Staten Island is like that quiet kid that sat in the back of class in middle school. Nobody really talked to him, so little did they know that he was a world class spy/chef/dancer/athlete/ninja on a mission to save the world from an evil force from a distant galaxy.
OK, perhaps that metaphor is a bit extreme, but Staten Island is definitely the wallflower of the five NYC boroughs. From myriads of corner delis to grand restaurants, Staten Island mixes a quaint, suburban atmosphere with Big Apple charm and in doing so makes you feel right at home. Whether you’re making plans to visit or you’re already in town, here’s a list of evening must-eats on the wonderful island.
If you’re looking for an intense dining experience, you’ll find one here. After going through serious expansion and renovation, even the bathrooms are high quality. Grab a garlic naan and dip it in some chicken tikka or palak paneer and try any of the piping-hot Tandoori specialties served straight from the clay oven (which makes everything authentic) and wash it all down with mango lassi. Your taste buds will sing like Adele.
If you’ve just gotten off the Staten Island ferry and don’t know where to eat, Beso is the place. A couple minutes away from the ferry terminal, this Spanish restaurant is conveniently located and will leave you craving for more. The shrimp plantains are to die for, and if you’re feeling bold you can head on over to the tapas bar for drinks and small dishes. If you can’t decide what dish to order (considering all of them sound and taste heavenly), try the lobster-infused paella or the baked Mahi-Mahi.
“What gives? A place called Lunchbox on a list of places for dinner?”
Well, disembodied voice, for the record Lunchbox is great for both lunch and dinner. With lunch boxes and graffiti lining the walls, the bright and funky atmosphere is only half of what makes this place so awesome. You can munch on a tower of tater tots (which is one of their signature items and a man-made treasure), make the ultimate fandom choice between the Captain America and Iron Man sandwiches, and go on an aquatic adventure in the Finding Nemo salad. For those who like pressure, they have three food challenges that’ll test your mind and gut to the fullest extent. But be warned: you only get one shot at each, ever.
When I used to think of Cajun food, I would always think of a practice SAT test passage I came across years ago. As you can imagine, it brought with it horrible flashbacks from the dark ages of SAT prep. Dining at Bayou, however, completely reversed that perspective.
The restaurant brings an authentic New Orleans vibe right to its cozy space in its Clifton neighborhood. Complete with a live jazz and blues band, Bayou serves up some great grub alongside a relaxing atmosphere. I recommend the Alligator Bites, Fried Calamari Jambalaya, and Elba Blues.
5. Jade Island
This list wouldn’t be complete without the restaurant named as Staten Island’s Best Asian Restaurant. Jade Island takes dining to a whole new level with tiki decorations and lamps modeled after blowfish. And the quality of food is amazing. The pan fried dumplings and chicken broccoli are must haves, and there’s plenty of delectable combo platters. Jade Island also does top notch catering, so call em’ up if you’re having a large party.
You may be asking, why do so many restaurants on this list start with the letter B? That’s because Blue, Beso, and Bayou make up the North Shore restaurant triad under the ownership of Julian Gaxholli (who started his career working at #8 on this list). As the youngest of the three, Blue doesn’t disappoint. Its location on the Richmond Terrace coast gives you a nice view of the ocean, and they’ve got tons of Mediterranean food. The restaurant got me to try grilled octopus—a decision I will never regret.
Ah, pizza. While there’s plenty of places that serve NYC-styled pizza, none of them quite get it like Denino’s does. They’ve got pizza down to a science; the crust always has the perfect amount of crunchiness to it and the toppings are always flavorful.
My top pie pick is the Garbage Pie (contrary to its name, it’s a treasure), and I can never get enough of the fried calamari. If you’re curious as to why everyone raves about NYC pizza, this is the spot for you. They’ve also recently opened a store in Greenwich Village for those of you that never quite make it off Manhattan.
8. Adobe Blues
If you’ve been reading closely, you’ll remember that there’s a bit of trivia associated with this restaurant. Haven’t found it? I’ll give you 10 seconds. (Hint:#6)
From its humble beginnings in 1992, Adobe Blues has become the staple for Tex-Mex food on Staten Island. You can never go wrong with their Diablo Duo Fiesta Chicken and the Blue Corn Enchiladas (the latter of which I order every single time). If you’re a beer enthusiast, you’ll be amazed by the immense assortment of drinks they serve (which almost totals to a whopping 200).
My family has a habit of picking the same weekend restaurant to go to when everyone’s free, and Forest Thai has been that spot for a whopping two years now. A quaint little restaurant on the North Shore, it’s cozy, welcoming and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it. My Snapchat is usually permeated with pictures of the scrumptious Pad Lard Na, and the sensational Thai iced tea that comes in a cute little mug. If you’re looking for a relaxing and quiet place, this is it.
Bonus: Something Sweet
Although they don’t provide dinner, if you’re looking to satisfy your late-night sweet tooth after dining at one of the many awesome restaurants on Staten Island, this is where you should go. They serve bubble tea in many great flavors, and there’s also ice cream and cakes—pretty much anything sweet that you could want.
It’s fresh, clean, and a cultural hub for those who attend school in the area (looking at you, fellow Staten Island Tech kids.) Plus, they’ve got killer macaroons. What more could you want?