For years, Rockaway Beach has been on its way to becoming a full-blown eating destination, and the additions this summer will only solidify that status: There’s a new café that specializes in pita-taco hybrids, a Peruvian restaurant with great rotisserie chicken, and a pop-up that gives talented New York City chefs a place to cook Latin American comfort food. And don’t forget: Burgers at Rippers, Andrew Field’s fish tacos (now in a new home), and the French fries from Bolivian Llama Party are all well worth the quick trip on the A train. Grub has rounded up (and mapped!) all of the great places to eat at Rockaway — new and old — so that you can make the most of beach season without ever stepping foot on the Jitney.
New for this summer is a laid-back café that sells a pita-taco hybrid with fillings like smashed chickpeas with feta, and grilled fish with pineapple. Plus: almond-chia pudding, breakfast burritos, and, of course, fresh juices.
The Summer Shift
With the help of Rockaway Taco co-founder David Selig, the MP Shift — a New York-based design and branding studio from Anna Polonsky and Amy Morris — has conceptualized “the Summer Shift” pop-up. They’re hosting a rotating cast of New York chefs, all with roots in Latin America, and the group includes El Rey‘s Gerardo Gonzalez, Navy‘s Camille Becerra, and Cómodo‘s Felipe Donnelly and Carolina Santos-Neves.
Riis Park Bazaar
This outdoor marketplace has it all: food vendors that include Ample Hills Creamery and Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, and Court Street Grocers, live-music performances, a volleyball league, pop-up art and clothing merchants, and even tattoo artists.
By the Beach
A single-concept stand specializes in all things coconut is a total slam-dunk.
Caracas Arepa Bar
Don’t forget: There’s a Rockaway outpost of the popular East Village restaurant, which specializes in Venezuelan food. Cornmeal patties make for perfect beach food
Chicks to Go
The speciality at this brand-new Peruvian-rotisserie restaurant is chicken, of course, but there are also standout sides like sweet plantains, empanadas, and rice and beans.
The Playland Motel
Daniel Cipriani is overseeing the food here this summer, and his menu includes clam fritters, peel-and-eat shrimp, and steak-frites.
And right near Caracas is Conchos, offering crêpes, smoothies, ice cream, and plenty of other snacks.
Sayra’s Wine Bar
As one of the only wine bars in Rockaway, Sayra’s is a perfect place to go if you’re staying the night. You’ll find small plates (like a meatball sandwich on a pretzel-brioche bun), sangria, backyard seating, and, occasionally, live music.
Head here for barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, and West Indian options like curry goat and roti.
Yet another reason why Rockaway is so cool? There’s a full-blown Uzbek restaurant, with borscht, kabobs, and traditional meat pastries.
The quintessential summer food — a New England-style lobster roll with celery and herb mayo — is served right on the boardwalk.
This new mini-burger joint serves up classic diner fare: White Castle-inspired burgers, hot dogs, and a Philly cheesesteak hero.
How about Peruvian ceviche for a light beach snack? The “97th St. Special” includes layers of all options — shrimp, calamari, quinoa, and more — for just $15.
Between the alcoholic ice pops, root-beer floats, and Belgian-waffle ice-cream sundaes, this is the place to eat dessert at Rockaway Beach.
It’s not open just yet, but there’s a beautiful new tropical-themed space in the works. Local Rockaway merchants will sell things like surfboards, clothing, and beauty products, and O Café owner Fernando Aciar will launch a special new concept. Look out for a mid-July opening.