans take note of the Mexican-style mesquite-smoked ribs, chops, pulled pork and smoked chicken dishes that point to the restaurant’s name. Chichimecas refer to long-ago nomads who migrated from northern Mexico, eventually settled in the central region and were known for smoked meats. More info: 516-586-8646, chichimecasrestaurant.com