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lunch off I-90 between Rochester & Syracuse?

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Hi, my husband and I will be driving from Toronto to Albany on Saturday and are looking for a worthwhile lunch stop, ideally somewhere in the Rochester/Syracuse area and not more than 20 min off the highway. Looking for casual, unique place with good food - not chains - ideally with a patio and/or view. Someplace with a focus on healthy and/or vegetarian food would also be a plus. A beloved local place in a small town not too far off the highway would be perfect. Given other options we'd prefer not to go in to Rochester or Syracuse to avoid getting lost or stuck in traffic. I did see "Kellog's Pan-Tree Inn" in Canandaigua and "Tom Wahl's" in Bushnell's Basin recommended elsewhere on this board. Any thoughts on these spots, or other recommendations?

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  1. Last month we went from LI to Toronto and stopped at Cafe Bella Mia in Utica, NY. They had great salads and wraps. They are less than 0.5 miles off the Thruway. Decor is a mix of 40's movie era and vineyard.

    1. The Old Erie is a local restaurant just off the thruway at exit 40 in Weedsport, on Main Street (b/w Rochester and Syracuse). They use fresh, regional ingredients, lot's of healthy and veg choices, and they have an outside terrace for dining. I think the website is www.olderierestaurant.com. Try to save room for dessert- TO DIE FOR!! We live about 45 minutes away and think nothing of going there for a special meal, and we always reccommend it to traveling friends. Owners are CIA grads who have owned places in Boston and CC and decided to settle in Upstate NY.

      1. Tom Wahls is just a hamburger place. Not worth it (in my opinion).

        A better choice in Bushnell's Basin would be Richardson's Canal House. THey have a lovely patio along the Erie Canal. It's delightful.


        1. Thanks for the suggestions - tragically neither Richardson's nor Old Erie serve lunch on the weekend. May try Cafe Bella Mia. Any other ideas?

          1. Old Erie is actually open at 1pm on Sundays for "Sunday Dinner", but that doesn't help you for a Saturday. Another post mentioned the Farm restaurant off the Waterloo exit. There are some very good spots in Waterloo and Geneva, but they are both about 30 minutes from the thruway.

            1. Hmmm...that's too bad.

              Maybe The Lodge at Woodcliff?


              It has pretty views. It's also a golf course so I would think they'd have a busy lunch scene on a weekend. It's a very nice, fairly upscale place. I don't know what they have for outdoor seating. Maybe someone else will know.

              I'll keep thinking too.

              1. Hmmm, I just can't think of anything else.

                There is a large mall at exit 46 of the thruway (Eastview Mall) which has like a PF Changs, and several other good (but chain) restaurants.

                There is a nice winery that has a restaurant in the Finger Lakes, but it's like 30 minutes off the thruway...
                http://www.glenora.com/ (Very pretty though.


                Once you're past the Rochester exits the towns are REALLY small. Restaurants are scarce.

                Good luck!

                1. Thanks for your suggestions - we enjoyed the Lodge at Woodcliff (not a destination place but great views and a nice stop not far from the highway).

                  Also for anyone heading through the Adirondack park, we loved the "Seventh Lake" restaurant just east of Inlet - great value, nice view, stylish service and very chowish food.