The best of 2012 from Unchained Restaurants

I know there has been a mind-numbing listing of lists the past few days. The New Yorker even chimed in with the hundred best lists of all time. But what is one more, right?

I was lucky to be able to visit a good number of restaurants in Central New York and beyond this year, so I want to share a few of my favorites.  If you know of a locally owned eatery that I should try this coming year, please drop a line in the comments section below. And, as always, thanks for following Unchained Restaurants.  Now more than ever it is important that we celebrate and support locally owned restaurants and shops that make our area so distinctive and such a great place to live.

I hope everyone has a safe and prosperous 2013!

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Best Breakfast

The Caboose, in Norwich, N.Y. This tiny establishment serves up great breakfasts and lunches in an old rail car. You can chat with the owner/chef as she cooks away at the grill. Look for the fresh muffins, pies, and pastries in the morning. It’s worth taking a quick turn off Route 12 in this Chenango County city.

Thee Diner, Cicero, N.Y. A great place to stop if you traveling on I-81 north of Syracuse and need a place to get re-energized. It is not much to look at from the outside, but the diner has a warm, inviting interior that is filled with photos of local patrons. It’s all about the people and the good food at this roadside eatery on Route 31.

Honorable mention: The Beaver Den in Brookfield, N.Y. Not a new discovery for me, but it has become a go-to place on weekends. It’s a nice drive through southern Madison County, and the hearty food at incredibly low prices can’t be beat.

Best Lunch

Lock 24 Restaurant, Baldwinsville, N.Y. The setting for this restaurant bumped it up the list for me, I’ll admit. The Erie Canal is right outside the window, and the beautiful Red Mill Inn is just on the other side of the waterway. A walking path and a small park with a band shell provide great views of the canal and Seneca River. Good sandwiches and efficient, friendly service made this a great stop. I can’t wait to go back during summer and take advantage of the sprawling outside deck.

Eddie’s Restaurant, Sylvan Beach, N.Y. I like to see longtime establishments continue to do well because they continue to work at it, and don’t rely on reputation alone.  We stopped at this Oneida Lake mainstay last fall.  I enjoyed the hot ham sandwich that helped earn Eddie’s its well-deserved name as THE place to go when visiting this summer playground.

Best Dinner

barVino, North Creek, N.Y. This tapas restaurant was a terrific part of my visit to the home of Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks. It is a fun, busy place that puts a premium on finely crafted food coupled with interesting wine and beer lists. Nothing costs more than $12, and you will absolutely find plenty of options to share with your dinner companions.

Black Stallion, Vernon, N.Y. I love the variety of well-presented entrees at this restaurant, which is not far from Vernon Downs racetrack. There are solid CNY staples like Chicken Riggies, but also daily specials that show creativity and a flair for creative sauces. I’ve visited several times this past year, and each time was as good as the last.

Wildflowers, Verona, N.Y.  How can I not include this high-end restaurant at The Turning Stone Resort? Eating here is a once-a-year treat, if that, because of the price. But it was an incredible dining experience that won’t soon be forgotten.


Wicked Ways Saloon, Croghan, N.Y. Driving through the North Country? Stop here for wings or a burger. Daughter B and I stopped for lunch last week on the way back from St. Lawrence University. The wings had good fire and were crisp and meaty. The burger can serve two, so beware.

Reandeau’s Swiss Kitchen, Tupper Lake, N.Y. The BEST home fries I’ve had in a long, long time.  Real potatoes cooked and seasoned to perfection. Historical photos adorn the walls of this village landmark. Next time you’re traveling through the ‘Dacks, think about a stop here for breakfast.

5 thoughts on “The best of 2012 from Unchained Restaurants

  1. Hammi’s Bbq on New Court Ave in Eastwood. Beef brisket, pork spareribs, pulled pork and chicken all smoked over cherry wood. 4 weeks ago Hannis moved from a take out facility to the former No Name Diner with a maximum capacity of 175 people.Hannis opens for breakfast at 6am 7 days a week. Serving lunch 11 to 2 Sunday through Thursday and Friday and Saturdays until 8pm. This is sure to be your new favorite Bbq spot!!!!!

    • Hi Jennifer

      Heading to Eastwood on Saturday for a Folksmarch walk so your timing is perfect. I will see if I can get there for lunch. Thanks!

  2. Wife J and I were pleased to have shared two of your best dinner dining experiences last year. Looking forward to discovering and enjoying some new places in 2013. Food service is a difficult, difficult way to make a living and my proverbial hat is off to all those giving it a go and providing good food and drink.

  3. You must try Gary’s in Verona Beach. Food is great, nice little salad Bar. Watch the boats on the lake and also the water fowl.

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