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Rockaway Taco

New York NY (Rockaway Park)

95-19 rockaway beach blvd., new york NY 11693
mon-weds 11am-8pm, thurs-sun 9am-8pm

Rockaway Taco

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Rating: 89
Price: $$$

To get to Rockaway Taco, you've got to take the A-train out to the end (avoiding the siren song of Ozone Park to stay on the right course), hop on the S, and get off at Beach 98 Street. Being a beach accessible by subway from the city, my beach associates and I were expecting something like Coney Island. However, when we arrived, we encountered a mellow little beach community with a nice wide boardwalk and empty beach (possibly because it was cold and threatening to rain all afternoon). After some body-surfing, a few rounds of SmashBall, and some beach Kadema, we walked out onto the boardwalk towards to food booths. As we approached, things began to confound: beach thai food? Hand-mixed artisanal sodas? 50-cent cookies? A bunch of non-traditional (AKA super hip) beach babes staffing the counter? Had we entered a vortex into a strange beach world in which Brooklyn becomes Beachlyn and, upon return to Manhattan, we would be sucked into the icy depths by a whirlpool? It turns out that, several days later, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. noticed this trend and decided to write a piece about it. Sounds like a cool place, no? And catalyzed by a particularly delicious taco stand with "no culinary ambition"? Certainly the sort of thing that needed some high-quality investigative journalism!!

Well, the beachfront food zone had a Rockaway Taco booth, and we investigated from a distance. To our -musement (both be- and a-), no tacos could be purchased at this booth. Instead the options were beach foods like chips and guacamole. However, just a few blocks off, beach associate Chris had located the Rockaway Taco mothership. It's a pleasant stand-style taco shack with deliberately beachfront vibes - outdoor seating adorned with broken surfboards, color scheme evoking slightly ironic memories of '60s beach nostalgia, and shutterable windows in case a tropical storm decided to make its way up the Eastern Seaboard. Just like the staff, the outdoor seating area was full of hip young twenty-somethings who, from the available evidence (lack of swimsuits and backpacks, nonplussed natures), appeared to live in the area.

The tacos themselves were billed as either 'Reg' for $3 or 'Delux' for $4, meaning that they come with guacamole. I got two deluxe tacos, one fish and one carne asada. David Selig's goal was to make the "best fish taco", and they certainly did not disappoint. The fish was lightly battered and fried, but still totally flavorful and not too greasy. It was on a nice bed of tortillas and blanketed with cabbage, cilantro, guacamole, and a few radish slices. Limes came on the side. With a dash of lime and some green salsa, this fish taco was truly a delight - making my recent fish taco experience at Snack Dragon pale in comparison. Plus the fish bulged out of the confines of the taco, like a great white shark trying to escape from the jaws of a killer whale. The guacamole was truly excellent as well, obviously made with fresh avocados and a hint of lime.

In contrast to the delicious fish, the carne asada was super disappointing. The meat was mealy and seasoned in a doggish manner. It didn't have any appreciable texture, nor did it take advantage of the flavor of the tortillas. I had trouble enjoying the end of this taco. I worried that it may have suffered in comparison after my immense enjoyment of the fish taco, but my business association Jessie confirmed that it was simply an unimpressive taco. On the whole, Rockaway Taco is definitely worth a trip if you're already out at the beach, but I'd advise sticking to the fish taco. Their rating perhaps deserves to be lower, but I can't rate a place that had such a great fish taco in the low 80s.

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