BY SUNNY DAVIS
PHOTOS BY CARTER RANDOLPH TYLER
September 7, 2018
It’s always a good thing to hear that a restaurant in Montauk is open and affordable YEAR ROUND! Enter George’s Lighthouse Café. Yes, that staid snack stand…it’s a real restaurant now. And a good one, at that.
How very convenient for the folks who live here all year (or come out on non-summer weekends) and appreciate the chance to exhale in the colder months and spend time with their families – or catch up with neighbors and friends that they never get to spend QT with in the summer. We need somewhere to GO. All summer George’s has been pulling in crowds for great food and live music on most nights (Nancy Atlas and the Sturdy Souls, recently). And again, they’re NOT closing after LD!
I find the café to be a cozy spot in a communal space that offers a very welcoming setup, which is a great way to transform strangers into friends. Managed and operated by Mike Torriero and Amanda Feta, it is staffed with local folks who are anchored to the town and live here all four seasons. They’ve spruced the place up substantially, including plush turf on the outside back patio that overlooks the ocean. Bands play out there regularly, and kids roam safely.
“The crackling of their wood-burning fireplace will sooth you on a primal level”
Mike won a bid with NY State to operate the café in May of 2017. His successful bid was based on a commitment to run the café year round and have it available for community events, fundraisers, holiday gatherings, concerts, etc. It is a public-use facility owned by NY State. Prior to that, it was known as the Lighthouse Café – that was really just a stop ‘n snack kind of place until it’s reinvention with Mike and Amanda.
Come here with the family – it’s a great place to spend the day. There are old-fashioned board games, shuffleboard and a pool table – yes, the little ones can unplug from their devices and actually experience the joy of recreation and amusements from “the old days”! George’s is also a football-friendly atmosphere on the weekends and fans, they’ve got your back with essentials like chicken wings, onion rings, nachos, chili and a dozen different beers to choose from. Planned events this fall include a classic car show and a weekend of Christmas tree decorating and carols, each tree sponsored by a local business.
“One of Montauk’s best places to watch the setting sun’s fiery finale in winter”
I think you’ll enjoy the rewards of conversing with all types of people at their full-service bar which offers craft cocktails and excellent Bloody Marys. Wintertime libations like hot rum toddies and spiked hot chocolate will be available. Rose on tap will be available throughout the winter….yay!
The crackling of their wood-burning fireplace will sooth you on a primal level and promises to make the enjoyment of their cuisine even better. George’s offers comfort favorites like creamy clam chowder, Fish and Chips, a Bass Sandwich or bracing local oysters, which are always amazing in the cooler season. But they’ve got elevated choices that are masterfully done, including Avocado Stuffed Tuna Tartar, Steamed Mussels (yes, both local), and a Shrimp Zucchini Noodle Bowl.
The crackling of their wood-burning fireplace will sooth you on a primal level
Stepping out to the Café’s terrace overlooking the water is invigorating when there’s a chill in the air. Watch the parade of boats during the fall fishing blitz, gaze at the surfers as they ride the churned-up waves in a SSW swell. Fix your eyes on the surfcasters down on the rocks as they pull mighty stripers and blues out of the foam. (Fishermen: you are most welcomed and the café will pack a lunch to go for you.) Every weekend in winter there are guided seal hikes around the lighthouse trails, and the café is a great post-hike spot – on returning you can vanquish the chill in your bones with a steamy mug of hot chocolate or a hearty soup.
If you’re looking for a front-row seat for one of nature’s best reality shows, the terrace is also an awesome spot for waterfowl and bird watching; rounding the point is their migratory highway, so to speak, and hearing them honk, quack and cackle in glee as they pass by is always a delight. It’s also one of Montauk’s best places to watch the setting sun’s fiery finale in winter as the lighthouse is awash in a golden orange-pink hue you only see at this time of year. It’s stunning. I can’t help but imagine how comfy it must be in front of George’s roaring fireplace when the light powdery stuff starts to fall…would it be like feeling tucked inside your own personal snow globe? The thought of that feels so elemental and satisfying…seeing the Point all frosted up and hearing the extraordinary sound of “granular slush” lapping the rocks on the shore…while tucking in to one of George’s hot rum toddies, of course.
The kitchen and bar are open from noon until sunset, 7 days a week (winter hours may change so please call ahead).