You can’t smoke there anymore, but you can still have fun at Coney Island. In fact, here’s our guide to old-school fun on the Boardwalk:
Steve’s Grill House
The corner eatery near Stillwell Avenue can satisfy almost any craving. The 18-year-old joint offers a diversity of fried goods, from tacos to deep-fried Oreos. Wash down this irresistible junk food with one of a dozen smoothie varieties. We recommend the Grill House’s signature Coney Island blend, made with pineapple, mango and orange.
Cha Cha’s is the quintessential dive bar, complete with frozen mega-daiquiris, live music, outdoor seating and arcade games. It’s also a terrific spot for watching kooky characters dance to the rockabilly bands that take the stage most weekends.
This 76-year-old tavern may be the most beloved of all the Boardwalk businesses, as hundreds of longtime patrons protested the eviction in the fall.
“It’s the best place in the world,” said Brian Dillon. “It never changes.”
Ruby’s has been owned by the same family since 1975, when the late Rubin Jacobs took over the bar. West 12th Street next to the bar is named Ruby Jacobs’s Way, immortalizing the man who treated every customer like family.
“He knew all the customers by name,” said his daughter Cindy Jacobs Allman.
Jacobs’ family has managed to keep his spirit alive by serving their loyal patrons $6 beers and a wide selection of grilled and fried grub.
When you name a restaurant after its signature dish, it better be good. And true to form, Gyro Corner’s pita-wrapped roasted meats taste great ($8).
“That’s because we slice it fresh to-order off the spit,” said Chrissula Sartzetakis, whose father Orestis Plaltis opened Gyro Corner about 15 years ago.
But Gyro Corner offers more than just Greek snacks. The eatery’s other special is an Italian-Latin fusion dish cleverly dubbed the mozzarepa ($5). It’s a combination of sweet ground corn, which resembles tamale filling, and fresh mozzarella cheese.
On a strip with several fast food eateries, Boardwalk staple Paul’s Daughter had to learn to distinguish itself.
“One of the ways we set ourselves apart is with hand-cut fries,” said manager John Georges. “On a busy Saturday we’ll go through 300 pounds of potatoes.”
The thick, crinkle-cut fries are delectable ($3.50), and so is Paul’s Daughter hot sausage hero ($7). No wonder the place has been in business for 40 years.
Steve’s Grill House (1231 Riegelmann Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, no phone); Cha Cha’s [1229 Riegelmann Boardwalk near Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, (718) 946-1305]; Ruby’s Bar [1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk near Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, (718) 372-9079; Gyro Corner [1205 Riegelmann Boardwalk near Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, (718) 449-5788]; Paul’s Daughter [1001 Riegelmann Boardwalk near W. 10th Street in Coney Island, (718) 449-4252].