After what seemed like weeks straight of cloudy, rainy days, Rockaway finally saw sunshine this past Sunday, with the food concessionaires in full swing. Everything along the boardwalk between Beach 90 and Beach 106 was open and gearing up for the big summer-kickoff holiday weekend, including a couple of newcomers both on the beach and a block or so inland. Here’s a look at some beach food highlights of the coming season—note that a section of the beach will be off-limits to swimming due to beach erosion this summer, but it will still be business as usual on the boardwalk.
High 97 (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
High 97 The only truly new stand on the boardwalk this year is this first-rate fish-n-chip spot at the Beach 97 concessions. On Sunday the lightly fried-up swimmer was rock fish, though that will vary depending on what’s freshest at their (sustainable) supplier, Sea-to-Table. The fries were crisp and salty, and the Cheeseburger, cooked medium rare as requested, was also very good.
This is a welcome addition to the bustling Beach 97 dining pavilion, which also features favorites like Super Burrito, Breezy Barbecue, Bolivian Llama Party, Uma’s, La Fruteria, and Low Tide Bar.
Whit's End (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
Whit’s End The extremely talented (and genuinely likeable!) but often ousted Whitney Aycock opened a spacious new full-service restaurant last winter a few doors down on Rockaway Beach Boulevard from his old restaurant (it's on the corner of Beach 97th), and not only does he have a full slate of his famous and delicious pizzas, there's a whole separate menu of fancy-ass dishes like Spring Peas and Chz, Stack of Lamb, and Squid Fra Diavolo. This sounds like it'll be way worth sticking around the beach for dinner.
La Barracuda (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
La Barracuda Colombian native Martha Acosta, who's lived out on Rockaway since 2000, is putting the finishing touches on her huge outdoor food-and-juice garden, La Barracuda. She told me that the food part of the operation will feature meat skewers and crepes, and she hopes to be ready by this weekend. She's also hoping that a beer and wine license comes through soon; this is a fun-looking space—complete with hammocks—on the corner Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 97th (right across from Whit's), though it might be tough to fill with just juice on the beverage menu.
Brothers (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
Rounding out those returning to the boardwalk, the extremely excellent and screamingly-healthy Brothers is back for a third year at Beach 106th—everything is great here, but maybe get the egg, cheddar, radish sprouts, and ramp pesto English muffin sandwich to start your summer off right; they're also sharing the space with the venerable Caracas Arepas. And the always rocking Rippers, home of one of the city's best burgers, the Hardbody, will be packing them in again all summer at Beach 86th.
Rockaway Beach Bakery (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
Speaking of the city's best things to eat, Tracy Obolsky and her delightful Rockaway Beach Bakery survived their first off-season of (no) business and now she's back with her amazing croissants (both sweet and savory), pies, breads, and acclaim-garnering sticky buns. Located at 87-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard near Beach 87th.
Finally, the New York City restaurant at which I've eaten more often than any other is probably Andrew Field's remarkable Tacoway Beach, especially if you include its previous iteration as Rockaway Taco. For ten years now Field has fed tens of thousands of sun-burnt pilgrims and laid-back locals, and shows no sign of ever not giving his full love and attention to the operation. The patio setting out back at Rockaway Surf Club (302 Beach 87th) is as festive as ever, and my standing order of two tacos (one fish with guac, one chorizo) was, as always, even better than I had been dreaming about all winter.