The beach that’s always been a summer staple for New York residents has cleaned up its act. The Rockaways are now full of happening places to surf, shop, get a delicious burger or cold drink and more. Treat yourself to a mini vacay and head over to the beautiful Queens coast!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Rockaway Beach in NY
End of the A
This roving fashion truck, the brainchild of two young Rockaway natives, will roll into the peninsula for the first time on Memorial Day weekend, dispensing an eclectic array of accessories, apparel and art for fashionable beachgoers. Follow @EndOfTheA on Twitter for its current location. endofthea.com
Eat! (And drink!)
The owners of Bushwick pizza hot spot Roberta’s operate this popular boardwalk shack, where hipsters, families and locals peacefully commingle. Fill up with a grass-fed cheeseburger ($6.50) and fresh-cut fries ($5 when loaded with jalapeños and cheese) and wash it all down with a Narragansett tall boy ($4). (Rumor has it that Roberta’s will launch an outpost on Beach 96th Street this summer, but reps wouldn’t confirm as of press time. Cross those ’za-loving fingers.) Boardwalk at Beach 86th St (718-634-3035, 86badvibes.com)
Opened last year, Playland is part summerlong beach-party headquarters (DJs and bands often blast into the wee hours of the morning), part sustainability-initiative flagship (the building was restored using recycled local wood) and part art project (each of the motel rooms was specially designed by a different artist). 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd between Beach 97th and 98th Sts (347-954-9063, playlandmotel.com). Rooms start at $159 per night.
Locals Surf School
Rockaway Beach is really the city’s only viable surfer-dude destination. (Don’t try the East River. Trust us.) Michael Kololyan, Michael Reinhardt and Daniel Kestenbaum (all former competitive surfers) have been catching waves on these shores for years and, in 2012, opened Locals Surf School for beginner-friendly group ($80), semiprivate ($90) and private ($100) lessons. Rockaway Beach at Beach 67th St (347-752-2728, localssurfschool.com). Follow @localssurf for class announcements.
But wait—how the hell do I get there?
The A train, silly: There’s a free transfer to shuttle trains that will take you to the peninsula. We’re also big fans of the rowdy Rockabus (rockabus.com), a reconstituted yellow school bus in which the tunes blast and the liquor flows, provided you BYOB (departs from locations in Williamsburg, at Grand Army Plaza and on the Lower East Side; round trip $15). Show your Rockabus wristband at lifeguard fave Connolly’s (155 Beach 95th St between Rockaway Beach Blvd and Shore Front Pkwy, 718-318-1714) and enjoy a frozen pink hard lemonade. There’s also the Seastreak ferry (800-262-8743, seastreakusa.com), which departs from the dock at East 34th Street and FDR Drive or Pier 11 and makes a stop at Brooklyn Army Terminal. It runs eight times daily, Monday through Friday, and costs $3.50 one-way.
As our waiter lifts a thin cross-section of Kalbi ribeye from a mist of dry ice, he announces his intent to lay the marbled meat on the in-table grill by shouting, “Hami-kal yakimasu! Sei-no?,” to which the waiters and patrons cheer, “Yoisho!” This is standard practice at the New York flagship of this theatrical Tokyo-born chain, founded in 2010 by twin brothers and restaurateurs Sunbong and Sunchol Lee (yakiniku refers to the lesser-known, Korean-influenced Japanese barbecue, while futago translates to “twins”). Located in the food-dense Flatiron District, the restaurant occupies a long, spare room lined with exposed brick, wood paneling and a tilework portrait of the twins. It’s clear the brothers aspire for a modern, rather than traditional atmosphere throughout: bathrooms are fitted with high-tech Washlet toilets, the soundtrack mixes hip-hop with Korean pop and regulars receive name plates on the wall (one is cheekily marked “P Diddy”), along with gratis desserts and a pair of custom engraved golden tongs. Despite the restaurant’s casual ambience, you’ll have to call in advance to reserve their hamideru kalbi ($45; well-worth in the investment), as there are only ten orders per night of this half-pound imported Japanese black Wagyu, cut into four distinct segments and served with lettuce leaves, red bean paste and fresh wasabi. For appetizers, you won’t find any better than the sinfully tender filet or rare steak with toasted garlic ($15), followed closely by a sear
Venue says: “Best imported Japanese "wagyu" beef! Enjoy Japanese BBQ in the stylish dining atmosphere!”