Finally find my way to Flo’s Diner along Oneida Lake


Many moons ago, several readers of Unchained Restaurants had suggested that I visit Flo’s Diner, the eatery on Route 31 along the southern shore of Oneida Lake.  I finally visited last week. 

Tired of driving south along I-81, we bailed out early and hopped on  Route 31 at Cicero, and headed for the water.  I don’t know why there isn’t more buzz about this big body of water, which stretches 22 miles from east to west and is five miles at its widest point.

I mean we all know about Sylvan Beach and Verona Beach State Park. But there isn’t much happening in a lot of the tiny hamlets that dot the lake’s shore, both north and south. Maybe that’s just the way owners of the cottages and homes on the lake like it.  But I’m committed to renting a boat and exploring the lake this summer. I don’t fish, but I do swim. And when I get hungry at the end of my day, I will again visit Flo’s, where good food at very reasonable prices continues to be the normal operating procedure.

I say it that way because the diner, in operation since 1976, has been in the news of late because its matriarch, Flo Hoch, passed away just this February, at age 83. We noticed the RIP message to her on the outside sign as we entered the restaurant.

The place was hopping during our dinner-time visit. I ordered a fish sandwich with baked beans and a chocolate shake. I have to say the shake was one of the best I’ve had in a long, long time, served in an ice-cold stainless steel cup.

My fish had good flavor and a crisp coating that worked well together. My wife ordered spaghetti and meat sauce, and declared it a winning entrée. Daughter B went with a cup of cream of broccoli soup and a tuna sandwich.

Nothing too crazy here, but good comfort food and a bill that was just a tad north of $20.  

The Hoch family has said it is committed to keeping the place running and its tradition of serving 10-cent cups of coffee intact.  I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’m glad that the diner’s other tradition of serving good food at good prices also seems to be in no danger of going away any time soon.

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