Tacoway Beach – Rockaway Beach, Queens – July 24, 2016
Having never been out to the boardwalk in the Rockaways, a visit was long overdue. According to Bon Appetit magazine, some of the best fish tacos in NYC can be found in the Rockaways. That is how we ended up visiting Tacoway Beach with our friend, Tony, on a hot, humid Sunday. (Tacoway Beach was recently opened by the Rockaway Beach Surf Club to serve tacos.)
This popular, outdoor restaurant is attached to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. If you are not looking for it, you could easily walk past it. The food is relatively inexpensive by New York City standards. Tacos and quesadillas range from $3 to $4.50 each, tortilla chips with salsa cost $3, and non-alcoholic drinks range from $3 to $5. We arrived around 11:30 AM, and by noon there was a long line. If there is one trick that I have learned while dining out, especially in trendy and popular venues, it is that arriving early pays off.
To start, my husband and I shared tortilla chips with salsa. The thick chips had great crunch. These were not your standard, flimsy chips. The salsa was great! It had a strong, smoky flavor from chipotle peppers along with the perfect balance of tomato and garlic. We had enough left over after finishing the chips to put it on our tacos and quesadillas.
I had a fish taco, a potato and chorizo (pronounced chore-ee-zoh, a spicy sausage made in Spain and Latin American countries) taco, and a black bean, cheese, and sweet plantain quesadilla. I washed it all down with a watermelon drink.
All of the dishes came topped with cabbage and sliced radishes and a slice of lime. I started with the potato and chorizo taco. The taco was slightly spicy from the chorizo, and it had a very filling quality from the potatoes. The crispy vegetables and the acidic lime juice provided the right balance.
I ate what turned out to be my favorite dish next: the fish taco. The crispy, lightly breaded, moist, flaky fish was cooked to perfection. I did not mention it before, but the tortillas used for the tacos were soft and pliable, but they were not too dry as they can sometimes be. Again, the vegetables and lime juice brought the flavors and textures to the next level. Everything tasted very fresh.
Finally, I had a black bean, cheese, and sweet plantain quesadilla. This was a new combination of foods for me in a quesadilla, but the soft, savory beans contrasted beautifully against the caramelized plantains. The stretchy cheese was cut thickly.
The watermelon drink was sweet and tasted just like a slice of fresh watermelon. Its bright pink color added to the summery perfection of this drink. I tried my husband’s pineapple-mint drink, and found it to be watered down and lacking strong pineapple and mint flavors.
While the food is great, if you choose to go, there are some accessibility concerns to be aware of. You can read about these in my Accessibility Rating below.
After the restaurant, we went over to the boardwalk (you can see video of it in the Accessibility Rating below). There are ramps up to the boardwalk every few blocks.
I must say, this boardwalk is great! It was the smoothest ride I have had on a boardwalk as a wheelchair user. It is paved rather than made of wooden or composite planks. Plus, there are only vendors at certain points along it. This makes for a quieter, calmer boardwalk.
The best part was the wheelchair accessible mats/pathways. I was able to go out onto the sand in my wheelchair. The only disappointing part was that the pathways do not go all the way out to the water. Compared to other beaches that do not even have these pathways, it is a step in the right direction.
Accessibility Rating for Tacoway Beach
I used my rental wheelchair (my personal wheelchair is being repaired) to visit Tacoway Beach.
- Entryway – 5: The entrance has two, side-by-side, wide metal gates. Only one gate was open at the time we arrived. It was closed when we left, so an employee opened it for us. The transition from the sidewalk into the restaurant was smooth. There are no steps.
- Bathroom – 1: There are two unisex bathrooms inside the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. The doorways to each bathroom are narrow. I was only able to enter the bathroom after my husband moved the large garbage can out of the narrow, hallway-like space. Then, I had to go in as far as I could so the door could close. There are no grab bars. The bathroom is brightly lit. I was unable to turn inside the bathroom in my wheelchair at all. The tiny sink has a high faucet and standard length handles. I had to twist my torso while sitting parallel to the sink to be able to use it. To exit, again I had to pull forward and crush my legs against the toilet to allow the door to be opened so I could back out.
- Walkways/Space – 2: The majority of the restaurant is outside. The only exception to this is the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, which has a bar and a few tables inside. The main aisle in the restaurant is wide and spacious when the restaurant is not crowded and a line has not formed to order food. While all of the furniture is moveable, all of the tables and benches are very low. I was unable to fit underneath any of the tables even with my footrest raised up. My husband moved a number of tables and benches to try and help me get as close to the table as possible. At one point, I had to sit parallel to the table to be able to be close to it. The seating area is tightly packed, and many of the tables are covered by large umbrellas or canopies. Since it is outside, the restaurant is brightly lit. When we arrived, there was background music being played at a moderate volume. Then, the music was turned up, and it became more difficult to hear people talking. The counter to order and pick up food is tall. Fortunately, my husband helped me with that, but if I was alone I could see this being problematic.
Video Description: Video is made up of three segments. Segment 1: Interior of Tacoway Beach (outdoor restaurant) showing counter where orders are placed and seating area with low wooden tables and benches where people are sitting, eating , and talking. Segment 2: Outdoor bar and door leading into Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Just after this door there is a huge wall mural with a colorful, Mexican style skull. A man rides a bicycle past this scene. Segment 3: The boardwalk at Rockaway Beach showing people walking and roller skating. The Atlantic Ocean can be seen in the distance.
- Staff – 3: Two staff members helped me out: One helped me get into the bathroom and the other helped open the gate when we left. While my husband moved tables and benches around to help me sit comfortably, not one staff member offered to help him. Several walked past and saw what he was doing, and yet, no one helped.
- Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.