Arts & Living visited three Sag Harbor restaurants this week for American, Mexican and Thai fare. While there, we discovered each of the eateries most popular dishes, the signature dishes and the chef’s favorites.
ost Popular: Cheddar Cheeseburger; entrée $7.
Chef’s Favorite: Buffalo Chicken Sandwich; entrée; $7.75.
Signature: Lobster Roll; entrée; $15.
Owned by Liza and Joe Tremblay, Bay Burger is known for its homemade American comfort food. Employees grind all the hamburger meat, bake all the bread and even churn all the ice cream served here.
According to Ms. Tremblay, who sat down for an interview during a busy Labor Day weekend Saturday afternoon, the cheeseburger is the most popular item on the menu, particularly when it comes with everything on it, including cheddar cheese and sauteed onions.
The burger is 1/3 pound of beef ground in-house, served on a homemade brioche bun and a choice of cheese—American, Swiss, cheddar or blue—plus lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. Extras include bacon and sauteed onions.
“We can sell up to 300 a day on a good day,” she said. “That’s my favorite.”
Ms. Tremblay said that her other favorite is the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich—a crisp chicken breast cutlet tossed in a spicy buffalo sauce and served on a homemade brioche bun with blue cheese dressing on the side.
“It’s the best ever, it’s fantastic,” Ms. Tremblay exclaimed. “But you have to eat it over a piece of paper because it’s a messy one. You can’t eat it like a lady.”
The restaurant’s signature dish is the Lobster Roll, which is served only in June, July and August, and is made from just the claws and the knuckles, “only the sweetest parts,” Ms. Tremblay said. The recipe is simple: lobster, mayonnaise, shallots, lemon juice, celery and pepper mixed together and served on a top-sliced, brioche-style hot dog bun, toasted on both sides.
“We do almost nothing to it, and the lobster is in really big pieces,” Ms. Tremblay said. “Also, there’s no salt because the seawater is still in it and the lobster is so nice and sweet.”
Cilantro’s Mexican takeout
ost Popular: Chicken Fajita; entrée $10.95.
Chef’s Favorite: Steak Enchiladas; entrée; $9.95.
Signature: Carne Asada; special entrée; $9.95.
Co-manager Fernando Quezada is a man of few words but definite opinions when it comes to Mexican food. Explaining the menu at Cilantro’s, he said simply, “It’s all good.”
The Chicken Fajita is sauteed with onions, green and red peppers, and cilantro and is served with rice, beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream. The dish comes with a choice of three corn or flour tortillas.
“We sell a lot of these every day for dinner,” Mr. Quezada said, adding that fajitas can also be ordered with shrimp, steak, pork, veggies or a mix of the choices.
When it comes to his favorite dish, the Steak Enchiladas are among the best, he said, noting that he likes just about anything that has red meat in it.
Served with three baked corn tortillas and topped with tomatillo-spiced red sauce, Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, black beans and rice, the enchiladas are also offered with ground beef, pork, shrimp, chorizo and flounder in addition to steak.
“They’re the best!” Mr. Quezada said.
The signature dish, the Carne Asada, isn’t on the menu but it’s always on the specials blackboard, according to Mr. Quezada. The dish includes steak, rice, beans, a salad and three corn tortillas.
“It’s not on the menu but people ask for it all the time so I guess that’s why it is the signature dish,” he explained. “It’s my favorite.”
Phao thai kitchen
ost Popular: Crispy Duck Salad; entrée $16.
Chef’s Favorite: Red Snapper Sauté; entrée; $29.
Signature: Beef Massaman; entrée; $24.
Manager Elaine Radigan is passionate about the food at Phao. Not only does she love it, but she can speak eloquently about every dish on the menu. Known for its authentic Thai flavors, Phao is also a swinging nightspot with a bustling bar business. Don’t forget to order one of the signature cocktails, such as the Phao Sake Mojito, when dining, she advised.
The Crispy Duck Salad, which contains a duck breast over mixed greens with diced mango and spicy Beech mushrooms in a jalapeño-citrus vinaigrette with a side of sweet and sour pineapple sauce, is a “well-balanced dish, taking precedence right now” Ms. Radigan reported. She added that the duck meat is cooked so it is tender and juicy but also nice and crispy.