Only a few years ago, Rockaway Beach was a desert when it came to exciting cuisine, leaving visitors to lug heavy ice chests from home or snag something uninspired from a boardwalk cart. Thanks to a handful of enthusiastic, creative locals, there’s now a myriad of options that are elevated far beyond that of simple, sand-filled beach fare. There’s something for everyone, including tacos, pelmenis, piña coladas, and artisanal ice cream only a swipe of your MTA card or a pleasant bike ride way. Here are some of our favorites:
302 Beach 87th Street
We’re so thrilled about this new venture from Andrew Field, of Rockaway Taco, now operating out of Rockaway Beach Surf Club. We’re hoping the new location will diffuse the traditionally long lines, but who are we kidding? The lure of beer and seats at RBSC is great, but we’d wait forever for a chorizo taco and corn elote.
97-14 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Owner and chef Whit Aycock is a bit of a character, known for swearing and beleaguering those who try to order off the menu. But his pizza? Absolutely f**king worth it. Follow the rules—no slices, no red pepper flakes, no whining—and you’ll be rewarded with the kind of perfection that only comes from his crazy attention to detail.
143 Beach 116th Street
For the past three years, owner Claudette has poured her heart, and her French and Moroccan roots, into this takeout place. Besides a delicious homestyle menu that changes regularly, including epic eat-in specials, they also offer some of the Rockaways’ best coffee courtesy of Oslo Roasters.
92-06 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Speaking of coffee, enter Rockaway Roasters. The discerning locals’ newest favorite caffeine spot features Stumptown Coffee Roasters, brewed locally in Red Hook, as well as organic juices and protein shakes. We’ll be stopping in for their on-tap, nitro-infused cold brew coffee on our way to the beach all summer long.
155 Cross Bay Parkway
This place is a study in mismatched perfection—it’s a basement Irish bar…in a Victorian house on the beach? We know, it sounds strange, and Connolly’s definitely isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a dirt cheap frozen cocktail, you’ve found your spot. Their frozen piña colada is tops. Tip: Ask for a floater, and they’ll add extra rum on top. Be warned: It’s cash only and it tends to get rowdy after 1 a.m.
416 Beach 116th Street
The Wharf is located behind a gas station and has very little signage, but it is worth finding. The food and drink menu may be average, but the waterfront views are spectacular. They’re arguably some of the best on the Rockaways.
92-07 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
Serving up Uzbeki cuisine “with a “rock’n’roll feel,” Uma’s is one of a kind. Here you’ll not only find hearty, authentic dishes like mantis, bichakis, and borscht but also a well curated beer and wine menu, with especially knowledgeable bartenders to match.
70-18 Amstel Boulevard
This West Indian takeout spot is a bit of a walk from the beach but we’ll make the trip for what’s known as some of the best BBQ in all of Queens! Try the jerk chicken with oxtail gravy, a side of plantains, and don’t skimp on the greens. Tip: Go early, because they often run out of menu favorites.
97-02 Rockaway Beach Boulevard
A new venture by the family behind La Cevichería, Chicks to Go is a tiny spot serving up pollo a la brasa, Peruvian rotisserie chicken, as well as salads and side dishes, like fried cassava (yummy alternative to fries) and sweet and savory plantains.
112-10 Beach Channel Drive
Enjoy the best of both worlds at this beloved food truck. It’s slightly out of the way, but conveniently always parks in the same picnic table-filled lot. We recommend sticking with the seafood options, like their fish dog or octopus roll, for a delicious spin on food truck classics.
If you’re a fan of old kung fu movies, delicious pizza, and dinner pickup that feels more like a drug deal than takeout, Last Dragon Pizza will whet your every appetite. Owner Nicole Russell produces the goods out of her home, only on Wednesdays and Fridays. The seven flavors are inspired by the namesake cult film, and are worth every bit of strangeness surrounding the whole process—th pickup location is only disclosed after ordering, online or by phone. To guarantee one of only twenty 14” pies made daily, call a day ahead at 917-780 2570.