Surf’s Up! Where You Need to Be Eating in Rockaway Beach Right Now

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Photo: Caracas Arepa Bar

With the Fourth of July behind us and summer in full swing, anyone who’s lived through many a New York summer will tell you there’s nothing quite as demoralizing as the grid of Manhattan in 90 degree heat. On those days when the concrete jungle is too muggy and the nearest rooftop won’t suffice, you need a quick getaway. Enter Rockaway Beach, the best seaside spot accessible via the A train. It’s less New York’s best kept secret and more New York’s most popular summer day trip destination. Whether you hit the Rockaways once a week or once a summer, you need a go-to list of places to eat and drink before, during, and after a day on the sand. So from restaurants to boardwalk concessions and old standbys to buzzy new spots, here’s where to eat in Rockaway Beach.

Tacoway Beach

When Rockaway Taco, debatably Rockaway’s most popular seasonal eatery, closed temporarily in October 2014, taco fiends heaved a collective sigh. Where would they get their beloved beer-battered tacos? Luckily, co-owner Andrew Field opened his own taco shack at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club to much fanfare in May. You’ll find all the same hits plus sides like creamy guacamole, bowls of cotija-topped corn, and fresh juice. The scene brings together the best of Rockaway: surfers, hipsters, and everyone in between. (302 Beach 87th St.)

What to getFish tacos, plantains and guacamole, fresh-squeezed watermelon juice.

Closest subway stopBeach 90th St.

where-to-eat-rockaway-beach

Photo: Rockaway Beach Surf Club (credit: Beth Perkins)

Whit’s End

The best pizza in Rockaway, and a contender for the best in New York, is made by Whitney Aycock, the profanity-shouting, culinary school-trained owner of Whit’s End. He imports his ingredients from Italy and makes pizza by the 11-inch pie (don’t try to ask for a slice, he will yell at you). Head over after a day at the beach, place your order at the counter, then try to find an open stool or couch while you wait. The simple, surf-shack space is attached to The Playland Motel and is open year-round. (97-14 Rockaway Beach Blvd.)

What to getAny pizza on the menu, especially margherita or with mushrooms and truffle oil.

Closest subway stopBeach 98th St.

The Summer Shift

Setting up shop in the old Rockaway Taco shack is this concept restaurant from design and branding studio The MP Shift and Rockaway Summer by David Selig, founder of Rockaway Taco. The seasonal pop-up hosts a rotating roster of New York chefs, all who specialize in Latin American food. Every couple of weeks until Labor Day, a new chef with Latin American roots will take the helm and showcase recipes from his heritage. (95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.)

What to getFernando Aciar of O Café/feelfood will be dishing up brunch-like fare like acai smoothie bowls and milanesa sandwiches until July 14, when he hands the reins over to Camille Becerra of Navy (see the full chef line-up here).

Closest subway stopBeach 98th St.

where-to-eat-in-rockaway-beach

Photo: The Summer Shift

Anna Bow

New to the Rockaway Beach restaurant line-up this summer is Anna Bow, a white-washed coffee shop and Mexi-cafe adjacent to The Summer Shift. Ideal for a breakfast burrito, smashed chickpea sandwich, or mid-afternoon smoothie break. (95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.)

What to getThe breakfast combo: a breakfast burrito with hot or iced coffee.

Closest subway stopBeach 98th St.

Caracas Arepa Bar

If you don’t want to venture too far from the sand, stop at the boardwalk outpost of this Venezuelan corncake specialist. The beachfront stand serves the same family recipes that draw the crowds to its East Village and Williamsburg locations, plus frozen drinks suited for the surf. (1o6-01 Shore Front Parkway)

What to getLa del Gato or De Pabellon arepas, side of fried sweet plantains.

Closest subway stopBeach 106th St.

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Photo: Caracas Arepa Bar

Rockaway Bagels

Every neighborhood in New York needs its signature n0-frills bagel place, and Rockaway Bagels is exactly that. Get to Rockaway bright and early, grab a bagel to go, and spend the morning in the waves before planning your stomach’s next move.

What to getA bacon, egg and cheese.

Closest subway stopBeach 116th St.

Playland Motel

The restaurant at the Playland Motel is no longer the scenester party haven of yesteryear. Dan Cipriani, owner of the Lodge in Williamsburg, reopened the restaurant in May with a “family-friendly” vision. Don’t worry, he didn’t replace bar stools with high-chairs, but he did reconfigure the restaurant as a concept space, with plans for art openings, open mic nights, and collaborations with surf and skate companies. The beachy food and drink menu make it an ideal stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner —  think breakfast burritos, fresh fish, and plenty of margs.

What to getNew England clam chowder, Baja fish tacos, and a guava margarita.

Closest subway stop: Beach 98th St.

where-to-eat-in-rockaway-beach

Photo: Playland Motel (credit: Michael Rudin)