Top 3 Restaurants in Penn Yan Every Foodie Must Try
April 11, 2023
It’s hard not to judge a destination by the quality of its food. Everyone has to eat, right? Well, for a village as quaint as Penn Yan is, they truly have some incredible places to eat. From breakfast to lunch to dinner and dessert, there’s a great meal around every corner. Here are my recommendations for the best restaurants in Penn Yan, New York.
In my humble opinion, if you’re looking for the best restaurant in Penn Yan, look no further than Main Deck. The upscale restaurant is located on the banks of Keuka Lake, with gorgeous water views. The inside is themed after Penn Yan’s boating history – including a boat-shaped bar and booths reminiscent of boat seats.
Stat your meal by choosing from a nice selection of cocktails, beer, wine, and spirits. When I went for dinner with a friend, we both opted for house cocktails. I went with the Blue Thyme, a gin-based cocktail with butterfly pea flower, thyme, and lemon. My friend went with the spicy tequila cocktail. Both were delicious and unique.
For our appetizer, we shared the Sassafras Laquired Pork Belly. Holy moly, this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten. The pork was perfectly crisp on the outside while the meat was unbelievably tender inside. Our waiter explained that they cure and smoke their own meat. Plus, it sat on a bed of whipped turnip, Brussels sprouts, and fried peanuts. So basically just a few of my favorite things.
The entree choices were all carefully crafted, featuring local ingredients. I can attest that both the Pork Butt Ragu and the Cauliflower Curry were perfectly cooked and incredibly flavorful.
I was craving beignets, so I was ecstatic when I saw they had beignets on the dessert menu. Served with a hot chocolate pot de crème, I immediately ordered them and was reminded of my time in New Orleans. Perfection. Honestly, I’d go back just for the beignets. Even though everything was truly incredible.
On top of all that, the wait staff was amazing. Our waitress, Sara, was so friendly and attentive – plus two other staff members checked on us repeatedly throughout the meal.
Phenomenal service, incredible food, and nautical decor in a modern yet inviting setting make Main Deck a new favorite for me. So next time you’re in Penn Yan, a meal at Main Deck is a must. This is one of those times you need to splurge and treat yourself to a fantastic meal.
Penn Yan Diner
It’s no secret that I love a good diner, so Penn Yan Diner has always been on my list to visit. It is one of the few remaining diner cars in the country, so it’s full of nostalgia and charm. Although the diner is rather tiny, walking through the front doors is like being embraced with a warm hug. The interior feels familiar and inviting, even if you’ve never been before. Like all traditional diners, there is a large number of stools available around the counter, surrounded by small tables along the perimeter. The retro patterns found in the decor were on point, and even reminded me a little of Pizza Planet from Toy Story.
But you’re really here to hear about the food. Penn Yan Diner features all of your beloved diner necessities – classic meals with modern twists available. The diner prides itself by offering several gluten-free and plant-based options. And yes, breakfast is served all day. (As it should be!) Omelettes, French toast, eggs, biscuits & gravy, breakfast burritos and more are available whenever you have a craving. As for lunch, there is a wide variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Of course there is homemade pie and milkshakes for dessert.
Fun fact: the diner is nearing its 100th birthday! Originally placed in town in 1925, Penn Yan Diner has been a beloved local favorite for nearly a century. Despite a few bumps along the way, the diner is still thriving and is now owned by a group of four friends/partners.
There’s something to be said about a restaurant that knows what they do well and runs with it. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Black Cat Bistro. Great coffee and phenomenal egg sandwiches.
Originally from Boston, Susan and Brian moved to the Finger Lakes to start their business – their own coffee company. Java Gourmet was launched in 2007, featuring coffee sourced from the countries of origin and roasted on site. Following the success of their coffee, they expanded with rubs, chocolates, and more artisan foods. In 2011, they launched a second branch of their business – the Seneca Salt Company. This venture features salt sourced from the depths of Seneca lake, and flavored in a wide variety of styles.
But that’s not all. Their latest addition is the bistro, a place where their customers are invited to sit down and enjoy a drink or a bite to eat. Since they serve all in-house roasted coffees, you know you’re going to get a phenomenal cup of java. Not only that, but they have seasonal flavors and daily specials highlighting the various roasts. The food menu is small – because they’ve perfected their craft. I loved that the owners know what they do best and know their limits. They don’t try to do everything. It’s about doing a few things really well.
Menu items include various pastries, chili, rotating soup and sandwich, and seafood bites. (They source their seafood directly from New England.) But the true star of the show is their open-faced egg sandwiches. It’s their signature item and it comes in three options. “The Thomas” used a Portuguese muffin as the base and is topped with mascarpone, bacon, arugula, and egg. “The Cape Cod” and “The Mid-Coast Maine” similarly feature English muffins with cheese, arugula, and egg – but with lump crab and lobster, respectively.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only are there some noteworthy restaurants in Penn Yan, they have some great beer too. Stay tuned for an upcoming article about the nearby breweries.