From a Korean restaurant to an Indian grocery store, Syracuse offers plenty of places for students to find their comfort food.
By Mary Olivia Keith
When people talk to tourists about must-have foods in Syracuse, they probably mention Italian cuisine (Pastabilities or Francesca’s Cucina, anyone?), ribs from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, or vegan burgers from Strong Hearts Cafe. But over the years, Syracuse has become quite the melting pot as people of other ethnicities continue to open up restaurants to share their traditional dishes with the rest of the city. And for international students at Syracuse University, those dishes are just the right cure for homesickness. Here are six local businesses that students turn to when they’re missing home.
CATHY’S COOKIE KITCHEN – 266 W. Jefferson St.
Although it’s not an ethnic restaurant or food store, Cathy’s Cookie Kitchen is a spot for sweet treats for those who miss their mom’s homemade desserts. Owner Cathy Pemberton even delivers cookies to SU as part of their “Syracuse Cookie Club.” The bag of cookies arrives the second week of each month — all you have to do is sign up for the club by calling, emailing, or visiting the bakery. “It’s baker’s choice and they get whatever they get, but we take into consideration allergies, likes, dislikes,” Pemberton says. “And then I just bake them specially for the kids at SU.” If you plan on visiting their Armory Square bakery on a weekday, Pemberton recommends getting there right at noon when the store opens for a freshly-baked cookie.
CHORONG HOUSE – 1121 E. Fayette St.
For Korean advertising graduate student Grace Lee, the go-to place for a home-cooked meal is Chorong House. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is nothing short of genuine Korean cuisine. “The food’s really authentic here, and some of the dishes taste like what my mom makes for me, like [Korean] fried chicken,” Lee says. The menu features a variety of entrees including yuk gae jang, a spicy soup with shredded beef brisket, bean sprouts, and mixed vegetables, and bi bim bap, a rice bowl which comes with mixed vegetables, beef, and a fried egg on top.
LAS DELICIAS – 552 Westcott St.
Joaquin Mancera, a journalism graduate student who is a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, says that as much as he enjoys Alto Cinco from time to time, the dishes seem heavily Americanized. Currently, 9% of the Syracuse population is Hispanic or Latino, so Mancera has found that white-washed Mexican food is more common in Syracuse than anything authentic. Instead, Mancera enjoys walking the extra block to Las Delicias, a restaurant with Dominican and Puerto Rican dishes like maduros (fried sweet plantains), empanadas of all sorts, and Pollo ala Braza, their take on a Peruvian-style roasted chicken marinated with a special sauce and sofrito. Mancera says he feels comfortable at Las Delicias because he’s surrounded by the Latino community along with real Latino cuisine.
INDIA BAZAAR – 4471 E. Genesee St.
Journalism graduate student Veer Badani frequently visits a local store that helps him feel closer to his home country: India Bazaar. “They literally have every single Indian food item that you could imagine in this one store, so for someone like me, it’s heaven,” Badani says. This niche Indian grocery store also has a shuttle for students without transportation to help them with their shopping. Badani says he typically buys vegetables like okra and Indian snacks like Maggi noodles, which are harder to find in American grocery stores. While he saves his spice purchases for when he visits India, India Bazaar makes it easier for Badani to fix up traditional, home-cooked meals when he has the time.
ROYAL INDIAN GRILL – 147 Marshall St.
Badani also frequents Royal Indian Grill, a restaurant that serves both Southern and Northern Indian cuisine close to main campus. He enjoys ordering food he grew up eating like roti, a whole wheat bread baked in a clay oven, and chana masala, a chickpea dish with onions and tomatoes cooked in a light sauce. “I just usually go there whenever I’m feeling homesick for some nice warm food, and it makes me feel a lot closer to home,” Badani says. The restaurant also offers two all-you-can-eat buffet options seven days a week: $9.95 for lunch and $10.95 for dinner.
HOPS SPOT – 116 Walton St.
Even though Canada is around three hours up north, Canadian journalism graduate student Mitchell Bannon still misses his country’s traditional meals. “I would love if there were ‘Beaver Tails’ in Syracuse,” Bannon says. While Beaver Tails, which are iconic fried dough pastries that look like a beaver’s tail, are confined to the Canadian borders, poutine has made its way down to Syracuse. The place to try some of the cheesiest, saltiest poutine — french fries with cheese curds, brown gravy, and other toppings — is the Hops Spot. The Hops Spot serves a variety of poutines from the “classique” and chicken tikka masala to Cajun and Belgian-style.