There’s been a lot of press about the Rockaways lately – the surfing, the scene and the new food kiosks opening up on the boardwalk. But before you get distracted by the latest additions, don’t forget to hit up the original shack that made the Rockaways a food destination, because it’s still the best out there.
Started by David Selig in 2008 and chefed by Andrew Field, Rockaway Taco is a beachy, Montauk-esque takeaway joint across from abandoned houses and around the corner from a row of boarded up shops. There may be more Williamsburg weekenders in the Rockaways now, but this area still has a long way to go until total gentrification. Colorful little Rockaway Taco is a beacon of good food and good vibes, unskippable if you’ve already made it all the way out to the end of the A line.
Stylistically, the bearded, T-shirted guys behind the counter are Williamsburg-meets-Santa Cruz, and the fare follows suit from there. Super fresh, tender white fish, battered and fried until golden, makes their fish tacos ($4) some of the best you’ll find anywhere. Guacamole with sweet white onion and authentic homemade Mexican green or red salsas top it off.
For a veg option, the cheese quesadilla ($3) is no slouch. The Mexican queso is a cross between fresh mozzarella and halloumi, with a light, spongy texture and slightly salty taste. At Rockaway Taco, they griddle a generous slab of it and wrap it in a tortilla.
Carnitas tacos ($3) pack serious heat from a potent, chili-heavy spice rub on the cubed pork. As with the other tacos, the Mission-style flour tortillas are soft, pliant and airy. Drinks like fresh brewed hibiscus iced tea and herb-infused fruit juices are not only on trend but delicious.
There really is no need anymore to be California dreamin’ in the concrete kiln of Manhattan during the hot summer months. The beach and the taste of the West Coast are just a subway ride away.
95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 96th Street
Rockaways, New York