Where To Eat And Drink In Coney Island guide image


Where To Eat And Drink In Coney Island

Hot dogs, candy apples, enormous tortas, and more good stuff to eat before you ride the Wonder Wheel.

There are certain things people grow out of, like blankets with names and beds shaped like anything other than a bed. Then there's stuff you never really get too old for, like aquariums, beach boardwalks, and amusement parks with rides called Thunderbolt. Coney Island has all of these things, and it also has a bunch of places where you can get some good food after winning bumper cars (yes, it’s possible to win bumper cars). Here are our favorites.


Nathan’s Famous imageoverride image

Nathan's Famous


1310 Surf Ave, Brooklyn
Earn 3X Points

Long before they made competitive eating a televised sport, Nathan’s Famous had this spot in Coney Island. It’s been in this location for over 100 years, serving all-beef hot dogs at a big counter-service space a block off the boardwalk. We’re not going to tell you how you should eat your hot dogs, but we will say that you should probably pair whatever you get with a cold beer and sit at the picnic tables outside. The lines can get really long, so consider checking out their less-crowded outposts in Luna Park and on the boardwalk.

Just to the side of the main Nathan’s Famous location on Surf Ave, there’s a takeout counter called Nathan’s Clam Bar that serves raw clams and oysters. There usually isn’t much of a line here, so if you’d rather not wait for a hot dog, grab a little cardboard tray of shellfish to eat on the boardwalk.

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photo credit: SteaMania

SteaMania review image


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Throwing balls at a stack of tin cans to try and win a giant pink stuffed panda is hard work. You’ll need to take a break at some point and refuel. At SteaMania, right across the street from Luna Park, you can pick whatever seafood, veggies, and sauces you want, and they’ll arrive in a big steaming bag. We suggest ordering some snow crab, New Zealand mussels, corn, and potatoes with spicy cajun seasoning and garlic butter. You’ll get plenty of gloves and tools as if you’re about to remove someone’s appendix, but if you want something less messy, you can get things like fried imitation crab and mozzarella sticks.

If it’s a hot day and you won’t get in the water because you just rewatched Jaws, head to Coney’s Cones on the boardwalk to cool off. You’ll find more than 20 flavors of gelato and sorbet here like stracciatella, strawberry, and, our favorite, Coney Island custard. Whatever you order, get it in a waffle cone. Sundaes and milkshakes are also available, but if creamy things sound too heavy, opt for one of their icy lemon granitas. There’s nowhere to sit, so you’ll have to take your treat outside where you can shake your head at all those people in the ocean risking their lives unnecessarily.

Paul’s Daughter is a huge spot on the boardwalk that has just about anything you might want to eat after watching your friend win a giant stuffed animal by beating a six-year-old at Whac-A-Mole. You’ll find everything from pizza and hot dogs to sausage heroes and fried clams—but the lobster roll and fried jumbo shrimp are our favorites. After eating some of these things with a beer at a standing table on the boardwalk, get some soft serve and eat it on the beach a few feet away.

Ruby’s is kind of like Coney Island in a nutshell. This counter-service spot is on the boardwalk, just a few feet from the amusement park rides and the beach. The big, bright indoor space has a giant American flag hanging from the ceiling and loud music playing from a jukebox, and the picnic tables are usually packed with people drinking beers in plastic cups while their kids eat corn dogs and funnel cakes. This can be fun, but Ruby's also gets pretty crowded, so we prefer getting a drink and something fried, then sitting at the umbrella-covered tables right on the boardwalk.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

Doña Zita imageoverride image

Doña Zita

Perfect For:Quick Eats
Earn 3X Points

Doña Zita is a takeout counter down a little side street behind all the rides at Luna Park. Up front, there’s a taco station, and on the other side there’s a grill where you can order things like quesadillas, flautas, and gorditas. But what you really want is an enormous torta or cemita stuffed with meat, cheese, and vegetables. It’ll be one of the best things you eat in Coney Island.

When the Grimaldi’s in Coney Island closed during the pandemic, a former manager decided to take over the space and open Pizza Brook. The coal-fired oven remains, so it’s no surprise that the pizzas, with their crispy and slightly chewy crust, taste like the ones at Grimaldi’s. They offer a personal 10-inch pie if you want to do your own thing, and you can choose from more than 30 toppings. The graffitied facade makes this place hard to miss, and the huge exposed brick space with black-and-white prints of the surrounding neighborhood is the perfect place to bring your whole family.

After a day full of hot dogs and fried things, you might just want Tums and a nap on the beach—or you might be in the mood for something sweet. If you’re the kind of person who knows that desserts go to a different part of the stomach than other types of food, go to William’s Candy Shop. This small spot next to Nathan’s is full of colorful cotton candy, various types of candy apples, and soft serve.

Gargiulo's Restaurant

Earn 3X Points


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Gargiulo’s has been around since 1907, and it’s the most formal place to eat in Coney Island. So if you plan to end your beach day here, you’ll probably need a change of clothes—they don’t allow shorts, white t-shirts, or hats. But assuming you have acceptable attire, you can get some good Italian food at this old-school spot. After the huge complimentary bread basket and some appetizers like baked clams, try a few different pastas, like the fettuccine alfredo (half-orders are plenty of food). When the bow-tied servers bring you the check, they also shake up a jar filled with dice labeled 1-90. If you guess the number they pull out of the jar, your dinner is on the house.

You were busy riding the Cyclone or seeing a 1980s pop star perform at the amphitheater, so maybe you didn’t eat much today. Before you leave, grab some food at Pete’s Clam Shop. It’s a block from the subway, and there’s rarely a wait. Get a basket of fried clams (ask for extra lemon) and a beer, and eat at the picnic tables outside before spending the next hour in a subway you’re praying has working AC.

This Caribbean spot doesn’t feel too beachy. It’s in a dark space across the street from a giant roller coaster—but it’s a good spot for a fun group dinner, especially on the weekends when they have live music. The food, which includes things like codfish cakes and curry goat, is packed with flavor, and a large portion of jerk chicken with rice, peas, cabbage, and plantains costs roughly $15.

The original Tom’s is an old-school diner in Prospect Heights, and it’s mostly known for its brunch. But at the Coney Island location, you can drink a frozen margarita on a second-story rooftop overlooking the boardwalk. There’s also a big dining room where you can get many different varieties of pancakes or a burger for lunch. The food isn’t anything fancy, but this is a nice place to sit for a few minutes while you eat something with a side of fries, and there’s a small patio out front where you can sit and look out at the beach.

Maybe you have your heart set on eating exactly one large mound of crispy pernil after riding the Cyclone in Luna Park. There aren’t a lot of restaurants in the area that can make this happen, but fortunately, there’s Mi Candileja. It’s a counter-service Dominican spot where you can point to a few different dishes from behind thick glass, and it has everything from roast chicken and a steak sandwich to tres leches cake and papaya juice. Fill up a round foil container here with everything your heart desires, and take it all with you to eat on the beach.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Lunatics Ice Cream review image

Lunatics Ice Cream

Perfect For:KidsQuick Eats
Earn 3X Points

Lunatics Ice Cream sells just about everything you’d expect to find in a brochure for Coney Island. Cotton candy, candy apples, and rainbow spiral lollipops? Check, check, and check. You can also get classic flavors of ice cream like buttered pecan and cookies and cream as well as deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies. But the main reason you come here is the fresh hot funnel cake with a non-trivial amount of powdered sugar on top. If this sounds gross to you, we can’t be friends.

Right across the street from Mi Candileja is a Mexican restaurant (and a perfect example of setting clear expectations) called Juice & Tacos. It’s a great counter-service spot to know about if you happen to be eating in Coney Island with someone who’s looking for some carrot-ginger-orange juice. But unlike most juice bars in NYC, this place also serves steak quesadillas, thick Cubano tortas, and tacos filled with everything from carnitas to longaniza. Since Juice & Tacos has no indoor seating, you’re best bet is to pick up a few tacos and find a sunny spot to nourish your body with tortilla-wrapped protein.

Unsurprisingly, there's lots of beer at Coney Island Brewing Co., and you can drink it at one of the many picnic tables on the outdoor patio. This is a great place to sit outside with a group, and there’s also a little indoor bar area for those days when it feels like you’re living on the surface of a small star or a large hotplate.

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Suggested Reading

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Nathan’s Famous

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