Upstate New York Summer Food Bucket List

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Upstate New York Summer Food Bucket List

Summer is a time to relax, enjoy the weather and eat some really good Upstate New York food. To help you really get a taste of summertime in Upstate New York, I have put together my list of Upstate New York Summer Food Bucket List of favorite regional summer foods.

  • Beat the heat with an Abbott’s Frozen Custard, Thick and rich, frozen custard  has a devoted following, especially among residents of Rochester, N.Y., the site of the original Abbott’s built in 1926 on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Empire Road Frozen Custard
Empire Road Frozen Custard Photo credit: wyn ♥ lok via Flickr Creative Commons
  • If you can’t make it to Abbott’s, how about making your own ice cream sundae with Mrs. Richardson’s ice cream toppings? The toppings were developed by a pair of pharmacists, Alick and Dirbin Richardson in the early 1920’s, to top desserts and drinks at their soda parlor in Rochester, New York.  It didn’t take long before the Mrs. Richardson’s brand began to appear in restaurants and grocery stores in the region,  the toppings are still produced in Wayne County. My favorite is the Hot Fudge Sauce.


  • Sink your teeth into Pinesburger at Glenswood Pines in Ithaca. Rumored to be the best burger in the Finger Lakes, the Pinesburger is a 6 oz. cheeseburger on a french bread bun topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and your choice of Thousand Island or mayo. Feeling really hungry? Take the 4 Pinesburger Challenge. The challenge is to eat four of their six-ounce cheeseburgers in one hour, do it and you get bragging rights and a T-shirt.
Pinesburger Photo credit: Tim Lenz via Flickr Creative Commons
  • French Fries? Not in Upstate New York!  We know exactly the best way to cook potatoes, and it involves a ridiculous amount of salt! Boil up new potatoes in heavily salted water for Syracuse Salt Potatoes, an Upstate picnic favorite.


  • Pop a couple of Zweigle’s white hots on the grill.  Created in Rochester, a town with a significant German community. These hot dogs are uncured and unsmoked, which allows the meat to retain a naturally white color.


  • Stop by a Fireman’s BBQ for Cornell Chicken BBQ  Dr. Robert Baker, a professor at New York’s Cornell University  wanted to create a delicious way to grill smaller chickens, so that the local farms could sell more birds, and more affordably. He created a vinegar-based sauce and a specialized grilling system that is now used at every carnival and fireman’s chicken bbq in the state.  Of course, the chicken barbecues are served with salt potatoes.


  • If you want to fire up the Weber® and barbecue your chicken at home you’ve gotta pick up a bottle of Chiavetta’s Marinade/Barbeque sauce while you are at Wegmans. Like Cornell chicken barbecue, this sauce is vinegar based but has a slightly different flavor thanks to a  special blend of herbs and garlic. This secret family recipe first gained prominence over 40 years ago where it was served at hundreds of Volunteer Fire Dept. outings catered by Tom Chiavetta’s family in the Buffalo area.



  • Enjoy an ice cold glass of PJ’s Crystal Beach Loganberry. Inspired by the amusement park, Crystal Beach that was once nestled on the shores of Lake Erie near Niagara Falls this drink is sweet, dark red, non-carbonated, caffeine-free, and totally a“Buffalo thing”, it is so localized it can be difficult to find even in Rochester.   a Hint: Try Tops Markets, the Buffalo-based store usually carries PJ’s Crystal Beach Loganberry in their stores. 


What is your favorite regional summer dish?

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