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Photo courtesy of Vetro Restaurant & Wine Bar
Photo courtesy of Vetro Restaurant & Wine Bar

Island living has its perks, and while we might sometimes forget about the waterways all around us – from river to ocean to sound – the sweltering days of summer have a way of beckoning us to shore. On hot days, search out cool breezes, stellar views and delicious eats at one of these six great waterfront restaurants right here in Queens. (Bonus: Pair your waterfront dining experience with an aperitif or nightcap at one of these 10 best outdoor bars in Queens.)

1. Kennedy’s Restaurant (Breezy Point)

Photo courtesy of Kennedy's Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Kennedy’s Restaurant

Perched on the Jamaica Bay beachfront in the Rockaways (with lingering Manhattan views on the horizon), Kennedy’s Restaurant proposes a high-quality chophouse experience. Tuck into lunch or dinner every day but Monday, or swing by for the jazz brunch buffet on Sundays. Menu items emphasize fresh seafood (don’t miss the pan-seared Florida red snapper in lemon beurre blanc), prime chops, dry-aged steaks, and pasta and risotto dishes, with plenty of soups, salads and starters (like baked clams or coconut shrimp) to kick things off. 406 Bayside, Breezy Point; kennedysbreezypoint.com

2. Bayhouse Waterfront Bar & Grille (Rosedale)

Photo courtesy of Bayhouse Waterfront Bar & Grille

Photo courtesy of Bayhouse Waterfront Bar & Grille

Just on the other side of JFK Airport, at the head of Jamaica Bay, this casual waterfront eatery has been a favorite of in-the-know locals for more than two decades. Completely renovated post-Sandy, grab a seat on the large outdoor deck and order up pub-grub favorites for apps (think wings, zucchini sticks and nachos), as well as a selection of seafood classics like crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, baked clams, mussels and fried calamari. Choose, too, from a menu of salads, sandwiches, pastas and surf-and-turf-centric entrées like broiled flounder, lobster tail and rib-eye steak. Tip: Come for happy hour on weekdays, between 5 and 7 p.m., for bargain beverages. 155-57 Bayview Ave., Rosedale, bayhousebar.com

3. Thai Rock (Rockaway Beach)

Photo courtesy of Thai Rock

Photo courtesy of Thai Rock

Run by a husband-and-wife team, swing by this lively waterfront Rockaways spot overlooking Jamaica Bay to tuck into authentic home-style Thai recipes sourced from longstanding family favorite recipes (the wife hails from Thailand). Delightfully spicy, everything is made to order, with a wide variety of appetizers, soups, salads, noodle dishes, fried rice, stir fry, curries, grilled specialties and seafood on the menu. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, and for kids, too. Don’t miss out on their signature cocktails (like lychee margaritas), and come on most Thursday through Sunday evenings for live music. If the waterfront deck views have you hankering for some sea-spray action, the outfit also runs Rockaway Jet Ski off the dock here for some pre- or post-dining adventuring. 375 Beach 92nd St., Rockaway Beach, thairock.us

4. Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill (Long Island City)

Photo courtesy of Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill

Photo courtesy of Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill

For casual and affordable waterfront grub, pull up a bench at one of the picnic tables fronting the East River – with some standout Midtown Manhattan views – at the seasonal Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill. You’ll get a no-muss, no-fuss menu of standard barbecue fare (hamburgers and hot dogs) peppered with some surprising grilled international specialties, too, sourced from the Balkan region, Brazil, Poland and Germany: try the pikanya (a Brazilian-style steak) or chevapi (Bosnian-style beef sausages served on pita with a vegetable spread and chopped onions). Beer, wine and cocktails are available, too, at this hidden gem, tucked into an unassuming industrial section of LIC. 4-40 44th Dr., Long Island City; anablebasin.com

5. Vetro Restaurant & Wine Bar (Howard Beach)

Photo courtesy of Vetro Restaurant & Wine Bar

Photo courtesy of Vetro Restaurant & Wine Bar

For memorable Italian served on the Jamaica Bay waterfront, make way for this Howard Beach fine-dining establishment, known for its elegant setting, attentive service, fresh ingredients and exemplary wine list boasting some 400 labels (the sommelier can make suggestions for top picks). Come for lunch or dinner every day but Monday, with a focus on homemade pastas and house specialties like pork chop Milanese, Asiago rice balls, clams oreganate and pork osso bucco. On Sundays, there’s also a special four-course, family-style brunch, and pop in for live music in the wine bar on Friday evenings. Tip: Dip into the expansive wine cellar or rooftop cocktail lounge before or after your meal. 164-49 Crossbay Blvd. Howard Beach; vetronyc.com  

6. Blend on the Water (Long Island City)

Photo courtesy of Blend on the Water

Photo courtesy of Blend on the Water

Open daily for dinner and “blunch” (a play on brunch), this modern Latin Fusion LIC eatery offers a prime waterfront perch looking out onto the East River and Midtown Manhattan skyline. Nab a table near the 10-foot-high wraparound windows for the most dazzling views; there’s also an outdoor patio seating area with room for 60 guests. Order from a menu of shareable starters like chorizo mac ‘n’ cheese or crispy arepas with braised short rib and avocado, and entrées like pollo a la plancha (marinated chicken breast), churrasco (grilled skirt steak), or lime-crusted Atlantic salmon. 4540 Center Blvd., Long Island City, blendonthewater.wix.com

Elissa Garay is a Queens-born, Brooklyn-based travel writer, whose work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, Travel + Leisure, and more. She’s also the co-founder of BQE Tours: The Brooklyn Queens Experience, which offers culturally immersive small-group walking tours in Long Island City, DUMBO and beyond. Follow her at @TravelSpiritNYC and @BQEtours.

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