Occuping the building at Lackawanna's central intersection Nelson's ridge perfectly captures the neighborhood’s charm. The eatery takes its name from nearby Our Lady of Victory Basilica's well-loved leader, Father Nelson Baker, and furthers the connection with menu names derived from religious icons. Chefs churn out classic diner fare such as burgers, hot sandwiches, and fried chicken for lunch and dinner, but the biggest crowd pleasers are their served-all-day hotcakes, stuffed with bananas and chocolate chips, blueberries, or diced apples and bacon. In true diner fashion, Nelson’s feeds hungry diners at a long counter dotted with bar stools, and floor-to-ceiling windows offer gorgeous views of its namesake basilica.
Built in 1930 from cobblestones left over from the construction of the Erie Canal, one of America's oldest miniature golf courses sits under the shade of pine trees near the shore of Lake Ontario. A landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 18-hole course known as Parkside Whispering Pines has challenged putters in the more than eight decades since. As such, its design recalls the charm of vintage courses, taking inspiration from such nautical items as boats and lighthouses and incorporating wooden posts to guard the greens.
Adjacent to the course, Parkside Diner—founded as a small, 40-seat restaurant—now hosts up to 110 hungry patrons hungry for a snack other than fallen pinecones. Curated by the two brothers, Jim and Greg Papas, who own the joint, the wide-ranging menu spotlights diner staples, such as homemade meatloaf smothered in creole sauce and burgers crowned with homemade chili. The diner's cooks also focus on generous portions of breakfast classics, from cinnamon-swirl French toast to six-ounce New York strip steaks paired with eggs and potatoes.
Twenty years as a traveling salesman was more than enough for James Brown. So when he finally decided it was time to set down his roots, he turned to something that sang of home: his passion for cooking. And that passion shines throughout his menu. In the hearty breakfast selections, guests can see it in the signature stuffed french toast?made from bread that's baked in-house?as well as more imaginative items, such as the Greek-inspired diner breakfast with gyro meat. Then there are the half-pound burgers, po-boy sandwiches with Cajun-spiced chicken, and James Brown's legendary Friday-night barbecue. Such a range hints at two things: that James's passion isn't picky, and that his inspiration comes from everywhere. And indeed, if a diner gives James a recipe that matches the standards of his menu, not only will he put it there, he'll even name it after the guest who gave it to him.
This inclusionary style echoes throughout the diner itself. Checkered tiles run across the floor from the front door to the back wall, passing a scattered assortment of tables and booths that look in on the open kitchen. And as a diehard Yankees fan, James fills two entire sections of a wall with memorabilia, including black-and-white photographs of past rosters and fan fiction that imagines the team being comprised only of James Brown clones.