Once summer reaches its peak, Hudson-docked boat bars drown in a bustling sea of bros and watery beer. At Pier 81, North River Lobster Company, a former Florida gambling ship rejiggered with New England charm, offers a calm alternative to those stormy waters with fast-casual cruises. Bid farewell to overcrowded decks and deafening top-40 tunes—smooth sailing lies ahead.
ORDER THIS: Though the quality of seafood is surprisingly inconsistent—fresh Maine lobster scooped into a sublimely buttered bun is zipped with yuzu aioli while the fish tacos are dry to the core—the nautical cocktails are better balanced. The vodka-spiked High Tide ($12) is an amped-up Arnold Palmer, swirled with a hint of sweet peach in bitter black tea.
GOOD FOR: Escaping the city grind to impress your out-of-town, New-York-hating relatives. Sit at blond-wood picnic tables on one of three decks to admire the West Side skyline, and watch the river stretch under the George Washington Bridge and disappear beyond upper Manhattan.
THE CLINCHER: Undocking for 30-minute jaunts on the Hudson, the ship sets sail on a ride that feels leagues away from the city, making it easy to lose track of time—and your cocktail count. —Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo