Top spots for fun and food in Rockaway Beach

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


While summer may be drawing to a close, there are still plenty of places to soak up the last of the summer rays here in Queens. In recent years, Rockaway Beach has battled back against the destruction left in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy to become one of the hippest, hottest communities along the shore.

Scores of landlocked urbanites have flocked to Riis Park and the Rockaway boardwalk in recent summers to escape the sweltering heat of the city.

Whether you are a lifelong local or a day-tripper, here are some of our picks for a day of food and fun in the Rockaways.

Rockaway Roasters
92-06 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Owners Joe Mastey and Ziv Karasanti are two self-described “Rockaway surf bums” who have “traveled all over the world surfing and drinking coffee.” The duo opened Rockaway Roasters back in March as a way to introduce fresh, healthy food and drink alternatives to the usual beach fare. The gourmet coffee shop features locally roasted coffee blends from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Beachgoers will want to try Rockaway Roasters’ special cold brew.

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Roasters
Photo courtesy of Rockaway Roasters

For those looking to avoid caffeine, the shop also offers a fully stocked organic fruit and vegetable juice bar, as well as protein shakes and smoothies. Rockaway Roasters is open seven days a week, starting at 6 a.m. for early birds and local surfers seeking to catch morning waves. The cafe features vintage, surf shack-inspired design and outdoor benches with built-in surfboard racks.

Anna Bow
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Photo via Anna Bow Cafe Facebook page
Photo via Anna Bow Cafe Facebook page

Located just a few blocks away, the newly opened Anna Bow cafe is another great place to begin your day at the beach. This restaurant row newcomer boasts an extensive menu of breakfast burritos, freshly made salads and smoothies, as well as caffeinated concoctions to start your day.

Standouts include their pineapple, mango and toasted coconut smoothie ($8), as well as their southwestern avocado and egg burrito with oaxaca cheese and pico de gallo ($8).

Rockaway Beach Surf Club
302 Beach 87th St.

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Beach Surf Club
Photo courtesy of Rockaway Beach Surf Club

Nestled on the beach behind a brightly colored sugar skull wall mural is the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, a hybrid bar, restaurant and performance space dedicated to celebrating local surf culture and urban arts. On Saturday, Aug. 15, the surf club will host the third annual “Women of the Seven Seas” New York Women’s Surf Film Festival in partnership with Lava Girl Surf.

Photo courtesy of The Rockaway Beach Surf Club / Tacoway Beach
Photo courtesy of Rockaway Beach Surf Club / Tacoway Beach

Hungry beachgoers can feast on savory chorizo, fish or tofu tacos ($3.50) from Tacoway Beach, the newly opened eatery housed in a  bright, surfboard-lined space within Rockaway Surf Club. Tacoway Beach also offers a weekend “surf ‘n’ eat” breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays featuring breakfast tacos, Woodside Bakehouse granola bars and cold-brewed coffee.

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
157 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Photo via Riis park Beach Bazaar on Facebook
Photo via Riis Park Beach Bazaar Facebook page

Sun worshipers seeking variety will want to visit the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, an offshoot of the former Brooklyn Night Bazaar, featuring an impressive roster of food and drink vendors from some of the city’s hottest establishments.

Beat the heat with scoops of “salted crack caramel” ice cream from Brooklyn’s Ample Hills Creamery, or cool off with authentic Mexican paletas (ice pops) made with unique ingredients like Oaxacan chocolate, tamarind, dried chilies, passion fruit and hibiscus from La Newyorkina.

Photo courtesy of La Newyorkina
Photo courtesy of La Newyorkina

The much-loved fried chicken and waffle cone from “Quino” Baca at The Brooklyn Star is the perfect hand-held beach bite. Lunch and dinner feasts would not be complete without smokey, saucy ribs, wings and tacos from Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, or handcrafted heroes from Court Street Grocers. The bazaar is open seven days a week and hosts two-for-one happy hour and beer specials daily.

Playland Motel
97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Photo courtesy of the Playland Motel
Photo courtesy of the Playland Motel

Cap off your day at the beach with a refreshing summer cocktail or cold craft beer at the Playland Motel. Sip on the guava margarita ($10) or pints of Rockaway “1875” pale ale ($6), or nurse a sunburn with the painkiller ($10), a soothing mix of Goslings rum, coconut, pineapple and nutmeg.

The Playland Motel grill also offers a menu of small plate specialties, including clam fritters ($8) and peel-and-eat, beer-boiled shrimp ($12), as well as entrees including Baja fish tacos ($16), jerk chicken ($16) and the catch of the day (MP).