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Binghamton, Endicott, Vestal Trip Report

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We've been to endicott the last two years for my son's destination imagination state competition. Last year I posted a request for suggestions, received little help. Searching the posts over the last couple of years for this area, there is a dearth of information.

We arrived in Binghamton late fri night and opted for a pizza chain called Nirchi's. I recall someone posted about it being good bread with toppings rather than traditional pizza. This was accurate..the pizza was good and certainly well priced. Unfortunately, the oldest person working in the place looked to be 18 and the staff was not prepared to run the place. My youngest wanted a hot dog with the fries, the bun was stale. When we asked for a fresh bun, we were told "sorry, they all are stale". The floor was dirty with wrappers, the "clean" fork and knives had crusted food. We won't be back.

The next day we headed to Phil's Chicken House (1208 Union Center Main) in Endicott for lunch. They has an AYCE buffet that offered well-seasoned rottiserie chicken, meat loaf, mac and cheese with pieces of ham, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pineapple upside down cake. There was also fresh bread and a salad bar which contained potato and macaroni salad. It was all homemade. It was all hot, delicious and fresh. Price for the kids was about $4 and for adults $6.50. I took a tray of freshly baked brownies (40 cents each) to our team and they loved them.

After the competition, we headed to a vietnamese place by suny binghamton but it had closed. As we were driving out of the parking lot, I spied a small korean restaurant called Man Nam (4700 vestal pkwy) in the shadown of KFC. I looked in, saw the place was full of korean families and waved my family in. We had bi bim bop and bulkogi, both delicious. Service was friendly and the chef circulated the room, asking diners if they enjoyed the food. I suggested that he use palindromes for his prices (eg $9.09). btw, I saw several tables bring their own wine.

Folks from this area, I think I speak for other chowhounders that while its nice to know about innovative, upscale restaurants, we'd like to know the best place to eat chinese, vietnamese, indian, chicken wings, fried chicken, bbq, etc. I passed all sorts of interesting "chowish" spots, wondering why no one had posted on them.

I saw in the local paper that there is a ukranian church that allows you to place your order for perogies, etc on a wed and pick it up on sat? I would have been all over that if someone posted about it here.

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  1. Thanks for the helpful report vinouspleasure. I posted last week asking for help for an upcoming trip --> http://www.chowhound.com/topics/392512 and only got one response. I'm still hopeing to find good take-out Buffalo wings, and feedback on PS in Vestal and Consol's in Endicott.

    The Korean place sounds really good. Do recall the name of the church that sells perogies?

    6 Replies
    1. re: galleycat

      I wish I had seen your earlier posts requesting info!

      My mother lives in Vestal, Ny. She and my stepdad LOVE Consol's. I haven't been myself, the one night we went there was a really long wait, and we were starving. Go early in the evening or be prepared to wait for 45 minutes or longer.

      Also, there are a couple new restaurants on the Vestal Parkway, in a new strip mall. There's a Vietnamese (korean?) and a new italian place. I'm sorry I don't remember the names at the moment, but I hear both are very good and not too crowded yet.

      I haven't heard of the Ukranian church, but my mom isn't big on perogies...

      Other places that are good:
      Number 5's has a great rep - thats in Binghamton
      Park Diner is always good if you are looking for a diner b'fast
      Rossi's in Endicott has the most amazing pizza I've ever had - my sister has their number memorized. :)
      Kampai on Vestal parkway is where my family always goes for Japanese - I haven't been in years, so I can't say how good it is.
      Harry Tufts is where my brother in law goes for wings
      I don't know anything about PS. sorry.

      Yeah, I think Nirchi's does a BIG take out business. Their pizza's good, I'd go to Rossi's instead. The place was clean, and they have a good selection.

      Endicott Johnson had a huge Italian employee base - so there's a lot of good italian food in the Binghamton area. However, it's not a real "chow" destination. Hope this info helps. :)

      1. re: jujuthomas

        Thanks juju. I grew up there, but it has been a long time since I've been back and eaten anything other than home cooking. Thanks for the lead on Buffalo wings! I will report back on PS and Consol's. My mother got her perogies from a church occasionally. I loved the saurkraut, and also the mashed potatoes, and even the prune ones on occasion. It would be great to find the source.

        I also remember there being several really excellent Italian butcher shops that had imported salamis hanging from the rafters and other wonderful cheeses and charcuterie in cases. If I have time, plan to hunt for any of those that might remain.

        1. re: jujuthomas

          thanks for the suggestions. Hopefully my son's team will make it to the states next year and we'll try some of these places.

          1. re: jujuthomas

            Re: Consol's... finally ate there with my mother - bread was good, crusty and warm. salad looked fresh and tasty. Pasta Fagiole soup was yummy - never had it before so can't compare to other places. Gnocchi were TERRIBLE. chewy bland ick. sauce was good, tho. My mother had the mediteranian chicken, which was very tasty, so I won't judge them for the gnocchi. next time i'll try something else. The place was also very noisy - several kids at the next table that were very excited about their pizza...

            Mother says the Oaks Inn is the "upscale" Italian place... but then her taste runs to the more frugal than mine! ;-) She's been there once and said the food was great.

          2. re: galleycat

            I don't recall the church but it has "Ukranian" in its name. I think I saw it in the free "whats happening" newspaper in the hotel.

            1. re: galleycat

              It's been a few years since I've been to PS. It's a French/Thai place (http://www.psrestaurant.com). Fantastic wine selection. Both side of the menu (French or Thai) are good. The Thai dishes can be mind numbing spicy, but you can ask them to tone it down.

            2. This thread has a lot of good Binghamton info.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/253091

              I don't know if Theo's or Whole in the Wall are on that thread, but I've been to both recently and they are definitely worth a trip. Theo's fried chicken is TO DIE FOR. and the pesto at WITW is amazing!!

              Oh, and Lemongrass, which has also been discussed here on Chow, is a lovely place for a very un-Bing dining experience.

              8 Replies
              1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                Theo's has pretty good wings too.

                1. re: bobo3039

                  Just found a posting on yelp that "Theo's is now closed (seized by the IRS) due to non-payment of taxes. I will miss their wings.".

                  Too bad as I will be in Binghamton later this week and am looking for someplace to eat.

                  1. re: MisterBill2

                    I'm not sure about this. There was an article in the local paper indicating they had paid their taxes and were open again.

                    1. re: bobo3039

                      I heard they reopened shortly after their tax troubles. I would call, MisterBill, because if they are indeed open, it's definitely worth a stop!

                      14 Main St, Johnson City - (607) 797-0088

                      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                        Yup, I just called and they are open. So now my choices are even more confusing (I posted about my trip in the other thread), but maybe we should go here for lunch before we go on a tour of SUNY:

                        BTW their website is down (looks like they did not pay that bill, either) but I found another link which has their menu attached:

                        http://www.wicz.com/diningout/theos/i...

                        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                          We had lunch at Theo's today and it was definitely worth the trip! There were 3 of us, and we just split a couple of dozen wings with the "sweet and sassy" sauce. Originally we only ordered one dozen, then when we realized how good they were we got another. They even brought us a big basket of corn bread (also great). We did not finish the wings so I'll either have some for dinner (hotel has a microwave) or else bring them home and eat them for lunch.

                          The wings were huge and crispy and probably the best I've ever had.

                          1. re: MisterBill2

                            Fiddle's Dari-King at the traffic light on Route 17 has great soft serve... if you're looking for a snack on the way home!

                            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                              We went to the B-Mets game tonight. I tried to go to Joey's Italian Ices afterwards but because they had fireworks after the game I did not get to Joey's until 10:15 and they were closed :-(. I did find cheap gas, however.

                2. Hi.

                  There are a number of churches that offer perogies (sp? moving target); however, you may have heard about St. Michael's on Clinton Street. It is a big, well organized, well established parish. http://www.saintmichaels.info/

                  Next time you are in town, try Rolando's Diner on Court Street in downtown Binghamton. It is in every imaginable way, a greasey spoon, which is a good thing. I've eaten hundreds of their homemade dinner specials and smiled happily afterward every time (daily patron, three years running). Lunch is $5 plus beverage. Specials are just that, e.g. fried cod, mashed potato, and greens. Big portions. Watch out for busy days and crowded booths. Open from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm (i believe). Good breakfast (omelettes, diner style, generous).

                  Go to Yanni's on South Washington Street (down the block from Number 5). Daily dinner special under $6.00. Good, solid food - Try Wed/Chicken and Biscuit. Very inexpensive for sit down dining (bar atmosphere, can be very loud and crowded, very family friendly, however, often give free ice cream bar to kids after dinner)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: holeinthehead

                    One other suggestion: Oaks Inn on the North Side of Endicott. Kinda rivals Consol. The real deal in local ethnic dining. Good prices. Good solid cooking. Clams (if you like them). Homemade pasta.

                    Locals will send you to Cortese on the East Side of Binghamton or maybe the Little Venice, but they don't make my list.

                    I was a founding partner of the Whole in the Wall (1981).

                    Word of warning about almost eveyplace in the Triple Cities, i.e. watch out for Sysco packages disguised as menu items. Stick with local specials/specialties.

                    1. re: holeinthehead

                      Hoping my son makes it back to the state finals so we can try rolandos, yannis and oaks inn...they all sound great.

                    2. re: holeinthehead

                      Yannis? Not exactly a chowhound experience, IMO. Unless you like ho-hum bar food cooked in old oil and iceberg lettice salads.

                      On a recent visit we enjoyed the Korean Han-Am, which is located on Vestal Parkway E, just to the west of the SUNY campus, in back of the KFC. Also spotted a new, fancy looking Indian place, Moghul, in the Vestal Plaza (next to the truly mediocre chain sportsbar whose name I forget) which I will try on my next visit.

                      1. re: jmoryl

                        The sports bar is Tully's.

                        Oaks Inn is my favorite--I always have the chicken saltimbocca--and very much prefer it to Consol's and Little Venice.

                    3. I had never been to Binghamton until I met my husband ( he played minor league hockey there). We have made special trips just to have lunch at the Lost Dog. I really enjoyed it!

                      1. Just got back from another trip north, posted about Thai Basil in its own thread, but had great bread/sandwiches/soup at Great Harvest Bread co on the parkway, across from the Walmart plaza. It's between a Starbucks and a Pier one.
                        Sister brought home their "grandmother's white bread" (I think that's the name) to go with home made soup on Sat. Today, since we couldn't get a spot in the parking lot of the new Panera we went back to GH. I ordered a bowl of their Italian wedding soup and a turkey on wheat - I'm a simple sandwich kinda gal. Sister had the turkey pesto panini and we loved it all. their offerings in the desert case looked yummy - but we didn't get any. They also offer free coffee while you wait. Give them a try sometime, the seating area was pretty empty at 1pm today, but people were in and out buying loaves and stuff. OH and they do b'fast style egg sandwiches all day.

                        1. I actually missed Ponderosa on Vestal Parkway, it's no longer there (just googled)? Where has Ponderosa gone from everywhere else in the world (especially in NJ? Compared to Binghamton, NJ is such a charmless existence ... I still remember the magical feeling, in a crisp autumn day, riding in a car entering the Vestal Parkway bend from Binghamton City. That was almost 30 years ago.)

                          And Sharky's, International Pancake House, Denise, and .. the ultimate for us students, Red Lobster. (Somehow we thought Vestal Steak House was beyond our reach. I think Oakdale Mall was brand new then, and there was Mongomery Ward, and downtown has already started to decay. I remember the cider house too.)

                          1. I'm pretty sure that Sacred Heart (btw- a REALLY beautiful church) takes orders for perogies as well as fish fry dinners....when my grandma didn't want to make homemade perogies anymore for big family holidays, she always ordered from SH, and they were great:)....I think its technically in Johnson City, not Binghamton proper-
                            As far as chicken wings...there is a bar on North St in Endicott called Wings (lol) that has the best wings...esp. Hot Garlic, done extra crispy- cheap pints of beer too. Last time I was back (have recently lived in Vermont & Georgia) I was shocked by how cheap food & drink was. Not alot of super fancy spots, but I have had better food in & around Bingo than most of what was available in Savannah, or Stowe, and they're both fussy, touristy, upscale towns.
                            My favorite breakfast is Broadway Diner on Watson Ave in Endicott. Absolutely everything there is homemade, and its been owned & run by the same family forever. Another cool diner used to be the Red Robin on Main St. in JC, but I'm not sure if its still open.
                            ooo, yeah, and there is a great Indian place on Main St. in Bing, called The Taj...family run, no atmosphere to speak of, but great food!!! I don't know if they are actually Indian...might be Paki or Afghani.
                            There is a sup Thai place in a strip mall on upper Court St (kinda wierd, other stuff in strip includes 2 "gentlemen's" clubs)...curry so hot you will go blind but will be unable to stop eating! The chef comes out to talk to guests too. No atmosphere - I think it used to be a Chinese take-out place, but incredible food.....
                            only thing I have found to be lacking (meaning, I've had way better elsewhere) is Mexican. It's all just bland & trite