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You’re on vacation. You’re looking for new adventures, maybe some quiet time, too. You also have to eat and part — sometimes a really big part — of the fun of vacation is trying restaurants that are new to you. The food should be fun. It should be the sort of meals you look back on and say, “I’m so glad we tried that!” To help vacation daydreamers match up dining destinations with their vacation adventures, we've put together some of our favorite spots for outdoor, fine, family dining, and more. Caution: this blog will make you hungry. You've been warned!

Best family dining

The Whiteface Region is a destination ideal for families: we have scenic beaches, a wildlife refuge, wooded trails, and some guy named Santa lives here. There are also dining options that are perfect for families, featuring fun atmosphere and menu options that will appeal to even the pickiest eaters in every family (that used to be me, so I know!).

A&W Restaurant

Summer adventures are always enhanced by food that feels like summer and sparks nostalgia. A visit to A&W, on Route 86 in Wilmington, is a bright orange stop that combines classic, comforting Americana with hot, ridiculously tasty burgers, fries, and of course, frosty root beer.

This isn’t your ordinary, modern drive-through A&W. Part of the oldest restaurant franchise in the United States, this is an old-school classic, with a counter inside, and shaded and sunny picnic tables outside. There’s table service here (but no carhopping), so you can sit and enjoy the fresh Adirondack air with your family and friends. You can even take your meal to go and enjoy it at the nearby Wilmington Town Beach.

The Wilmington A&W has been delighting generations of residents and visitors with hot, classic American treats perfect for a summer picnic. Think burgers with gooey cheese, crisp French fries, corn dogs, and ice cream, all in heart portions. There are some quirkier menu options, like deep fried cheese curds. No, they're healthy, but they are hot and ridiculously delicious. The root beer here is brewed on-site and is served in tall, frosty glass mugs, also perfect for that classic treat, the root beer float. Fun fact: I had my first ever root beer float at the Wilmington A&W. No matter how old you are, a stop at this classic roadside spot is something fun and part of a delicious American tradition.

Fratelli Pizza Bar & Restaurant II

Everyone loves pizza, right? From Chicago style to flatbread to Sicilian, vegetarian or meat-a-saurus, pizza is one food that pretty much everyone loves. There's really no reason not to. For families visiting the Whiteface Region, head to Fratelli Pizza Bar & Restaurant. Located near the Ausable River in the center of Wilmington, Fratelli's is a destination for a quick slice or relaxed family dinner with enough pizza options to make deciding what to order very, very difficult. Whether your family is all about the cheese (and who isn't?) or you want local, fresh veggies (I don't blame you), or something totally new to you, this is the place to go.

Fratelli's is a family-run restaurant where the food is crafted with love and a passion for local ingredients. You won't find jarred sauce on a dough that tastes like cardboard here. Here, it's homemade and it's super good. The owners and chefs at Fratelli's think of the restaurant's offerings the same way they do their family meals: fresh from local producers, flavorful, and healthy. The seafood pizza features a combination of shrimp, calamari, and clams with vegetables, bright herbs, and the rich tang of Gorgonzola cheese. Personally, I'm all about the prosciutto and arugula white pizza. Pizza with a balsamic drizzle on top? Why not?

Dinner offers Italian entrees featuring seafood, pasta, and steak. Daily specials are always fun and tend to be inspired by the seasons and even holidays; on Valentine's Day this year, the pizzas were shaped like hearts, making for a cute and delicious date night.Fratelli’s also has two sister sites in Lake Placid, the original Fratelli Pizza Restaurant and Upstairs Grill, which offers excellent views of Main Street above Starbucks. All three offer the same focus on bold ingredients and treating you and yours like family.

Best après mountain biking

With Whiteface Mountain peeking at you from every turn and miles and miles of trails to explore throughout the area, mountain biking is an increasingly popular and exhilarating form of adventure here. Bring your own bikes or rent your gear at a local shop and hit the dirt for fun for the whole family with trails ranging from easy to difficult, all with gorgeous, pine-scented scenery. After your ride, you'll be hungry, right? Read on for the ultimate spots to fill up after an invigorating mountain ride.

Pourman's Tap House

If you've spent a few hours riding the trails hard and finding your flow, you'll love the robust comfort food at Pourman's Tap House. Here, tater tots aren’t just for kids anymore, they're grown-up decadence. At Pourman's, dig in to crispy-on-the-outside, hot and creamy on the inside tots smothered in just about anything: pulled pork, gravy and cheese, or the drool-worthy combo of chicken, bacon, and ranch dressing. This hotspot elevates the humble tot to something both trendy and nostalgic. They’re also perfect for sharing with family or your biking friends.

If you’re like my mother and love a fried egg on just about everything, go for the local favorite lumberjack burger. It’s a hearty half pound of beef topped by crisp, salty and sweet candied maple bacon, sharp New York cheddar, and the glorious egg. You'll find it easy to devour crisp paninis, ale-battered onion rings and flatbreads with both traditional and unusual flavors, from spicy buffalo chicken to the beloved pepperoni and cheese. If your ride has made you feel super healthy, go for one of Pourman's big, bold salads. It's all good and you can't go wrong here. 

Pourman's is also known — and loved — for the rotating array of craft beers it keeps on tap. This changing variety is always fresh and Pourman's makes a point to serve local beer made in the Adirondacks. It is one of the best craft beer bars in the region, period.

Best outdoor dining

R.F. McDougall's Pub

There's a comforting glow about R.F. McDougall's Pub that just makes you want to settle in and relax. This is classic Adirondack après everything: skiing and riding in the winter, fishing, hiking, and biking in the summer. Part of the Hungry Trout Resort, R.F. McDougall's offers casual, fine dining pub food (yes, that’s a thing), along with a well-stocked bar of craft beer and cocktails.

While you can get comfortable inside at the cherry bar or a table near the rustic stone fireplace, the thing to do in beautiful weather is to sit outside. You'll be rewarded with views of the Ausable River, which winds through the Adirondacks and is legendary for exceptional fishing. Best of all, the food here is sublime. I promised you fine dining pub food and a glance at the menu should assure you that I'm not wrong. Gooey, rustic poutine stays gooey but gets refined and amplified with the addition of crisp pork belly and fresh local cheese curds. Similarly, the pub's burgers are top-notch, with additions like housemade whiskey sauce and veggies fresh from local farms. At McDougall's, even the beef is local.

On a summer day, dinner at McDougall's, with views of the river, surrounded by greenery and accompanied by the babble of the fast-moving current, is simply one of the best ways to spend an evening. You'll love our famous Adirondack sunsets, too.

Whitebrook Dairy Bar

In the Adirondacks, we know ice cream. Every summer, ice cream stands throughout the park open their doors and windows while devoted customers line up for cold, creamy dessert happiness. Each is unique and has its own specialties and fans, from candy toppings to secret recipe ice creams. Any trip to or even through the Whiteface Region absolutely must include a sunny stop at Whitebrook Dairy Bar. With it's retro building and cheerful lavender picnic tables, Whitebrook is a stop that is both sweet (in so many ways) and charming.

Indulge in a classic cone of twisted vanilla and chocolate soft serve — it is extra, extra creamy here — or be bold and go milkshake made of wildly, wonderfully flavored hard ice cream. Past flavors have included cappuccino crunch and peanut butter cup, which you can also turn into floats, tornadoes (mixed with candy), and sundaes. Add sprinkles and candies like crushed candy cane, plus dips and you've got an ice cream feast. And what's more summery than ice cream?

Best fine dining

Some people say that we eat with our eyes before anything else. For anyone who has gazed through a bakery window at rows of macarons, stared hungrily at another table's brisket nachos, or simply leaned across the table to grab a bite of your friend's pillowy French toast, then you totally understand. For a meal that is refined, carefully composed, and beautiful to look at and eat, we have a fine dining destination for you.

Hungry Trout Restaurant

Some meals are meant to be eaten slowly, so they can be savored. No rushing to get to the next destination, simply treating yourself to something indulgent and sharing a very special meal with your favorite people. For a fine dining meal made with local ingredients, thoughtfully curated wine pairings, and imagination, in an atmosphere of warmth and stunning views, prepare yourself for an elegant meal at the Hungry Trout Restaurant.

One of the reasons many people visit the region is the excellent fishing in the Ausable River. The Hungry Trout Resort celebrates fishing, has an abundant flyshop staffed by talented guides, and offers guided fishing adventures. So it makes sense that the menu at the restaurant, where tables by the tall windows overlook the river and the mountains beyond, features trout in robust ways that honors and highlights the fish. Purists love the pan-fried trout, cooked with a light crispness. It's as though the riverside experience of pan-frying a freshly caught prize has magically moved to a cozy table along with a glass of wine and accompanied by homemade, creamy risotto. If pan-fried isn't your speed, you might prefer your trout blackened in Cajun seasonings, or roasted with lemon. The trout is the star, as it should be.

For land-locked diners, flavors of the Adirondacks abound, from venison to locally raised steak, wild mushroom bisque to grilled quail. Indulge. Savor the flavors. Enjoy.

In the Whiteface Region, adventure and amazing food await. This is a place to get close to nature, revel in the beauty of the Adirondack mountains, rivers, lakes, and woods, and complement your adventures with great food created and served with classic, friendly Adirondack hospitality. We look forward to welcoming you, root beer in hand. 

Author:
Aurora Pfaff
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