Yeah, there’s Nathan’s, and, if you’re in the mood for a hot dog, there are few things more satisfying than crunching on a classic frank, accompanied by thick, golden fries with the scent of salt air in your nose and the heat of the sun enveloping you.
But, there’s so much more to eating in Coney than Nathan’s, so much, in fact, that the choices can occasionally seem overwhelming.
We aim to simplify them a bit.
First of all, Nathan’s (1310 Surf Avenue; 718-333-2202) now has a competitor on its home turf — and it’s one that dates back to the golden age of the seaside resort, reinvented.
Feltman’s of Coney Island hot dogs, all beef (like Nathan’s) and served on a potato bun, can be gobbled up at Luna Park, served up at a stand at Surf Avenue and West 10th Street as well as at another stand inside the park.
The venerable treat, the original Coney Island “red hot,” attributed to mid-19th century entrepreneur Charles Feltman, returned this spring, under the auspices of restaurateur Michael Quinn, some 63 years after it shut up shop. The only Feltman’s offering is hot dogs, but you can get it topped with anything from sauerkraut or raw onions to chili and cheese, and mustard, of course.
If you’re in the mood for a burger, Brooklyn’s only Wahlburgers (3015 Stillwell Avenue; 718-975-7330) is smack-dab in the heart of Coney. Sit down and savor one of the burgers or non-burger options, ranging from salads to sandwiches to Mac ‘N Cheese with Smoked Bacon to Mom’s Sloppy Joe, all at very reasonable prices.
If you’re more in the mood for pizza, head to Grimaldi’s (1215 Surf Avenue; 718-676-2630) for crispy, tomatoey goodness bubbling with cheese straight out of a coal-fired oven. There’s a lengthy list of toppings, and the pizzas are both reasonably priced and delicious. There’s also a selection of other foods, including salad, antipasti and dessert. Cash only.
Further from the action is another classic pizzeria, Totonno’s (1524 Neptune Avenue; 718-372-8606), which has served up its legendary pies, also baked in coal-fired ovens, since 1924. It’s whole pies only, and there’s a selection of toppings. This is a no-frills joint, but the pizza is rightly renowned. Cash only.
If selection is what you’re looking for, Kitchen 21 (3052 West 21st Street; 718-954-9801) is just the ticket. Recently opened in the landmarked Childs Restaurant building, the restaurant actually comprises a selection of different eateries — Test Kitchen, for trendy options; Community Clam Bar for seafood; Parachute Bar for tap beers, craft cocktails and easy-going fare such as pizza and burgers; and the rooftop Boardwalk & Vine, for wine and small plates with a view.
If you crave a little spice, Footprints (1521 Surf Avenue; 718-265-2530) is just steps away from the action. This Caribbean food emporium has an extensive menu, lots of exotic drinks and rooftop seating. Dig into the jerk chicken, the wings, the curry and savor the flavors of the West Indies within shouting distance of the beach and Boardwalk.
For a more formal, sit-down meal, Gargiulo’s (2911 West 15th Street; 718-266-4891) is the go-to spot in Coney. Another of the nabe’s venerable institutions, the Neapolitan-style eatery — which dates back to 1907, and has been owned by the Russo family for over half a century — is a red sauce palace, plus, where you can get traditional Brooklyn Italian dishes from Pasta e Fagioli to Veal Parmigiana to Shrimp Scampi.
Finally, no food overview of Coney would be complete without a local fave, Williams Candy (1318 Surf Avenue; 718-372-0302). This sweet shop has been in the amusement district for more than 75 years, earning repeat customers with its freshly made cotton candy, candy apples, marshmallow confections and more, in a small storefront with a delightfully old-fashioned vibe that draws me back again and again.