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Fabulous Food in the Fresh Air of the Finger Lakes, NY

The Finger Lakes region of NY is amazing for outdoor eating!

The Finger Lakes region of NY is amazing for outdoor eating!

If you’re traveling through the Finger Lakes region of New York State, it’s only logical to use your fingers to shove delicious food into your mouth while gazing out at lakes, right?

A smoked tofu and spinach salad, modeling in front of Seneca Lake.

A smoked tofu and spinach salad, modeling in front of Seneca Lake.

During our family’s week in the Finger Lakes, I was secretly pregnant, and thus so ravenous that I took as many photos of the food we ate as the majestic canyons at Watkins Glen State Park. The good news about this for you is that I shall now proceed to recommend the most delicious spots we found so that you, too, may taste the yumminess that is the Finger Lakes region!

The glorious flower garden outside the Stonecat Cafe.

The glorious flower garden outside the Stonecat Cafe.

Right on Seneca Lake, I highly recommend Stonecat Cafe in Hector, NY. We ate on the balcony overlooking the cafe’s stunning flower garden with the long sweep of Seneca Lake winking just beyond it. The food was so fresh and local that… I can’t even make a simile right now because I’m staring at this photo of Stonecat’s macaroni and cheese and wishing it were in my mouth right now.

Luscious mac and cheese with cheddar, romano, and fresh sautéed greens.

Luscious mac and cheese with cheddar, romano, and fresh sautéed greens.

Tied with Stonecat for most beautiful view while eating was the Waterfront Cafe near Hammondsport, on sparkling Keuka Lake. There is both an outdoor patio literally atop the water, as well as an air-conditioned indoor patio with giant window-walls that make you feel like you’re right outside, but without all that “sweaty heat” business.

Boats on Keuka Lake outside the Waterfront Restaurant.

Boats on Keuka Lake outside the Waterfront Restaurant.

Next, I’m sure if you’re in the Finger Lakes you will visit the Corning Museum of Glass (also known as the most incredible museum I’ve been to in years), so where will you eat before and after your immersion in glass art? Well, for lunch, the cafe in the museum itself was actually excellent, and boasts an multi-ethnic choice of cuisine, since the museum is popular with visitors from China, India, and beyond, and the cafe kindly caters to all those palates.

A fancy tamale at The Cellar in Corning, NY.

A fancy tamale at The Cellar in Corning, NY.

In the evening, however, I’d recommend The Cellar restaurant in Corning, which had classy, creative small plates like the deconstructed tamale pictured above. The fresh, local ingredients made all the difference, and the flavor was bursting.

Magenta flowers to look at while dining on Seneca Lake.

Magenta flowers to look at while dining on Seneca Lake.

For ice cream in Corning (a must for a secretly pregnant lady, or any lady at all, for that matter), Dippity Do Dah’s hit the spot, though it spurred an argument with my husband Colin about whether the name should actually be spelled “Doo” instead of “Do” since my urge was to say, “Dippity D’oh! Dah’s” like Homer Simpson with the current spelling.

Crispy cornmeal-crusted catfish sandwich at Stonecat Cafe.

Crispy cornmeal-crusted catfish sandwich at Stonecat Cafe.

Moving on to the town of Elmira, my number one recommendation for rapid yet yummy and healthy dining would be the Turtle Leaf Cafe. This restaurant was so convenient that our family went back not one but three times. Alas, I have zero photos of this food because every time we arrived we were so hungry that the food was scarfed immediately.

Don't you just want to dive in this lush greenery?

Don’t you just want to dive into this lush greenery?

New York’s Finger Lakes region is known for its wine and vineyards, but it is increasingly becoming a foodie destination. The region is large and the restaurants many, so clearly we will need to return to sample more! Let us see a few more photos of what fresh food in fresh air looks like in the Finger Lakes…

Toasted corn and scallion crepe at Stonecat.

Toasted corn and scallion crepe at Stonecat.

Muscular gentlemen enjoying the patio at the Waterfront Cafe.

Muscular gentlemen enjoying the patio at the Waterfront Cafe.

The calming lawn at Stonecat.

The calming lawn you gaze upon when eating at the Stonecat Cafe.

Kale salad with fried asparagus at The Cellar.

Kale salad with fried asparagus at The Cellar.

Not a bad view for dinner, eh?

Not a bad view for dinner, eh? Thanks, Waterfront Cafe.

Happy husband and son by Seneca Lake.

Happy husband and son by Seneca Lake.

There you have it… This is the region to visit if you want to eat well, and have a great view while you nosh! So what about YOU? Have you been to the Finger Lakes? What was your culinary experience like, and which places would you recommend that I missed? If you haven’t been, which of these spots looks most yummy? Do share!

See my full list of things to do in the Finger Lakes here.

To top it off, a sundae at Dippity Do Dahs in Corning.

To top it off, a sundae at Dippity Do Dahs in Corning.

Enjoy this article? Trip planning? To save you time, I did the search already, so just click here for Finger Lakes hotel deals, and here for beautiful Finger Lakes vacation rentals. A small commission goes to support this site at no extra cost to you, so thanks in advance, and happy travels!

We were guests of Finger Lakes Wine Country, but opinions and ravenous eating are my own.

 

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jacqueline welles

Wednesday 14th of October 2015

Definitely Dano's on the east side of Seneca.. They do serve complete meals, but it's more fun to just keep choosng, a la carte,, and Dano's encourages this. Ithaca is bursting with great places to eat. Corning finally has a great Mexcian place - Fiesta Brava, and Wild Ginger features Asian cuisine of 3 different cultures. Last but not least, Tanino's in nearby Horseheads, NY has the best damn Italian food I have ever eaten. The penne pasta would be my recommend...oh, yea, and they run an Italian bakery next door, so you can get LOTS of dessert for later!

Lillie

Wednesday 14th of October 2015

These all sound delicious! Thanks for the tips!

Mary Gabbett

Sunday 11th of October 2015

It looks like you had a lovely day, enjoying the beautiful view, the flowers and of course the food! That Mac and Cheese is calling my name!

Lillie

Sunday 11th of October 2015

Mac and cheese has been a maaaajor craving this pregnancy.

Madhava

Friday 9th of October 2015

Beautiful pictures from nature.

Appreciate your creativity for making the world as a beautiful Kingdom. Madhava India

Lillie

Sunday 11th of October 2015

Thanks!

Jim

Wednesday 7th of October 2015

Looks like paradise.

Rosemary Colaizzi

Wednesday 7th of October 2015

Drive a bit further north of Stonecat to Dano's (pronounced danyos) on Seneca (rt 414). It's wonderful Viennese food. We will be there again next week and will stop for lunch or dinner. Also the Crystal Lake Cafe at Americanna Vinyard on Covert Rd. which runs between rt 96 and 89. My personal favorite.

Lillie

Wednesday 7th of October 2015

Ooh, great suggestion. We'll have to go back and check it out!

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