Port Jefferson – mid way along the North Shore of Long Island – is a town we’ve always loved, and we’re so excited to be out here! We started going as early as 2008, after we’d just been married a couple of years. We also had a fun time visiting during the winter (Charles) Dickens Festival in 2009. This year we’ll dress up, maybe as chimney sweeps.
For now, I’m going to focus on the town’s eats and treats. This may be a short whirlwind of brief reviews of many restaurants, cafes and bars. Let’s start with…beer for a change. We’ve yet to try Prohibition Kitchen, which sounds equally great for its food too. We love Po’ Boy, a little out of town. Even many residents who enjoy ale haven’t heard of it. Maybe we want to keep it this way. Anyway, nearer to the Port Jefferson Station area you’ll find this amazing, small brewery of real (or “craft”) ales and ciders camouflaged in a hidden clutch of businesses. It has a green, swampy Cajun wallpapered theme, is immaculately clean and friendly and an easy place to linger for as long as you can. There’s also a “Sour Patch” at the back, a loungey area which focuses on the more sour beers and ciders.
Then there’s the Port Jefferson Brewery right in the heart of the village, and oh so many other options.
Oh, and The Tara Inn a mile out of the village too, which is a kind of dive bar where you could easily know half a dozen new people within an hour. Unbelievable bargain, tasty meals and snacks. If Happy Hour, a burger and beer is about $4 I think. It’s dimly lit but that adds to its down-to-earth appeal. Nearby Grumpy Jack’s is also very good, a comfortable Irish pub with champion tucker and menu. What is it with cocktail pints here?! Anyway, we love them!
You can also find vineyards not too far from Port Jeff too, as well as distilleries a do-able drive away whilst the Sunday Farmer’s Market features stalls for both beer and also for moonshine and other liquors. I sound like I’m doing an advertising promo with this post, which is generally not my writing style, but it’s just enthusiasm!
Onto food, our favourite cafe in the village has sadly closed: ‘C’est Cheese’. There are so many other great ones though. We’ve been to the Indian fusion roof top bar and restaurant, Saghar just once so far but that was amazing. Ever fancied trying Indian fish and chips, with spices in the batter? Do yourself a favour! There’s also a beautiful view of the harbour.
The Steam Room is a visitors’ popular spot. I imagine especially so with ferry crossers to and from Connecticut. It’s right opposite the ferry launch. The fish and chips – the classic kind – are very good there too. Lobsters rolls are maybe a 6 and a half/10. We’ll look elsewhere to find what we’re hoping for in that department. Perhaps somewhere to rival The Rex in Nassau County.
You’re welcome to bring your dog to the patio at the Steam Room. In fact, almost everyone in town seems to have a large, lovable dog! We love many animals, so personally we’re very happy if you bring your parrot, Flemish rabbit or lemur into town too.
An old favourite of Marie and I is Pie pizza restaurant, which is a good place to finish up at after, say, seeing a play or musical at nearby Theatre 3. It’s been a while since we’ve been to Pie, but if I remember rightly their pizza is something approaching Pizza Hut. Which is never a bad thing. Only it has a much nicer ambience of course.
There are very enjoyable, quality coffee and tea [plus food] alternative hangout cafes, like Tiger Lilly (a long term staple with us) or Locals Cafe, which we’ve recently discovered. ‘Toast’ is diamond too, with a nice, artsy vibe in there and huge portions of delicious fare.
Our tip for best diner (so far) is the old fashioned and delightfully comfortable and friendly ‘Station Cafe’ outside of the town.
Restaurants we want to try include Fifth Season, Pasta Pasta, Nantuckets, Prohibition Kitchen…too many to mention!!
We’re looking forward to a return visit to the Farmer’s Market too, having last time bought a bottle of moonshine and a Middle Eastern hand pie. Tonight we’re giving the Turkish restaurant, Mavi in nearby Mount Sinai a go.
A few days later
Well, Mavi was an unexpected delight! We’d only seen the perhaps blander – though very nice – part of Mount Sinai before. It’s one of PJ’s neighbouring towns, a little to the East. We’d just driven to typical surburbia there, but we didn’t realise there was more to it. Mavi sits next to lush green woods and the area feels very New England-y. A real family run place I think, in a converted house and is humbly but beautifully laid out. Next to this small restaurant sits an amazing little barn converted into someone’s home. The kebab platters at Mavi were very good, and the attractive interior is not what we’d expected. No alcohol served, but you can bring your own beer or wine.
We also did try Prohibition Kitchen in downport Port Jefferson the next night, Saturday. We had a fine time there too. Sat at the bar we shared platters and had cocktails and beer. We really enjoyed the lobster poutine small plate, and the onion rings. The roasted Brussell sprouts – which you find everywhere now, and which we generally love – were just a 7/10 and weren’t the tastiest we’ve had IOHO. The cocktails were delicious, and my saison beer also a good one. A really nice night and a great atmosphere even if PK is a little on the pricey side. Update – several weeks later and we’ve since had many very enjoyable Happy Hours here on a Thursday or Friday, and love most dishes and purty much all their drinks!
Downport area is a party town on Saturday night! Everyone perfectly behaved, and having a wonderful night of it. Some show off their fancy sports cars, others enjoy dining and drinking around the marina with pumping dance music. Miami “Light”? Everything is very tasteful and the harbour/marina a joy. Living here now, we may go Downport at off-peak times though if we want more mellow because we can imagine tourism might get a little much on a frequent basis!
There’s a lot more to Port Jefferson beyond food and drink, of course. We also plan to take a fishing trip on Celtic Quest at some point (perhaps reeling in a tuna or anchovy over dramatic waves and driving rain!). And in the summer there are new things to do every weekend, here or in the towns & countryside around. As an artist and photographer, I’ve been out with my sketch pad and camera on some days and I’ll add a couple or so of my photographs below. We’ll be excited for 2022!