Not technically on Long Island but close enough that that's the main crowd it attracts, Pop's Seafood Shack & Grill is a pretty amazing summer spot. Although driving up you'll worry that you're going to end up dumped in the water instead of sitting my it, once you make it past the abandoned lots you'll find a huge building with backyard dancing, Adirondack chairs and a huge man-made beach in the back. This place is done up like a boardwalk, where palm trees and colorful lights brighten up a sandy retreat on the water, and even the bathrooms are set up as fake colorful buildings to look like they're part of a destination pier. While visiting a friend studying in Long Island, my friends and I made it out to Pop's around 8 on a Friday. Everyone could tell we were rookies as soon as our party of 10 put in our name for dinner and were told it'd be a two hour wait - our faces showed the early stages of hangriness.
Luckily we found a spot to stand by the pier to wait it out with drinks since most of the (150?) chairs were taken and packed around fires all over the "beach." We were soon rewarded with the best spots in the house for a surprise late 4th of July fireworks show across the water. Springsteen was blasting, fireworks were glaring across the water, and suddenly I had a newfound affinity for New York.
Luckily waiting for dinner doesn't seem as long when you have a drink and a bunch of college friends to catch up with, but there were also sedentary "food trucks" set up on the Pop's beach in case anyone was close to food freakout mode. Sooner than we realized, an hour and a half was up and we had a table!
The list of seafood options was just ridiculous, so while we sat outside under a little awning on long picnic tables we squinted through the dark to spy on what other people were ordering. In the end, two friends and I went in on the 2 1/2 pound Lobster Chunk mussels. These bad boys had a sweet and light "brandied lobster bisque" broth. Even with three of us doing our best, we weren't able to finish these and the sides of tater tots (I'm always psyched when tater tots are on the menu) and fries we ordered. True to their word, there were a solid amount of lobster chunks alongside roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh steamed PEI mussels, and for $10 each this was a real steal.
The mussels come with a piece of country bread, but it'd be easy enough to remove that when ordering gluten free. Next time I definitely want a rematch with the mussels, and their raw bar and corn on the cob menus look ridiculous in the best way possible. Because we didn't have anyone with gluten issues in our party, I didn't ask if a separate fryer is available for the fried foods, and as always I don't pretend to have Celiac so I'm not sure how safe the kitchen actually is in terms of a gluten-free experience, but my visit there and the gluten-free options I found were super impressive. If you're looking for a place to lounge around with friends in the NYC area that feels and tastes like summer, I'd definitely start with Pop's.
Have you been to Pop's? What was your gluten-free experience like, and is there another place you'd recommend I go next time I'm in the Long Island area?