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.
Where To Eat And Drink In Coney Island image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

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 the 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.



Coney Island

$$$$Perfect For:Cheap EatsClassic EstablishmentLunchOutdoor/Patio SituationQuick EatsSerious Take-Out Operation
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Long before they made competitive eating a televised sport, Nathan’s Famous had this spot in Coney Island. It’s been here for over 100 years, serving all-beef hot dogs at a big counter, 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.

There are two lines at Nathan’s original location. If you want seafood, get in the one on the left for Nathan’s Clam Bar. You can get paper plates of raw clams and oysters, as well as fried seafood and their full hot dog menu. This line gets just as long as the regular one, but you’ll get your shucked-to-order shellfish within a few minutes.

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$$$$Perfect For:LunchBig GroupsWalk-Ins

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, as well as lighter 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 long stall on the boardwalk that has just about anything you might want to eat after watching your friend beat a six-year-old at Whac-A-Mole. You’ll find everything from pizza and hot dogs to sausage heroes and fried clams here—but the lobster roll and fried jumbo shrimp are our favorites. Eat some of these things with a beer at a standing table on the boardwalk, then get some soft serve to take to 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, loud music playing from a jukebox, and picnic tables that 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.

You probably have big plans to fill up on hot dogs and shellfish, but the best lunch option near the boardwalk is actually Doña Zita. This takeout counter is down a side street behind all the rides at Luna Park, and the thing to order here is an enormous torta or cemita stuffed with meat, avocado, and about a thousand strands of queso Oaxaca. Getting everything in one bite would win you a carnival prize.

When Grimaldi’s in Coney Island closed in 2020, a former manager took over the space and opened Pizza Brook. The coal-fired oven remains, and the pizzas taste like the chewy, crispy ones at Grimaldi’s. You can choose from over 30 toppings, and they offer a personal 10-inch pie if you want to do your own thing. The graffitied facade makes this place hard to miss, and the huge 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.



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Gargiulo’s has been around since 1907, and it’s the most formal place to eat in Coney Island. 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.

Just a couple doors down from the long line at Nathan’s Clam Bar, Pete’s Clam Stop has a bigger variety of seafood, and there’s rarely a wait at this open-air stall with big group tables under some shade. Clams and oysters are available raw or baked, and we never leave without an order of fried clam strips or shrimp. You’ll find all the usual fair food suspects, but the surprise hit is the shish kebab, straight off the grill and smothered in BBQ sauce.

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.

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 butter 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.

Unsurprisingly, there's lots of beer (and a few bar snacks) 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.

Before or after marveling at the ragtag cast of sword swallowers, fire breathers, and acrobats at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, head to Freak Bar for a beer with some like-minded misfits and weirdos. This bar, which doesn’t serve food, is attached to the sideshow’s Seashore Theater, and despite the odd knickknacks and creepy clown art, it’s a cool, welcoming spot for some canned beer from some of our favorite local breweries.

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