Forget the Hamptons, the North Fork Is the Laid-back End-of-summer Escape You Need Right Now
Everything you’ve read about the North Fork — the 30-mile stretch of Long Island running just parallel to the South Fork — is true. Because the region is rich with fertile soil, farms, wineries, and roadside stands purveying everything from grape pies to pastured eggs abound. And in stark contrast to the Hamptons, the South Fork’s overrun stomping grounds for the well-heeled, the North Fork maintains a decidedly chill vibe. And where else — especially within easy driving distance of NYC — can you still find beaches blissfully free of crowds, and score a solid restaurant meal without booking way in advance? Even better, most everything you’ll want to do takes place outdoors, so you can maximize your time in the briny, crisp air. So ahead, a mini-guide on how to make the most of a relaxing, and equally important, safe getaway to the North Fork.
Where to Stay
Even though it opened in 2018, The Lin Beach House manages to feel like an insider’s secret. Occupying a lovingly restored Victorian structure on Route 25, the guest house bridges the old and new with five spacious rooms and suites outfitted with soaring ceilings, bohemian furnishings, and vintage accents like clawfoot tubs. And to limit contact with staff — who are always available and friendly, should you need anything — The Lin Beach House offers contactless check-in. (Guests are emailed key codes for their accommodations and common areas the day of check-in.)
If location’s key for you, book a room at American Beech. Tucked away in the heart of Greenport’s Stirling Square, the boutique inn and restaurant owned by lawyer Brent Pelton and fashion designer Alex Vinash — whose flagship boutique doubles up as the hotel’s reception area — marries understated elegance (think Frette linens, Maison Margiela toiletries, and Restoration Hardware beds) with the warmth of staying in someone’s gracious home. (Complimentary breakfast baskets are delivered to guests’ doors every morning.)
Where to Eat
Make Sunny’s Riverhead Diner & Grill your first stop heading into North Fork — and your last one going home. The North Fork institution, which has been around for nearly 90 years, was given a new lease on life when local couple Jim and Sunny Liszanckie bought the business in 2017. Thankfully, the space preserves its humble appeal from before, and the food, too, still comforts with over-the-top sandwiches like the Hungry Man (eggs with three types of meat and American cheese on a roll) and Polish Reuben.
Craving seafood? Then check out The Halyard, the signature restaurant of Sound View, a charming waterfront inn in Greenport. Here, chef Stephan Bogardus celebrates the ocean’s bounty with requisites such as lobster rolls, and original plates including seared foie gras wish hamachi sashimi and Shinnecock scallops with corn risotto. Request a table outdoors overlooking the Long Island Sound, and kick off your meal with an order of salty biscuits and butter.
Earlier this year, chef John Fraser (of Manhattan hotspot The Loyal) took over North Fork Table & Inn, a beloved local mainstay since 2006. Now, and after a thoughtful six-month renovation, the restaurant features a separate bar, two al fresco dining spaces, and a more polished, sleek aesthetic. As for the cuisine, it squarely spotlights pristine, hyper-seasonal local ingredients with an emphasis on vegetables. Every artful dish is as easy on the eyes as it is the palate, but if you’re seeking a more casual nibble, head to the on-site food truck.
When the craving for pizza hits, 1943 Pizza Bar has you covered. Situated in Stirling Square, adjacent to American Beech, the cozy spot is offering its crispy, wood-fired pies — the margherita and Clams Casino are musts — and best-selling meatballs to-go for the time being. But if you’re comfortable dining indoors, then head to Brix & Rye, its sister underground cocktail den where you can sip and snack the night away — at tables safely distanced, of course.
Where to Drink
With nearly 60 wineries and vineyards, there are plenty of ways to drink in the North Fork’s terroir. One standout is Macari Vineyards, whose history dates back to the 1930s when founder Joseph Macari Sr. crushed grapes with his father in the basement of his Queens home. Today, his granddaughter, certified sommelier Gabriella Macari, continues the family legacy by producing rich, elegant wines. And just in time for this year’s harvest, the Mattituck location’s tasting room is now open by reservation only.
Founded in 1978, Lenz Winery is one of the region’s oldest — and most popular, too. Renowned for making wine accessible and approachable, Lenz has a tasting room open to the public, and offers outdoor sips when the weather’s warm. Dogs are also welcome here, and you can take a late-summer picnic on one of the benches with a bottle of Lenz Merlot.
While wineries might be the region’s claim to fame, Matchbook Distilling Co. is proof positive that there’s more to drinking well here than Bordeaux-style reds. Not only is the space uniquely set up to distill any spirit regardless of scale, from grappa to whiskey, it also lets guests blend their very own bottle of gin with an interactive “Create Your Own Gin Experience” available Saturday afternoons.