Located in the Mohawk Valley of Oneida County, New York, the city of Utica historically found industrial success from its close proximity to the Erie Canal. The availability of jobs attracted immigrant populations which account for the city’s dynamic, international restaurant culture. Take a look at our list of 10 restaurants to try in Utica.
Courtesy of Zeina’s Cafe
Cafe, Restaurant, Middle Eastern
Never mind this restaurant’s humble storefront exterior, Zeina’s Cafe on Varick Street offers the authentic taste of Lebanon from the comfort of a local setting with the option to take your food away, or eat inside a comfortable dining area. Independently owned and operated, Zeina’s Café exudes a laid back and friendly atmosphere where the food steals the show. Customers can choose from a selection of popular Lebanese dishes such as grape leaves, hummus, falafel, gyros and shawarma, all made fresh to order for excellent prices. Finish your meal with an exceptional piece of baklava and a strong cup of Turkish coffee for a thoroughly pleasant Middle Eastern dining experience.
Specializing in ‘casual fine dining’, Chesterfield Restaurant on Bleeker Street has been serving traditional Italian dishes to the Utica community since 1998. With a relaxed atmosphere of rustic brick and dark wood accents, the restaurant is an ideal space for a cozy date night, friendly catch-up or family meal out, with additional space accommodating events and parties of up to 100 people. The menu features an extensive list of pizzas made fresh in their coal-burning oven, as well as a selection of soups and salads, pastas and paninis. Chesterfield Restaurant additionally offers a tapas menu for the bar and outside patio in the warmer months, featuring small plates like bruschetta, sesame seared tuna sliders and Caprese salad to accompany a glass of house wine or craft martini.
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Located on North Genesee Street, Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse is the place to dine for a lively, Italian-themed meal. The restaurant is characterized by large caricatures adorning the walls, Italian music, dark wood panelling and bright red accents. With a menu featuring Italian specialities such as calamari, bruschetta, frutti de mare, pastas and the signature 24 ounce Delmonico steak, there is something for everyone at this unique restaurant. Pair your meal with an inspired martini, handcrafted cocktail or a glass of wine, and finish with a homemade cannoli, tiramisu or amaretto cheesecake. The restaurant additionally offers a gluten free menu as well as outdoor dining in the summer months.
This historic former speakeasy brings the 1930s into the present day. Sited on Liberty Street, Gerber’s 1933 Tavern was abandoned for almost four decades until it reopened in 2013. Restored to its former glory, the tavern operates the way it did over 80 years ago with a menu emulating popular dishes of the age, and the original menus are on display for customers to see. Choose from a selection of signature dishes such as top round Angus beef, fried bologna with roasted hot peppers and hot pastrami on rye with kettle chips, while the tavern’s bar staff mix up the likes of a Slow Gin Fizz and a ‘Boilermaker’, beer with a shot of whiskey.
Appropriately named after the Nail Creek, which supported local brewing companies as early as the 18th century, the Nail Creek Pub & Brewery was purchased in 2003 as a derelict property in great need of extensive renovation. After several years of floor to ceiling repair, the Nail Creek Pub & Brewery opened in 2008 as a small, on-site brewery and European-inspired venue with craft beers and local food. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, ready with recommendations and information about the largest selection of craft beer in the Mohawk Valley. The menu offers traditional pub fare such as Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, mussels and frites, as well as salads, sandwiches, soups and appetizers, seasonally sourced from local farms whenever possible.
Offering a dynamic mix of Chinese, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisines, Sunny Restaurant Asian Cuisine has something for everyone in a cheerful yet casual setting. Sunny Restaurant Asian Cuisine has an extensive list of popular regional dishes such as egg rolls and dumplings, noodle soups, stir fries, pad Thai, fried rice, and house specials to include sesame chicken, spicy squid, and fish in a coconut curry. Additional offerings include fried ice cream and Cambodian coffee, Thai iced tea and an assortment of bubble teas. The perfect place for a casual meal or a fast and delicious takeaway, Sunny Restaurant Asian Cuisine is worth a try.
Lotus Garden, Utica | Courtesy of The Tailor and the Cook
The Lotus Garden is worth a try for the authentic taste of Southeast Asia in a sit-down setting. The restaurant, which specializes in noodles and sushi, combines elements of different Southeast Asian regions to create a multi-cultural menu of Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cuisines from within a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere. The restaurant offers an extensive selection of inspired soups and salads, as well as spicy, deep-fried, pan-fried, stir-fried, steamed and sautéed noodles with vegetables, chicken, and tofu, and a long list of sushi rolls with spicy tuna, eel, crab and salmon. Additional options include larger entrees of lemongrass curry, sautéed meat with spicy ginger and hibachi skillets.
The Tailor and the Cook, Utica | Image Courtesy of Willows of Utica
The Tailor and the Cook offers a fresh take on dining in Utica. The restaurant strives to accomplish six principal tasks, quality and deliciousness, local sourcing, guest satisfaction, ambiance, sustainability and an unforgettable dining experience. Located in a historic building, the interior is dotted with creatively repurposed materials from the building’s renovation and the restaurant has a warm and contemporary ambiance that makes for a truly pleasant dining experience. For a delicious meal with a conscience, The Tailor and the Cook is a must-try in Utica.
This New American restaurant offers an extensive menu of inspired dishes, from pan-seared seafood to pasta with baby peas and Prosciutto, Ahi tuna with purple jasmine rice and risotto with seasonal vegetables, aged Parmesan, salad greens and a goat cheese fritter. Loyal customers rave that The Willows is one of the best restaurants in Utica, notable for its creative menu with delicious food and reasonable prices, excellent service and cozy atmosphere. The interior is small and intimate, perfect for a refined, perhaps celebratory meal out, a date night or a small but lively gathering of friends. For a thoughtful, quality meal, The Willows is one of the best places Utica has to offer.
Utica Coffee Roasting Company began in downtown Utica on Genesee Street in 2002. The company began sourcing high quality coffee and roasting it on site from 2005, remaining committed to providing customers with the best possible products without sacrificing ethics. Utica Coffee Roasting Company established itself in an ‘economically depressed’ part of the city and provided vital job experience to young people in need. In conjunction with the company’s promise of sustainability and local sourcing where possible, Utica Coffee Roasting Company offers delicious, freshly roasted coffee with a conscience. With a variety of popular and unconventional flavors including Birthday Cake, Pumpkin Crème Brûlée, French vanilla and Adirondack Blueberry, Utica Coffee Roasting Company is a coffee lover’s paradise.