Filling up your belly at Spicy's.
Fill up your belly at Spicy’s.

If you’re alive, you’ve gotta eat. And if you’ve gotta eat, you’ve gotta put some decent calories in your belly. And if it’s winter and it’s cold and you’re feeling around in your pockets to try to find the warmth of those Ben Franklin bills you used to pack in there during your summertime working high, you’re going to need to grab some calories before you die in the next polar vortex temperature plunge.

Spicy’s knows that. Spicy’s has always known that. If you’re anywhere near West Main Street in Riverhead, forget about Buffalo Wild Wings. Forget about Joe’s Crab Shack and TGIF and all that other corporate rubbish up on Route 58. This is where you need to eat.

Now, I know all y’all out on the forks have a few not-so-nice things to say about Spicy’s. You heard once or twice somewhere that something bad might have happened there or maybe your skin was the wrong color to hang out there or something. But that’s just all rubbish. Take it from the ladies who shelve books at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. They told our dining party we’d better head to Spicy’s on a Tuesday to take advantage of their buy one, get one half price deal on wings. They know what they need and they know how to get it: Secret Sauce. Calories. Half price cheap.

Alas, our dining party was celebrating a couple birthdays on our visit to Spicy’s on a cold, icy winter night, and we couldn’t exactly move our birthdays to a Tuesday to take advantage of the special library lady deal. That’s ok. When the secret sauce calls, you just go.

There are a few things you need to know before you go. First of all, this isn’t a Kentucky Fried Chicken kind of joint. You can have as many wings as you want, but you’ve gotta search the menu for another part of a chicken. About the closest you’ll get is a half a barbecue chicken. But you don’t need another part of the chicken if you order the wings here anyway. These are real wings, made from real chickens, special chickens, who have the mightiest meatiest wings around.

The second thing you need to know is that Spicy’s sauce is not some kind of horrid buffalo sauce like the sauces they serve you up at the chain-store pubs. It’s creamy and zesty and yellow and amazing, but it’s not five-alarm spicy. It’s just real. You can even take big jars of it home with you.

Now, if chicken wings aren’t your thing, don’t fear. Spicy’s has a ton of fish and seafood. We had a pescetarian in our midst on our birthday dinner crew, and he happily munched on his fish and chips and collard greens while we pigged out on macaroni and wings. The rest of us locovore snobs in our dining party won’t touch anything green in winter, on the assumption that it isn’t Grown on Long Island, so we’ll hold out judgement on the collards until August. But the pescetarian was a wolf when it came to downing everything. We all were. That’s what the polar vortex does to your appetite.

We huddled up to a window seat in the simple diner car dining room, after checking out the juke box for some tunes. It was old school hip-hop hour on the radio in the shop, and we were in the mood for Public Enemy so we gave up on the juke box and sat down and listened. We bulked up on spicy baked beans and fell in love with the homemade macaroni and cheese. Some parties in our midst were claiming Flavor Flav wore his giant clock to rehab in Westhampton. How do we know that? Is that public information? We weren’t supposed to tell the media, so we didn’t. Oops.

Old school radio hour ended and the teenager in our midst started a debate about autotune and modern music. We happily debated. There’s nothing so fun as arguing with a teenager about music.

We almost asked for an order of ribs to keep up our winter calorie fix, but then we saw an advertisement, down at the bottom of the menu, for “the best and probably the only sweet potato pie on L.I.”

And that’s when we decided that Spicy’s was better than home cooking. It was better than mom and apple pie and it was better than just about anything. When we ate that pie, we felt loved. And that’s how good cooking should make you feel.

Newly fortified, we ventured forth back into the ice of winter. We were now fully prepared to fight the power of the polar vortex. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Spicy’s menu is online here.

Spicy’s Barbecue
225 W Main St
Riverhead, NY 11901


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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