Set sail for more tasty summer sunset meals! Locals can now enjoy free admission to two of New York’s most popular floating restaurants, the North River Lobster Company and La Barca Cantina, through the new “Free Boarding for Neighbors” program.
Anyone who lives or works in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea or Hudson Yards can redeem a free pass for the season by visiting the boat box office at Pier 81 with proof of residency or employment in zip codes 10001, 10011, 10018, 10019 and 10036. Your free resident pass grants you unlimited access to each ship’s daily afternoon and evening Hudson River sails. “That’s a lot of sunsets that you won’t be missing out on this year,” the company said in their announcement of the freebie. “Lobster on a Boat and Tacos on a Boat … it doesn’t get any better than that!”
Founded in 2014, the North River Lobster Company and sister boat, the tacos-and-tequila-focused La Barca (opened in 2021 after pandemic-related-delays), have become summer standbys for Hell’s Kitchen residents seeking a maritime dining experience without traveling far from home. North River Lobster Company is known for its fresh lobster rolls (which range from buttery Connecticut-style lobster rolls to scallion-cream-cheese-adorned Lower East Side style rolls), while La Barca features over 100 well-curated agave spirits and shareable, authentic Mexico City-style tacos and nachos. While the North River Lobster Company was originally free to board, the boat’s popularity led to the company charging for season passes and single rides in addition to food and drink.
The new discount is welcome news for local fans, including Hell’s Kitchen resident Juli Oliver, who called the North River Lobster Company “one of my favorite warm-weather activities.” Having previously recommended the boat as a place for “chilling with my people, lobster rolls, cold beverages, floating on a dirty river, wind whipping through my hair, all with a gorgeous skyline (look east, not west) as the backdrop,” Juli told W42ST that the incentive would encourage her to take more trips on the boat. “Free admission for the surrounding neighborhood residents would be pretty welcoming and sweet, especially because we’re all going to spend money filling our bellies — and going there more often would help promote them, and speaking for myself, I’m always introducing new friends to the experience,” said Juli.
For fellow Hell’s Kitchen local Lena Grotticelli, the boat is her “number one recommendation of what to do in New York, even though it’s a very ‘not New York’ type of thing to do.” She first learned of the vessel from W42ST and has “hooked all my friends” on the activity. “It’s a short getaway, you see the city from a different viewpoint, the atmosphere is always relaxing and positive,” said Lena. “It feels nice to make the effort to walk away from the bustle and to the water. Now, it even sails down past the Statue of Liberty on some sunset sailings, which is magical. I think it’s more worth it than a tourist boat as well, because it’s a floating bar, indoor/outdoor, and great seafood!”
Lena added that the reduced spend would also “be even more of a reason to go more often. I previously bought the season pass and didn’t use it enough to repurchase. Now I’ll be more inclined to go, and I think other people will want to bring friends outside of the neighborhood because they can split the admission price.”
Sounds like a win for the neighborhood economy and summer dinner parties to us — all aboard!
Pier 81 Box Office opens an hour before the first sail every day and closes when the last sail goes out:
Wednesdays — Thursdays: Open from 2-9pm
Fridays — Saturdays: Open from 12-9pm
Sundays — Open from 11:30am-9pm
Times change in July — check northriverlobsterco.com/visit/ for the most up-to-date schedule.