The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer, so it’s time to get out of your winter hibernation! Throw on your walking shoes and start exploring. But while you’re at it, you’re bound to get hungry. So here are eleven restaurants in Oswego that you should check out during your adventures. From breakfast to dessert, Mexican to Italian, and everything in between, Oswego has something for everyone’s palate.
A long-time favorite for their $4 margaritas on Thursdays, Azteca has locations in both Oswego and Camillus (near Syracuse). Their menu features everything you’d expect to find at a Mexican restaurant in New York: burritos, tacos, quesadilla, enchiladas… But for Americanized Mexican food, it’s quite good! My go-to is the trio of enchiladas with the trio of sauces – perfect for my indecisive nature. Plus, you get free chips and salsa when you get to your table.
For more cheap times to eat at Azteca, try their lunch specials daily from 11:30am – 3pm. Or grab a $5 mojito on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Great food, creative cocktails, and live music? Count me in! Bistro 197 refers to itself as “upscale but casual” and makes everything from scratch. Exactly my kind of place. On the menu, you’ll find a wide variety of entrees, each with flavorful additions and many with punny names. Like the ‘bocce balls’ (risotto balls) and the ‘NYS attempt and Nashville hot chicken.’
My favorite part? Their cocktail menus. Not only do their house cocktail creations have clever names, they have hilarious descriptions. (Some may be a little too clever…) For example, the “Swanky Dranky” is described as “she orders it because it’s cool. You order it because you are.” Plus, every single cocktail sounds delicious, so you’ll want to try every one! I know I can’t wait to try their new “Harry Potter’s Butter Beer,” and apparently “two of these and he’ll stick his wand everywhere…”
The Cellar Door
For craft beer and wine lovers, The Cellar Door is the place to be in Oswego. While the food menu is small, it is mighty. Upscale pub food with a few twists – like bacon-wrapped sweet potato bites and a roasted garlic & pork flatbread. But their real specialty is the beer. Almost entirely sourced from New York State breweries, there are a dozen taps and at least as many bottles/cans. And as with every good beer and wine bar, they have events regularly. Pitch, trivia, live music…
Kiyomi Hibachi Steakhouse
Whether you’re looking for a fun dinner out on the town, or a quick sushi fix, consider Kiyomi Hibachi Steakhouse. Featuring Chinese and Thai dishes in addition to the Japanese cuisine, they’ve got it all covered. Bento boxes, katsu, tempura, sushi, hibachi, noodles – so many choices you’ll have a tough time choosing what to get. So you better go hungry!
Oswego Tea Company
One of my favorite restaurants I’ve discovered in the area is Oswego Tea Company. First of all, it’s so cute and charming with its stained glass windows and interior murals. Second, they have some pretty delicious food – and they are known for their amazing raisin bread. As both a café and a bakery, you’ll find all of your favorite breakfast dishes alongside a fantastic selection of breads and pastries. The staff is wonderful, and they go the extra mile making each dish look beautiful. Plus, it’s very budget friendly. Definitely a must visit.
Looking for a European-inspired meal that is a little on the fancier side but won’t break the bank? Head over to La Parrilla, a restaurant featuring a mixture of Spanish and Italian dishes. Everything on the rotating menu is sourced locally and sustainably, which also means that it is constantly changing with the seasons based on availability. Every day features a different egg roll, soup, and risotto dish – so there’s always something new to try. From steamers and hummus to chicken cacciatore and blackened salmon, each dish is screaming with flavors. Try it out for yourself.
Red Sun Fire Roasting Co.
Another great spot right in the heart of Oswego is Red Sun Fire Roasting Company. Their menu really has a little bit of everything – empanadas, tortellini, Thai chicken lettuce wraps, wine braised beef, and wood-fired pizza. Perfect for a group of folks with varying preferences. Even the kiddos! Plus, their desserts are all made in-house from scratch. Which also means they are always changing. The desserts alone will keep you coming back.
My recommendation? Get the stretch bread with beer cheese dip and a sweet Guinness reduction. Yum!
Riverwalk Bagels & Riverwalk Pizza
One – or rather two – of the newest restaurants in Oswego are Riverwalk Bagels and Riverwalk Pizza. Also located right in the heart of downtown, these two spots are a great addition to the city.
On one side, there’s Riverwalk Pizza, home to wood-fired pizzas. You can choose from the specialty pizzas on the menu or create your own personal pizza. Choose your own sauce, cheese, meat, veggies, and finish – then watch as they make it right in front of you.
On the other side, you’ll find Riverwalk Bagels. And if you’re a New Yorker like me, you know how important it is to find a good bagel. Don’t worry – Riverwalk knows what they are doing! They consulted with bagel makers in NYC to bring the iconic food to Oswego. Made fresh daily, they feature a wide variety of flavors and bagel sandwiches. Plus, they sell day-old bagel dozens for $5. A favorite of the local college students – and folks on a budget.
One of the newest spots in Oswego is also one of the best. Located in the Litatro building above Southern Fare, Rooftop Lounge has more than great views of the city and landscape. The restaurant comes highly recommended by both locals and visitors alike. And for good reason! Their cocktails are some of the most creative -and beautiful – in Upstate New York. On top of that, they have an extensive wine and beer list, generous charcuterie boards, seasonal salads, and flavorful flatbreads.
So make yourself comfortable on the rooftop, take in the scenic views, and enjoy some live music. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And did I mention that they have a dessert cocktail flight?! I know what I’m getting next time I visit.
Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In
No list of restaurants in Oswego is complete without mentioning Rudy’s. A local favorite since 1946, Rudy’s is located along the shores of Lake Ontario and is a summer staple for Central New Yorkers. Seriously, people celebrate their opening day of the season. (Which is today, FYI.)
While the menu features a wide variety of sandwiches and fried fish and appetizers, don’t be fooled. Everything is made in-house with recipes that have been passed down for generations. The restaurant is so popular that they cook over 2,000 pounds of fish every week. And they give back! They source as much as possible from local growers, and all of the oil they use is refined into bio-diesel.
So next time you’re out exploring on a hot summer day, head over to Rudy’s and enjoy a meal at the lake.
Believe it or not, you can get some great southern food in Oswego! Located across the street from the children’s museum, Southern Fare has both great food and cool vibes. Honestly, my favorite part of the menu was the appetizers. I hadn’t had hush puppies in ages! And the brussel sprouts? Phenomenal. Seriously. Get them.
As for the main dishes, there is a variety of chicken, seafood, and burgers. The entrees range in style from “I’m going to get barbecue sauce all over me” to “Am I using the right fork?” So there is something for everyone! Pro tip: get the fried chicken. But here’s the best part: they have a killer cocktail menu! A full wall is filled with all types of spirits and liquors, and they sure know how to make some creative cocktails. Go ahead, treat yourself.