Eat Your Way to Upstate New York This Fall

Take a taste of something different.

New York State rieslings pair well with New York State foliage.

Long Island is home to fine and casual dining and food and wine with influences from down under to New Orleans. But when cravings call for a detour, clean Rieslings, otherworldy barbecue, farmers markets that rival supermarkets and a vegan’s paradise are all within driving distance. Go ahead and indulge this fall with this foodie-driven road trip through New York.    

Day 1: Tarrytown

Cut out of work early and head to Tarrytown. The Westchester County village is located along the Hudson River, and RiverMarket Kitchen & Bar sits in the heart of it all. Inspired by Eataly, it’s a gourmet shop and fork-to-table restaurant. Like Eataly, prices are on the higher side ($28 for a Caesar Salad), but diners note the generous portions and cozy atmosphere.

Walk it off surrounded by more than 7,000 illuminated pumpkins at the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze in Sleepy Hollow. The witch’s cauldron won’t be the only thing brewing; Westchester-based Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. is slated to pour. The festival runs select dates through November 24.

Day 2: Ithaca

Wake up and smell the (artisan) coffee at Coffee Lab Roasters. The shop roasts its own beans on-site and has won awards for its espressos, lattes and latte art (Instagram alert!).

The next leg is a worthwhile trek. A little less than four hours from Tarrytown, Ithaca is a mix of small-town charm and creative cuisine. For now, grab-and-go at Wegman’s—it’s a thing in these parts. The 24-hour store offers prepared foods that range from pulled pork to sushi to sandwiches and salads.

Dinner plans await after a siesta. Herbivore meets locavore at Moosewood. Celebrated for its cookbooks and vegan and vegetarian dishes made with local ingredients, Moosewood has even won over the carnivore-leaning crowd.

Day 3: The Finger Lakes

The dim lighting and tables-for-two make Ithaca Coffee Company the perfect place to wake up slowly, but the full-service espresso bar will speed up the process. Breakfast fare, like ham and cheese melts, are good aperitifs for a day of vino.

The Finger Lakes are known for Rieslings—consider trying one at each winery. The Seneca Lake Trail, the largest in the Finger Lakes with 35 wineries, is home to Lamoreaux Landing. The vineyard boasts waterfront views as satisfying as the Rieslings and Chardonnays served inside. Along the Cayuga Lake Trail, beer-lovers and oenophiles unite at Americana Vineyards, Crystal Lake Café and Bacchus Brewing Company Taproom. Upstairs, the Rieslings tend to be dry or semi-dry, and the medium-bodied Baco Noir is a favorite red. The tap room is downstairs, and lunch in the café can be paired with wine and beer.

If you’re up for dinner, jeans and tees are welcome at Viva Taqueria & Cantina. Located adjacent to Ithaca Commons, the joint serves heaping helpings of Mexican fare that will soak up the sins of the day. Takeout is available.

Day 4: Syracuse

Consider grabbing breakfast and snacks for the road at Ithaca Farmer’s Market (weekends only). There’s local bounty and pre-prepared meal options. Check out their full hours here. Closer to Cornell, Collegetown Bagels doesn’t disappoint—no, not even Islanders.

Continue north on I-81 to Syracuse, where the recommended lunch spot is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. No pressure to dress to impress; the tables have names carved into them. The focus is on the food, like the pulled pork. It’s so tender and juicy, there’s no need to reach for the knife, and the ribs fall off the bone.

The feast continues at Pastabilities, a warm, brick-lined restaurant with staff as welcoming as an Italian grandmother. The homemade pastas and bread have kept people coming back for nearly four decades.

Day 5: Rochester

If not stuffed from yesterday, Recess Coffee’s iced beverages, like coffees and mochas, are favorites even after first frost. Typical breakfast fare is also available and can be eaten on comfortable couches. Just be warned: a full plate awaits.

Next stop: Rochester, where the first Wegman’s opened in 1916. The store is an option for lunch, but consider breaking up the ride with a sit-down meal.

Those who loved Moosewood will enjoy Owl House. The restaurant, set in an actual house, serves creative vegan fare like chickpea and broccoli falafel.  Meat and gluten-free dishes are also available, and regulars note the ample craft beer selection. Jim’s on Main is a fuss-free diner with spacious booth seating and traditional American dishes like BLTs and roast beef sandwiches.

The trek ends in Buffalo. Winters are more bearable in this city because the wings are just that good. Anchor Bar lays claim to being the “birthplace of wings.” It’s said the family-owned joint was the first to serve the dish in 1964. Dip them in one of about 10 sauces that range from mild to the foreboding suicidal as you reminisce about a road trip that was—hopefully—good to the last bite.

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