City: Syracuse, New York
Foodie: Brian Harrison, Orange::44
Venue: Carrier Dome
Address: Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244
Team: Syracuse Orange (NCAA)
There are two main areas in Syracuse that are musts when you visit, as well as several other areas with hidden gems of Syracuse signature restaurants. You really cannot go wrong no matter where you go, so it really depends on what you are up to that day as to where you go.
M Street, or Marshall Street, is the main street with restaurants and bars about one block from campus, and about five minutes from the center of campus, The Quad. There are several delicious options there for food no matter what your mood is. This is the area where most people hang out and tailgate on football game days as well. I'll cover food first.
El Saha – The most delicious pita happens to be the cheapest on Marshall Street. With delicious options to cram in your pita, an entertaining staff, and usually South Park or Family Guy on the television, this is where you want to stop for a pita, especially after the bars close. Chances are there is not too long of a line either.
Pita Pit – This restaurant is technically a chain, but it is really only around college campuses, so you have probably never heard of it or barely remember it from your own undergrad days. It is slightly more pricy, but they offer a few more toppings, an artsy menu, and everything is amazing with bacon, much like life.
Jimmy John's – The smells are free, but sadly the subs are not. This sandwich shop is delicious however, despite being a fairly well know chain. Their bread is baked fresh, the staff is bizarre, and now they do not use the till money to buy drugs (the previous owner was indicted for doing just that). I recommend the Lulu, or if you are drunk and adventurous, the "Buzz Shaw", an Italian Nightclub and a Bloody Mary (Bloody Mary not available [Named in honor of our previous Chancellor who had the reputation of being a booze hound]).
Augie's Pizza – This is the perfect place to grab a slice of pizza after you exit the bars at 2:00am. Probably because it is the only one open that late. They offer cheese slices for $1.25. Get two if you are really hungry, because one will not do. Just do not mess with the staff, they will not hesitate to kick you out, and a fight may break out in front. I may still be banned for life if it is the same staff there.
Cosmo's Pizza – A classic joint that has a greasy diner feel. Their pizza is good, but I would go for any number of other choices they offer. This is the prefect place to grab breakfast before a game, or a classic breakfast with parents who appreciate that kind of thing. This was my Dad's favorite place on the Hill. Finish the deal with a THB (toasted honey bun) and a scoop of vanilla.
Varsity Pizza – The best cheese steak on the hill. They also have many other tasty choices, plenty of tables, and tasty pizza. Tradition has it that if the football team wins, the band comes directly from the Dome and they flip the opposing team's banner upside down on the wall. This place is always busy, especially on game days. However, various hospital workers frequent this establishment on their lunch breaks all the time, as there are two hospitals within a block of M Street.
Aladdin's – This place offers several natural and organic choices, for the more health conscious. It also has a distinctive Middle Eastern flair. I've only ever eaten here a handful of times but it hasn't really disappointed me. The desserts are fantastic here as well.
Acropolis Pizza – They have subs and the usual pizza parlor fare. Nothing too remarkable here. Why go here when you can just go to Cosmo's though. The upside is that they do serve alcohol.
Faegan's Pub – For something a little more upscale, this is probably the place you should be. With a multitude of salads, burgers, wraps, and sandwiches you have plenty of options. Also, with over 40 beers on tap, you can find something to go with any meal. More on this portion right now.
Speaking of alcohol, there are several bars in the M Street area. All of which I have been to at some point in my life, and being an individual that enjoys an adult beverage or two now and then, take my word on this stuff.
Faegan's Pub – The gold standard in Marshall Street Bars. With over 40 beers on tap and bartenders that are skilled in the craft of making drinks and shots, this is where most alumni end up, game day or not. While there are not many specials on Friday, it is vastly less crowded and a much better atmosphere than the other bars on the hill. The staff is always great and you will not be disappointed. Say hi to Guy the Bartender for me and tell him Mr. Harrison sent you.
Chuck's – What could best be described as a hole in the wall, this is the dive bar on the hill. Graffiti covers the walls, but the pitchers flow well here. During Friday Happy Hour pitchers are $3/5, and while they do not have a vastly impressive menu, their fries do the trick. This bar gets awfully crowded with bitchy undergrads wearing pink shirts and popped collars. If that is your cup of tea then this is your bar. This is a fun place to watch a game however.
Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar – No one that is not a staff member should really enter this place.
Maggie's – The new Maggie's is located below the Student Choice Market. I've been down in it but never really drank there. It has a lot of new HiDef televisions and a "VIP" section. It could be fun, but enter at your own risk. Unless you were in a sorority. Then game on. Clearly you will run into some douche frat guys here, so again if that is your jam then do it.
Harry's – This bar has a small place in my heart, as my father's cousin was Harry. However, he long sold the bar before I got to the hill so no free drinks for me. This bar is ideal for MNF watching and eating wings. However, chances are you will not be in town on Monday. Not a bad option for a bar choice though. It is solid with decent food and probably not a big crowd.
The Sheraton Hotel – While I would not stay here all night, they do have free wings and pizza for a couple hours starting at five. If you are a broke alumni, or just some guy in town looking for a free ride, maybe you should start out here. It is not a bad hotel bar, and you very well might be staying there as it is one of the two bars on the hill.
So that is M Street in a nut shell. If you are up for a game, chances are this is where you will end up before, after, or both. But this is not the end of the culinary adventure in the city of Syracuse. The next big area that is a must to visit is Armory Square in downtown Syracuse.
This is about ten minutes from the hill, and is where the night life not near campus is located. Syracuse fun fact: Syracuse, New York is where the shot clock for basketball was invented. Therefore, there is a perpetual shot clock counting down in Armory Square. Surely, if you get drunk you will count it down with your friends.
Pastabilities – A bit more upscale than most places downtown, it is a favorite of many folks on the hill. While not my favorite, there are plenty of tasty options on the menu, and it is conveniently located near all of your favorite downtown bars. Their appetizers are fantastic and their pasta is world class, with a variety of sauces to choose from.
Empire Brewing Company – A small underground restaurant that has a small but somewhat fancy menu. They brew their own beer and can pair it with any meal you choose which is also very nice. They are known for their burgers, or if you are feeling frugal the Chicken Po' Boy.
Syracuse Suds – This bar also makes their own beer and has an extensive sports bar type menu. The appetizers are very good here and they serve some great steaks as well. Finish it off with some homemade root beer. They have plenty of televisions so any game you want to watch you probably can.
Kitty Hoynes – This is a traditional Irish pub and restaurant in the heart of the Armory Square area. They usually have traditional Irish music playing, both on tape and live. This is a nice traditional pub with good food, and a great place to have a Guinness.
There are other bars and restaurants in the area, but they are pretty pedestrian compared to the ones listed above. However there are bars in the area that are fantastic.
Daisy Dukes/Vinyl – This country bar has beer and liquor. They also have a bull to ride, which can be outstanding if there are cute ladies up for it. Be warned though, one of their bouncers was recently arrested for assault, so be on your best behavior. Attached to it is Vinyl, a pretentious dance club that looks exactly like you think it does in your head. If dancing is your thing, you can head over there and do so.
Mully's – Mulrooney's Pub is an Irish bar is undistinguishable in every way. They have booze and you don't. Who's more Irish?
PJ Dorsey's – This is a fun little bar with room, dancing, and a favorite of mine as I spent my 21st birthday there. Nothing too remarkable about it, but again, they have drinks and you want some. They do have several machines that chill various liquors that you will then take as a shot as well. This is a kind of middle of the road bar that will usually have a decent crowd.
The Blue Tusk – This is the most expensive place downtown, but it could be worth it if you enjoy rare brews and an upscale atmosphere. A LOT of beers on tap, including local brews from Middle Ages Brewery. Also, the back room is the perfect place to sit down, enjoy the company of friends, and some fine ales.
Bar – This is an upscale place with a dress code and loud music. It is also very dark. Perfect for being sketchy if you are into that sort of thing. The bartenders know what they are doing, so you'll be good to go. This would not be my first choice though.
The Limerick Pub – This is a fairly Irish place, with plenty of big pint glasses and several choices in imported bottled beers.
Awful Al's – This is the only establishment that lets you smoke inside because it is a cigar bar. They offer numerous beers and liquors, and they sell numerous cigars for your smoking pleasure, if that is your sort of thing.
Empire Brewing Company – This is also a quite place to enjoy some freshly brewed local beers. I recommend the Blueberry Wheat. This is a nice underground place that is a great place to chill and talk with friends.
So those are the main areas, but there are several places that are worth knowing that are some of my favorite places.
Tully's – Located on Erie Blvd. and in Liverpool this is the ultimate sports bar in Syracuse. With a shit ton of TV's, excellent food ranging from appetizers to dinners, and the best chicken tenders (Tully's Tenders) in Syracuse, this will surely cure your hunger, especially if you want to watch a game. They also have outstanding desserts. Definitely a Syracuse original that I would highly recommend to any out-of-towner.
Spaghetti Warehouse – Located north of downtown, this restaurant has a seemingly endless dining room, and a lot of pasta options. There is rarely a wait, and in my opinion this is the place for Italian in the city. Pretty much anything is good, but feel free to ask the wait staff, because they know what they are talking about. Especially tasty when dining with friends in the trolley car.
Zebb's – Way out in Mattydale just off I-81 about 15 minutes north of Syracuse, it is a hidden gem. I feel like not many SU kids know about this one. It has a diner feel, with most standard American fare. They have a "Build Your Own Burger Bar", you can get shots of vanilla, cherry, or chocolate flavor in your cola, and they have the definitive appetizer menu in the Syracuse area. In the mood for alcohol? Try the mojito. I don't think it's a gay drink. Moooooo-heeeeeeeee-tooooooooo. Also, if you are allergic to nuts, stay away from the cookies. Bastards.
Now we come to the pinnacle of Syracuse dining. My very favorite, and probably most famous, restaurant in Syracuse.
Dinosaur BBQ – The most famous of all the Syracuse eateries. Without a doubt, the best BBQ you can get in all of Upstate New York. Syracuse is the original location and also the most colorful. You can easily see numerous bikers out front if the weather is nice. Enjoy the "Big Ass Pork Plate" which is their famous pulled pork, or sample the two best meals with a House Special of a quarter rack of ribs and a quarter chicken. The sides are also especially delicious and if salt potatoes are on the specials it is a must. They also have phenomenal corn bread. They play blues music, usually host live music in the evenings, and it will be the best meal you have in Syracuse guaranteed.
So there you have it. This is your complete guide to food and drink in Syracuse. There are some outstanding eating and drinking establishments, but my usuals are Faegan's Pub on the hill, Dinosaur, Tully's, or Spaghetti Warehouse for food, and I usually rotate when I drink downtown depending on who I am with. However, anything on this list you simply cannot go wrong with. If I didn't list it here, it is most likely not worth knowing about. Any further questions about the places in Syracuse, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good eating and go Orange!