With a unique variety of parks, museums, restaurants, wineries and other attractions in Upstate New York, it’s no wonder this region brings visitors back time and again. Many people visit the state for its one-of-a-kind food and drink creations that stem from local eateries and ethnic roots.
If you’re looking for the best food in Upstate New York, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll discuss what gives New York cuisine its authentic taste, explore some popular Upstate New York foods and drinks, then provide some tips for seeking out these tasty dishes in the area.
What Makes New York Cuisine So Unique?
To understand what gives Upstate New York foods their delicious and authentic flavors, you can trace them back to their diverse roots.
New York cuisine is composed of many foods inspired by ethnic groups that entered the U.S. through New York City. New York represents nearly all ethnic cuisines, both inside and outside of the state’s ethnic neighborhoods. Here are two examples of cuisines brought to New York.
Much of New York’s cuisine stems from its community of Ashkenazi Jews and their descendants, such as the following:
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Challah bread
- Corned beef
- Egg cream
- Lokshen soup
- Potato pancakes
New York’s large Italian-American community has also inspired many popular New York cuisines. Here are some examples:
- Chicken parmigiana
- Fried calamari
- Italian ice
- New York-style pizza
- Pasta primavera
- Sausage and peppers
- Spaghetti and meatballs
Must-Try Food and Drink Specialties of Upstate New York
If you decide to visit the area, we highly recommend trying some popular Upstate New York food specialties. We’ve listed a few of these dishes and beverages below.
1. Buffalo Wings
You can get buffalo wings from restaurants and bars all over the U.S. — but if you want authentic ones, head to Buffalo, New York. Teressa Bellissimo, the former co-owner of Anchor Bar in Buffalo, invented these wings in 1964 when she cooked chicken wings in peppery hot sauce as a snack for her son. If you live here or visit the area, check out the best wings in Buffalo from some of the top eateries!
2. Beef on Weck
Also originating from Buffalo, beef on weck is a classic New York sandwich made from only three ingredients — a kimmelweck roll dotted with coarse salt and caraway seeds, roast beef and grated horseradish. It’s a simple yet timeless meal. While you could make this yourself, consider stopping by one of Buffalo’s sandwich shops or specialty restaurants for the real deal.
3. Garbage Plate
Trust us when we say this dish is far more appetizing than it sounds. The garbage plate originated from the Nick Tahou Hots restaurant in Rochester. It’s a platter of fried potatoes, macaroni salad or baked beans and a type of meat — this could be a hot dog, fried fish, chili or a hamburger. Come hungry because it may take hours to finish this massive plate of food.
Hot dogs have always been a fan favorite in New York, thus inspiring the Michigan — a steamed hot dog loaded with meat sauce, mustard and fresh onions, all packed into a New England bun. Despite its name, Michigans are an Upstate New York staple. They’re commonly found in Albany and Buffalo restaurants, so try one for yourself if you visit one of these cities!
5. Boston Shake
Like Michigans, the Boston Shake is a delicious Upstate New York creation despite its name. A milkshake topped with a hot fudge sundae, this dessert is an absolute dream for ice cream lovers. Order one from the dessert menu when you visit a New York restaurant so you can understand the hype.
6. Half-Moon Cookies
Introduced by Harry B. Hemstrought in 1920, these tasty treats have spread from Upstate New York to all over the country. These soft, fluffy cookies are half-covered with white frosting. They have chocolate frosting on the other half to create the appearance of a half-moon, hence the name. You can get fresh half-moon cookies from Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica.
7. Tomato Pie
Most commonly served in Utica restaurants, tomato pie is probably unlike any other pizza you’ve tasted. It has a chewy, thick crust and tomato sauce on top of cheese, which is why it’s sometimes called “cheese on bottom” pizza. This classic dish captures the essence of authentic Italian-American cuisine.
8. Loganberry Drinks
If you’re from the Buffalo area, you may have cracked open a crisp Loganberry at some point. This tasty alcoholic beverage is inspired by the loganberry, which is a blackberry and raspberry hybrid. With a refreshing blend of sweet fruity notes and a rich tart flavor, it’s no surprise that Loganberry beverages are a favorite in Upstate New York.
Tips for Eating Your Way Through New York
Keep these tips in mind when seeking out the popular Upstate New York foods and beverages listed above:
- Plan ahead: It’s important to come prepared. Research some restaurants in the area so you know the best places to pick up these cuisines.
- Use search tools and apps: These help narrow down your search results so you can find which restaurants have the specific foods you’re looking for.
- Try local spots: Small, local restaurants in Upstate New York will likely have the most authentic and delicious cuisines. Most of these dishes originated from local spots, like the garbage plate and half-moon cookies. Additionally, talking to residents can help you gather good restaurant recommendations.
- Create a map or list: Write down a list of places to hit and the dishes you’d like to try from them. If you don’t know the area very well, you may want to map out these locations so you don’t have trouble finding them.
- Keep an open mind and schedule: Trying out unique foods requires keeping an open mind. While a specific dish might seem foreign to you at first, you may find it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted! Additionally, remember to carve out ample time in your schedule to try out these new foods and restaurants.
- Make reservations: If the restaurant is generally busy or you’re visiting on the weekend, you may want to make a reservation. This way, you won’t have a long waiting time before trying a delicious New York cuisine.
Browse New York Drink Selections at Marketview Liquor
After reading about these popular cuisines, you may be craving an authentic New York dish or beverage. At Marketview Liquor, we obtain unique wines and spirits from New York and other worldwide regions to ensure rich, natural flavors. Whatever variety you’re looking for, you’re sure to find a favorite from our quality selection.