Sometimes what makes a meal is the reward after the effort it takes to get there. I didn’t take the long train ride but braved the slow moving traffic (on two consecutive days) to Far Rockaway Beach in car without A/C during 100 degree weather en route to Long Beach. I had heard about Rockaway Taco after reading numerous write ups in the New York Times, New York Magazine, TimeOut New York, Edible Queens, and every other regional magazine and have long wanted to go. To get to the summer only operation I have to cross Brooklyn from one end (my house in Greenpoint) to the other until I pop out near JFK airport. On arrival, after an hour of stoplights and slow moving traffic through not the prettiest part of town, I cross a causeway over a wide expanse of water. Life slows down. It’s like entering a tunnel into Oz.
At the other side of the causeway is Far Rockaway. The beach town is in the midst of a revival. It’s a part of Queens, fronts a long stretch of Atlantic beach, and is still relatively affordable. New condos are being built and juice bars, farmer’s markets, and surf shops have appeared to appease the growing young community there. It doesn’t feel much like New York at all, the A train still gets you there in a whiz.
Rockaway Taco sits one block from the beach. There’s a very beach shacky like set up with a large glassless window facing the sidewalk. The wood building is painted in bright colors. A patio with a few tables sit to the side. Herbs and chile peppers grow from cut up milk cartons that hang from the fence. Everything else is bought locally.
The menu is simple. Tacos come with fish, chorizo, carne asada, or tofu, though it’s the fish tacos that have me hooked though. Each is set with a generous piece of beer battered tilapia and topped with radish slices, cilantro, a bits of cabbage along with a slice of lime (salsa, not essential, is $1 extra for a little cup). They even hold well to the beach. Toss in a Lime Jarritos soda (or one of the DiCosmo Italian Ices next door) and I’m in heaven. Maybe it’s the wait to get there combined with the heat and my thinking about fish tacos all morning, but Rockaway’s Fish Tacos are my favorite Fish Tacos on planet earth.
Elsewhere on the menu there’s breakfast chilaquiles topped with a fried egg, quesadillas (love the black bean and plantain), elote, plantain slices, and watermelon juice. Tacos are $3 each, or $4 (deluxe) with guacamole.
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Queens
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.