Let a Coney Island native guide your day trip along the boardwalk

nathan's famous hot dog glenn harris coney island recommendation
Nathan’s Famous hot dogs are meant to be enjoyed, not just scarfed down in eating contests.
Credit: drpavloff/Flickr

If nothing says summer like a day trip to Coney Island, then few people know how to make the most of it better than Glenn Harris.

The chef/owner of Jane and The Smith, Harris’ love of the area goes above and beyond. He was born at Coney Island Hospital and grew up on the beach, eating Nathan’s hot dogs and kissing girls under the boardwalk. He even has a Coney Island tattoo. 

So as we enter the dog days of summer, the ones that can only be endured within sight of the ocean or the wind in your face as you scream along the rollercoaster track at Luna Park, we asked Harris for his favorite things to see and do.

chef glenn harris jane the smith
Chef Glenn Harris grew up on the boardwalk.
Credit: Provided

And Manhattan — don’t let the distance scare you. It’s a straight shot on the D, F, N and Q trains, and it’s just $32 for four hours of unlimited rides on most attractions.

Favorite eats: Even among the “tons of great food” on the boardwalk, Harris has his favorites. Nathan’s Famous isn’t meant to be scarfed down in a competition; savor a hot dog with fries, with a side of clams on the half-shell and an ice cold beer. Go for the caramel cashew marshmallows at Williams Candy (1318 Surf Ave.); for something more upscale, Gargiulo’s Restaurant (2911 W. 15th St.) does Italian right. “I love their hot antipasto and pastas.”

The perfect day: Start at the New York Aquarium; the native species tank is Harris’ favorite. Then head to the boardwalk and ride the classic 1927 Cyclone wooden rollercoaster before lunch — pizza at Totonno Pizzeria Napolitana (1524 Neptune Ave.) is always a must. Grab a drink at Ruby’s Bar & Grill (1213 Boardwalk W.) and then check out the Circus Sideshow

L&B spumoni garden square pizza coney island
Don’t miss the square slices at L&B Spumoni Garden.
Credit: thegirlsny/Flickr

But the good eats don’t end at the boardwalk: “I would drive back home, so that on the way I can stop at L&B Spumoni Garden (2725 86th St.) for a square slice, or Randazzo’s Clam Bar (2017 Emmons Ave.) for Brooklyn-style half shells and calamari. I also like to check out the Russian food stores in Brighton Beach, where you can choose from dozens of smoked meats, sausages, fish and caviar.”

coney island cyclone roller coaster
Beyonce Knowles rides the Coney Island Cyclone in her music video for her song “XO.”
Credit: FilmMagic

What’s new? Harris likes his thrills. The new steel coaster Thunderbolt opened this summer after the original was demolished in 2000. Or catapult yourself in the air without a track on the Slingshot. Shoot the Clown, which replaced Shoot the Freak after it closed in 2010, also makes Harris’ list.

“One thing I love most about Coney Island is that it holds on to its roots. It’s classic Brooklyn. I hope it stays that way, even with new areas being developed.”

Follow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email eva.kis@metro.us. 


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