SmorgasBar food tent debuts at Jones Beach
Don't bother to pack lunch for a day at Jones Beach this summer: The dining options have gotten a whole lot better thanthe standard fast-food burgers, nachos, French fries and buckets of fried chicken of years past.
Just across from the park's main food-concession pavilion is a big white tent sheltering a half-dozen vendors serving a colorful array of fresh, handmade fare -- wood-fired pizza, hand-cut fries, artisanal sausages -- plus local craft beers. SmorgasBar is the name of this waterside outpost of Smorgasburg, Brooklyn's popular open-air weekend food market.
Zoraida Orellana of Medford was duly impressed on a recent Friday. "Usually we just go into concessions to get some French fries," she said. "But we saw the sign from the boardwalk, came over and tried the nachos from El Gato Nachos -- best nachos ever. We're coming back next week just to eat nachos again."
SmorgasBar prices are entirely competitive with Jones Beach's fast-food offerings. El Gato's fresh nachos are $6; the concession stand's are $5.75. The crisp, fried-to-order whiting at Handsome Hank's Fish Hut is $10 as opposed to $12.50 across the way.
SmorgasBar's bar serves four beers on tap: Greenport Harbor, Southampton Publick House, Six Point and Genesee cream ale as well as Brooklyn Oenology white (also on tap). The food lineup is not set in stone and may change or expand as the summer season gets under way.
Here are some of the offerings:
EL GATO NACHO
Jill and Christopher Davin are on a mission to rescue nachos from infamy. Their vibrant, imaginative nachos start with fresh tortilla chips, fried daily and topped with homemade salsa verde and hot sauce, pickles, scallions, radishes and crema. Add meat, cheese or pineapple-mango salsa.
BROOKLYN OYSTER PARTY
Brooklyn Oyster Party sources oysters from both the East and West coasts and serves about five varieties at a time. The Barnstables from Massachusetts and the Kusshis from Britain were two recent highlights. Served naked or with lemon, red mignonette, cucumber-ginger mignonette or hot sauce.
COST $2.75 per oyster, $16 for half a dozen. Friday to Sunday only.
The Brooklyn butcher shop makes its own sausages and serves them on brioche buns from Tom Cat Bakery. Choose from sweet Italian pork with roasted pepper, pork with a spicy Thai relish or smoked beef bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut.
HANDSOME HANK'S FISH HUT
When's the last time you had fried fish that really tasted like fish? Handsome Hank's takes healthy slabs of fresh whiting, breads and fries them to order and serves them with skinny fries or as a sandwich on white bread. Fried shrimp also are excellent.
COST $8 for fish sandwich, $10 for fish and chips, $12 for shrimp and chips.
Don't fill up on the fries from Handsome Hank's or you'll have no room for the fries from Home Frite. These burnished, skin-on planks of potato are served in a cleverly designed paper cone with its own built-in sauce reservoir. Choose among curry ketchup, chipotle ranch, poblano crème fraîche, smoked honey mustard, lemon-garlic aioli or herb-cado.
COST $6 for fries, $8 for truffle fries with Parmesan
Rubirosa brings its own mobile wood-burning oven to Jones Beach and the resultant pies are light and spare, perfect beach pizzas. Also, a pasta salad and an unusually good green salad with arugula, tomatoes, tiny mozzarella dots and a lemony vinaigrette.
COST $10-$12 pizzas (margherita, bianco, sausage and broccoli raab, "supreme") and $7 salads -- or $15 pizza-salad combo.
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through Labor Day along the Jones Beach boardwalk's Central Mall, near parking Field 4
PARKING $10 daily vehicle entrance fee applies before 6 p.m.
PAYING Most vendors take credit cards; there also is an ATM.