BEACH 96th STREET
LOBSTER JOINT, UMA'S, BOLIVIAN LLAMA PARTY
LOBSTER JOINT, UMA'S, BOLIVIAN LLAMA PARTY
96th Street... on the beach.
Rockaway, NY 11693
It's August and Labor Day is about to come and take away our white clothing (damn pinkos). But there's still time to run to the beach while the sun's still out and sunbathe or swim or, in my case, eat. The big problem with beach food, typically, is that there isn't any. There might be some guy selling ices and every so often a small plane flies overhead with a banner advertising a happy hour with fifty cent wings two miles away, but nine times out of ten, beach food means having to lug a picnic basket filled with stuff you got at Blimpie and a Thermos of sangria. But not at the Rockaways.
No, here, there's a food court, complete with everything from hamburgers to lobster rolls to deep fried funnel cakes filled with beef. Yup. Deep fried funnel cake. Filled with beef. There's also a bar.
When Myna and I arrived, it was a blisteringly hot 71 degrees and the sun was no match for the rain clouds that seemed to be threatening to wreck havoc on all beneath them. However, that meant that the lines at the food shops were short. There are about ten places to choose from; barbecue, bar food, hot dogs, Uzbeki, a juice place, a lobster joint, and some South American options. Myna and I opted to grab our lunch from three places. Prices are a little bit higher than I would have liked, and you should expect to spend about $12 per person, plus drinks. On the positive side, everything is made fresh, right there. On the negative side, that means waiting. And waiting. Even without anyone else being cooked for but us, between ordering and eating was a good twenty minutes.
The first thing I got was a lobster roll from Lobster Joint. Like a number of the restaurant kiosks here at the beach, there is a more traditional brick and mortar spot that they stem from. Lobster Joint has another location in Greenpoint. It was a damn fine lobster roll, but not, as far as I'm concerned, better than that which you'd get at Luke's or Red Hook Lobster Pound. At $17, it was the least bang for my buck, despite the bag of chips and pickle that it comes with. The best bang for our buck was from the Uzbek Uma's. Like Lobster Joint, Uma's has a brick and mortar spot as well, but instead of being in trendy Greenpoint, it's location is just a few blocks away. I ordered the beef and rice pirozkhi. Remember I told you about a funnel cake stuffed with beef? That was this. Four bucks and it's huge. It's pretty greasy, but it's delicious. How could it not be? It's literally deep fried dough stuffed with meat. There are other flavors like cabbage or potato or egg, but who in their right mind would choose those over beef? Now, if they just dusted it with a little powdered sugar...
Myna was, deep down, hankering for a frozen banana topped in nuts and chocolate, but closest thing to dessert was the smoothie place. Instead, she went to The Bolivian Llama Party. Trying to decide between a triple pork sandwich or Bolivian nachos, she chose nachos. Plantain chips loaded with black beans, creme fraiche, cheese, hot sauce, and - to pander to the yupsters - quinoa. She chose not to have a scoop of pulled pork dumped on top. Instead, she supplemented the loss of calories from the pork with a beni saltena. A beef empanada. A large beef empanada. Was it $6 large? That's up to you. We got it. The nachos were extremely good and surprisingly heavy. Plantain chips are noticeably thicker and more dense than the corn ones you'd usually get when ordering nachos at Random Mexican Place or Shitty Sportsbar X. It was also nice to see a little contrast in toppings, from hoi polloi cheese whiz-style American cheese sauce on the one hand, to chichi creme fraiche on the other. The hot sauce was far from actually hot, but it added a nice tangy zip to the lunch. As for the saltena, fantastic. So good. Hard to describe good. Get-it-even-though-it-costs-$6 good.
Lunch concluded, we started wandering on the beach for a bit, but ultimately decided that we would be better off burning away the lard from our rather heavy meal with a hike through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is only about a ten minute drive north. And so we did.
Afterwards, we got some coffees at Starbucks and bought groceries for dinner at Trader Joe's. But that, dear readers, is a tale for another time.