It may not feel like it quite yet, but it's almost beach season here in New York. Some seasonal vendors have already started opening up for the summer, and many more will make their debuts in the coming weeks. Tons of new eating and drinking options have popped up since last year. Here's a preview of what to eat at the beach this summer:
Most of the old standbys of the popular beach concession stands — like burger spot Rippers and Russian restaurant Uma's outpost — return for a soft opening this week, but several new restaurants are making a play for summer eating this year, too. Chef and former model Carlos Varella debuted a French-Brazilian cafe called Beach Bistro 96 at 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd. earlier this month. The model/surfer/soccer player/chef previously worked at West Village Peruvian restaurant Panca and also cooked at last year's restaurant pop-up in the former Rockaway Taco space. The menu includes pasteis, an acai bowl, and specials like a feijoada.
Tacoway Beach enters its second year at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club at 302 Beach 87th St. with a new weekly dinner series called "Family Meal," according to owner Andrew Field, the former Rockaway Taco chef. The menu for the meals will be based on what's available from farms and neighborhood fisherman, and pricing will be adjusted accordingly. Tickets, which will likely cost between $30 and $40, will be available for purchase at Tacoway Beach. For drinks, the Rockaway Beach Surf Club has added some frozen margaritas to the menu, including a watermelon and a mint pineapple flavor. Field's tacos will still be for sale as well.
The concession stand at Beach 106th Street will be adding a health food vendor called Brothers this summer. They'll be slinging grain bowls, juice, smoothies, and toasts. Also keep an eye out for new drinking spots from the Rockaway Brewing Company. The Long Island City brewery has promised to open two outposts in its namesake neighborhood at some point this summer, including a brick-and-mortar tasting room at 415 Beach 72nd St. and a beachside bar at Beach 67th Street.
If you get caught in the rain, a couple new indoor options to hang out opened up since last season, too. You can try your hand at golf at the new Rockaway Beach Golf Club, which has $40-per-hour golf simulators. The club at 219 Beach 100th Street offers a full bar, pub fare, and "a stately country club atmosphere." And at the end of last summer, Rockaway locals opened a massive gastropub called Community House at 101-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd. The chef Fernando Feites used to work at The Smith in the East Village and cooks up a classic pub menu with burgers, salads, and chicken.
For old favorites, word is that Playland Motel's revamp from Dan Cipriani turned the former hot partying mess into a better, more chill hang out spot. Bolivian Llama Party, Caracas Arepa Bar, and La Cevicheria also will return for the summer, and Connolly's Bar still serves a frozen pina colada with a floater that's one of the best off-the-beach deals.
Jacob Riis Park
The quieter section of the Rockaways has had a slew of its own food vendors since the Brooklyn Night Bazaar started running the Riis Park Beach Bazaar last year, with both indoor and outdoor vendors peddling food, clothing, jewelry, and more. New to the beach this year is Samesa, sibling duo Max and Eli Sussman's Middle Eastern vendor that's also inside Berg'n. Expect beet hummus, chicken shawarma, and labneh. Whit's End's, which makes Neopolitan pizzas elsewhere on the island, will be slinging its pies indoors at Bay 9 West. The pizzeria has been well-reviewed from people like Queens-based blogger Joe DiStefano and the Village Voice.
Other standouts include Fletcher's BBQ, the barbecue restaurant from Gowanus that's known for its char siu pork. It's one of Eater's top 20 barbecue joints in the city, and it returns with a mobile pit this summer. Ample Hills Creamery brings its ice cream back to the Bay 9 East indoor vendor portion, as does Bolivian Llama Party, one of the city's popular Bolivian food pop-ups. Bolivian Llama Party will be offering a veggie-friendly menu to its Riis Park location. At other locations of the pop-up, Eater critic Robert Sietsema has loved the beef saltena, an empanada-like pastry with chunks of beef and boiled eggs. The Riis Park vendors open for the season on Friday, May 27.
Other vendors: Oaxaca Tacos, Wild Feast Foods, Ed & Bev's, Coney Shack, Lizzmonade, Trop Pops, Mighty Edible, East Coast Roast, La Newyorkina, ByTheBeachCocos, Paleo Factory, Cuisine By Claudette, Clean Shave Ice
Nothing really hits the spot at Coney Island like a classic Nathan's hot dog and a beer, but if you want to eat something else, Brooklyn's favorite beach has a couple new options this summer. You can always try Wahlburgers, actor Mark Wahlberg's family burger chain that opened at the end of the beach season last year at 3021 Stillwell Ave.. Fair warning: Eater critic Robert Sietsema didn't love the burgers. He does, however, recommend the frappe, a Boston-style chocolate milkshake that "was paradoxically thick and also foamy, intensely flavored with chocolate, and damn delicious."
Looking ahead, a new IHOP is opening soon at 1019 Surf Ave. The breakfast chain says it's on target to open the 5,400-square-foot location in mid-July. And locals have been celebrating the reopening of mom-and-pop Mediterranean restaurant Magic Gyro, which was nearly destroyed by Sandy a few years ago. Owner Levent Demirgil previously offered "healthy fast food" items like hummus and doner kebabs at a shop called Coney Island Gourmet, where local blogger Amusing the Zillion appreciated the vegetarian options it brought to the neighborhood. He reopened in the Stillwell Terminal last fall.
Update: Starting May 27, cult barbecue chain Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will be popping up in a refurbished shipping container near Nathan's, until November 1. The menu includes St. Louis-style ribs, chicken wings, pulled pork, and brisket.