If you are here for the Hamptons International Film Festival, chances are you are staying in or near East Hampton Village.
It is, to be sure, one of the most quaint, historic villages around. But it can be quirky, especially to a stranger. Know this: You’ll be looking for places to get some grub between movies, and that means in and out in a hurry, and portable.
Luckily, some of these places have been around as long as HIFF. They know what you need.
The unquestioned epicenter of all things HIFF related is John Papas Café (631-324-5400). It’s also where the biggest stars and the hottest names attending the film festival will almost surely go. Papas is also cool because breakfast can be had all day. Alec, Jerry (Seinfeld, that is), Sarah Jessica Parker, and many more stars are in there all year long.
Our faves? Challah bread French toast, chicken souvlaki (all the Greek dishes are good), and the early dinner specials — try the prime rib, a steal at around $23.
You can’t miss Citarella (631-283-6600), it is virtually next door to the United Artists multiplex on Main Street. Citarella used to be primarily for take-out, but the café inside (breakfast and lunch only) is attracting crowds nowadays, possibly because there is a good selection of sushi and maybe, just maybe, because they make the best omelets in town.
Some HIFF attendees don’t realize we have a real pizzeria right in East Hampton Village that is as good as any Brooklyn has to offer. It’s Fierro’s (631-324-5751), right across the alley from Waldbaum’s on Newtown Lane. They are pros — they’ll get you in and out quickly, yet everything is made fresh. Hint: You can also buy candy for the movie there and save a bundle, especially if the kids are with you.
There is a terrific variety of slices or whole pies, hot and cold heroes, and a lot of stuff you wouldn’t expect, like salads and wraps, and even paninis. There are tables inside, or get it to go. They also have those neat little bottles of Chianti you can smuggle into the theater.
Across the street, hidden down the alley next to the Middle School, is an authentic Chinese take-out place, oddly enough named Chinatown (631-324-1999). We love the pupu platter for two and the sweet and sour chicken. There is no place to eat inside but the park is right across the street. They also deliver.
Mary’s Marvelous (631-324-1055) on Newtown Lane has all the favorites from the Amagansett store, including delicious home-baked treats and hearty sandwiches and soups for lunch. Eat all the sugary stuff you want, just make sure you put some kale in your smoothie and wear your gym clothes and you’ll convince everyone at the theater you are still diligently working out.
Villa Italian Specialties, around the corner from Mary’s, by the train station, makes its signature Italian hero to go, so you can smuggle it into the theater if need be.
Parking And Lodging
There is very limited motel space within walking distance of East Hampton village, and you can be quite certain all the rooms are booked. If you are staying anywhere else, like Montauk or Hampton Bays, for example, you’ll need a car.
The trick is knowing where to park it. The only sure way to dump your wheels and zone out in the theaters for 14 hours is to locate the long-term parking lot in the village. It’s just north of the train station, just east of the YMCA, and behind Herrick Park to the north. Set your GPS to Maidstone Lane or Pleasant Lane.
There is a fee for overnight parking and an automated machine, but it’s reasonable, safe, and secure. HINT: There is a walking path going right through the park and into the Park Place parking lot behind Main Street.
If you are in the village all day, be advised merchants frown upon freeloaders looking to use the facilities. So, unless you are willing to buy an $850 puce mohair V-neck, hear me now and believe me later: There is exactly one public bathroom, and it is in the Reutershan parking lot behind Main Street, west of Newtown Lane, on the north side near the tennis courts.
The movie theater itself is the next best bet. Tip: Use the facility and then buy the popcorn. Just sayin’.