For a lot of Hamptonites, even the locals, there’s east of the canal — the Shinnecock Canal, that is — and the city. Oh, and Manorville, where the Jitney stops at Starbucks.
Say “Sayville,” “Bay Shore,” or “Patchogue” to an East Ender, and you’re likely to get a blank stare, or, even worse, a comment about being there 20 years ago, perhaps accompanied by a pained look and a curl of the lip.
Well, come down off that high horse and take a visit to some of Suffolk County’s more westerly gems (that are still considered Eastern Suffolk, folks).
Sayville can be accessed in 45 minutes from Jobs Lane in Southampton. It’s exit 51 off Route 27. Head south down Broadway Avenue past the lovely Islip Grange park (home of a summer farmers market, antiques shows, and various reenactments) and turn right onto Old Montauk Highway. For a more daring, longer scenic drive, just stay on Hill Street out of Southampton and go straight — passing through lovely villages like our own Hampton Bays and East Quogue, Center Moriches, Patchogue, and Blue Point, where the oysters used to come from. It’ll take you about an hour and 15 minutes.
After you take that right, within two blocks, you will be welcomed on the right by Off The Block Kitchen & Meats. If you are a vegetarian, just keep driving into town. But if you are a meat-lover, you could do worse than stop at this no-frills butcher shop-cum-hipstery lunch/brunch/dinner spot, with free-range, organic eggs and all the meats and veggies locally-sourced as much as possible. In fact, you can point to your choice cut in the butcher display, and have it cooked up for you right then and there. Full of Insta-worthy dishes, this hidden find can be found online at www.offtheblockmeats.com and on social media at @off_the_block and on Facebook’s “Off The Block Kitchen & Meats.”
If you’re feeling a little more crunchy and a little less meaty, keep heading west, and you will enter the village of Sayville. Find parking (there’s plenty) and visit Cornucopia Natural Foods in the plaza just before Railroad Ave — a health food store that does it up right. Think small Whole Foods. From its organic and non-GMO deli, to its huge selection of dry goods, fresh juices, and hot food choices, to the beautiful wooden wall of plants and cheerful staff (plus tables up front), this independent health food store has been serving the public, and expanding, since 1976. Found at www.cornucopiahealthfoods.com and @cornucopiafoods on Instagram.
With a full tummy, it’s time to wander around. Although there is the occasional empty storefront (and where is there not one?), Sayville is full of unique shopping experiences.
Got to get your Ganesha on? Visit Guru’s on 78 Main Street — a family-owned store chock-full of Hindu and Buddhist statuary, and all the tools you need to balance your chakras, from crystals and the like, to tapestries and prayer flags, to beautiful flowing clothes, scarves, jewelry, music, books, and more. They even have meditation classes and energy healing available, with a mission statement that includes helping people on their spiritual journey. For more info, visit www.guruscreations.com, or follow them on Facebook at “Guru’s” and Insta @guruscreations.
Feeling a tad chilly? Almost immediately next door to Guru’s is Irish Crossroads at 58 Main Street, where those from the Emerald Isle will feel at home. There are the famous sweaters, signs honoring the various counties, and more Irish-themed gifts and goodies than you can shake a shillelagh at, along with gorgeous items honoring the ancient Celtic heritage. And plenty of pint glasses and tea mugs, sure and begorrah. Online at www.irishcrossroadsonline.com, and on Facebook as “Irish Crossroads Ltd.” and Instagram as @irishcrossroadsonline.
Want to knit your own? Rumpelstiltskin Yarns at 22 Main Street is an old-fashioned yarn store, with a fabulous tin ceiling, old-timey spinning wheels on display, and all the latest skeins and patterns. With a few friendly long tables in the back (which looks like a good place to have a spot of tea), Rumpelstiltskin offers classes galore for all levels. Check online to learn more — www.rumpelstiltskinyarns.com.
Maybe you’re in the mood for Mediterranean? Well, look no further than The Crushed Olive at 31A Main Street. With dozens of different kinds of oil — extra virgin, infused with different flavors like mushroom and sage or blood orange — and other gourmet items like balsamic vinegars (the honey ginger is a favorite), this small store is loaded with gift options. They even have a butter flavored olive oil for those who are dairy-intolerant. Yes, there’s a tasting option, with plenty of bread to dip. Visit www.thecrushedolive.com, also on Facebook as “The Crushed Olive.”
There’s so much more — neighbors chatting on the streets, places with outdoor dining, street décor to admire and hidden alleys to peek down — plus a comic-book store, a fantastic vintage clothing and jewelry store, a movie theater, and, of course, the ferry to Fire Island, that makes Sayville one of Long Island’s perfect villages for a day trip, or even longer. Visit www.sayville.com to find out more.