Syracuse earned the nickname “Salt City” from the salt springs lining the southern shore of Onondaga Lake that supplied the rest of the country until the early 20th Century. Irish immigrants would take the briny water from the deposits and boil small white potatoes in them, creating the region’s most iconic food, the salt potato.
Salt potatoes live on today as side dishes on Syracuse restaurant menus, or you can head to a local grocery store to buy a bag, complete with an accompanying packet of salt, to take home to boil. But this former Erie Canal boomtown offers far more than potatoes on the menu. Syracuse’s distinct neighborhoods, century-old ethnic enclaves, recently resettled immigrants and resurgent downtown infused with students from nearby Syracuse University have given the Salt City a distinctive blend of flavors. Explore the rich history, neighborhood haunts and regional specialties of Syracuse.