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Jun 5, 2009 10:55 AM

Upcoming Eastern Finger Lakes / Catskills Road Trip: “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” recs sought!

Hello – I’ll be making a 3-4 day trek through the eastern Finger Lakes area and Catskills areas next week. Have already (thanks to this board!) scoped out some wineries and nicer dining spots…. I’m looking for any must-hits in the ‘roadfood’ category – drive-ins, dairy bars, diners – what have you! Also, any “time machine” or “untouched since forever” type of dinner or cocktail recs (divey is great) would be appreciated.

Projected route is a very rough counterclockwise circle starting at Skaneateles and traveling west on 5/20, south via 96 to Ithaca and then eastward into the Catskills (likely through Binghamton?) to route 30 and then 28 to Mt. Tremper and then Saugerties.

Thus far, I’ve got --

Doug’s Fish Fry
Skanellus Drive In

Mac’s Drive In (homemade rootbeer and handcut fries)

Diner question: State or Ithaca or Ziffy’s – which is best?
Cornell Dairy Bar
Purity Ice Cream
Cayuga Lake Creamery
The Chanticleer

Phil’s Chicken House (Endicott)
Tony’s Texas Hots (Johnson City)

What are your thoughts on the above and more importantly, what’s missing!? Am willing to detour for worthwhile spots!


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  1. In Binghamton you may also want to try Sharkey's (Glenwood Rd) or Lupo's (Rt 17C, Endwell) for spiedies.

    1. In Skaneateles there is a restaurant right over the lake Bluewater Grill is nice for an informal lunch.

      The Krebs and Rosalies are also noteworthy for dinner.


      1. You did say "dives" and one of my favorites is Nick's Waterfall House just off Route 30 in Gilboa. A real biker bar where getting to the dining room means walking around the rottweiler asleep in the doorway! Nick's burgers are second to none and the view of the waterfall is fantastic.

        1. looks like you are ice cream heavy in Ithaca; I can vouch for both Purity and the Cornell Dairy Bar but have not been to the Creamery.

          I suggest adding to your list The Glenwood Pines on Rt. 89 just north of Ithaca ( for either the Pines Burger or the fish fry.

          if you wind up on a more westward journey and are heading down the east side of Keuka Lake south of Penn Yan on a nice day, then you cannot beat the view from the outside deck of The Switzerland Inn (, especially with a beer and a sandwich.

          The Roscoe Diner (in Roscoe, just off Rt. 17) has been there forever, but I would not recommend it unless a crowd is there . . . otherwise service is slow and the place seems like a morgue.