Quarantine has taken its toll on all of us. But the good news is, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and we have a lot to fall back in love with. Do it with a full immersion and an overnight stay in our favorite downtown district.

By Su-Jit Lin

You remember the “good old days” in Patchogue: when dinner easily extended into cocktails that went into the wee hours, one drink turned into several, and “a couple of friends” became a reunion or a new entourage.

Now, it’s hard to believe in the quiet isolation of quarantine that those days were only a few weeks ago as we go stir-crazy missing it. But “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” so I propose taking our return to normalcy to the next level the moment we’re clear. 

Rather than having one crazy night out, make a weekend of it! Instead of starting the evening drawing straws for designated driver duties or ending it waiting for a ride from a stranger on an app, begging one from a friend, or ditching your car in town, take a weekend to live like an in-village local.

After weeks away from our beloved haunts, there will be no better time to give them some quality time. Immerse yourself even deeper into the town’s scene and go into hyper-local mode by staying overnight. Although the rumored hotel isn’t yet in the works, there are still options aplenty via Airbnb, as well as friend-of-a-friend sublets--something we won't be able to say in a few more years.


Because you no longer have to be from Suffolk County to know that this incorporated village is reaching its renaissance. In the past two decades, $246 million have been invested into housing erected at lightning speed to accommodate the demand young people are making to live in the heart of the South Shore’s hottest action. 


The list of bars and restaurants continues to grow exponentially, with 44 counted by The Long Island Advance at the year’s beginning--not including 25 more food service shops, such as bagelries like the famous Goldberg’s, delis like the lauded Hero Joint, bakeries, and artisanal purveyors. Coffee at The Bean--where you may have picked up this issue to read with a sweet specialty coffee--is a popular way to welcome the morning, as is stop at nearby Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Company, whose evening open mic events provide a cozy alternative to the effervescent bar scene found at James Joyce, Tap Room, Sneaky Pete’s, and handfuls more. 


Start a crawl there, or with amazing meals on the waterfront that range from casual fun at The Oar to upscale Lombardi's on the Bay, or South Ocean Grill on the way. On Main Street, you’ll find Caribbean inspiration at RHUM, a taste of Tennessee at Bobbique’s, and Colombian flair at Gallo. 


Then there are the grandfathered favorites: Delfiore, whose pizza boasts house-made mozzarella and unbromated flour, and Gino’s, whose zesty, garlicky grandma pie make it worth hitting up an ATM for this cash-only spot. BrickHouse Brewery has been serving its own house brews since Patchogue was pronounced hopelessly “dilapidated” in that famous New York Times piece the proud town’s comeback kids are quick to quote. 


From there do a food tour comparison with new-school contenders, the Patchogue Beer Project, Blue Point Brewery, and Donatina’s Neapolitan Pizza Cafe for its unheard-of (in these parts) Detroit-style crust. These scenes are only in addition to alluring natural ones outdoors, especially in the light of day: green spaces and water views are everywhere. And as for arts and culture? There’s no shortage. The Patchogue Arts Council does its part to make sure of it, fostering the growth, development, and preservation of performance and media arts galleries and centers. There are churches of several different orders if music and rhetoric is more your artistic style, but for those who consider their bodies the ultimate temple, Finest Fitness and Spa lets you worship with vigor while studios like Love Yoga Shala provide a gentler option. Or, walk off brunch or pastries from Hometown Bake Shop or Mademoiselle Patisserie with a retail workout; over 35 shops provide ample opportunity.  All of these come together to make a weekend semi-staycation in Patchogue not long enough to fully uncover all this town on the brink of greatness has to offer. And there’s no sign of Patchogue’s progress slowing down; economist Ted Poole of 4ward Planning Inc. has gone on record to project that in the next ten years, 2,527 jobs will be added to the area with nearly $240 million being generated by the community’s growth. 


Which leads you with just one job--enjoy it. Go there, stay here, and be a part of bringing it back once more after we’ve rounded the bend of our current crisis. And one day, say you knew it then and lived in it … even if it was just for a long weekend.

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