Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rockaway Beach's Cool Food Scene

Rockaway Taco started it all

A new foodie destination
Editor's Note: Please read the June 20, 2013 update for the latest status of Rockaway Beach's food scene post Hurricane Sandy.

The expansive boardwalk at Rockaway Beach dates back to 1918. I guarantee you back then there was no som tum (Thai papaya salad), or arepas, or Blue Bottle macchiatos.

Thankfully, this summer a crop of delectable food stands have exploded onto the scene.

Even within a two-week span, I counted three new concessions, from boozy Low Tide Bar to the wryly named Sharon is Karin sandwich cart.

Fried fish boat
Traditional beach food is fast and cheap, and often makes you regret it afterwards. This food may be cheap, but it's fresh and carefully prepared, taking up to 20 minutes per order. But fear not.The wait is worth it. And there are plenty of feasting options.

There are three clusters of boardwalk food vendors: the main one at 96th St and two tiny ones at 106th St and 86th St. Other excellent vendors are scattered along Rockaway Beach Blvd, so definitely explore.

Fried fish sandwich
Boardwalk at 96th St Vendors

Rockaway Taco - The birthplace of Rockaway Beach's cool food scene. While their fish tacos are the bomb, you'll have to venture off the boardwalk a few blocks to the original shack to get your fill. The boardwalk outpost only serves flautas and tostadas. For snacks, grab the fresh chips and guac ($4) or refreshing chili + lime spiked cuke, mango and jicama spears ($4). Wash it all down with fresh young coconut juice ($4), still in the coconut.

Popular Motorboat
Moterboat and the Big Banana - I could eat their fish sandwich ($6) all summer. Hand seasoned fried fish is light and crispy, and topped with a tangy sauce and pickled onions. All the fried fare here gets a big, fat thumbs up. They also do chocolate covered frozen bananas. Expect a wait. It's the most popular stand.

Ode to the Elephants - A sizable menu of authentic Thai fare. Try the spicy som tum ($6) and chicken satay ($4) for a light lunch. The shrimp spring rolls are also tasty ($7).

BabyCakes - The popular LES dessert shop knows how to represent with yummy vegan donuts ($1.25) and frozen brownie sandwiches.

DiCosmos - The cart sells classic Italian ices in refreshing flavors like cucumber-lime and their famous lemon for $2. The company dates back to 1915, so you know it's good.

Low Tide Bar - Craving a cold brew or something stronger? This tiny beach bar-stand just opened last week. Make sure you have an ID on hand.

Boardwalk at 106th St Vendors

Caffeine fix
Blue Bottle Coffee - Just the ticket for your drip brewed caffeine fix. New Orleans styled ice coffees ($4) hit the spot. You can take home the beans too.

Caracas Arepa Bar - A big shout out to an East Village favorite. If you're craving delicious Venezuelan arepas or fried enchiladas, look no further.

There is also plenty of seating in this food area. And the waits are not as long for service as 96th St.

Kick back at Bungalow Bar
Finally, a perfect day at Rockaway ends a few blocks off the beach at Bungalow Bar. This neighborhood hideaway is a gem.

A large outdoor deck overlooks Jamaica Bay and the Crossbay Bridge. Get there in time to grab a cold Heifferveisen ($5) and watch the sunset. Chips and salsa are on the house. You won't have a care in the world. The food and service are well worth it.Try the mussels ($10) and Crabby Patty ($12). Live music on Sundays. 377 Beach 92nd St, next to Thai Rock.


  1. well done! I feel like I was there! :)

  2. thanks for including Ode to the Elephants! we appreciate it

  3. To Valeria - Ode to the Elephants is a big hit with my friends and fellow Rockaway fans.

  4. Hi Kika,
    I am trying to get in touch with you about getting permission to use a photo of your's for a website. Please email me at

    Thank you.