Nestled in Syracuse’s historic Armory Square district, PJ’s Pub and Grill’s unpretentious atmosphere belies the filet mignon sizzling in its kitchen. Patrons can slice into gourmet beef cuts and other upscale dinner entrees, such as a sesame-crusted tuna and portobello-stuffed ravioli, as games unfold on the eatery’s big-screen TVs. Alternatively, diners can opt for bar-style eats, which complement a bar-sized selection of wine, beer and shots. Dishes range from shepherd’s pie and grilled paninis to burgers, such as the Southwestern, crowned in pepper jack cheese and onion straws. A daily rotation of lunch and happy-hour specials adds an element of surprise to the dining experience, much like finding a winning lottery ticket in your date's wallet, and groups can retire to a choice of two brick-walled banquet halls for private celebrations.
Born in 1890, Nibsy's entices patrons with Old World charm, sports-enabled TVs, and a menu of pizzas, wraps, sandwiches, and more. Start the meal right by planting your face in a basket of fried veggies, including zucchini, broccoli, and breaded baby carrots ($5.50), then move on to Nibsy's pizzas, which are freshly prepared with dough from Columbus Bakery and offer the chance to sample a personal pizza and six wings ($9.50+). Friday feasters can bury their gums in a haddock sandwich that's built with fried fish and a toasted roll and served with chips, a pickle, and tartar sauce ($5.75). Plentiful off-street parking offers pub-goers places to park their ride before parking hindquarters in Nibsy's to catch the game, dive into a plate of fries with cheddar-cheese sauce or gravy ($3.50), or choose from eight hot sandwiches and six wraps, such as the hot roast beef sandwich ($6.75) and rib-eye steak wrap ($6.95). Rinse teeth free of food bits by gargling a domestic beer ($3) or a pint of Guinness ($4).
In the brick-lined subterranean showroom of Wise Guys Comedy Club & 201 Bistro, nationally touring rib ticklers ply their craft. The intimate comedy den comfortably seats up to 110 revelers and allows for prime viewing of top-notch comedians from every angle. Tableside cocktail service allows guests to stay seated throughout the shows, and Wise Guys doesn’t require standard drink minimums. The bar beckons with sterling woodwork and bar-side tarot-card readings. Before or after the side-splitting comedy shows, 201 Bistro satisfies guests with a hearty menu of steak, pasta, and seafood entrees.
Vitreous chocolate reservoirs and scratch-made desserts melt on tongues in Bittersweet Wine Bar & Desserts' romantic, subdued environs. Dining duos that opt for the Noah's Ark fondue shepherd morsels of cake, fruit, and brownies into pools of milk, white, or dark chocolate. Three or more friends gather around the Fun-Due's bountiful sugary basin and share dipped morsels along with tips for delivering leftover liquid chocolate into baggie-lined pockets. For un-dipped desserts, the peanut butter dream ($5.75) slathers a chocolate cookie crust in pillowy peanut ribbons, and the death by chocolate ($7.15) hints at penalties for Candy Land treason, as it enrobes spongy chocolate cake and mousse in a creamy chocolate ganache. Diners can take chewing breaks to admire hanging frosted lights that illuminate a marble bar as a pink paint ribbon bisects chocolate and cream walls.
The chefs at The Change of Pace assemble scrumptious sandwiches and spin succulent wings in garlic sauce, earning them the 2011 Syracuse.com title of Best Specialty Wings. The eatery’s menu plays matchmaker between taste buds and tangy pulled-pork sandwiches ($5.50) or 6-ounce burgers topped with lettuce, tomato, and onions ($5.95). Diners can coat hands in edible finger paint with a dozen wings ($6.95) available in seven flavors, including hot barbecue and specialty Italian-style garlic wings. Divvy up a 16-inch garlic-vegetable pizza featuring broccoli, red onions, and mushrooms ($15.95), or rebel against a strict kindergarten curriculum of sharing by hoarding a 12-inch cheese pizza for yourself ($7.95). Fourteen TVs facilitate sports spectatorship as bartenders pour draft and bottled beers to cheering patrons.
Lakeland Winery's winemaking parties bridge the gap between independent home brewers and off-the-shelf wine buyers with engaging and informative viticultural classes. Experts trained in conversational French oversee groups of up to 15 at the winery, where they can choose to sample the store’s award-winning wines for a small fee before deciding which variety to make. After the wine has fermented, groups can cork each bottle and design a label, choosing from designs that include elegant fonts or scenes depicting the messy breakup of the California Raisins.