With the harvest season comes the best gift of all: Family Weekend. If your parents are coming to see you, don’t complain — you’re one of the lucky ones. Parents bring good tidings and joy in the form of snacks, nagging and your winter clothes. Yet perhaps the best perk is free hot meals, which includes driving you to (and paying for) restaurants that are usually out of your price range. So now’s the time to wine and dine with your parental units because this is your chance to exploit their wallets while experiencing some of Binghamton’s finest dining establishments. Your opening line? “Mom, I haven’t eaten a vegetable in forever. Can we go try the haricot vert with dates at…?” Bam, they’re sold.
The Loft at 99
The Loft at 99 boasts “new immigrant cuisine.” This translates into a creative menu of mostly Eastern European-influenced dishes with new twists. The grilled salmon is a favorite as are the frittes, or house-made fries. The Loft’s mixology and sleek bar area is another perk — what better way to celebrate seeing your favorite family members than by knocking back Manhattans on their tab?
What to get: smoked bone in short rib, $26; crispy wild mushrooms, $5; 2010 Pinot Grigio (Maso Canali Italy), $9 glass/$36 bottle
Tranquil Bar & Bistro
Tucked away on Pine Street near NYSEG Stadium, this tiny French bistro never fails to impress. The French onion soup is perfectly smoky. The duck with blueberry risotto is the most perfect combination of sweet and savory. Tranquil has a rotating specials menu, so don’t be afraid to try something you can’t pronounce! The ambiance also delivers; sometimes they project old films from the Binghamton historical archives on the exposed brick walls. Also, if there’s something on the dessert menu with chocolate, order it. Another thing about eating with parents is that you can sample three different desserts.
What to get: warm spinach salad; artisan charcuterie plate; sesame encrusted tuna (prices vary)
Lost Dog Café
This is an obvious choice, but don’t rule it out. Going to Lost Dog presents the opportunity of ordering the most expensive thing on the menu and making your roommates mad with jealousy when you prance through the door later on, arms laden with bags of leftovers. The $8 sundried tomato dip? Two, please. What about $23 grass-fed filet mignon frites? Good for the environment, good for your taste buds!
What to get: the most expensive thing from each section on the menu, or the rigatoni à la vodka if you’re feeling unoriginal (prices vary)
Galaxy Brewing Company
Why not check out the new kid in town? Galaxy has plenty to offer, including the view of its enormous brewery right as you walk in. There are 10-12 beers on at any one time as well as seasonal offerings and one-off beers. The menu is also nothing to laugh at: The pulled pork with autumn slaw is insanely good. Pair with the rocket salad and pale ale for a cosmically delicious experience.
What to get: NY strip steak, $26; radicchio & frisée salad, $8; artichoke pasta, $15