With the newly-launched Upstate Eats Trail guiding foodie connoisseurs along the tastiest interstate road trip in the country, the drive to savor the celebrated foods of Syracuse and Upstate New York has become the coolest nomadic novelty for the region this year. With Syracuse being one of the four cities featured along the gastronomic route, it’s no wonder people from all over are flocking to find what foods put our city on the map. Whether you’re here to give salt potatoes a try for the first time or reminiscing about the Half Moons from back home, check out the ultimate list of signature Syracuse foods and where to find them.

 

Salt Potatoes

 

The ultimate when it comes to iconic Syracuse foods, the salt potato is a starchy staple reminiscent of summertime in Central New York. Thanks to the salt springs lining the southern shore of Onondaga Lake, Irish immigrants thought to boil their potatoes in the briny water and voila, the infamous and perfectly simple salt potato was created. Today, salt potatoes have been integrated into local menus, many with a funky new take on the tater. Try out Salt City spuds piled with pulled pork, bacons, cheddar, sour cream and chives at Bull & Bear Roadhouse, the Kimchi Salt Potato at Kasai Ramen or the Syracuse Poutine complete with salt potatoes, gravy and cheese curds at Oh My Darling.

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE: 

The Loaded Salt Potatoes at Bull & Bear Roadhouse or ‘Cuse Salt Potato Pizza (their best seller!) at Toss & Fire Pizza.

 

Hofmann Hot Dogs

 

Equally as famous as Syracuse salt potatoes, Hofman hot dogs are the best franks you’ll ever eat, period. Since 1879, the Hofmann Sausage Company has been making the tastiest German Franks, all beef dogs and coneys AKA snappy grillers. Typically a summer treat, you can find these franks at local food truck round-ups, game concessions and street fairs, but Heid’s of Liverpool is the place to go for that nostalgic bite you remember. (Bonus: Heid’s also serves up the region’s renowned Gianelli sausages, be sure to add it to your order).

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE:

The Mixed Double (a frank and coney) at Heid’s or a pint and a frank at Wolff’s Biergarten.

 

Spiedies

 

Although this marinated meat hails from Binghamton, just an hour south of Syracuse, it is widely celebrated and enjoyed throughout the Central New York region. Made famous at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, the marinated meat (lamb, chicken, pork, veal, venison or beef) is traditionally served on soft Italian bread or a sub roll, but many have come to enjoy it right off the skewer or mixed in with non-traditional dishes. This Italian American specialty has a mouth-watering vinegar flavor that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes at Clinton Street Pub and other neighborhood gathering places.

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE:

The Spiedie Nachos or Spiedie Philly sandwich at Clinton Street Pub or the Chicken Spiedie at The Distillery.

 

Chicken Riggies

 

An Italian-American tradition that was cooked up in nearby Utica, New York, chicken riggies are a major staple throughout restaurants and kitchens in the greater Syracuse area. A perfect blend of rigatoni pasta, chicken, peppers and a spicy tomato and cream sauce, there are dozens of places to sample this savory specialty in Syracuse, many with their own take (and varying levels of heat) on the original recipe.

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE:

Chicken Riggies at Francesca’s Cucina (BONUS: they also serve up their rendition of regionally famous Utica Greens) or the Wicky-Wicky Chicken Riggies at Pastabilities (BONUS: their legendary Hot Tomato Oil is used throughout the menu and available for purchase in-house).

 

Barbeque

 

We know, we know. This isn’t Kansas City or South Carolina, but Syracuse holds its own when it comes to America’s favorite smoky, saucey, slathered and slow-roasted cuisine. It’s impossible to mention BBQ in Syracuse without bragging about the original Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, arguably the city’s most famous foodie stop. But the grill doesn’t turn off there — there’s plenty of brisket and pulled pork to enjoy at Bull & Bear Roadhouse, Limp Lizard and a handful of food trucks around the city too!

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE:

Fried green tomatoes and the Family Stylin’ Bar-B-Que combo plate at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, or the Carolina Pork Sandwich and mac & cheese from Big Awesome BBQ food truck (check their locations calendar here).

 

Frittata

 

Though it may not be just a Syracuse thing, we’ve earned the right to brag about our famous frittatas. This scrambled up concoction of eggs, potatoes, pepperoni, peppers, sausage, hash browns, onions and broccoli was made even more famous when Travel Channel’s Man v. Food host Adam Richman took on the 6-pound frittata challenge at Mother’s Cupboard during his Syracuse-centric episode. The featured greasy spoon is the number one spot to sample the breakfast that could fill you up for the next five days, but there are several other diners in Syracuse that make a special scramble with their own flare too.

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE:

The frittata at Mother’s Cupboard or the fretta at Stella’s Diner.

 

Half Moon Cookies

 

The famous Central New York treat that even made an appearance on Seinfeld, the Half Moon cookie is what relocated Syracusans say they miss most about Upstate. You can’t compare this famous cookie to the “Black & Whites” of New York City — Half Moons are a cakey, soft and fluffy chocolate or vanilla cookie, unlike the shortbread-like Black & Whites, and Half Moons are slathered with vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting, whereas Black & Whites are glazed. Let’s just say Half Moons are way better, hence why you can find them all over our city.

 

WHAT TO ORDER & WHERE:

Try both the chocolate and vanilla Half Moons at Harrison Bakery and grab a box for later at Lyncourt Bakery (the two top-rated bakeshops for Half Moons in the area).

 


 

But wait! There's more! Sample Syracuse, à la carte.

Although they’re not world-famous, these signature dishes are some of the most-loved menu items in Syracuse. Locals love 'em, you just gotta try 'em. 

 

The “Brooklyn Pickle” sandwich at Brooklyn Pickle

A sky-high pile of pastrami, corned beef, Swiss cheese and house-made Russian dressing on dark rye. With Syracuse’s deep Irish roots, this sandwich became the deli’s signature namesake when customers couldn’t choose between pastrami or corned beef.

 

The “Tully’s Tenders” at Tully’s

All-natural, never frozen and non-marinated, Tully’s Tenders are made with the freshest chicken and have the perfect crispiness, it’s no wonder they trademarked them as “The Best Chicken Tenders on Earth®,” seriously. Dip them in Tully’s honey mustard and you’ll compare every other tender you eat to these, forever.  

 

The “Jive Turkey Waffle” at Funk n’ Waffles

A homemade stuffing waffle topped with smoked turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, gravy and a side of cranberry sauce, this dish is the favorite funky version of chicken and waffles. Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, both Funk ‘n Waffles and the Jive Turkey are worth adding to your brunch bucket list.

 

The “Fried Catfish Burrito” at Alto Cinco

Seriously fresh, fried and flaky catfish rolled with cabbage, pickled red onions, chipotle mayo, fresh lime, black beans, yellow rice and whatever else you want, this is the burrito to end all burritos. A staple of the Westcott neighborhood since 1995, Alto Cinco has developed a cult following with their insanely delicious menu and ultra cool aesthetic.