The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York offers great wines. But it’s also a delicious destination for restaurants, where many ingredients are sourced locally. Here’s where to stop off for a bite or two between winery visits:
A can’t-miss destination, rustic Stonecat Cafe, located in Hector, on the eastern edge of Seneca Lake, has been a mainstay for 18 years. Catch a sunset alongside one of its signature “cult classics” like the Hector Pulled Pork BBQ, served with cornbread, a refreshingly dilly coleslaw, and a smoky posole of black-eyed peas, black beans, and hominy ($17). Make sure to get Scooter’s Hot Sauce to go with it ($1.50); it adds a sultry, smoky heat. Desserts are legendary. If you’re lucky, you’ll chance upon sorbet made from the tiny, local strawberries; the rhubarb-cherry cobbler is also a wonderful ending to a grand meal.
Graft Wine & Cider Bar
Inventive dishes abound at this Watkins Glen wine and cider bar, which highlights the bounty of the area’s farms. The roasted local broccoli emanates a nuttiness that is an addictive match for the almond-tahini dressing, and made even more satisfying by the toasted caraway and poppy seeds ($9). Among other great picks are the chicken liver pâté tartine, on housemade bread with pickled garlic scapes and caramelized shallots; and the local oyster mushrooms, seasoned simply with olive oil and smoked paprika ($5). The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and will walk you through their fantastic local cider and wine selections and pairings.
Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca
Sunsets are a great time to stop by Dano’s, since it’s on the east side of Seneca Lake. Adults can let the kids loose in the fields while they take a seat in the back. The restaurant is modeled on a traditional Viennese winery restaurant, and the menu offers Austrian specialties. Wines are mostly local, with some from Austria.
A gourmet take on hot dogs, sausages, and hamburgers—what’s not to love about it? Located in Dundee, on the west side of Seneca Lake, it’s run by chef and master sommelier Christopher Bates and his wife, Isabel Bogadtke. The choices are paralyzing: Will it be a Peanut Burger (peanut butter, bacon, fried onions, American cheese, $11.50) or the Whole Hog wiener (fried onions, bacon, cheese curd, corn relish, fried egg, chipotle mayo, herbs, $9.95)? Of course there are wines and beers, but also milkshakes that will beckon your inner child, in flavors like Nutella malt, salted caramel and pretzel, and bacon and brown sugar ($4.25). If that’s not enough for you, go for sweet treats like Deep Fried Almond Joy ($1.25) or Crunchy Fried Nutella ($1.25). flxwienery.com
Watch the boats come in at Snug Harbor in Hammondsport, on the shores of Keuka Lake. The restaurant is located in a historic house built in the 1890s. The Chef’s Burger ($16), with fried leeks, bacon, Swiss cheese, and pesto aioli, and served with Parmesan-dusted fries, hits the spot if you have any burger cravings. The Soba Noodle salad and Summer Bouquet salad with seasonal greens are lighter options ($8).