Tompkinsville, Staten Island
What to go for: Authentic Sri Lankan food
When it comes to eating on Staten Island, most people think only of Italian. And while there’s no shortage of amazing pasta spots (like Enoteca Maria, a grandmother-run restaurant in St. George) and pizzerias, the borough's true destination cuisine is Sri Lankan -- the best of which can be found in Tompkinsville. Take the Staten Island Ferry (which is free, and an attraction in and of itself) and stroll 15 minutes south of the St. George drop-off point. You’ll find yourself among rows of Sri Lankan restaurants, each with its own specialty. For traditional hoppers (crispy, stringy, bowl-shaped pancakes) head to San Rasa, which offers a dainty but hearty version accompanied by a rich fish curry for dipping -- or Dosa Garden, an “Indo Lankan” spot where the hoppers are served as they would be in Southern India, with an assortment of coconut and tomato chutneys.
For the other essential starch of Sri Lanka -- roti (or flatbread) -- the chewiest, flakiest renditions can be found at neighborhood mainstay New Asha (be sure to also visit the adjacent sweet shop for post-meal treats). The highlight at Ceylon Curry is the entire menu of lamprais, another signature Sri Lankan dish. Rice, onion relish, plantains, and your choice of meat are wrapped tightly in a banana leaf, baked, then unfolded to reveal a fragrant curry and pillow-soft rice. Before you head out, make a final stop at Lanka Grocery for essential Sri Lankan seasonings -- practically an entire aisle of the store is devoted to various types of spicy, tangy sambals (hot sauce).
How to get there: Staten Island Ferry to St. George Terminal