Watkins Glen is situated near the southern end of Seneca Lake, in the heart of upstate New York’s Finger Lakes area. This glacial lake area is well-known for its state parks, beauty, camping, Bed & Breakfasts, vineyards, and cuisine (especially grapes).
The Seneca Lake Pier is situated in downtown Watkins Glen, New York, which is packed with locally owned restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and pubs. Hiking and touring Watkins Glen State Park can build up an appetite. Let me recommend several restaurants to you.
7 Watkins Glen Restaurants You Must Try
107 11th Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 607-210-6080
The restaurant’s unusual moniker was inspired by the owner’s nickname, Roc Menio. He is well-known for taking chances. Kook was his friends’ nickname, which developed into Kookalaroc.
The interior design, which includes a carved beam structure, polished gears, and car components, pays respect to the village’s racing tradition. A motorbike is propped up on a crossbeam. The bar is sustained in part by truck springs, vehicle axles, and tow chains.
Roc and Lorraine Menio were motivated to launch the restaurant in order to assist the neighborhood and to develop a unique menu with items that had never been done before.
This is the place to go if you want fresh fish. As you sit outdoors on the terrace, you’ll feel like you’re on the shore of Florida.
As you wait for your order, sip on a Tropical Martini. Examine the specialities. Taco Tuesday offerings often feature Fish or Shrimp Tacos with Kooks fries on the side.
One of my faves is the Broiled Seafood Platter. It’s a seafood lover’s paradise. Dive into some Steamed Clams, Shrimp Scampi, or Fish Fry.
Soup, salad, burgers, steak, mac & cheese, and other creative foods are available in addition to seafood. Take a risk and attempt something new.
Their Crme Brulee Cheesecake, prepared with Madagascar vanilla beans and topped with a crunchy Brulee sugar coating, whipped cream, and strawberries, is the greatest dessert. Undoubtedly one of the greatest restaurants in Watkins Glen.
Graft Wine & Cider House
Watkins Glen, NY 14891 607-210-4324204 North Franklin Street
When I asked around about the finest places to dine in Watkins Glen, everyone agreed Graft Wine + Cider Bar was one of the best. They get their ingredients from premier Finger Lakes farmers.
Each meal is meticulously prepared in-house by the chef using fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself. That was a terrific supper, according to other diners. This restaurant’s cuisine and service were both excellent. We had roasted peppers that were slightly browned and wonderful as an appetizer. The duck was well prepared. My husband, who hates duck, couldn’t keep his fork away from my dish. He ordered the PEI mussels, which arrived with a light cream sauce rather than the normal wine sauce. The wonderful bread soaked up the sauces and juices. We also took advantage of their excellent wine list.
The signature picks are artistic works. Warm sourdough bread with local cheese is a terrific place to start.
You may be interested in the Duck Magret. It’s a duck breast with a dry rub, cauliflower, rosemary polenta, and blueberry compote.
Fresh seafood is usually the finest. The pan-seared Local Steelhead Fish is served with cauliflower, tomato relish, herbed quinoa salad, and lemon oil.
I would suggest the Peach Cobbler for dessert if it is available. Excellent location that needs to be included with the great Watkins Glen eateries.
Jerlandos Pizza & Restaurant Co.
Watkins Glen, NY 14891 607-535-4254400 North Franklin Street
Sal and Maria Purpura fell in love with the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region, and you will, too. That made them think of Italy.
This popular Watkins Glen restaurant offers a diverse cuisine and good service. You’ll be welcomed warmly and seated in an authentic Italian setting.
They get their materials from local suppliers. On tap are regional wines and artisan brews.
You should not leave town until you have eaten here. Garlic Knots are handcrafted to order. It’s well worth the wait. Arancini are another appetizer option. This Sicilian classic consists of two hand-rolled rice balls covered in bread crumbs and filled with fried meat and peas. It’s accompanied with Sopraffina ricotta and house marinara.
Garlic Knots and a Grand Prix Salad are all you need to cross the finish line. Your motor will be revved up by romaine, baby arugula, artichoke hearts, blueberries, toasted almonds, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion, peas, and thinly sliced roast beef.
Fresh pizzas are cooked to order. All pizzas are hand-tossed and baked in deck ovens using the best ingredients. Your patience is much appreciated. They developed the Chicken Wing Pizza and produce over a mile of it each year.
The Traditional Trio is unmistakable. Homemade lasagna, fettuccini alfredo, and chicken parmigiana are served with garlic cheese bread and a side salad from Sals.
In the menu, there is something for everyone. Pizza, spaghetti, oven-baked meals, char-broiled burgers, steak, fish, veal, chicken, and more options are available. Everything I ate was wonderful. I will surely return to this hidden treasure among Watkins Glen eateries.
Pit BBQ Nickels
207 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 (607) 210-4646
At Nickels Pit Barbecue, it’s first come, first served. There is both outdoor and indoor seating. If you don’t want to wait for a table, you may seat at the bar. It’s also a terrific chance to meet new people, which is always enjoyable while traveling.
Have some Traditional Pulled Pork. It’s smoked overnight on local cherrywood and served on a toasted potato bun sans sauce. If you wish to add your own sauce, there are many on the table.
What about Chopped Brisket? This delicate meal is cooked in a coffee-infused red-eye BBQ sauce with thinly sliced onions and served with a house dill pickle.
You haven’t lived until you’ve had their Pig Wings. They start with huge, meaty St. Louis cut ribs then smoke them for 3-4 hours before crisping them in the fryer and tossing them with your favorite sauce or seasoning. Sniff with joy after taking a mouthful.
Three pounds of pulled pork, sliced brisket, and Schrader Farms kielbasa. It includes two sides and cornbread. Combination plates are a nice option. The OG Three is the classic combination of 1 and 2.
The menu also includes chicken and ribs, as well as sides and add-ons. You’re guaranteed to discover something tasty. Excellent restaurant and undoubtedly one of the finest in Watkins Glen.
El Rancho Mexican Restaurant & Grill
212 North Franklin Street, Watkins Glen, NY 14891 607-210-4497
This locally owned genuine Mexican restaurant is recognized for its generous servings, friendly service, and the finest margaritas in town. It is without a doubt one of the top Watkins Glen restaurants.
With outside and upstairs eating, giant screen Televisions, two pool tables, and a foosball table, it’s a slice of Mexico in the heart of the Finger Lakes.
Customers and employees alike agree that this meal is a favorite. Champignon-style chicken. Salad with guacamole, mushrooms, and chipotle chicken.
My attention was drawn to the Quesadilla al Pastor. Pork marinated with soy sauce, queso, pineapple, and tomatillo. There are also fantastic quesadillas, enchiladas, and tamales.
Anybody for tacos? If you like steak, try the Campechano Taco. It’s grilled steak with chorizo, cilantro, and mango pico de gallo.
Maybe you like fajitas or chimichangas. Choose from grilled chicken, beef, or shrimp Fajitas with sautéed peppers, onions, and guacamole salad. Chimichangas are deep-fried burritos stuffed with chicken or beef, queso, lettuce, sour cream, and tomatoes.
Try the Sopapillas or Churros for dessert. The Sopapilla is a honey-topped puff pastry with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Churros are deep-fried fritters rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla ice cream.
Take in the joyful atmosphere and your Mexican cuisine.
Bakery & Deli Glen Mountain Market
Watkins Glen, NY 14891 607-535-6900200 North Franklin Street
The excellent baristas and bakers at this North End establishment are eager to give you locally roasted, fair-trade coffee and freshly baked pastries. There is a selection of traditional cookies, pastries, chewy brownies, and bars. Want more reasons why this is one of the greatest restaurants in Watkins Glen?
This New York-style deli also serves hoagies, sandwiches, salads, and handmade soups.
Farms and creameries near the Finger Lakes provide fresh eggs and cheese.
Visit for breakfast. The Compton is a house-made buttermilk biscuit topped with a farm fresh egg, smoked gouda cheese, tomato, and onions.
There is no need to travel to the barn to get The Barnyard. A deli wrap has a farm-fresh egg, turkey, roast beef, bacon, and American cheese.
Get a Gleamin Vegan instead, which includes seitan, tofu cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, and sprouts on cracked wheat bread.
What are you having for lunch? On a focaccia bun, a Finger Lakes Focaccia with turkey, Swiss cheese, hard-boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts with mayo.
The Smokin Joe is served on your choice of bread with turkey, smoked gouda, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts with mayo.
Remember, you’re in racing town, so it’s no surprise that the Grand Prix is a lunch sandwich. On a focaccia bun, rare roast beef, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and sprouts with horsey mayo.
Station Seneca Harbor
Watkins Glen, NY 14891 607-535-61011 North Franklin Street
My favorite location is 1 N. Franklin Street. This waterfront restaurant features a lovely beach terrace where you can relax and watch the boats while enjoying the mild air off Seneca Lake. There is live music on Fridays and Saturdays. You may eat indoors or outdoors at the restaurant. A supper cruise is an additional option.
If you want to dine in, the big glass walls enable you to take in the splendor of Seneca Lake. The eating room was built as part of the original railroad station in 1876. The original hardwood flooring and mahogany bar contribute to the ambience.
Seafood, steak, and ribs are on the menu. The Seneca Steak & Grilled Shrimp entrée is highly rated. A half-pound seasoned sirloin steak is served with grilled prawns and fresh garlic herb butter.
The Chili Espresso Ribeye piqued my interest. The best steak I’ve ever had. A pound ribeye is rubbed with a fiery combination of chilis, espresso beans, and a sweet cabernet reduction.
As I saw the Fresh Grilled Fish with Lobster Butter, my heart melted. Fresh salmon grilled and topped with creamy buttery lobster, fresh tarragon, and a splash of brandy.
After digesting those alternatives, this dessert is not to be missed, and there is enough to share. The Harbor Raspberry Bongo has cream puffs surrounded by a mountain of mascarpone and cream cheese flavored with raspberries and covered with warm chocolate fudge infused with Chambord.
Accept the Simiele family’s offer to take this experience to the next level. With views only seen on the sea, you’ll enjoy the most magnificent dining experience. Board the Seneca Legacy for Capt. Bill’s supper cruise. That was fantastic, which is why this restaurant made the list of Watkins Glen restaurants.
Wrap Up: Watkins Glen Restaurants
You may want to stay a bit so you can try these restaurants and see the sites. You already know that boats are my favored mode of transportation for capturing the greatest sights. Capt. Bills also provides a great sightseeing tour, particularly around sunset.
Lay your head at one of the town’s Bed & Breakfasts or go glamping.
Enjoy nature without having to rough it. NaturLuxe & Stars was where I stayed. Platform, bell, and safari tents are the three styles of tents offered. Each area has a communal campfire. The safari tent included modern facilities and a nice bed. This area was developed and decorated in a stylish manner. Try your hand at glamping. This one is near the Watkins Glen International Raceway. While you’re there, check out the various racing events and festivals.
Watkins Glen in upstate New York is a beautiful region with much to do, see, and eat. When I go there, I receive handmade ice cream. That reminds me of a trip my mother and I had there when we found vanilla handmade ice cream in a five-and-dime shop. This time, I discovered a variety of tastes at the Colonial Hotel and Creamery. Have a good time and create memories with your loved ones.
Visiting more places in the area? Check out our other tasty guides:
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