Sunny summer days are the ideal time for a road trip, and there's no better end goal when setting out than a delicious meal (or three). The burgeoning food and beverage scenes in Western and Central New York are within a few hours' travel, and the options stretch far beyond Buffalo wings, garbage plates, BBQ, and Riesling — though, of course we love those, too. Whether your travels take you west, east, or south, here are a few things you should eat along the way.
Do you have a favorite dining spot you have to hit when you head out of town? Let us know in the comments below this article.
Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood is an artsy hub, with historic brick houses and eateries aplenty. Begin the day at Betty's (370 Virginia Street), an eclectic spot with a Southern (but vegetarian-friendly) flair to the menu. If it's nice out, snag a patio table under one of the wide striped awnings and order the French toast casserole.
After breakfast, browse local galleries and quaint shops along Allen Street. If possible, plan your trip during the Allentown Art Festival (June 10 and June 11), which draws arts and crafts vendors from around Buffalo and beyond. Your proximity to the Canadian border calls for a visit to Allen Street Poutine Company (242 Allen Street) for lunch. In addition to the traditional fries, gravy, and curds, Allen Street has created new versions of poutine, like Pierogi (a nod to the area's Polish heritage) and Buffalo Chicken (obviously); along with gluten-free and vegetarian gravy options.
After lunch, take a walking tour of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site (641 Delaware Avenue). When you've worked up an appetite again (and maybe a little thirst), end at Falley Allen Kitchen and Bar (204 Allen Street), a recently opened spot featuring craft cocktails and American fare like flatbread pizza, poké, and organic meats. The name is a nod to Lewis Falley Allen, a cattle farmer and founding father of Allentown, and an uncle to President Grover Cleveland.
Much like Buffalo and Rochester's urban areas, Syracuse is experiencing a bit of an uptick in downtown living and working. Older buildings are being repurposed as loft apartments and businesses, and longtime vacant storefronts have come alive with boutiques and cafés in the last few years. For breakfast, go to Funk 'n Waffles (admittedly, an all-day meal mainstay), which recently closed its original location near the Syracuse University campus to make way for construction. The newer Armory Square location — Funk 'n Waffles Downtown (307 South Clinton Street) — has the same creative waffle combinations with less of the former location's grunge.
After breakfast, head to the Museum of Science and Technology (500 South Franklin Street) for exhibits and IMAX entertainment, or browse curated vintage housewares, furniture, and clothing at Vintage Love (201 East Jefferson Street). For lunch, swing by Otro Cinco (206 South Warren Street) for catfish tacos and shrimp burritos. Or if you hold out until the evening, head to With Love (435 North Salina Street), a teaching restaurant operated by Onondaga Community College. With Love features a rotating cuisine based on its students and focuses on one particular country at a time.
The Finger Lakes hold a wealth of vineyard and culinary delights, but a lot gets passed over if you're on a wine tour bus with designated stops. (Geneva is an impeccable culinary destination, but since CITY has covered it frequently, we're focusing on areas further south).
Start your journey down the west side of Seneca Lake with breakfast at the retro Penn Yan Diner (131 East Elm Street). We recommend the sweet cream waffles or pancakes with a mug of steaming coffee while sitting at the counter for a bird's eye view of the cooks at work. After that, hit the wine trail — start at Fox Run Vineyards (670 Route 14) and follow Route 14. A slight detour at Spotted Duck Creamery (999 Route 54), a scratch frozen custard joint that uses duck eggs and all-natural ingredients as a base for seasonal flavors like Strawberry Rhubarb and Squashed, is suggested in lieu of a proper lunch (calories don't count on the road).
Head to Watkins Glen State Park (1009 North Franklin Street) for some hiking before making your way up the east end of the lake for dinner at Dano's Heuriger on Seneca (9564 Route 414, Lodi), a restaurant modeled after Viennese tradition. Entrees range from Wiener Schnitzel to a Viennese Bento Box — a sampler of specialty sides and meats — while dishes are a la carte and family style is encouraged. Try a cocktail; they're made with local Finger Lakes Distilling spirits.