Joseph Cordova reminisces his very first fish taco experience, and shares the impetus for opening his now famous Los Angeles stand
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Boardwalks are living nostalgia, and the memories families and friends make on them are ones that last a lifetime. While the rides and the kitschy shops are all part of the experience, the food is perhaps what we remember most. Here are nine of America’s most iconic boardwalk foods.
Those who have a boardwalk within traveling distance know that it isn’t simply a beach-town gimmick with tourist T-shirts and overpriced rides. It is where a little boy won his first arcade game, where a little girl got her face painted for the first time. It is where high school seniors went after prom or for senior week, where they got their first kisses, and where they dreamed of returning with their own families someday. Those memories are personal, but the memories of boardwalk foods, from corn dogs to salt water taffy, are collective.
We looked through our list of America’s 31 Best Boardwalks and selected foods that show up time and time again in various beach towns in the country. We also asked a few of our staff members who grew up vacationing in boardwalk towns which foods stuck out to them the most. While you’d hardly call any of these foods healthy, calories are far from our minds when we're vacationing. Plus, if you’re going to eat a funnel cake, you’re better off doing it on a day when you’ve been walking around and swimming.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and can almost taste the salt water taffy on your lips, why not throw a boardwalk food party at home? Beer-battered bratwurst corn dogs and fish tacos with mango pico de gallo are just a couple dishes that’ll wow your friends.
Additional reporting by Lauren Gordon and Leora Novick
It’s really hard to mess up a corn dog, so you can enjoy one pretty much anywhere they’re served, from a New Jersey boardwalk to South Korea, which has a particularly interesting variation. But the best ones are at Jane’s Corn Dogs in Newport Beach, California, which is open until 2:30 a.m. and has become a popular after-hours spot. This local legend fries their dogs as you order and serves a mean dish of chili cheese fries to go with them.
Deep-fried Oreos are pretty easy to make at home, so long as you have Bisquick lying around, but they just taste better at county fairs — or, even better, on boardwalks. After all, isn’t biting into a soft pancake enveloping that familiar cookie sandwich we all love the definition of pleasure and nostalgia? They are ubiquitous enough on boardwalks on both coasts that you’ll rarely see an article that says one establishment serves a better version than any other.