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The best CNY restaurants for your next date
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Hopefully you spent Valentine’s Day celebrating your relationships by showering loved ones in roses, chocolates and gigantic teddy bears. But, most importantly, we hope that you used the day as a great excuse to eat all of the food you want — and have your significant other pay for it. If you avoided crowded restaurants and decided to eat at home instead, here’s what The D.O. Culture staff would eat, and recommends that you try, for a foodie’s ideal date night:

Sydney Bergan: Water Street Bagel Co.

Any excuse to go to Water Street Bagel Co. is valid. The shop’s interior feels like walking through Brooklyn on the way to your 9-to-5. I recommend you and your significant other try their bacon, egg and cheese on a rosemary salt bagel. You won’t be disappointed.

Christopher Scarglato: Dunkin’ on Marshall

One of the greatest joys in my life is Dunkin’s overly sweetened, watered-down, light with cream hot coffee. Or those two bacon, egg and cheeses on a greasy croissant you can get for $5. For me, “gourmet” is way too mainstream, even if I’m supposed to splurge on the second date. I’ll go with this bargain beginning-of-the-day perk up when I’m with the bae.

Louis Platt: Scratch Bakehouse

Indulge your Valentine at Scratch Bakehouse where you’ll want to pick up warm croissants and bagels from Corey Bruce, the head baker. The locally sourced flour and sourdough recipe is friendly to everyone — the bakery even offers a money-back guarantee on all products if it triggers a reaction to your gluten intolerance. Scratch tables at the CNY Regional Market on Saturday or place an order for pick up Tuesday through Saturday.

Gavi Azoff: Rise N Shine

There’s no better way to start your day than with a tasty breakfast or brunch from the cutest diner in ‘Cuse. From specialty milkshakes that are out of this world to fluffy pancakes, you can’t go wrong. Or if simple is more your style, Rise N Shine offers breakfast staples like omelettes and French toast. For those of legal age, they have some of the prettiest drinks you will ever lay eyes on, like their cocktails served in a juicebox-like pouch. Treat yourself and your date (or friends) to the sweetest and most unique breakfast and brunch dishes in the city.

At Funk ‘n Waffles, you can jam to live music and also try a menu full of both classic and off-the-wall waffles. Haley Robertson | Fundraising Coordinator

Abby Weiss: Oh My Darling

This American cuisine restaurant on South Salina Street has a gorgeous ambiance with even better food options and cocktails. What better way to spend your morning than with a wide selection of well presented comfort foods, such as banana bread French toast, eggs Benedict and burgers. You and your significant other can share truffle fries while listening to good music and enjoy the restaurant’s fast service. There’s a reason it’s called “A Love Letter to Syracuse.”

Jordan Greene: Peaks

If you’re a vegan like me, sometimes finding a place to eat can be difficult. However, Peaks offers a variety of vegan friendly options ranging from avocado toast to delicious pastries from The Sweet Praxis, a local bakery. The local coffee company is located right next to the 505 on Walnut, making it just a short walk from campus.

Abby Presson: Funk ‘n Waffles

What better way to start the day than with a waffle? With both sweet and savory options, you’re bound to find a waffle that will make your morning better. Try the “Star Child” for some classic strawberries and whipped cream, or go straight for the sugar with bananas and Nutella with “Crepe Expectations.” You can even add a healthy drink with a fruit smoothie, but let’s be real — a sweet breakfast waffle is the way to go.


Sydney: Elephant and The Dove

If you’re in desperate need of a change of scenery, take a 30-minute drive over to Skaneateles for this restaurant, which features delicious Mexican food and an aesthetic that will fulfill anyone’s Instagram feed dreams. The chips and salsa come at a never-ending pace and the tacos are a must-try.

Chris: Joelle’s French Bistro

Nothing is more romantic than something that is French, so Joelle’s may be the perfect place for that special someone. Serving up French dishes like escargot and foie gras, you may even believe you’re in Paris, the city of love — although it’s over 3,000 miles away from Syracuse.

Louis: Mother’s Cupboard

Brunch is arguably Americans’ most romantic contribution to food and dining culture. Mother’s Cupboard also happens to be a quintessential Syracuse breakfast and brunch location. The restaurant, easily recognizable by its red exterior wooden walls, is open 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day, and inside the kitchen plan allows customers to watch their frittatas and waffles be made. Owner Amy Easton even called her restaurant operation “breakfast theater.”

Gavi: Sakana-ya Sushi Bar

If you love sushi and want a calm atmosphere, check out Sakana-Ya Sushi Bar in Armory Square. You can never go wrong with sushi, whether you want to dine in or do takeout. Not in the mood for sushi? Sakana-ya has you covered. Along with classic and specialty sushi rolls, they serve up stir-frys, tempura and bento boxes.

Jordan: CoreLife Eatery

If you’re craving a nice hearty meal, CoreLife Eatery is the place to go. The restaurant offers a wide range of selections from salads to soups, and even allows you to customize your order to fit your heart’s desires. I highly recommend either the Sweet Potato Buddha or Ginger and Sriracha Tofu Bowls. And, with CoreLife recently making their way onto campus in the Schine Student Center, no driving is required.

Abby Weiss: Bleu Monkey Cafe

You won’t have a Bleu date night when it comes to this Marshall Street favorite. While it isn’t open for dine-in, this is the best and closest place to go if you’re like me and frequently crave sushi. You and your significant other can stay in and share Blue Monkey’s wide selection of specialty rolls, or enjoy a build-your-own poke bowl, ramen or dumplings.

Abby Presson: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

There’s a reason that everybody wants to go to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que when they first come to Syracuse — all the food, from the barbecue classics to the sides, is as good as it sounds. Spend lunch diving into some comfort food, and with this menu, you really can’t go wrong. Not afraid to get your hands dirty? Go for a staple like wings or ribs. Want to go through fewer napkins? Try ordering a sandwich.

Sydney: New Century

During a chilly Syracuse winter nothing is more comforting than a ridiculously large bowl of pho from this hole-in-the-wall Salt City staple. Sipping soup with your significant other is an intimate, yet oftentimes awkward experience, so I don’t recommend this for a first date. But, if you’re looking for something to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, definitely hit up this place.

Chris: Alto Cinco

If you want to go local and support your local businesses — like you always say you will — this Mexican cafe is a walk away on Westcott Street. While eating at Alto Cinco, you’ll see there’s just something different about you and your significant other squeezing a lime slice over a steaming-hot, soft taco. Something different about you and your beau’s taste buds being enveloped by the high dose of sodium from the cafe’s stacked nachos. The food makes you feel loved. Makes you feel at the center of the world.

Louis: Red Chili

Normally, Valentine’s Day requires booking a reservation weeks or months in advance. But since we are in a pandemic, take-out Chinese food and chill is the perfect night cap to your long romantic date night. Red Chili’s menu offers a wide range of choices, like the Szechuan style smoky pork dish and the spicy vermicelli with minced pork and bok choy. Just don’t sleep on their cumin or garlic style entrees.

Gavi: XO Taco

There’s a reason why XO Taco is almost always busy and bustling –– it has delicious food and a fun atmosphere to boot. LED light signs in the shape of lips line one wall and the letters ‘XO’ line another wall in black and white. Their tacos are served all together on a metal platter, which is ideal for sharing with your date. XO also serves burritos and Mexican street corn rolled in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. If you or your date have allergies or dietary restrictions, fear not. XO Taco labels menu items as gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free.

Abby Weiss: Blaze Pizza

After a long day, you and your significant other can enjoy a cozy night in with the comfort of Blaze’s large pies and cheesy bread. You two can make pizza together with the DIY kit or order a ‘Take Two’ special with dough knots. Strongly recommend it if you want something quick, cheesy and romantic.

Jordan: Strong Hearts

Strong Hearts has food that will have your meat-eating significant other in a food coma. The 100% vegan restaurant perfectly veganizes even the meatiest of meals including wings and burgers. Located in Marshall Square Mall, it’s very convenient to pick up your order and take it home for a nice COVID-19 friendly date.

Abby Presson: At home

End the day in some comfy clothes and cook a nice dinner with your partner, all in the comfort of your own home. The benefits? No need to tip your waiter, to go out in the cold or to get dressed up in something kind of uncomfortable that you rarely wear — because your sweatpants are always the better choice. Put on some music and have fun working in the kitchen while you and your significant other make a dinner to share.

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