30 Things You Need to Eat & Drink This Summer in NYC

From boozy slushies to beachside burgers, here's your must-try summer checklist
May 19, 2015
by Kelly Dobkin

After one of the most brutal winters in recent memory, New Yorkers are ready to start indulging in the good life once again. Begin here with our list of 30 essential food and drink items for the 2015 summer season. 

Fried fish taco at Tacoway Beach

Beloved fried fish taqueria Rockaway Beach is closed, but one of its owners has set up shop inside the Rockaway Beach Surf Club with Tacoway Beach, offering up those signature tacos topped with lime-infused mayo and pickled cabbage and radish. The new offshoot will have many more seats both indoor and outdoor as well as a bar.

302 Beach 87th St., Queens 

El Garpar Corn at Streetbird Rotisserie

Marcus Samuelsson's new uptown chicken joint does the summertime staple right with their $5 El Gaspar Corn: roasted corn with Kewpie mayo, Parmesan and a special spice blend, served skewered with charred lemon, scallion and cilantro. 

2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 212-206-2557

Frozen prickly pear margarita from Javelina

It wouldn't be summer without a frozen margarita. Check out the flavored frozen margs at popular Tex-Mex destination Javelina, from Texas native Matt Post. Choose from frozen varieties like strawberry, avocado-cilantro and prickly pear (pictured). 

119 E. 18th St.; 212-539-0202

Connecticut-style lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound at Smorgasburg Coney Island

Smorgasburg favorite Red Hook Lobster Pound will be at the brand-new Coney Island Smorgasburg (opening May 22), so we'll give them the nod, but there are so many truly exceptional lobster rolls all over the city. Here we prefer the warm butter-topped, Connecticut-style roll. 

1320 Bowery St., Brooklyn

Made-to-order chocolate mousse at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Cronut king Dominique Ansel has just expanded to the West Village and is doing made-to-order desserts like this freshly whipped chocolate mousse, served with a crispy tuille for dipping. Eat this light-as-air treat outside at one of the cafe's many outdoor tables facing Seventh Avenue. 

137 Seventh Ave. S.; 212-242-5111

Oysters at Pier A Harbor House

Take in stunning sunset views at this historic mansion turned bar and restaurant which just reopened after being closed for more than 100 years. From 4-6 PM daily come in for the 1886 special: 8 oysters and a pint of Guinness or Long Hall lager for $18.86.

22 Battery Place; 212-785-0153

Shrimp taco from El Super at Smorgasburg

This Cali-inspired fried seafood stand at Smorgasburg (Williamsburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Coney Island locations) does beer-battered cod, shrimp and jalapeño popper tacos topped with crispy cabbage and veggies all summer long.

Saturdays at 90 Kent Ave., Brooklyn

Sundays at 320 Furman St., Brooklyn (Brooklyn Bridge Park)

Friday-Sunday at 1320 Bowery St. in Coney Island until June 21, then seven days a week thereafter

Red snapper ceviche at Asia de Cuba

The newly reopened Asia de Cuba is back and better than ever with a revitalized menu from chef Luis Pous. Dive into their summery red snapper ceviche made with Thai chile, red onion, cilantro and plantains and wash it down with one of their signature mojitos made with freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. 

415 Lafayette St.; 212-726-7755

Avocado crostini at Studio Cafe at The Whitney Museum

The brand-new eighth-floor cafe at The Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking boasts some killer views atop their sprawling terrace. It's worth the price of admission ($22) for that view alone, but also check out their menu of toasts including one made with avocado, spring onion, sesame and sunflower seed. 

99 Gansevoort St. 

Cinnamon raisin toast ice cream at Oddfellows East Village

At the second outpost of this Williamsburg-based ice cream shop specializing in unique and unusual flavors, you'll find a host of rotating selections from pastry chef Sam Mason. Just launched this month is the breakfast-inspired cinnamon raisin toast ice cream.

75 E. Fourth St., 917-475-1812; 175 Kent Ave., Brooklyn347-599-0556

Ensalada de pulpo at Rosie's

Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman's new Mexican hot spot in the East Village is a perfect spot to take in the summer breezes with its open-air dining room. Order up a Paloma or margarita and pair it with this Veracruz-style ensalada de pulpo made with octopus, avocado, olives, capers and mayonesa.

29 E. Second St.; 212-335-0114

Purple kale and butternut squash pizza at Pizza Beach

The summery name isn't the only reason to check out this UES pizza joint that's ripe with surfer vibes. Their light and healthy purple kale and butternut squash pizza won't entirely ruin your summer beach body.

1426 Third Ave.; 646-666-0819

Coconut cream pie at Petee's Pie Company

At this LES pie shop, start the summer off on a tropical note with a slice of this classic concoction: coconut flakes are cooked in a creamy vanilla pudding then topped with orbs of whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes. 

61 Delancey St.; 212-966-2526

Smoked octopus at Grand Army

This new bar on the cusp of Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill from Mile End's Noah Bermanoff, Rucola's Julian Brizzi, barman Damon Boelte and photographer Daniel Krieger also has a solid list of seafood-focused snacks including a raw bar with various sauces. But the real showstopper here is the plate of smoked octopus with celery root, olives and celery oil.

336 State St., Brooklyn; 718-422-7867  

Ballpark bomb at Milk Bar

Christina Tosi added a new savory snack to the Milk Bar summer menu that encases slices hot dogs inside pretzel dough and layers in housemade honey mustard cream cheese. The whole thing is  topped off with kosher salt, sesame seeds and celery seeds for a crunchy finish.

Various locations

Portlandia cocktail at Park Ave Summer

Get into the playful summer mindset at this seasonally rotating concept eatery with this quirky cocktail featuring a giant charred ice cube, mezcal, roasted pineapple and fresh lime juice. 

360 Park Ave. S.; 212-951-7111

'Spro and tonic at Box Kite

Move over iced coffee, this summer the coolest coffee drink on the block is this combo of espresso and tonic water — an odd yet delicious pairing that was first concocted at barista competitions. Try it at this craft-coffee hub in the East Village or at their newer uptown location.

115 St. Marks Place, 212-574-8201; 128 W. 72nd St., 212-574-8202

Fried clam and lobster roll sandwich at The Clam

Imagine eating a sandwich containing both fried clams and a lobster roll — is your head exploding yet? Get down to the mollusk-devoted West Village eatery from Mike Price and Joey Campanaro and sample this thing firsthand.

420 Hudson St.; 212-242-7420

Coffee sherbet at Ample Hills Creamery

The Brooklyn Bridge Park kiosk of Ample Hills is getting ready to launch its own flavor unique to the location, inspired by the area's java-heavy past. In the early 1900s, 85% of the coffee was processed on the Brooklyn waterfront, so as an homage they're naming this coffee sherbet "The Coffee of Kings" (a reference to Kings County where Brooklyn is located). Look for it starting around Memorial Day weekend. 

8 Joralemon St., Pier 5, Brooklyn; 347-240-3926

Kalimotxo or Tinto de Verano at Huertas

In Spain they like to mix soda with wine, and it's a surprisingly tasty combo. Order a Kalimotxo (red wine, lime and Coke) or a Tinto de Verano (vermouth and orange-flavored soda) at this East Village Basque-inspired eatery and transport yourself to Costa Brava. 

107 First Ave.; 212-228-4490

Grapefruit sorbet at The Clocktower

Undoubtedly one of the hottest openings of the spring, this brand-new Stephen Starr and Jason Atherton restaurant in the new New York EDITION Hotel will be plating up some seasonally appropriate desserts for summer including this grapefruit sorbet paired with lemon curd and lemon salad, hazelnut biscuit and a fennel marmalade.

5 Madison Ave.; 212-413-4300

Arepa from Arepa Lady at Smorgasburg Queens

​Smorgasburg is opening in Long Island City as well beginning July 11, featuring favorite Queens vendors curated by blogger Joe DiStefano. A definite must-order is an arepa from the famed Arepa Lady whose Jackson Heights cart now has a brick-and-mortar just around the corner.

43-29 Crescent St., Queens

Frozen dark 'n' stormy at Battery Harris

When warm weather calls, there's nothing like the outdoor area at this Williamsburg Jamaican-inspired eatery and bar. The perfect slushy summer beverage is their frozen dark 'n' stormy on tap (dark rum and ginger beer) garnished with a cinnamon stick.

64 Frost St., Brooklyn; 718-384-8900

Daddy Mac sandwich at Mikey Likes It

This East Village ice cream shop is sandwiching your choice of ice cream (choose from flavors like triple coconut/pineapple and pecan pie) between two waffles. One scoop is the Mac Daddy and two scoops is the Daddy Mac. Decisions, decisions...

199 Avenue A; 646-896-1836

BBQ plate at Arrogant Swine

Tyson Ho's Bushwick beer garden and BBQ must-visit does Carolina-inspired pork with a Brooklyn twist. A plate of his whole hog BBQ with coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese waffle and cornpone is an essential summer dish paired with any of the seasonal craft beers (list rotates frequently). 

173 Morgan Ave., Brooklyn; 347-328-5595

Corona bucket at The Frying Pan

An NYC summer classic, The Frying Pan is a barge turned bar at Chelsea's Pier 66 that specializes in bar snacks and Corona buckets.

530 W. 26th St.; 212-989-6363

Michelada at Calexico

This spicy Mexican summer concoction mixes beer, hot sauce and lime juice (and often a salted rim) to make the perfect warm-weather cocktail. We prefer to enjoy this drink while sitting at Calexico Greenpoint's outdoor cafe in between bites of tacos, but you can also order one at any of the chainlet's many locations.

Multiple locations

Boozy Kelvin Slushie at The Beach at Dream Downtown

This seasonal poolside cafe at the Dream Downtown returns and now offers pool access via a pay-to-play pass. Whether you're taking a dip or not, the boozy Kelvin Slush cocktails are a must-order. We like the Ginger Colada Slush and an order of guacamole as a summer starter. 

355 W. 16th St.; 212-229-2336

Hardbody Cheeseburger from Rippers on Rockaway Boardwalk

This boardwalk snack shack, brought to you from the folks at both Roberta's and The Meat Hook, is a summer classic. Take a stroll along the ocean while chowing on a Hardbody Cheeseburger: two Meat Hook patties, grilled onions, pickles and special sauce on a potato roll. Perfection.

86th St. beach boardwalk, Queens

Vegetable ice cream salad at Dirt Candy

Amanda Cohen's mecca to all things veggie is offering a whimsical ice cream "salad" featuring flavors of celeriac, squash, tomato, sweet pea and more topped with a sprinkling of walnut cake croutons.

86 Allen St.; 212-228-7732

best summer ever
zagat summer