For the this week’s Village Voice, I checked out Rippers, a credible burger shack at Rockaway Beach that has been feeding sand encrusted beach-goers with well-made fast food for the past two summers.
The joint’s menu of American classics–think burgers, hotdogs, and fries–is supplemented by nachos drenched in housemade cheese sauce, chili, and whole deep-fried fish, dishes that have been absorbed into the American canon for so long that we sometimes forget that they have Mexican origins.
The fish torta($10) at Rippers, a sleeper hit of the menu that shouldn’t be overlooked, is less an authentic take on the Mexican street snack than it is culinary freestyling. It’s a sandwich that straddles the border between two countries. Rippers uses dogfish, a species of miniature shark with flaky white flesh, which is seasoned simply with salt and pepper and grilled until charred and opaque. Assembled on a squishy Martin’s roll that’s toasted and spread with black beans, it’s topped with a tuft of julienned cabbage slaw dressed with lime and salt. The pickles and special sauce recall a Big Mac; the house hot sauce–a blend of dried chile de arbol, onion, garlic–adds a vinegary punch.
Mexican? American? Whatever, it’s tasty.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city’s best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.