There's nothing like taking the crew or guests out for a good burger/steak/day's catch and a beer/wine/cocktail after a full day of boating. Your eyes, fried from a day out in old man Sol, take a bit longer to adjust to the soothing dimming of interior shade, the chill of the a/c sends a shiver up your neck, the floor is no longer moving and you sink yourself into what — after a day of naugahyde-atop-plastic butt bouncing — now compares to your recliner at home. Ahhhhhhhhh. Although there are plenty of eateries and watering holes available to boaters, here's a look at a half-dozen of our favorites.
After a day of pounding offshore chasing whatever species you've targeted, there's nothing like negotiating Shinnecock Inlet, crossing the bar (at the mouth of the inlet, that is), and entering Shinnecock Bay. Make a hard left and you'll see two openings in a dock wall. That's where you'll find Oakland's Marina and Restaurant. The marina is full-service with 42 slips and transient dockage for diners, the scenery is perfect from virtually any angle and you can sit outside or in. This place can get packed on summer weekends. Prices are, surprisingly, somewhat reasonable for the ambiance. Oakland's Restaurant and Marina, Dune Road at Shinnecock Inlet, Hampton Bays; 631-728-6900; www.oaklandsrestaurant.com.
Heading "up island" (west to you non-natives!) as the Twin Forks pinch down to the Peconic River, you'll notice an inlet to your north. Follow the buoys — something you'd better have been doing if you're unfamiliar with this area, anyway — dogleg right at the 5 mph marker and you're in Meeting House Creek. Putter on down about a quarter-mile and you'll see a marina (Larry's Lighthouse). Make a right at the second set of slips and you'll find Meeting House Creek Inn. There's tie-up space at the outside dining area/tiki bar for small boats, and the marina has transient space for larger craft (call 631-722-3400). The tiki bar rocks, there's plenty of indoor seating, sunsets are great from outside, food runs the gamut and prices are very reasonable. Meeting House Creek Inn, 177 Meeting House Creek Rd., Aquebogue; 631-722- 4220; www.meetinghousecreekinn.com.
You'll have to walk at least 150 feet from boat-to-bar for this one (you'll pass several other eateries along the way, also). Tie up at the Riverhead Town docks (sometimes they charge, sometimes they don't), and angle across the parking lot to the west corner where you'll find Tweed's Restaurant and Buffalo Bar. In one form or another the place has been here since 1896, making it, if not the, then certainly one, of the oldest restaurants on the North Fork; the mahogany and marble bar comes from the 1893 Chicago Exposition. The big draw to Tweed's is its Island-grown bison cuisine. Its menu is eclectic and also draws, whenever possible, from local product. This isn't a spacious eaterie, but well worth the wait and tight elbow room. Prices are on the high side, but the food is usually exquisite. Tweeds Restaurant and Buffalo Bar, East Main St., Riverhead; 631-208-3151; www.tweedsrestaurant.com.
Like Riverhead there are a ton of restaurants accessible from Greenport's Mitchell Park Marina, but the natural choice is the Claudio's complex. Pull up to Claudio's Marina (monitors Channel 9; dockmaster: 631-477-0355) and check out Crabby Jerry's with their walk-up, self-serve spot on the dock, Claudio's Clam Bar, also on the dock, or the original Claudio's (original in that it's been there since 1870), that's not on the dock, but provides a more formal sit-down dinner atmosphere. Prices range from normal to the high side, the settings are picnic benches to linen table cloths depending on locale. A good wine list in Claudio's for you oenophiles. And no matter which you choose, you're always within eyeball distance of your boat. Claudio's, 111 Main St., Greenport, 631-477-0627; www.claudios.com.
Fishbar on the Lake Restaurant at the Gone Fishing Marina (631-668-3232) is about a half mile inside the Montauk jetties. One of the big draws to Fishbar is, naturally, fish, which Chef Jennifer Meadows (see the Food Network's Chopped), who is part owner, picks right off the commercial boats each day— before it goes to Brooklyn's Fulton Market. The food is prepared "Nantucket" style, and its doubtful you'll get seafood any fresher. Burgers and New York strip are available for you carnivores, and, of course, there's local lobster as well. The ambiance is coastal casual and very Montauk. The apps are great, there's vegan/pasta menu, and there is a pretty decent wine list. On top of all that, there are cooking classes to be had. Fishbar on the Lake, 467 East Lake Drive, Montauk, 631-668-6600; www.freshlocalfish.com.
Sweet Tomato's Pomodoro Dolce is located in the Shelter Island Heights area (just west of Dering Harbor, which, for those of you who don't know Shelter Island, is the area south of where the ferry to and from Greenport docks. This — it's actually okay to call it elegant — restaurant serves a menu of what the owners call Italian fusion cuisine, and prides itself on excellent service as well as food; a nice dark bar as well. You'll need to drop the hook and dinghy in (just on the north side of the Bridge St. bridge and walk up Grand Avenue (Rte. 114), but it's well worth it. Good wine list, sushi rolls, seafood and meat … Italian style, naturally. Sweet Tomato's Pomodoro Dolce, 15 Grand Ave., Shelter Island Heights; 631-749-4114; www.pomodorodolce.com.