After an almost century-long fall from grace—from NYC’s premiere, upscale seaside resort and destination, to end-of-the-line depositary of sand-buried crack vials and louche carny holdovers like Shoot-the-Freak—Coney Island is well on its way to a full-blown resurgence (see the heralded return of Feltman’s, the true forefounder of the Brooklyn hot dog).
It helps that the boardwalk remains littered with the landmarked shells of formerly grand buildings such as the Ford Amphitheater-adjacent complex that used to house Childs. Painstakingly restored by Legends Hospitality (Yankee Stadium) and Craveable Hospitality Group (of David Burke Kitchen), the turn-of-the-century expanse of beachside real estate is now enticingly occupied by Kitchen 21—a collection of five interwoven restaurant concepts occupying a 150,000-square foot space.
And while you won’t be turned away for donning a towel, each sector stands in stark, cultivated contrast to the assembly of fast food vendors and purveyors of yard cupped cocktails clogging the amusement park part of the beach.
The Parachute Bar
Set against arched windows framing Coney Island’s iconic Parachute Jump, this sprawling bar spans the length of the restaurant, and boasts local spirit-based cocktails (a “Not Your Father’s Egg Cream” with Industry Vodka, and a “Brooklyn 75” with Green Hook Ginsmith Beach Berry Gin,”) as well as small production cans and bottles and 32 craft beers on tap.
Community Clam Bar
A must for any beachside locale, this is your destination for flights or growlers of beer (regulars are encouraged to bring their own in for refills), paired with panko-crusted oysters, mahi mahi tacos, lobster rolls on brioche buns, and the signature Raw Bar In A Box, a dry ice-chilled collection of littlenecks, local oysters, shrimp cocktail and cracked lobster, accompanied by pots of beet horseradish and pink peppercorn mignonette.
An in-house incubator for new dishes (to flesh out an established roster of grilled duroc pork porterhouse, surf n’ turf burgers, white clam casino pizza, and kale salad with marcona almonds and blue cheese), the Test Kitchen will also host a regular pop-up chef series, and collaborate with visiting winemakers, brewmasters and mixologists.
Coney Island Café
Sun and sand worshipers can avail themselves of this grab-and-go, quick service lounge and café offering coffee and breakfast items for early risers, and low key, beachy eats for the bikini-clad lunchtime crowd. Think arugula salad with summer melon, spinach and mushroom empanadas, and Mediterranean chicken wraps filled with feta, cucumber and olive tapenade.
Boardwalk & Vine
Not only does the view rival that of the nearby Wonder Wheel, you can keep your feet planted firmly on the ground (and your hands grasped around goblets of proprietary Vintage 21 wines, or crispy, teriyaki-glazed duck wings) at this ocean-abutting rooftop bar, perched high above the boardwalk.
3052 W 21st St, (718) 954-9801, Coney Island