Best Fine Dining in Upstate NY? Utica. Yes, Utica.

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Perhaps I’m a little biased because this Rochestarian just loves the cozy little city of Utica… but right now, for my money, if someone comes to me and asks “where should I go for an amazing dinner in New York State?” I’m going to answer with perhaps the most surprising city.


That’s right New Yorkers, I’ve been all over this state and I can promise that you haven’t had a true “approachable fine dining experience” until you’ve visited three of the most amazing restaurants in downtown Utica, all less than a mile apart from one another. The Tailor & The Cook, Ocean Blue, and the brand new Motus, all on Genesee Street (Ocean Blue is located on the corner of Genesee and Lafayette), make this stretch the most surprising and unbelievably delicious walkable combination of high-end eateries I’ve ever seen outside of The Big Apple.

Start with Ocean Blue... they are the only one of the three to serve lunch, and it’s delicious.enlight1-23enlight1dsc00359Gorgeous subway tile walls and comfortable seating, even at the bar, greet you as the elevator rises to the top floor of the historic Landmark Building.  The massive rooftop deck, illuminated by criss-crossing strings of white lights overhead, give you a clear view of the city, and those beautiful summer days that fade into warm nights where memories are made.

And the food… let’s talk about some of the freshest seafood in Upstate, New York.  Whether you like salmon, or just want to hit some oysters, and everything in between, Ocean Blue has it.  Even if you don’t like seafood, the menu has a myriad of different options to choose from.

The bar is big.  And outstanding.  The cocktails are no joke.

As the day pushes into evening, head southwest on Genesee to Motus, a cozy, intimate restaurant that packs a big experiential punch.The newest member on this triple-threat cuisine team, Motus’ simple, intimate interior plays host to one of the best locally sourced restaurants I’ve ever frequented. The food and drinks are on a level scarcely rivaled by any eatery in the state.

Finally, if you are looking for an exposed-brick paradise to finish the evening, travel northeast from Motus until you reach The Tailor & The Cook, a farm to table Mecca that was one of downtown’s initial revitalization engines.IMG_9706IMG_9709T&C continues to be my favorite place to eat in Upstate New York, with locally-sourced food, exquisite service and killer drinks. The overall experience holds you in, and this experience alone will change your perspective on Utica completely.

I love food and drink. And even more, I love that you can find the best of these pairings in places you might not think of initially. But if you love the finest dining, with amazing cuisine sans the slightest hint of stuffiness, Genesee Street in Utica is where you need to be.