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Entries in fish taco (1)

Thursday
Jul142011

Will Travel For Food - Rockaway Park Edition

As long as these warm, sunny days of summer persist, I will be taking my food adventures out-of-doors as much as possible. I will travel to the far reaches of the universe – like Queens! – in order to bring you outdoor eats reviews.

Last week during my "staycation" I travelled to Rockaway Park in Queens with a friend to test the waters, not of the ocean but of the food vendor scene on the boardwalk. There are a host of eating opportunities right on the boardwalk, around 96th Street.

My first stop was a cluster that included Babycakes, Motorboat & The Big Banana, and a smoothie stand (name unknown, but it was right next to Ode to the Elephants).

First, I sampled a mini Cookie Crumble donut from Babycakes. Babycakes makes gluten-free Vegan treats in many forms, but I am always attracted to donuts. Particularly mini ones. The dough on this one was very satisfying, as it was more like cake in consistency. Dense and squishy, with a "yellow" vanilla flavor, it was perfectly balanced by the crumble topping, juuuust enough frosting and a delicate accent of chips.

You can check out Babycakes full menu here.

My companion procured the above fantastic fried fish sandwich from Motorboat and the Big Banana. The ridiculousness of the name of this institution has not escaped me, but neither did a few bites of this sandwich. Packed with flavor and nestled between a lightly toasted potato bun, various cabbages and decorated with a tangy tartar, this "sangwich" was exceptionally light and fresh. The fish fry was noteworthy: light, slightly salty and crispy.

For Motorboat's location, see Yelp's listing here.

At the unnamed smoothie stand, I ordered up a Tropical Smoothie. Blended with papaya, banana and soy milk, this concoction was ever-so-slightly sweet and amazingly light. No heavy post-smoothie regret here. Am i the only one that experiences that?

Brought to you by the guys behind Roberta's and the Meat Hook, Rippers offers hamburgers and fries, but also freshly squeezed juices. I opted for a cucumber and mint that I downed with surprising speed. Easy, breezy. And I'd go back for another.

Rippers at Rockaway Park

We then veered off the board-walked path to an adjacent Rockaway Taco location (Rockaway Taco does have a boardwalk stall, but the word on the street was that the tacos were better at this location).

Upon arriving, I was immediately transported to Venice. California, that is. Beach combers ambled up to a cobbled-together, white-washed shanty with surf boards and chalk board menus to order their tacos. The place seemed to have sprouted from the ground, nurtured by the salty sea breezes and a sprinkling of cilantro.

I ordered a Delux Fish Taco (delux = guac) and a side of Fried Plantains.

There was nothing complicated about this taco. The fish was simply battered and fried, yielding a light and crispy white filet. The fresh cabbage was accented by radish slivers for a bitter crunch. And the guacamole was smooth, buttery and flavored with just the right amount of cilantro. I added a touch of salsa verde from the condiment bar, and I was in fried fish taco heaven.

And now for the Fried Plantains. I happen to love plantains. Put them on a menu and I will be compelled to order them. Like bananas, but better, when plantains are fried they accomplish the ultimate in texture contrasts: a gushy center of sweet mushiness with a crispy and even chewy caramel crust. Rockaway Taco's plantains were just that, with a little cheese crumble on top for a bit of savory balance.

Rockaway Taco

After all this food, we were getting sleepy. Obviously caffeine was needed, and Blue Bottle Coffee happens to have a Rockaway Park Boardwalk location. I have to admit, I was looking forward to visiting their stall all day. Since my recent trip to their Williamsburg shop, I haven't been able to stop thinking about their Iced New Orleans Coffee.

This was exactly what I ordered and it was as good the second time around as it was the first. Thank goodness for you, Blue Bottle.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Finally, as a graphic designer, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent signage we found while scouring the place for edible treats.

I passed this first one over to my triathlon team, just to remind them of potential hazards:

The hand-drawn sign played a prominent role at Rippers:

And while your mind is being blown, be careful not to choke:

As we biked out to Rockaway Park from Brooklyn – a leisurely 1 3/4 hour ride, we opted for the A train on the way home. For those lacking a bike, have no fear, the A train is a capable and amiable steed. With lots of room for bikes, should you decide you can't even imagine riding yours home after all those tacos, coffee, smoothies and mini donuts. And there might have been a burger in there too. Just sayin'.