Old NYC Parks & Rec buildings turned foodie's paradise. Photo: Jess Root
On this rainy start to the weekend -- and Fall -- I needed a little pick-me-up, some sunniness in the face of gray. I pulled out my iPhoto album and found the fix: sweet, summer memories. Like the mid-week day trip my friend Lanes and I took to Rockaway Beach in Queens.
It was everything the local blogs, mags and The New York Times had promised: a "nexus of foodie culture, social do-goodery, and guerrilla entrepreneurship." Oh yes, I got rocked by Rockaway.
Housemade guacamole and chips from Rockaway Taco. Photo: Jess Root.
In just a little over an hour, we were subway transported from Brooklyn to Queens. We landed upon a strip of empty, glorious beach where some of the city's top vegan and locavore eateries set up pop-up shops for summer. Think: Babycakes, Rockaway Taco, Roberta's and Vinegar Hill House.
Reuse on Rockaway Beach
What I didn't realize -- or perhaps overlooked -- in the write-ups, was that the foodie smorgasbord is housed together in what were once old, unused city Parks and Recreation buildings dotting the boardwalk. Structures that otherwise would have been left abandoned taking up large chunks of prime beach-front real estate and that surely would not have lent to the now vibrant beach community. We were accompanied by a cool mix of local Rockaway folk, surfers, artists, musicians and the culinary-savvy.
NYC natives and visitors, plan to check it out next summer or before everything closes down (I was told sometime in October). Grab a coffee and watch the sunrise. Rockaway beach is one of those gems that gets you out of the city without ever having to leave. Get the directions here.
Then make sure to show your love and support for the local merchants:
Arrive hungry and eat at the food stands!
Rent a boogie or surf board and burn off the calories.
Before hopping back on the subway, make a pit-stop at Veggie Island to buy some local produce from the Hudson Valley. (95-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard (96th Street))
Veggie Island, an urban farmstand where I nabbed local nectarines. Photo: Alena Kastin
More on keeping it local:
New York City's Dragonfly A Locavore Wet Dream
In-Season Food App for Locavores' iPhones
Eating Green: Locavore vs. Life Cycle