I’m kinda a Southold kid. Kinda.
I say that because I lived on the border of Southold and Greenport for a mere six years of my childhood — but they were the formative years — after the divorce, before high school. During that time, my mom cleaned JoAnthony’s Restaurant in Southold, and we’d go in with her before school and help her vacuum and scrub and do all those things that people don’t see when they walk in to a place for a meal.
JoAnthony’s is long gone, but the place where they used to have their checkered red and white tablecloths and their Lady-and-the-Tramp spaghetti dinners is now what I believe has gotta be the best damn restaurant in the Town of Southold: Founder’s Tavern.
I’m a simple kind of girl when it comes to going out to eat, but one of the things I can’t stand when going to a restaurant is paying more than food is worth. It’s just one of those things that makes it difficult for me to stomach a meal. Kids are starving somewhere. Kids are probably starving right here on the East End. I know because I’ve been hungry.
I really don’t understand why eating out on the North Fork has become such a precious experience. It’s just the North Fork. People have got to be able to get a great meal somewhere without walking home with an empty wallet.
Heck, when I was growing up here, the Love Lane Kitchen was a laundromat. I spent a lot more time there feeding quarters into washing machines than I spend there now.
One of the best things I’ve found about Founder’s Tavern lately is that, while I might be in the mood for a basic Tavern Burger or a flounder sandwich, they always have great fancy-sounding specials on their big board in the dining room with all sorts of seafood and braised and crusted entrées with mouth-watering descriptions. I’ve tried some of these specials and they are just grand. Especially the seafood ones.
This is especially great for when company comes from out of town and they want you to provide them with a North Fork foodie experience. I have no interest in a North Fork foodie experience. But I’ll go to Founder’s Tavern any night of the week.
Here at Good Eats, we’re writing about great simple good food, so this is what I have to say about Founder’s Tavern:
The burgers are great. They’re just great. The Tavern Burger comes with jalapeños. You can build a burger any way you like it. The pickles are always crunchy. The sweet potato fries are always crispy (no small feat). If you’re cutting back on carbs they’ll give you a very nice salad of spring greens instead.
The buns are always freshly made that day by the Blue Duck Bakery across the street. I know because I run a farmers market in Flanders that carries Blue Duck bread and one day Flanders got the box of hamburger buns marked “Founders.” The Blue Duck said we could keep them to sell and they were amazing. I’m not sure what Founders did for hamburger buns that night, but we were happy.
Now, there are some times when I’m grouchy. This happens to everyone. When I’m grouchy, the best solution is to put a Thanksgiving dinner in front of me. It fixes everything. And what Founders does is make a roast turkey and applewood-smoked bacon sandwich. This, along with any one of the fine local brews Founders keeps on tap, will solve just about any problem.
If you’re tired of American food (and this happens to everyone), they have some great Asian-infused regular menu items. The Asian tuna wrap is always fresh and perfectly seared, with just the right amount of wasabi. The sesame chicken wings and chicken and lemongrass dumpling appetizers are very tasty. You can even order a margarita pizza in this place.
They also have a kid’s menu, but I never ordered from the kid’s menu because I’m too old. Even my son’s too old to order from the kid’s menu. But there have got to be some of you out there who will be very grateful for a restaurant that still has a kid’s menu.
Another great thing about Founder’s is that they have a dining room, and then a high wall, and then more dining on high tables at the bar. This makes it a perfect place to visit on any occasion, and when you’re in any mood whatsoever.
This place is also neat as a pin. It’s possible that I only notice it because I spent so much time in this building with the vacuum cleaner when I was a child. It’s very tastefully decorated in muted colors, with old-time photographs of old-time Southolders — potato growers, brick makers, fishermen — all over the walls. Lots of Youngs in those pictures too.
I’m a sucker for pictures of Youngs and I guess as a Young I’m a sucker for any restaurant named for Southold’s founders. But Founder’s Tavern just rocks. I thought about it long and hard and decided it’s just the best place to be.
55500 Route 25
Southold, NY 11971