Good breakfast/lunch/dinner stops on the way from NYC to Syracuse
If you are coming up 81, it's worth it to take a side trip to Ithaca and hit the Moosewood restaurant: http://www.moosewoodrestaurant.com/
If you're coming up north to Albany and then taking the Thruway (I-90), there is a great little polish deli/coffee shop in Amsterdam called Go Where I've Been (GWIB). http://www.gwibch.com/
In Oswego, there are "The Stands" or Rudy's and Bev's right behind SUNY Oswego on Lake Ontario. The fish sandwich with "Texas" hot sauce (Fish-hot) is one of my favorites. We then walk down the road to Bev's for ice cream and then my kids like to "skip stone" - really, hurl rocks into the lake.
215 N Cayuga St Ste 70, Ithaca, NY 14850
If you take 87 to 90 you'll pass Cocksackie. One time I stopped there just because the name is funny and asked the toll booth attendant where to get some lunch. He looked at me like I was crazy and said "you must be lookin for Reds." We went to Reds and had a white tablecloth lunch with a half carafe of wine. Fine dining in the middle of nowhere, and priced very reasonably.
If you are going west on Rte. 17 (to Rte. 81 North), I think there is a state law that requires you to stop at the Roscoe Diner (in ... wait for it ... Roscoe). It'll remind you faintly of the diners of the tri=state metro area; it's fine, and everybody stops there eventually.
Also, off of Rte. 81, Exit 5, in Binghamton, there is The Spot diner. Same kind of place; I've found the soups to be especially good. Binghamton is also home to the speidie, a kabob of marinated meat (usually beef or pork, maybe lamb or goat in a few places) de-skewered and served on bread. Don't know a particular place for them, but they are ubiquitous there.
PO Box 307, Roscoe, NY 12776