Tag Archives: syracuse restaurants

Top 10 CNY Restaurants (2014 Edition)

Photo May 02, 6 22 55 PMAbout 18 months ago, I wrote a list of my top 10 CNY restaurants. These were not necessarily the restaurants that I thought were the best, but the one’s that I would go to if I had to build a permanent rotation of places to dine.

Since I posted that list, much has changed in the CNY food scene. One of the restaurants, Circa, has closed. Last week Gentile’s, loved my many in this area, shut its doors. A new version of The Krebs is open in Skaneateles at the end of August.

As we approach fall and begin our CNY hibernation (coming out only for food and SU basketball), I thought I would update the list. These are not necessarily the best restaurants in town or really even my 10 favorites. This list represents the permanent rotation of the area’s 10 best restaurants that I would go to exclusively (in no particular order):

  • Moro’s Table, Auburn [website]. The alpha and the omega. If money were no object…
  • Asti Caffe, Syracuse [website]. The best red sauce restaurant* in Syracuse.
  • Pastabilities, Syracuse [website]. Great for lunch. Good for dinner. The second best red sauce in town*.
  • Dinosaur Barbque, Syracuse [website]. Their bad days are a lot better than my good days. Remember, it’s not the 10 best, but the 10 that I would go to exclusively if forced to pick.
  • The Mission, Syracuse [website]
  • Otro Cinco, Syracuse [website]
  • Zabroso, Oneida [website]. The past three restaurants are distinctly different takes on Latin-American/Spanish food. The Mission is Mexican/Pan-American; Otro is a Spanish/Mexican hybrid; and Zabroso is Spanish. All three are wonderful.
  • Laci’s Tapas Bar, Syracuse [website]. Eclectic and fun. One of the area’s best dining experiences.
  • Ironwood, Manlius [website]. Good pizza. Good beer. Really, I’m easy to please.
  • The Restaurant at Elderberry Pond, Auburn [website]. An impossible car ride to get there, but farm-to-table begins and ends there.

*Angotti’s is not the best restaurant in town, nor is it the best red sauce restaurant in Syracuse. But it has long been a gathering spot for my family. It’s like my kitchen away from home. It doesn’t make this list because it transcends this list. And because I can almost always get a table.


Empire Brewing Company, Syracuse, N.Y.

The Big Mamou

In August, The Wife and I returned to the Empire Brewing Company for the first time in years. We were delightfully surprised and relieved to see that the food, at least at brunch, had returned to an acceptable quality.

One of my favorite meals in Syracuse was the Big Mamou Platter, a sampler of Empire’s New Orleans/creole-inspired menu. Three hunks of blue cornbread divide generous portions of jambalaya, gumbo and shrimp NOLA — rotini pasta and shrimp tossed in a creamy tomato sauce with a hint of heat. It was a little bit of everything that you liked about Empire on one plate.

Nacho fondue

Before Friday evening, the last time I ordered it was after the restaurant had reopened a few years ago. And, it was a mess. Everything tasted like it came directly from a hot-hold: watered down, limp and flavorless. On top of it, the beer was wretched. I ended up spending some quality time in the bathroom as a result.

Our return was brought on by a gift card from my sister, who has done a pretty good job of finding places for me to eat. With the in-laws in place to watch The Kid, we ventured out.

Continue reading Empire Brewing Company, Syracuse, N.Y.

La Taqueria, Syracuse, N.Y.

Source: La Taqueria

My problem with Mexican food goes back to being a food racist bigot (The Wife corrected me. Food racism, she says, implies I don’t want black people making pasta or white people making soul food. She said that my issue is with ethnicities infringing on each others territory: Anglos making Italian or Italians making Mexican. I have to agree.).

One of the best restaurants The Wife and I went to in Las Vegas was a taco stand in North Las Vegas where the chorizo was fresh and the pastor was prepped on an outdoor spit. Naturally, the further north and east you go, the less authentic it gets and I’m okay with that. The problem, though, is what most people think is Mexican is really upscale Taco Bell (And don’t get me started on whatever the hell Tex-Mex is.).

That’s where I found myself today at La Taqueria. I actually resent the name because it’s not a taco stand or Mexican restaurant. It’s a place that imitates Mexican food and does so very well. Continue reading La Taqueria, Syracuse, N.Y.

Darwin on Clinton: This little piggy went to Utica

Darwin on Clinton calls this sandwich by this post’s title and describes it as “Seasoned, shredded pork and Virginia-baked ham topped with melted sharp provolone. Served over a bed of Utica greens and frizzled red onion on DiLauro’s sesame-seeded French bread. Finished with our roasted garlic mayo and sweet chili sauce.”

I call it “hands-down the best sandwich I’ve ever had.”


Syracuse fine dining in the 1980s and 1990s was highlighted by its Italian restaurants. On Erie Boulevard, it was Grimaldi’s. On the north side, it was Antonio’s. I only ate there once (veal saltimbocca…quite good, from what I remember…it was 1996), but it was what you might expect from that class of restaurant.

Fast forward to now. Antonio’s closed years ago, giving way to something called Attillo’s. The Antonio’s name now adorns a pair of takeout storefronts with the name Antonio’s To Go. The North Syracuse and Camillus locations feature a menu full of traditional and regional Italian dishes, as well as pizza. We’ve had the pizza a few times and it is quite good. The Wife and I aren’t the only ones who think so. Friday evening’s pickup wait was 90 minutes. The girl on the phone refused to quote a delivery time. Continue reading Antonio’s-To-Go

Boom Boom

It started as a stand at The New York State Fair. Back when before I got married and entertained such ideas by The Wife, we would venture to the 10-day peoplewatching festival in Geddes, N.Y. I would try to make my way to the barbecue/taco stand near the international pavilion, if for no other reason than the nachos were hulking and cheap.

Four years ago, the stand became a seasonal oasis — Boom Boom Mex Mex. The roadhouse taco stand on the corner of Howlett Hill and Corporal Welch Roads in Camillus opens its doors each spring in mid-April and stays open until it’s too cold for the husband and wife to bear. They close the doors in November and return to her native San Miguel de Allende in Mexico for the winter.

The long cold winter. Continue reading Boom Boom