Fort Tilden, the Next Top Beach: Yay or Nay?

Going to the beach should be fun and relaxing. But for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have a car in the city (I sure don’t), the thought of melding with screaming children and their equally obnoxious parents on the subway has you already shaking, perhaps the hipster way is the best choice to take for your next beach adventure. Of course, as the service expands, it has its downside, namely, the takeover of Fort Tilden.

Now Rockabus, the Williamsburg-based shuttle bus service that specializes in transporting hipsters to the beach, makes stops to this unrestricted spot every couple of hours. Joy! Or not. I mean, it’s good for people to go there, but I am afraid if we are not careful, soon Fort Tilden will be less quaint and more annoying. Though, the upside to this might mean more awesome food choices like they have at Rockaway Beach. Right now, the only options at Fort Tilden are the glorious milkshakes in flavors like peanut-butter cup and Almond Joy, or a chili and pepper-cheese-topped hotdog from the Breezy Dog truck. Wish there was someway to bring the food, but leave the obnoxious crowds.

For the decade that I have lived in New York, Fort Tilden has been the place to go to for those souls who wish for a more laidback, cleaner, and topless beach time. Since it doesn’t have lifeguards or security, this spot is the best one to hit to if you like to drink, smoke, and swim out farther than allowed at other beaches. There’s a relative peacefulness to this beach, and though it’s been gaining popularity (heck, even the New York Times has raved about it), it still maintains on the down low.

But, if last year’s boom of Rockaway Beach is any indication of what can happen with easy access, Fort Tilden may loose this sweet serenity. At Rockaway Beach, they went from something most people didn’t think about to a cool-kids paradise. Where once the lone Rockaway Taco dolled out their tasty bites and DiCosmo’s Italian Ice served up cold, all natural fruit ices at a shack down the street, today both have expanded to the boardwalk. There, they are joined by other food purveyors including Caracas Arepa Bar, Lobster Joint, and Rippers burgers. About the time the food came, so did the Rockabus, which means more people and a perpetual beach party.  Not that Fort Tilden isn’t a party spot, but as of now, it’s a calm place to go, and hopefully that won’t change too much.

New York City Will Be One Long Food Festival This Summer

It’s no secret: food events are all the rage. This couldn’t be truer than in New York, where dining alfresco has taken on a whole new meaning with the rise of food trucks, markets, and whole days dedicated to eating from little stands, festival or not.

Already this summer the New York Times has dedicated two articles to these events. In last week’s Sunday paper, they talked about the artisanal side of eating, small businesses, and the hunt to try foods first at these gatherings. The other one hit on the trend of music festivals turned in to food extravaganzas, the most recent example being the failed GoogaMooga a couple weeks ago (though props to them for refunding the VIP tickets). The complaint surrounding that event, and with a many food-centric gatherings, is waiting in line.

This problem isn’t so bad at weekly gatherings like Saturday’s Brooklyn Flea Market in Fort Greene or the all-food bazaar Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At the Flea, they have nibbles like vegan Faux Gras by The Regal Vegan, Sam Mason’s Empire Mayonnaise, and tiny cupcakes from Kumquat Cupcakery. The year-old Smorgasburg has more vendors than we want to list here, but some of my favorites include First Prize Pies, Rick’s Picks, and Kings County Jerky. You can also get your grub on at Hester Street Fair, which features lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster, artisan ice pops from La Newyorkina, coffee from Café Grumpy, and a whole slew of other bites.  

If you just want to hit up a bunch of seasonal food trucks, try the Red Hook ballpark in Brooklyn, an area famous for its taco and papusa stands. In Manhattan, the Highline has spattering of snacks you can buy as you walk along its lovely, urban-meets-organic path. Also, for you beach goers, nothing is finer for a beach body than stuffing your face with Rockaway Taco and DiCosmo’s Italian Ice at the famous Rockaway Beach in Queens.

As for up coming food, music, and fun festivals that you will probably have to wait in line for, June 9 and 10 brings the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park. For a decade they have been hosting this meat and music fest. This year they have Jon Langford, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and Southern Culture on the Skids to strike a cord as people chow on barbecue from the hottest spots around the country including Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Ed Mitchell’s whole hog roast, and Pappy’s Smokehouse.

Another event coming up is popular party host Dances of Vice’s Rockabilly Night Market at the DeKalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn on June 22, which will have music by Eddie Clendening and the Blue Ribbon Boys, plus tons of food from the vendors there. Governors Island also hosts food-happy events like their Cook Out NYC on July 7 and 8, which features a burger cook off, a kimchi eating contest, and lots of local craft beer.

So, go forth you hungry people and enjoy this popular way to eat outdoors, listening to music, and walking around our fair city. Is there something on your list this summer that we forgot? Please share and may the lines ever be in your favor.