I'm a Syracuse native, and I live in DC, I make this trip ALL the time. at least 4 times per year, if not more. I'm going to give you a blend of dining experiences, from fine dining to diner.
From South to North (DC to Watertown):
Reviewed several times here is the Dutch Kitchen
in Frackville, PA. Personally, I'm not blown away by the food, and I was dismayed that they did not have diaper changing stations in the bathrooms. What family restaurant cannot provide the basics? But, the place has a certain authentic kitchiness that cannot be duplicated - certainly not by a Cracker Barrrel. For that alone, and the good service, this is worth the stop. The Meating Place
: 10 Freedom Road, Drums, PA.
An old stage coach stop - it's been a watering hole for 150 years. Service is slow, stick to the meats and avoid the seafood. It's off the beaten path, but what good place isn't? This is a place where Roadfood meets fine dining. The steaks rule here, the seafood, not so much. Get an appetizer and expect the food to take a while. So sit back, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. If you have any piano skills, you can take some time to entertain your fellow diners by playing the foot-pedal organ in the lounge area. Now, who doesn't like stepping back in time to some good ol' foot-pedal organ fun!?!
From I-81, exit 262 (route 309), and head about 3 miles south, turn left onto Freedom road....I hate to say it, but look for the porno place, the restaurant is on the road behind that. Wegmans
, 220 Highland PArk Blvd, Wilkes-Barre: If you are not a Wegmans fan, it's high time you became one. Exit 168. Go to deli, get the sub called, "Danny's Favorite." Danny Wegman is the owner, and the sandwich is named after him. I get the wheat bread, which is really a honey wheat. It's excellent. Eat it in their cafe area, or take with you in the car. Hofmann's Hot Haus
- Syracuse's renown sausage company opened their own restaurant during the years when the famous, Heid's of Liverpool
tried, unsucessfully, to use a different hot dog. Heid's is back using Hofmann brand hot dogs, but the Hofmann Hot Haus is still in business. Hoffman's Hot Haus, 401 Northen Lights Plaza. It's seconds off of I-81 at the Rt. 11-Mattydale Exit. After eating, go back around the traffic circle and you are back on I-81. hofmannhothaus.com/maps.htm
Or, for a more historical Syracuse hot dog experience, Exit 23 off I-81 following signs towards Onondaga Lake Blvd. And head to Heid's of Liverpool,
305 Oswego St, Liverpool. It'll be on your right as you enter the Village of Liverpool. When heading back to I-81, exit Park Street, take right onto Hiawatha Blvd and right onto I-81 North. It's a little funky, but worth the detour. Heid's has been at that location since 1917 (the place has been remodeled a few times since then, and selling hot dogs in the Village of Liverpool since 1886.
For a truly Syracuse area summer experience, I suggest going to the Waterfront Tavern
in Brewerton, NY. Exit 31 (Bartel Road) Follow signs to Rt. 11 North. From Rt. 11, turn right onto East River Road. The ambiance, of being at a tiki type restaurant, with seating on an enormous deck along the Seneca River near the mouth of Oneida Lake, is 100% Syracuse. A lot of people arrive by boat - for the Seneca River is used as part of the Erie Canal, which connects Upstate NY, by water, to the world. For food, if you like wings (buffalo wings) here's your chance to see how it's done in CNY/WNY. Another CNY favorite, is clam strips. Fried clams. It's so syracuse. Syracuse loves their fried clams. I don't know why, but we do.
Heading north from Syracuse area, is The Grist Mill
, in Parish NY, right off of Exit 33. Nothing could be any more easy-on/easy off than this place. Plus, the place screams Roadfood. A 24 hour diner/restaurant, it's famous locally for their pecan pie and peanut butter pie. The locals call it "The Grease Mill" - probably because they've been there way too many times as it's the only restaurant in Parish, NY, and it is a greasy spoon. But man oh man, the food is made to order and the service is good. I've been camping up in that area, Kasoag Lake, and the Grist Mill was a welcomed meal both Friday lunch heading to camp, and then on Sunday morning before heading home.
So, this is not, by far, nor by any measure, an exhaustive list of roadfood places from DC to Watertown, but it's a few places that will dot your trail. Have safe trip.
<message edited by Scorereader on Fri, 07/8/11 11:09 AM>