When you think of Syracuse, do you think of food? You probably don’t. You probably think of the famous university or, if you’re like Texas Traveling Mom Jill, you think of COLD. But, as Jill is here to tell you, there are some great places to eat in Syracuse, New York.
I traveled to Syracuse this past February and I had an amazing time. There is so much to do, the people are so warm and welcoming…I mean, they better be warm because baby, it’s cold in Syracuse. And there is so much to eat. So. Much.
I’m giving you a run-down of my favorite places to nosh. I was only in town for three days and I’m firmly convinced that if I’d have stayed longer, this list would be longer. My jeans probably wouldn’t fit, but that is a whole other story. I’m excited to share the 8 best places to eat in Syracuse NY. If you think I’ve missed something, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to my list of places to try on my next trip!
1. Modern Malt
Located in Armory Square, Modern Malt is a classic diner with a twist. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in a fun, retro atmosphere. Modern Malt offers modern twists on classic comfort foods…and they serve cocktails, too!
Modern Malt has an amazingly fun menu offering breakfast dishes, sandwiches, salads and more. I had the PB&J Burger and yes, I ordered it because it just sounded weird and I had to try it. Sheer deliciousness. The PB&J Burger is a delicious beef patty served on a brioche roll topped with Swiss cheese, tomato, bacon jam, and peanut butter. There’s not a ton of peanut butter on it…think using it in place of mayo. You can definitely taste it but it’s not overwhelming. I had mine with sweet potato tots. (Maybe TMI but I’m actually drooling while typing.)
Other sandwiches have fun names like the Sloppy Joseph, Angry Bird and Good Morning Viet Nam. If you have a little bit of a sweet tooth, you might want to check out the Barney Rubble French Toast or the PB Cup French Toast. Modern Malt also has a selection of desserts but we didn’t get that far.
If you like a little something extra with your breakfast or brunch, their selection of Bloody Marys and Mimosas is also unique and fun. Want to try a Thai Basil Bloody Mary? This is your place.
2. The Mission
If you want to eat delicious Mexican food in delightfully decorated and historical surroundings, The Mission is the place for you. Being from San Antonio, I know my Mexican food and I’m honestly a little wary of non-Texas Mexican food. I was very pleasantly surprised at The Mission and found the food to be very authentic.
The Mission is a former Methodist Church and a stop on the 19th century underground railroad. If you didn’t know, Syracuse is an important place in underground railroad history. The info on this historic building is in the menu. I had shrimp quesadillas which were made with roasted corn, poblano peppers and green onions.
3. Dinosaur BBQ
This is a fun, loud place with great food. Whatever you order, make sure you get the Swag Sampler Plate first. It comes with fried green tomatoes, chicken wings, deviled eggs and spicy boiled shrimp. The fried green tomatoes are LEGIT.
Dinosaur BBQ has some of the best pulled pork I’ve ever tasted. They also offer happy hour specials and live music later in the evening. Dinosaur BBQ is actually a chain (the Syracuse location is the original) with locations around upstate New York, in New York City, and in Connecticut and New Jersey.
4. Eleven Waters
Eleven Waters is located in the Marriott in downtown Syracuse. Inspired by New York’s Finger Lakes wine region (get it…eleven waters = eleven lakes), the restaurant offers unique local flavors in a modern but rustic bistro experience.
Eleven Waters offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner and they have an amazing variety of local wines. The attached “Barber Shop” inspired bar is absolutely adorable. The space used to be an actual barber shop and the designers have done a great job in giving a nod to the original intent for the space. It’s such a fun place to have a drink. Even if you don’t stay at the Marriott (which you should – it’s amazing and full of history in a super-luxurious setting), put this stop on your list.
The Marriott also boasts The Cavalier Room and Shaughnessy’s. The Cavalier Room offers snacks and light bites, such as tomato and fresh mozzarella flatbread or a three-cheese quesadillato, to enjoy while you’re having a great cocktail. If you want something heartier, they offer a selection of salads, bowls, and sandwiches.
Shaughnessy’s is a super-fun, sports-friendly Irish pub. They offer a variety of hearty eats, such as burgers, sandwiches, and fish and chips. A kid’s menu is also available.
5. Glazed and Confused
I am a doughnut lover. Correction: I am a doughnut connoisseur. There is so much to love about this gem of a doughnut shop but if you leave without sampling the Dizzy Pig (a maple-glazed, bourbon sugar concoction of awesomeness topped with candied (local!) bacon), then you’re glazed and confused.
If the prospect of a maple glazed, bacon, bourbon donut doesn’t do it for you (and OMG what is the matter with you?) then you can sample the Cereal Killer, the Elvis Strikes Back, or the Pardon my French Toast. This is SUCH a fun place and the people are so nice. I have regrets, though. I regret not taking doughnuts home with me. So…don’t be like me. Bring some goodies home. And maybe bring one for me, too?
6. Al’s Wine and Whiskey Lounge
Al’s Wine and Whiskey Lounge offers wine, spirits, and some fun eats in a library-esque setting. They offer small bites, sandwiches, and just about any sort of alcoholic drink you’d want.
7. The Fish Friar
If you want a haddock chowder that’s slap yo’ mamma good (sorry mamma), then head to the Fish Friar. They have all sorts of good seafood and seasonal soups. If you want super-fresh, wild-caught seafood from the coast of Maine (hello, who wouldn’t!) paired with craft beer and an inviting Manhattan-style atmosphere, then this is one you need to check out.
I got to sample the haddock chowder as part of the Culinary Cruise that happens during Syracuse’s Winter Fest. Winter Fest happens during February and the Culinary Cruise is a fun way to meet people and try lots of different foods.
8. Destiny USA
If you don’t see what you are looking for on this list or if you are interested in eating (or drinking!) at a franchise while in Syracuse, Destiny USA has you covered. Destiny USA is an amazing shopping/dining/entertainment complex…if they don’t have it, you might not want it. I’ve never been to the Mall of America but Destiny USA is a similar setup…just not quite as large.
They offer Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, The Melting Pot, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Fridays and so much more. If you’re looking for fast food options, Destiny USA has a ton: Arby’s, Sbarro, Auntie Anne’s, and a bajillion other places.
Syracuse is a gem. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my favorite places to eat in Syracuse but the city has so much more to offer than food. You might be visiting on a college tour or on a pitstop going somewhere else. Syracuse is a popular side trip from Niagara Falls. I happen to think there’s enough wonderful-ness in Syracuse to plan a dedicated visit…but whatever brings you to Syracuse, you definitely won’t go hungry in this amazing city in Central New York.