Our Favorite Version of “Green Eating”
When you’re craving something chlorophyll-filled that isn’t a salad, all hail the guac. In theory, it’s even easy to make. Yet, maybe it’s the onion copping or cilantro sourcing or wiping up all the tomato seeds, but whipping up a bowl of guacamole always seems to be more easily said than done. Save yourself the trouble and source it out at one of these spots instead.
La Fogata (174 E Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays)
Unlike some of these other hot spots, La Fogata is still a bit of a hidden gem. Opened last year just outside town in Hampton Bays, its white tablecloth dining covers a wide landscape of Latin cuisine. Guac served with plantains will give you something to snack on while venturing through menu-induced fantasies about where you’d like to
There are Mexican street-style tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas; Spanish- style ceviche and grilled Octopus; and, from Colombia, stews, sharing-platters of various fried snacks, and – for the hungriest – an enormous plate of asada, sausage, egg, avocado, plantains, rice, and beans. Fine wines, smoky mezcal cocktails, and nice beers take the place of cheap margaritas, further making Fogata fall into that camp of ideal date spots that, depending on how the night goes, can keep a romantic evening out capped at a discreet dinner or, with DJs coming to spin atmospheric tunes after dark, can segue seamlessly into a night of dancing elsewhere.
Union Cantina (40 Bowden Sq., Southhampton)Down below the ground in Southampton’s Bowden Square, 400 Rabbits is a dreamy hybrid of a speakeasy and tequila bar, set in an actual Prohibition speakeasy space with buttery tunes, mythological Aztec influences, and more than 100 tequilas. However, before going down this rabbit hole, you’ll need a solid drinking base. Start upstairs in Union Cantina restaurant.
Here, award-winning chef Scott Kampf whips up farm-fresh fusion fare such as chipotle chicken sliders, Caribbean-spiced tacos, salads spilling over the sides of their bowls, and spicy guava barbecue ribs – which are, for the record, gluten-free. His French training is apparent in the artfulness of each dish, but make no mistake: a cantina is a drinking establishment, and this fare will fill you with all the vitamins and Instagrams you need to kick off a good night, starting as always with made-to-order guacamole.
The Hideaway (364 West Lake Dr., Montauk)Paper plates of shredded meat slide onto the tables while chilies infuse tequila in big jars behind the bar, and sandy diners watch the game on TV or flip through a gossip magazine to the backdrop of waves lapping in Diamond Cove Marina. The Hideaway – which is, in fact, quite hard to find – is the casual Mexican joint you want to go to when you can’t be bothered with lines or reservations or putting forth any more effort than slipping on your flip-flops. But for all its carefree charm (and yours), there’s a library of fine tequilas behind the bar, along with fresh-made sangria, a variety of Mexican beers, and food. Oh, the food.
The Hideaway is run by a husband-wife team; the husband has a love for pit-smoke meats, while the wife proudly hails from Chiapas, Mexico. As such, there’s a pulled- pork platter served with Mexican grilled corn, St. Louis-style ribs, crowd-favorite stuffed peppers, tamales steamed in banana leaves, and massive burritos. Despite its hidden nook, it does fill up, so order the guacamole while you wait for your buzzer to go off for the rest of your meal.
Tacombi (752 Montauk Hwy., Montauk)In Manhattan, Tacombi – now with four locations in the city – may well be the island’s favorite spot for group-style Mexican dining. Its festive restaurants set in big open spaces with quirks like a bar set in a VW van brush transport diners to a stress-free land where big orders are placed via check- a-box menus and horchata runs like water. Here in the Hamptons, the restaurant is no different. Peek through its big glass windows and you’ll find big tables looking like the remnants of the taco-night party you were too lazy to throw, scattered with tacos, squeezed limes, half- empty pitchers, and lots of napkins.
As always with groups, get the guac. Sourced from farms, a compendium of salsas are made fresh (never with preservatives), the tortillas will make you think differently about the simple form of bread, and the juices and drinks are so good they earned their own brand – Lupita.
Lucharitos (119 Main St., Greenport; 487 Main Rd., Building D, Aquebogue)The backstory of Lucharitos isn’t quite as carefree as its quirky superhero theme suggests, which – from the signage to the tables to the wall art – is best summated as what it might look like if the Avengers teamed up for a fiesta. The owner’s former café was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, but rather than giving up the enterprise, he remodeled the space into the funky taqueria it is now, whose name means “little fighter.” And this fighter knows how to throw heavy punches.
The original in Greenport near Shelter Island became so popular it had to expand to double its size in 2015, and another opened further west in Aquebogue 2016. By- the-piece tacos come stuffed with lobster and coconut shrimp; the nacho section of the menu offers no less than eight styles of toppings on organic chips; there’s a new empanada to try every day; and a chip dip trio with guac, salsa fresca, and queso offers the perfect starting combination. After all, who would have the tenacity to ask Bruce Wayne to choose between the three?