After Decade of Reinvention, Patchogue Once Again a Seaside Gem

Patchogue’s Alive After 5 summer street festival, which runs Fridays in July and August, attracts thousands.

Patchogue has been a destination of sorts since 1869, when the final stretch of South Side Railroad tracks were laid from Sayville and hotels and boarding houses sprang up to handle New York City residents looking to beat the heat.

The tourist boom went bust with Wall Street in 1929, however, and Patchogue retooled itself as a regional shopping destination, with scores of busy shops and restaurants complementing its traditional textile, paper and lumber industries. The malls killed that iteration of Patchogue in the 1960s, and the village went into decay for the next 30 years, cementing its reputation as the spot along Montauk Highway where travelers pressed a little heavier on the gas pedal.

The village’s current rebirth began in the late 1990s, when government, business and varied economic development agencies committed to a sustained program of renewal. Since then, the village’s acclaimed 1920s theater has been reclaimed, hundreds of new apartments have been built and downtown business has returned to levels of activity not seen since the 1950s.

If you’re spending the day or just passing through, you can’t go wrong with the suggestions that follow. 

A ferry filled with passengers sails on the Great South Bay to Watch Hill on Fire Island
A ferry from Patchogue filled with passengers sails on the Great South Bay to Watch Hill on Fire Island (NPS Photo)

Ferry to paradise

It’s true, one of the village’s main draws are its ferries to Fire Island, with ships departing daily from its Davis Park Ferry Terminal (Sandspit Marina, 80 Brightwood Street, 631-475-1665, davisparkferry.com) and, historically, its Watch Hill Ferry Terminal (160 West Avenue, 631-475-1665, davisparkferry.com). Fire Island’s Watch Hill Marina, however, is currently closed for repairs by the National Park Service, and will reopen for the 2018 season, along with corresponding ferry service. The Davis Park ferry takes beachgoers to its namesake on Fire Island, as well as Leja Beach and Ocean Ridge. Check the website for the latest schedule. 

Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts
The lobby of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by James DeLucia)

Patchogue’s got talent

A focal point of Patchogue’s downtown is the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts (71 E. Main Street, 631-207-1300, patchoguetheatre.org), a beautifully restored 1,104-seat, venue originally opened in 1923 as Ward & Glynne’s Theatre. As majestic today as ever, the theater, now owned by the village, is the largest of its kind in Suffolk County, and offers a busy slate of musicians, comedians, plays and more. Spacious seating upgrades installed in 2016 only further improved an already fabulous facility.

If you prefer your entertainment a bit louder and rowdier, Patchogue’s 89 North (89 N. Ocean Avenue, 631-730-8992, 89northmusic.com) is the village’s current contribution to LI’s proud rock club lineage, singularly so since the sudden closing of The Emporium in May. At 89 North, the venue pairs its world-class sound, lighting and staging with a well-positioned bar and an upper seating area with table service. Whether you’re watching a local band or a national touring artist, every show here is an event. 

Oozy egg taco with crab, asparagus, and arugula (Photo courtesy of Rhum)

A foodie’s fantasy

Patchogue has quietly become one of Long Island’s top destinations for dining, from posh, big-ticket eateries to authentic, roll-up-your-sleeves street food. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re craving the smoky goodness of BBQ mecca Bobbique (70 W. Main Street, 631-447-7744, bobbique.com), the delicate, mouthwatering sushi and Japanese fare at 360 Taiko Sushi & Lounge (47 S. Ocean Avenue, 631-207-6888, 360taiko.com), the down-home pub grub at Reese’s 1900 (70 N. Ocean Avenue, 631-289-1900) or a breakfast bonanza at Toast Coffeehouse (46 E. Main Street, 631-654-7091, facebook.com/ToastCoffeehousePatchogue).

We’d also be remiss not to mention the waterfront surf & turf mastery of Oar Steak & Seafood Grill (264 West Avenue, 631-207-1953, theoar.com), the bold Caribbean flavors of Rhum (13 E. Main Street, 631-569-5944, rhumpatchogue.com) and PeraBell Food Bar (69 E. Main Street, 631-447-7766, perabellfoodbar.com), which serves impressive, global-inspired cuisine in a casual pub setting. 

Blue Point Debate Beer
Blue Point Brewery debuted Colonial Ale, a beer recipe created by President George Washington, at the 2016 Hofstra Debates (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)

Night life: Live and liquid

In addition to its vast array of top-rate restaurants, Patchogue offers several hybrid dining/brewpub/live venue locations that are seemingly always happening. One can’t-miss spot for dinner, drinks and live music is also one of Patchogue’s most iconic businesses: Blue Point Brewing Company (161 River Avenue, 631-475-6944, bluepointbrewing.com), soon to be celebrating its 20th anniversary. Long Island’s lone commercial brewery and home of its famous Toasted Lager (among a growing array of other varieties), Blue Point’s tasting room can get a little packed with beer-ficionados, but you’ll thank yourself for muscling your way to the taps, especially since you get three 5 oz. samples just for stopping in. Cramped quarters will no longer be an issue in early 2018, when Blue Point opens its expanded new facility on the corner of West Main Street and Holbrook Road, on the current Briarcliffe College campus.

Patchogue’s beer-topia also includes The Tap Room (114 W. Main Street, 631-569-5577, patchoguetaproom.com), an upscale brewpub renowned for its wide beverage selection and ultra-tasty burgers. (The mussels are also a local favorite.) Opened in 2011, the spot is considered one of the anchors of Patchogue’s downtown revival. Specials include $4 Long Island beers on Monday nights, as well as happy hour Monday to Friday from 3 pm to 7 pm, featuring $4 drafts and wine, and $5 mussels, served one of five different styles. The dizzying beer selection is regularly updated online, in case you need to strategically plan in advance.

Another sure-fire pick, great for a leisurely lunch or relaxing waterside dinner, is Harbor Crab Co. ( 116 Division Street, 631-687-2722, harborcrab.com), a sprawling two-story boat/building berthed on the Patchogue River. Tourists and locals alike flock here for the fresh seafood and cozy ambiance, or to take in the nightly live music from one of the restaurant’s two vibrant bars.

And if you’ve got the itch for a tropical waterfront oasis, head over to Leeward Cove Marina (327 River Avenue, 631-654-3106, leewardcovemarina.com), home to Dublin Deck Tiki Bar & Grill (631-207-0370, dublindeck.com). Amid the ever-flowing food and drinks Dublin also presents live music daily on its outdoor stages, including a Calypso steel drum band on Sundays and live reggae on Tuesdays. Popular daily food specials include $6 Build-A-Burger Tuesdays and the Thursday Lobster Bake Luau. The adjoining marina also offers a host of paddle board, boat and water sport rentals if you can pry yourself away from the Deck.

Roe Arch V1
No walking tour is complete without a stroll through the Archway at Roe Walkway, which
connects Main Street with Artspace and offers great murals

Shop, shoot and roll

If your idea of fun involves more than raising a pint of Blue Point lager, the whole family can try their hand with a bow and arrow at Smith Point Archery (315 Main Street, 631-289-3399, smithpointarchery.com), a full-service archery pro shop, school and indoor range. (There’s also a new crossbow range, for those would-be Daryl Dixons.) Don’t worry if you don’t travel around with your bow; you can rent one for $25, which includes shooting for the day. The range/store is open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

A less lethal, but equally enjoyable option is to bowl a few frames at Bowl Long Island at Patchogue (138 West Avenue, 631-475-5164, bowllongisland.com), especially on those rainy afternoons when you’re not lounging by the water. And for evening action, the bowling alley holds a “Dollarmania” special every Sunday night from 6 p.m. until close, with each game costing just $1 per person ($5 cover, $1 shoe rental) plus $2 Miller Lites and $1 pretzels. There’s also unlimited bowling for $10 per person (shoes included) every Wednesday and Thursday from 9 p.m. to close.

The history minded can explore what’s left of Patchogue’s proud past via a walking tour, including such oddities as the former New York Telephone Co.’s switchboard operations, the Clinton Roller Skating Rink and the site of the Leroy Thurber Bottling Works, where ginger ale, sarsaparilla and soda were packaged for the hotels. The Thurber guarantee: “No dirt.” Go to history.pmlib.org/patchoguewalkingtour for a PDF guide or an audio tour you can download to your device.

Too late for this year, but those who like to walk should pencil in next year’s Alive After Five program, during July and August, when large swaths of downtown are turned into one giant street festival.

Finally, if you’re looking for something special to remember your time in Patchogue, a favorite among shoppers is The Amazing Olive (35 E. Main Street, 631-307-9092, amazingolive.com), a well-stocked local source for the finest extra virgin olive oils, as well as vinegars, herbs, salts, rubs and seasonings. At any given time you can stop in and sample more than 50 award-winning oils, selected each year from competitions like the New York International Olive Oil Competition, Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition, Yolo County Fair Olive Oil Competition, Napa Valley Fair Olive Oil Competition and the Central Coast Olive Oil Competition.

The shop even holds private tasting parties Monday through Thursday after closing, complete with appetizers, a balsamic-inspired drink and dessert for each guest ($20 per person, six to 14 adults). After the tasting you get the entire store to yourself to browse and buy, plus a free sample bottle of oil to take home.

Art Space v2 1
Artspace Lofts is a vibrant arts community in Patchogue with live/work space for artists and a resident’s
gallery. It’s also home to the Patchogue Arts Council Gallery and Plaza MAC Cinema, an independent
movie house