Breaking news: you don’t need a car to live that summertime beach life in NYC. In fact, you don’t even need to leave the five boroughs. You can take the subway, or the super convenient NYC Beach Bus to the part tropical, part concrete oasis otherwise known as Rockaway Beach. OK, it’s mostly concrete and a car is certainly helpful, but the beaches are damn beautiful.
Rockaway Beach has bounced back in a big way since Hurricane Sandy, and now more than ever it’s home to all manner of excellent things to eat and drink. These are the best among them. Start planning a beach weekend.
The single most important eating and drinking destination in Rockaway. Tacoway Beach is the “new” Rockaway Taco, which closed its original location after last season. They serve the incredible fish tacos, and are worth a trip to Rockaway on their own merit.
Playland has all kinds of things going on, namely a backyard with a fake beach, games, and a blow up pool. Play corn hole, drink beer, and mingle/dance/wobble with some new friends, because this is where everyone congregates for happy hour.
This bar is an old Rockaway charm. It’s a half a block from the beach, has a lively crowd, and serves up great frozen drinks.
Whit’s End is a pizza place owned by a fisherman named Whit, who curses like a sailor and makes good, puffy crust pizzas. But the thing that keeps us coming back are the fish tacos. Whit goes fishing in the morning and then brings whatever he catches back to the restaurant, cooking up everything to order. Know that Whit’s is tiny – there are some chairs outside and a couple window seats inside, but it’s absolutely worth a visit.
Located right on the beach, Rippers serves your standard snack bar fare: dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and fries. At the very least, it’ll keep you from going hungry while you spend the day in the sand.
This NYC cheap eats staple has an outpost at the beach, located on the boardwalk at Beach 106th St. It’s a great place for a quick bite in the area. They also have A+ frozen drinks.
96th Street has the biggest variety of concessions on the boardwalk, including a Juice Stand (La Fruteria), a ceviche stand (La Cevicheria), a full service bar (Low Tide Bar), and our top pick, Lobster Joint. Get a lobster roll or slider, and eat it outside.
Post-Sandy, Bungalow Bar has done a really nice job renovating their old divey space. They have an amazing setup on the bay, looking out at the Manhattan skyline. The food is good enough, and the vibe has changed from an older, local focus to a more social, younger crowd. Do it for a drink.
A recent addition to the Rockaway Beach restaurant scene, Sayra’s is a nice little wine bar that also serves up some tasty bites, including a meatball sandwich on a pretzel bun and truffle mac and cheese. This is probably about as civilized as a meal around here can get.
Because you need to lay down a base before your full day in the sun, and Rockaway Bagels is the place to do it.
The big food news out of Rockaway this year is that Brooklyn Night Bazaar moved its operation from Greenpoint to Riis Park Beach for the summer. It’s at the other end of Rockaway from where all the other good stuff, but it’s worth a trip, just to hit up things like Brooklyn Star, Ample Hills Ice Cream, and Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ. There’s also a bar with plenty of outdoor seating, and live music.