It’s a health food store operating a robust business in Montauk, where the health-obsessed have been known to spend their juice-guzzling summers. How else must one nourish a tanned, lithe, athletic body, and a surfer’s build than with green things and gluten-free things and cage-free things and things that make the insides as pleasant as the outsides?
But Naturally Good Foods & Café, Montauk’s go-to organic health food store and café, is not a fly-by-night operation. Nat Good, as the locals call it, was making health food cool even way back when Montauk was still nothing more than a fishing village with a drinking problem — as opposed to a party village with a town code problem.
Lauren Katz, a New York University graduate with a master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, paired up with Cornell University alumna and graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute Andrea Mavro to open Naturally Good Foods & Café. Until 2014, the women sold their food from an 800-square-foot space on South Etna Avenue, until they outgrew it, moving their operation to a space twice as large, on Montauk’s Main Street.
Naturally Good, deeply settled into its newer, better environs, now serves breakfast and lunch, until 5 PM, every day. Even in the dead of winter.
In addition to the sit-down experience — guests can eat either at high-top tables inside or, seasonally, in the back garden — Naturally Good offers an extensive to-go menu, as well as a stocked market, with organic and health-oriented products unavailable, for the most part, in the rest of Montauk. There is a small, refrigerated section, with dairy and dairy-like products, organic meats, and organic produce, as well as aisles of grocery items — including everything from baking necessities to canned foods.
The juice bar is a particularly popular enterprise, offering fresh carrot-based juices, wheatgrass shots, all manner of green juice, protein powder and almond butter-packed smoothies, and tasty additions, like dates and cacao. And each day, the restaurant features a series of rotating food specials, which are posted online. Several soups are always available (think black bean, carrot-ginger, and tomato-rice), as well as salads, burgers, quesadillas, and stir-fries.
Breakfast provides ample options for any type of eater; choose from sprouted wheat bagels, egg tortillas, frittatas, breakfast burritos, multigrain pancakes, oatmeal, granola, and more. For lunch, which is served after noon, there are customizable salads, sandwiches, wraps, bean bowls, burritos, quesadillas, fish tacos, and chili.
Naturally Good has also developed a catering program, preparing everything from Thanksgiving dinner to private parties and school lunches. A sample menu from the 2018 Thanksgiving options included roasted Brussels sprouts with tomatoes and parmesan, quinoa vegetable pilaf, sweet potato and winter squash soup, apple-walnut whole-grain stuffing, sweet potato-pumpkin-pecan biscuits, mashed butternut squash with sage, and pumpkin and apple pies (the bird is yours to handle).
In summer, when the influx of out-of-towners arrives, you might find yourself waiting for more than a minute for a juice at Nat Good (pro tip: order by phone ahead of time). But that’s for good reason. In a village just now realizing the true impact of its own popularity, there are few places that have reliably paced themselves to stand up to Father Time. Call it premonition or smart prediction, but whatever it was, Katz and Mavro knew that a healthy café would be a boon to this fishing village. Years later, their prescience has paid off.